2015’s Fastest-Growing and Most Valuable Email Marketing Companies

In this fourth annual review, we observe, compare, and analyze email marketing companies experiencing upward mobility as defined by job availability, profit, and ultimately success.

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7 UX Principles for Building Higher-Converting Landing Pages

Landing page usability
If they don’t understand your landing page, you’re doing it wrong. Source

Take a look to your left. Now look to your right. The people on either side of you look different, sound different, and, presumably, they like different things than you do. We’re all a little different from each other.

But despite our many differences, everyone reacts to certain stimuli the same way. When it’s bright, we squint our eyes. When there’s a sudden loud noise, we get startled. And when there’s a bright red spot on a red carpet, we notice it.

When it comes to landing pages, we can count on  most people to react a certain way to the experiences we design for them. Great campaigns are built around solid user experiences that can be created with just a few simple guidelines.

Stef Miller is a Marketing Manager at UserTesting, and she’s involved in analyzing user data to find out how to create better user experiences for the people you’re trying to convert. Because better experiences = more conversions.

In Stef’s Unwebinar, The 7 Deadly Sins of Landing Page Usability, she broke down some common UX mistakes that marketers make on landing pages, and gave us some great usability solutions to remedy those mistakes. Let’s take a look.

1. Avoid distractions!

A landing page has one job — to give people what they were promised in the ad that got them there. You want your landing page visitors to have just one task on your page: to convert. Make it easy for them to do that.

From a usability standpoint, distractions are a major killer of conversions, and chief among these distractions is the navigation bar.

Stef used an example from Marin Software to demonstrate the point. What you may notice first about the image below is that this is not a landing page. It’s a page that is supposed to convert leads, but it’s just a page on their site. A page on a website isn’t a landing page just because you send people there from an ad.

marin-landing-page

If you give your users the chance wander away from the page that has the form, that’s exactly what they’ll do. People are curious. And now you’ve lost your lead.

One other thing that you want to avoid on your landing page: multiple CTAs that have different purposes. Stef pointed out how this page by Pantheon has three (THREE!) different CTAs on the page.

too-many-ctas

By offering too many choices, you may end up with your visitor taking no action whatsoever.

Let us never forget the sagacious landing page mantra of our co-founder, Oli Gardner:

“One Page. One Purpose. Period.”

That’s definitive, folks.

2. Make sure your links and CTAs are recognizable

How many times have you been on a page where you wanted to perform a certain task (buy an item, sign up for something, etc), but could not figure out how to do it? What do you do when it takes too long to figure it out? That’s right. You leave.

Pages like the one below are a usability nightmare.  What are you supposed to do here? Which button are you supposed to click? Are they all even buttons?

carousel-landing-page

The CTA button on your landing page should be instantly recognizable. AND, it should tell your visitors what they’re going to get when they click. Stef shared some of her favorite examples of this very thing done well:

contextual-cta
Click to enlarge.

You’ll notice two things about these CTA buttons. First, they’re easy to spot. Second, you know why you should click those buttons. By doing these two things, you’re creating a user experience that makes it easy for your visitors to convert.

3. Keep your design simple

If you’re designing your page so that it looks super cool, but says nothing about your product or brand, you might as well not have bothered. Designers can often be tempted to go to certain extremes on landing pages. But remember, you’re not trying to impress visitors with your design skills — you’re trying to convert them.

Stef showed several examples of landing pages that go to design extremes, including ones with animation, distracting graphics, and the one below from a company called Threadless.

artist-shop-landing-page

They’ve done a pretty decent job of pointing out the CTA, but they haven’t given you a reason to take any action. There’s nothing on this page about who the company is, what they sell, or precisely what you’re going to get by giving them your email address.

There’s no need to show off your design skills — simply make a page that helps people take action.

Psst. Unbounce has heaps of simple and flexible landing page templates that are designed for conversion. Check them out here.

4. Create user-friendly forms

The form is the part of your landing page where you collect information about your leads. You’ll use that information to nurture those leads. It is very, very valuable real estate. Every field on your form is currency. As Stef says:

Your leads are only as good as the information you get from them.

The form is an experience of its own and should be treated with great reverence. Stef had several tips for getting the most out of forms.

She used the example below to demonstrate how forms can provide something of value while also using a contextual call to action to give people a reason to click. KISSmetrics is asking for quite a bit of information from prospects who visit that page, but they’re also providing a great deal of value in exchange.

kissmetrics-landing-page

The CTA button is easy to spot, and lets visitors know exactly what they’re going to get when they enter their information. They have promised information about the psychology of color, and within that context, the CTA button allows prospects to get the PDF. Super simple.

When dealing with mobile forms, it’s important to remember that there is an added layer of friction that you’re working against. You’ll have to do everything you can to make filling out that form with a mobile keyboard as easy as it possibly can be.

Stef didn’t hesitate to remind us that it’s important to test your forms to find out what works best for you. Don’t forget to make forms simple to fill out, and continue testing to find out which version of your form gets your prospects to respond by providing you with their information.

5. Get serious about landing page copy

The copy on your landing page is what will explain to your visitors what your company and product is all about. It should convey that you have something that they want. Stef had a few really great tips on how you can create effective copy.

Avoid jargon — don’t get too gimmicky

Phrases like “A seamless synergy of bleeding-edge technology combined with enterprise crystallization for an integrated marketing solution” might sound really smart to you, but it doesn’t tell anybody anything. Stef reminded us to use simple words that describe what you are offering to your landing page visitors. Stay away from jargon and be direct in your copy.

Read it out loud first

Reading your copy out loud to someone else will help you figure out if you’ve successfully gotten your message across. If you read your headline, bullet points and your CTA to someone and they still don’t understand what you’re offering, then it’s time to start over.

Get feedback

Stef recommends asking no fewer than three other people to read your copy before publishing your landing page copy. If two heads are better than one, then three will definitely help you get closer to publishing copy that converts.

Once again, it all comes down to testing. Create a few different versions of your landing page copy and test them to see which one works best. This is super easy to do with landing page software like Unbounce – here’s how.

6. Ensure your landing page message matches your ad

Message match is what reassures a landing page visitor that they’re going to get what they wanted when they clicked on an ad. The experience needs to be consistent from ad to landing page in both message and design.

Stef used an example from a business called General Assembly to illustrate the concept of message match. The ad below promises information about a 10-week UX design course.

design-immersive-ad

Clicking on Learn More brings visitors to the page shown below. Both the message and the design match what we saw in the ad, reassuring visitors that they’ve come to the right place.

design-immersive-landing-page

The landing page is relevant to the ad, easy to understand and effective in its call to action. According to the  Conversion Glossary definition of message match:

Strong message match increase conversions because it reassures people they’ve come to the right place.

Keeping your message coherent from one piece of a campaign to the next lets your visitors know that they’re getting what they wanted when they clicked, and keeps you from wasting money on people who click an ad and get confused when the message on page doesn’t follow. In other words, bad message match leads to bad user experiences – and a crappy conversion rate.

7. Create a great experience after the landing page

Stef reminded the Unwebinar listeners that once a user has filled out the form and clicked your CTA your job in creating a delightful user experience is not yet done:

Post conversion is often neglected in landing page experience… we often aren’t putting enough into what happens next.

To demonstrate how to create a great experience after that click, Stef uses this Mobify thank you page below as an example:

mobify-landing-page

Saying thank you isn’t just polite; it’s part of a delightful user experience. It helps get your prospect to further interact with your brand and can lead to a secondary conversion.

On this page they’re giving you the opportunity to find out more about Mobify and offering some resources  – a white paper and a case study – for folks who may be a little further down the funnel.

As Stef pointed out, this is an interesting way to gauge how far along in the funnel a person might be. It’s not just creating a great experience, it’s also helping Mobify understand their leads a little better so they can nurture them accordingly.

The best user experiences are developed through testing

If you have a LinkedIn account, you have likely seen the image below. This picture succinctly sums up the difference between how things are often designed versus how people would prefer to experience them.

user-experience-vs-design

These seven tips are meant to be guidelines for creating better user experiences — no one can predict exactly how a group of people will react to a landing page, but if you follow these guidelines, you put yourself in a position to find out.

Stef concluded the webinar by reminding us that it’s never too early to get feedback on your landing pages. To create the best experience possible, you have to continue to test your copy and design and to optimize them based on the feedback you’re getting in the form of conversions. After all, if they’re not converting, they didn’t have a very good experience and if the experience sucks, they ain’t gonna convert.

You can more about landing page usability by checking out the free Unwebinar recording here.

WordStream’s Top 10 Blog Posts from July

From the return of Sharknado to Donald Trump leading the Republican polls, this has been one scary month! It’s hard to imagine the guy with the fireball-colored comb-over, who’s famous for his slogan “You’re fired,” leading the free world. Where’s Ashton popping out of the woodworks with his camera? We’re being “punked” right? Not to mention The Bachelorette chose Shawn… Oh, you don’t care? Alright, let’s move on…

 

Aside from everything going on in the world around us, it’s also been an exciting month for digital marketers. From Google+ canning their photo service and breaking up with YouTube, to Google revealing their buy button in beta, and Facebook changing the way advertisers are charged. And that’s just dusting the surface of what went on. At WordStream, we’re here to fill you in on all of the hottest stories. Let’s dive into the 10 top posts that caused the most buzz in July.

#1: Average Cost per Click by Country: Where in the World Are the Highest CPCs?

WordStream’s beloved Data Scientist Mark Irvine strikes again with this comprehensive study of the 97 countries represented in the map below, showing the highest to lowest cost per click compared to the U.S. average (which is between $1-$2 on the search network). The highest average CPC is $8 in the United Arab Emirates. The lowest? You’ll have to read on to find out.

 

#2: Another One Bites the Dust: Google+ Photos Canned

Google+’s long coming death is almost becoming a joke, as they slowly kill off product features. First disconnecting from Gmail, then splitting into photos and streams, and now Google+ Photos is joining the party or should I say funeral. Larry has all the details, as Google+’s downfall is one of his favorite topics to blog about. Bye, bye Google+ Photos, we’ll stick with Google’s much preferred service, Google Photos for now.

#3: Complete Guide to the NEW AdWords Certification Test

Written by yours truly, I actually re-took the test to get a refresher course myself and see what has changed since I was first certified in 2013, and a lot has! There’s new supplemental tests that you can chose from to combine with the AdWords Fundamentals exam to get fully certified, there’s no longer a cost tied to the exam (wahoo!), and you now must sign in or sign up for Google Partners to take the test. If you’re pondering whether it is worth getting certified I’ve covered that as well, along with everything you need to know about the exam, from preparation tips, to passing scores, and what to do after you’ve gotten certified. It’s all here folks.

 

#4: Google Transforms Dynamic Search Ads: Say Goodbye to Keywords

I always deem it a success when one of my late-in-the-month posts sneaks its way into the top 10, and this news was big enough to do just that. So, what went down? On Monday, July 27, Google revealed that the complete redesign of Dynamic Search Ads is now available to the public. We first heard about this in-the-works DSA update in the Google AdWords LiveStream back in May, but now these babies are live. More importantly, this signifies the possible coming death of the keyword. Could it be true? Read on to learn all about these new and improved DSA’s.

#5: The Top 10 Paid Social Media Hacks of All Time

Larry never ceases to amaze me with his hacks, and apparently our readers agree. In this post, Larry reveals 10 non-obvious, but super useful tips to set your social media strategy apart from your competition. From audience targeting methods like custom audiences and Facebook remarketing, to “the flywheel effect,” read on to get the inside scoop on Larry’s hacks, which he originally revealed in his recent webinar with Hanapin Marketing’s Matt Umbro.

#6: 5 Psychological Tricks to Exploit in Your PPC Ad Copy

Anything tying together psychology with marketing tactics always strikes a chord with me, which is why I dove into how the study of the human brain can assist in crafting click-worthy ad copy. There is so much opportunity to stand out with one’s ad copy, but yet if you’ve visited the SERPs recently, you have probably noticed that the majority of marketers just mimic the ad copy next to them. Boooorrrrrringgggg… Try out these 5 manipulative, I mean psychological, tips to turn your ads from basic to beautiful.

 

#7: 18 Sneaky Ways to Build Brand Awareness

Building a recognizable brand is not an easy task. Kleenex didn’t become the proprietary eponym for tissues overnight (if you’re not sure what that means, read the post!). Your brand will likely never become as big as Kleenex or Coca Cola, but there are things you can do to build higher levels of brand awareness. In this post, Megan Marrs provides 18 branding tips, with everything from social media contests to podcasts. These tips are bound to inspire you to turn your companies brand into a household name.

#8: Google’s Largest Shopping Ad EVER Spotted on the SERPs

Watch out guys! This is the ad of all ads, taking over just about the entire right side of the SERP; it’s like Buddy the Elf in the North Pole. Check it out…

 

This ad might appear as the Will Farrell in a sea of dwarves, but it’s actually not just one brand, but several product listing (or shopping) ads in a knowledge graph type panel. The ad appears to have all sorts of information such as pricing comparisons, reviews, stores, etc. So what exactly does this mean for advertisers? It’s too soon to say, but read on to learn a bit more and prepare yourself for this new ad format.

#9: Wow! Facebook Completely Changed the Way Advertisers Are Charged

Deep breaths, this is actually great news! Advertisers no longer need to pay for “likes,” which they really never should’ve been charged for anyhow. On July 8 Facebook announced that they will now only be charging for clicks to websites and apps, which is great since they previously charged for every action including comments, likes, shares, etc. But, what about advertisers that value ad engagement? Will advertisers actually save money or will clicks to websites cost more? Get all of your burning questions answered in this post.

#10: 5 Inspiring Marketing Tips I Learned at #MozCon

MozCon is by far the most well-known SEO conference in the U.S., and I was lucky enough to fly out to Seattle for it. Before arriving I knew the quality of speakers would be high, with one-track, sold out year after year, and I wasn’t let down. In this post I covered 5 of the most inspiration lessons I learned from several quality speakers that are bound to inspire your next campaign. Try them out!

3 Tips To Building A Huge Thriving Network Marketing Organization

There is nothing like building a real team. That’s the beauty and power of network marketing. You can build teams and leverage the results and the efforts of other people. How do you build a thriving team, a team that have a clear road map to follow, a team that is making money and profiting in their businesses, a team that is unified like a family? Well in today’s blog post I’m going to give you 3 tips on how to build a THRIVING team.

http://goo.gl/TmR0Lw

31DBBB Day 14: Update a Key Page

Here we are, day 14 – two full weeks of tips to help you create the best blog possible, and plenty more to come!

Although this week we’ve covered social media, forums and groups, alerts, brainstorming, editorial calendars and even getting off your blog to find inspiration, we haven’t talked much about the static pages on your blog.

And that is what todays episode is all about!

Often these pages get left behind in the day-to-day grind of churning out fresh content. But think – how long has it been since they were updated? Are they full of old information? Do you have much of a schedule for updating them? I know that every time I check mine, there’s always something that needs changing.

In today’s show I run through a few types of pages you can make changes to and what you might need to change. There’s a lot to think about and plenty of tiny little items you should get in the habit of checking. I also touch on the need to update (and how) those posts you wrote years ago that still get high traffic – what can you do to bring them into 2015?

ProBlogger Podcast Avatar

Click here to listen to day two of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series on the ProBlogger Podcast. 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

31DBBB Day 14: Update a Key Page

The post 31DBBB Day 14: Update a Key Page appeared first on @ProBlogger.

18 Sneaky Ways to Build Brand Awareness

When you need a tissue, do you ask for a tissue, or for a Kleenex? When you’re ordering a drink at a fast-food restaurant, do you ask for a cola, or a Coke? What about when you cut yourself? Do you look for a plastic bandage, or a Band-Aid?

Brand awareness

These terms are known as proprietary eponyms, and they’re the apex of brand awareness. These brands have become so well-known, they’ve replaced the generic terms for similar products in our language. 

For a brand or product to become a proprietary eponym is pretty much the pinnacle of brand awareness (sorry, Pepsi). Although you might not achieve this in your business, that doesn’t mean you can’t do a lot more to boost awareness of your brand.

While there’s no quick fix for becoming a household name, here are 18 brand-building strategies to help launch (and continue) your efforts. You may not become as well-known as Coca-Cola, but it can’t hurt to try, right?

Here are our best pieces of brand-building advice.

1. Referral Programs

Users will gladly spread word of your product or service when they know they’ll get an added perk. Dropbox is a great example of how smart referral programs can growth hack a business. Dropbox gives existing users 500 MB of extra storage space for every friend they refer (up to 16 GB). Back when Dropbox was still new, this referral program helped generate tons of word-of-mouth, delivering a huge number of sign-ups and saving Dropbox countless advertising dollars.

Brand awareness DropBox

2. Impressive Guest Content

Another great way to get your brand known on the web is to deliver ultra valuable, gorgeous looking content to share on other blogs. Guest posting (despite what some might tell you) is still a powerful way to get your name known in your industry.

However, run-of-the-mill content won’t cut it – you need to be guest publishing high-quality stuff. Create memorable, valuable content and you’ll be introduced to new audiences and make a lasting impression.

3. Infographics

Infographics are a bright and colorful way to display interesting marketing data and statistics. These content powerhouses often get shared far and wide, making them a great tool for brand building and thought leadership.

Take a look at the infographic WordStream produced earlier this year – it got thousands of social shares and brought in valuable links as well!

Brand awareness WordStream Bing Ads infographic

4. Freemium With Credit

Many awesome online products allow users to choose from a free version, which includes a watermark or credit line, or the option to upgrade to the paid version, which allows users to remove the mark or replace it with their own logo. While many users will opt for the free version, they’ll also be promoting your brand to others users. Some of those new users who see your product will go with the paid version! Providing a freemium product means getting yourself in front of more eyeballs, building your brand and bringing in paying customers.

Brand awareness newsletter signup

5. Local Partnerships

Another great brand building strategy is to get involved with local partnerships (this is tremendously important for local-oriented businesses, but can be applied for other businesses as well). Partner with other local businesses to hold join intro seminars or festivals. Sponsor local sports teams and donate to charity events. Getting your brand plastered around festivals and events will do big things for your brand.

6. Car Wraps

A classic tried-and-true strategy for building your brand is getting a car wrap! Car wraps are customized designs that can cover your entire car (don’t worry, you can still see through the windows)! They can attract a hefty amount of attention, and it’s a great way to ensure that wherever you go, people are becoming more familiar with your brand. Wrap your company car or even your own personal vehicle!

Brand awareness car wraps

7. Freebies

Everyone loves free stuff! Put your brand name on koozies, pens, Frisbees, etc, then give away your items at local festivals. 

Brand awareness giveaways and freebies

Koozies from Philly Phaithful

8. Social Media Contests

Run a social media contest in which contestants submit a photo or video, with other users voting for their favorites. Contestants will share the link with friends and family to get more votes, building your brand awareness as a result.

Brand awareness social media contests

A contest hosted with the help of Woobox

9. Social Focus

With the number of social networks constantly increasing, trying to be forever active on all of them is a fool’s errand. If your business is best suited to a particular network, then don’t be afraid to put the majority of your energy into a few sites. For example, photo-heavy sites might focus on Instagram and Pinterest. B2B companies often do best on Twitter. Know where your audiences hang and focus on those networks. You won’t want to totally abandon the other social sites, but save your biggest efforts for what you know works. Not sure about your core network? Start digging into analytics to see where your referral traffic is coming from.

10. LinkedIn Publishing

We already talked a bit about the value of guest posting, but there are also other methods to get published and spread your name across the web. Recently, LinkedIn began letting all users publish posts right to LinkedIn via the publishing tool. If your posts get enough attention, it could wind up in the LinkedIn home stream for many users. As an added bonus, having posts attached to your LinkedIn account also helps establish you as a thought leader! Of course you can also always set up your own company blog and post there – just make sure you share and promote your posts after publishing.

Brand awareness get published

11. Pro Story Telling

Want to be a memorable brand? Start with stellar storytelling. If you can create emotionally moving, compelling stories that connect deeply with users, they won’t soon forget your name. Here are some storytelling tips to get you started

12. Unique Personality

One surefire way to increase band awareness is by giving your brand a fun, unique brand identity. If you work in an industry were a little dose of comedy or personality is appropriate, being outrageous can make your brand extremely memorable.

A few major examples of businesses who inject humor and comedy into brand promotion include Old Spice, Poopouri, and Dollar Shave Club.

Not only did these hilarious ads leave an impression with audiences – they also became viral sensations, shared across the web and driving sales.

13. Podcasts

Starting your own industry podcast where you interview industry experts is a great way to build your brand while also developing relationships with others in your field. Some industries (like marketing) already have a hefty number of podcasts that would be tough for a beginner to compete against. However, for niche industries where there isn’t much on the airwaves, you could easily make yourself a household name.

Brand awareness podcasts

14. PPC Advertising

With SEO becoming more competitive every day, while organic Google real-estate shrinks, PPC is a smart solution for getting your brand seen on Google. With targeted keyword research, you could be showing up at the top of Google for relevant searches. Even if users don’t end up clicking on your PPC ad, seeing your name at the top of the search results makes an impression and is incredible for building brand awareness. Check out PPC University if you’re not sure where to start.

Brand awareness keyword targeting

15. Remarketing Campaigns

Remarketing is a pro strategy for boosting that good ol’ brand awareness. Why? Remarketing involves showing ads to users who visited your site, but left before converting. Remarketing ads are placed all across the web on sites your customers visit. Soon they’ll be seeing your business everywhere – on their favorite blogs, while shopping online, etc. This gives the impression that your brand is much larger (and has a much bigger ad budget) than it really is. And it’s a great way to increase your conversion rate.

16. Paid Social Advertising

Organic social marketing is becoming more difficult by the day, leading more businesses to turn to paid social advertising. Facebook and Twitter ads are relatively cheap and help get your brand seen on social. Whether or not users convert immediately, every added piece of familiarity counts when users finally are ready to make a purchase.

Brand awareness paid social

17. Controversy

While this strategy isn’t for everyone, one way to get your brand noticed is by being controversial. Take an unlikely stance on a hot industry topic, and you may find yourself attracting quite a bit of attention. Whether it’s good or bad attention depends on the subject matter and your approach. Then again, there’s no such thing as bad press (so they say anyway).

18. Influencer Marketing

Getting friends in high places is another easy way to boost your brand awareness. Find existing influencers in your industry whose business you could potentially complement, rather than compete with. Make use of your partner’s influencer network to promote your brand (while also building up valuable partnerships you can continue to make use of long-term).

With these brand awareness tips, you’ll be a super-star brand in no time. Any bonus pieces of brand awareness advice you want to dispense? Add your thoughts in the comments. 

 

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