Is Your Designer Killing Your Conversions?

Designer Vs. Marketer
“That big, colorful button looked sooooo 2010, so I made it transparent. It’s much cleaner now.” Image source.

Have you ever worked with a designer who was more interested in fancy animations and cutting-edge technology than in creating a page that actually resonates with you and your audience?

While I’ve been lucky enough to work with many talented, pragmatic designers, I’d be lying if I said I’d never been frustrated with a designer who I felt was working more against me than with me.

Luckily, Jen Gordon isn’t such a designer. As the founder of Convert Themes, a design service explicitly for landing pages, Jen understands the importance of designing pages that are both beautiful and highly-optimized for conversion.

Hoping to help marketers work better with their designers, she recently hosted an unwebinar with us entitled 3 Tools to Keep Your Designer From Killing Your Conversions — which, of course, came packaged with three tools to keep your designer from killing your conversions.

And while those tools are pretty great, the advice Jen gave on easing the tension between design and conversion was just as valuable. Read on for the distilled insights, or click here to watch the full webinar.

Lost in translation

Jen described a situation in which she received a brief for a landing page project. While it gave her basic direction, detailing the offer and the copy, it was left up to her to decide things like:

  • The page’s visual hierarchy — the structure and order of its visual and textual elements
  • The type of imagery that would resonate with the page’s intended audience
  • The problem or pain point the page’s visitor is looking to solve

These are not small decisions to make. Yet they are exactly the kinds of critical decisions that are hoisted upon designers, either implicitly or explicitly. And in a situation like this, designers can be reluctant to ask questions or open a dialogue with the project manager.

But why? What is the root of this tension between marketers and designers?

To answer this, Jen made a word cloud based on the most shared posts on ConversionXL, Hubspot and Unbounce over the past year:


… and then did the same for some of the world’s top design blogs:


Notice that there is very little overlap between these two word clouds. They suggest that marketers are largely interested in results and the techniques that will produce them, while designers are more interested in technology, aesthetics and user experience.

What we can glean from this is that designers and marketers are speaking fundamentally different languages or are, at the very least, interested in completely different things.

And before we can open the doors of communication, we have to better understand where designers are coming from.

Can’t get on the same page as your designer? You just need to speak their language.

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The evolution of web design

In the webinar, Jen gave an overview of different eras of web design (1990 – present) to show how new technologies can shape forthcoming design trends.

Eras of Web Design
A timeline of the different “eras” in web design. Image source.

For example, the timeline above shows that what we consider the most crucial elements of modern web design didn’t start to emerge until around 1998. That’s the year that usability research came into prominence and people were given more insight than ever into the behavior of their users.

Additionally, the launch of the iPhone in 2007 — and the release of Android soon after — brought with it the mobile design revolution and a renewed focus on user experience.

Each design revolution was triggered by designers searching for more efficient and more enjoyable ways for users to interact with content.

But whereas this kind of user-centered design focuses solely on a user accomplishing their own goals, conversion-centered design is focused towards having the user complete a single business goal.

This can seem like a huge shift, but the goal is essentially the same: getting the user what they need with the least friction possible.

The difference is that conversion-centered design relies more heavily on the use of persuasion and reassurance; it’s not just about enabling the user to take action, but convincing them to.

User-centered design is about experience. Conversion-centered design is about business goals.

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What your designer needs to know about CRO

While you and your designer might speak different languages, you’re both (ideally) interested in the same thing: producing a great design that works for both your business goals and the goals of your visitors.

But if you’re designer is relatively new to conversion rate optimization, there are a few things that you should make sure they understand.

#1: A homepage is NOT a landing page

Website indexes/homepages used to be referred to as landing pages — since they were the page one would “land on” when going to the site — but this definition is outdated, particularly since users don’t tend to land on those pages as often as they used to.

Nowadays, a landing page means a page dedicated to fulfilling a single campaign goal. This stands in stark contrast to index pages, which are meant to be generalist and to appeal to a wide range of visitors. Additionally, index pages tend to have an infinite amount of referral sources, whereas you probably have a strong idea of what’s driving traffic to your landing pages.

It’s important that your designer understands this so that they can make sure their design is focused on that single campaign goal, and doesn’t feature any content that could be irrelevant to the page’s audience.

#2: Design isn’t a cure-all

The fact is that design isn’t the primary factor of a page’s success; landing pages can be immensely successful even if they’re pretty ugly. Jen brought up the example of the Super Funnel page, the #2 top-selling page on affiliate-marketing site

Ugly Landing Page

This is both a blessing and a burden. The core of any landing page is its unique value proposition and it’s entirely possible for a landing page to succeed based on the strength of that alone.

But that doesn’t mean that good design isn’t valuable. It just means that a landing page is made up of various elements that all contribute to its success. A page that’s performing well could still perform better with a smarter design. As Jen puts it:

Your designer needs to understand that the success of the page doesn’t fall completely on their shoulders — that it is a combination of design, copy, traffic sources, the offer, etc. that play into the success or failure of the page.

#3: The story matters most

It’s critical for every designer (and marketer and copywriter) to understand the story of their brand and how customers interact with it, looking beyond the user’s “persona” or how they arrived at the page.

Which is exactly why the Eisenberg brothers — who, in Jen’s words, “have been doing CRO before the acronym existed” — pioneered their Buyer Legends philosophy.

Contrary to personas, which are primarily interested in defining who your customers are, buyer legends are more concerned with their journeys and how they feel. From the Buyer Legends website:

Buyer Legends are not the stories you tell your customers; that’s just promotion. Buyer Legends are stories told from the point of view of your customers; because your brand isn’t what you say it is but what your customers say it is.

You can get an introduction to the concept from Bryan Eisenberg’s CRO Day webinar, and then create your own Buyer Legends with the template than Jen has generously made available for anyone to use.

Opening the door to dialogue

When a designer gets a brief for a conversion-focused project like a landing page, they may be reluctant to raise their own objections or propose their own ideas, because they worry it’s not their place. As Jen put it:

“These people, they are the marketers, they think they know best, they see me as a designer, I should just do as they say.” That’s what some of your designers are thinking.

But designers have brought the web this far. While CRO may be a relatively new discipline, its ideas are borrowed heavily from the experience-focused trends of yore; they’ve just been shaken up with digital marketing trends and a dash of Big Data.

Designers have their own expertise to bring to your conversion-focused projects. But the door to collaboration needs to be opened wide, and explicitly so. You should actively solicit the feedback of your designers and encourage them to share their ideas. After all, everything can (and should) be tested!

And in addition to talking, you can also use Jen’s free tools in order to more effectively communicate with your designer. In addition to the Buyer Legends template discussed earlier, you’ll get:

  • An extremely detailed and annotated copywriting template that will make it way easier for designers, copywriters and marketers to work together and understand each other
  • A landing page wireframe template for use with Balsamiq Mockups, which will help your designer understand the structure of a strong landing page while giving them the freedom to actually design it
  • And as a bonus, two free Unbounce landing page templates that you can upload to your account

Get access to both the full webinar and Jen’s free tools here. Together, they will put you on the path to a more productive and communicative relationship with your designers.

3 Tools to Keep Your Designer From Killing Your Conversions


Anchorman-Inspired Tips to Help you Blog Your Way to the Top

This is a guest contribution from Kirsty Sharman.

There are a million and one articles online that talk about how to earn money blogging. They all have the same tips, talk about the same things and usually just teach us things we already know.

The truth is: people like you and me (I’m assuming you’re a blogger if you’re reading this) didn’t start blogging because we wanted to be bac link experts, banner ad salesmen or tech gurus. We had a passion for a topic, and we wanted to talk about it. A lot.

All the articles online educate us to become masters of everything in order to succeed as a blogger, and successfully monetize our audience. I don’t really agree with that thinking. My thinking aligns more with being the best you can be within your niche – and partnering with others to help you monetize your audience.

If you want to be the best, and in turn earn an income from your passion, you need to be the guy that everyone wants to be friends with.

You need to be kind of a big deal.

As ridiculous as Ron Burgundy is, he mimics many traits of an internet celebrity. As influential bloggers, Tweeters, Facebookers and Instagrammers, we need to stand out from the digital crowd. We need to be to the internet what Ron Burgundy is to the News Network of America.

Below are five Anchorman inspired tips to help you blog your way to the top:

Start to think of yourself as an influencer

Brands want to work with people who can influence consumers within their target market. In order to be an influencer you need to work towards being an authority in your chosen blog category (or niche).

Partner with the right people

The same way that Ron Burgundy relies on Brick Tamland to deliver the weather, and Champ Kind to announce the sports results – is the same way you need to think of your blogging network. Partner with people to do the things you don’t specialize in – like monetizing your audience for example. Or managing your video editing. Trade exchanges are a good idea if possible.

Say what’s on your mind – even if it creates a stir

If you’re going to be a thought leader in your niche, it’s important that you speak up. If you’re a tech blogger and you think a new phone is terrible, say so. In the long run, being authentic is more important than pleasing the brands around you. Creating a stir has Ron Burgundy written all over it!

PR yourself

If you work hard, write great content and consider yourself a credible source within your niche – then it’s ok to let others know that you’re kind of a big deal.

Stay in shape

Ron Burgundy takes his personal fitness extremely seriously, you should take your online fitness just as seriously. Know who the other bloggers are, know where the best information comes from, research and write weekly. Stay in shape, on the internet!

Kirsty Sharman is • Crazy about all things digital • Bulldog owner • Toy collector • Runs @Webfluenti_al by day and @GeeksDoingStuff by night • One of the girls behind Girl Geek Dinners Johannesburg •

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Anchorman-Inspired Tips to Help you Blog Your Way to the Top

New Report Reveals the True Impact of Social Media Marketing for Business


The way social networks have impacted our personal and professional lives is far greater than most of us could have anticipated. While we were battling with our friends over getting cut from their top friends list on their Myspace profile, we couldn’t have imagined the impact of social media today. The evolution of social networks in the past 10 or even 5 years has been truly remarkable.

Social Media Examiner’s 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report holds valuable insight into how marketers are incorporating social media, how much time they’re spending and what is on the horizon.

With  92% of marketers reporting that social media is important to their business, it’s clear that marketers believe social media holds weight, but what is the true impact on their business?

Top 5 Benefits of Social Media Marketing

The 3,700 marketers surveyed as part of this report had a wide range of experience and goals for social media. However, the actual impact that social media had on their business can be broken down into 5 easy to understand benefits.

#1 – Increased Exposure

With a whopping 91%, increased exposure was the top benefit that marketers participating in this report have seen from deploying social media marketing efforts. Many of the respondents stated that as little as 6 hours per week invested in social media created an increase in exposure.

Social media marketing presents a unique opportunity for companies to stay top of mind with current customers and get on the radar of new customers on their preferred platforms.

#2 – Increased Traffic

70% of marketers found that social media activities increased traffic to their website while 75% of businesses engaging in social media activities for a year or more reported an even bigger increase in traffic.

Encouraging social media users to leave a social media platform and visit your website is no easy undertaking. A solid mix of engaging content and well formulated ads with a compelling call to action can help encourage consumers to visit your web properties.

#3 – Developed Loyal Fans

Not surprisingly, B2C marketers (73%) were more likely to develop a loyal fan base than B2B marketers (63%).

It is no mystery that most social media users engage on social platforms for personal needs first. B2B marketing often involves multiple decision makers at different stages in the purchasing journey. Fortunately, social platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook are beginning to make it easier for marketers to target audiences based on interests, job titles and demographics. This opens the door for B2B marketers to segment individual messages based on need.

#4 – Provided Marketplace Insight

68% of marketers felt that social media provided market insight that they did not previously have or reaffirmed what they already knew.

Social media enables you to see your consumers in their true habitat. It is easy to uncover who else they interact with, what their favorite movies or tv shows are, where they work, the list goes on and on.

#5 – Generated Leads

Over 50% of marketers who have been utilizing social media for over a year were generating leads through social media.

Of all the benefits in the top five list, this one has the largest impact on the bottom line. In order to generate qualified leads through social media, your community has to trust you, be engaged and have a need for what it is that you offer.

What other benefits made the top ten list?

  • Improved Search Rankings – 58%
  • Grown Business Partnerships – 55%
  • Established Thought Leadership – 55%
  • Improved Sales – 51%
  • Reduced Marketing Expenses – 50%

Additional Report Must-Knows

Top 3 Most Important Social Platforms For Marketers

  • Facebook – 52%
  • LinkedIn – 21%
  • Twitter – 12%

B2C Vs B2B: Platform Breakdown

B2C and B2B marketers may be using the same social media platforms, but their efforts differ between platforms and which they consider to be the most important.

b2b versus b2c

Investing in Paid Social

The vast majority of marketers surveyed (84%) said that they use Facebook Ads , with Google ads in at a cool 41% and LinkedIn ads at 14%.

paid social

Looking for More Social Media Insights?

To learn more about how your marketing peers are performing on the top social platforms and what is on the horizon for 2015, download the full report from Social Media Examiner.

A primary takeaway from this report is that many marketers are finally beginning to justify time and resources invested on social media marketing because they’re finally able to quantify a return based on objectives.

What results from this survey surprised you the most?

Top Image: Shutterstock

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New Report Reveals the True Impact of Social Media Marketing for Business |

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Why Link Building Is NOT the Future of SEO

future of seo

Over the years, SEOs focused all their attention on link building. Why? Because it impacted rankings more than anything else.

Although links still help with rankings, the big misconception in the search world is that the majority of your time and effort should be placed on building links.

So, if building links is not what you should be spending your time on, what is? It’s user experience—because it will impact rankings more than anything else.

Here’s why user experience will impact your rankings more than links will: 

What’s best for users is best for Google

As you already know, Google makes a large portion of its revenue from ads. If users started to see search results that weren’t relevant, what would they stop doing?

Using Google, right?

If Google wants to continually ensure that it stays the leader in the search game, it has to provide users with the best results. This doesn’t come down to links or on-page code. It comes down to user experience.

Sure, having links and an optimized site ensures that search engines can crawl your site, but Google would rather rank a relevant to a search query webpage with no links than one that contains hundreds of links but is only somewhat relevant.

Here’s how I believe it measures the relevance of a search result:

  • Click-through rate – as you know, this metric is about the number of people who see a listing and actually click through to the site. For example, if most of the searchers inputting a specific query are clicking on the second listing and not the first, it should tell Google that the second listing is more relevant.
  • Bounce rate – if users are hitting the back button within their browsers and going back to the search listings page, chances are they didn’t find what they were looking for, especially if they click on another listing after they hit the back button. In an ideal world, Google wants to give you the best result first so you don’t have to keep going through listings to find the answer you are looking for.
  • Time on-site – after users perform a search, they tend to click on a listing. Assuming a portion of those people will hit the back button, Google will eventually (if it already isn’t) analyze the time it took the user to hit the back button. If users do this within three seconds, it will tell Google that the result is less relevant than the result that kept users on-site for five minutes before they clicked back.

In essence, the sites with the best user experience are going to win in the long run. That means sites with good quality content, media, etc. will tend to rank better in the long run.

Plus, the sites that put their users first tend to generate the highest number of social shares and backlinks organically. They don’t focus on manual link building; instead, they focus on providing the best user experience.

What’s an example of a great user experience?

Google the phrase “online marketing.” You’ll see Quick Sprout towards the top.

online marketing

As you can see below, my site has the least number of backlinks compared to a lot of the webpages that rank beneath me. Just look at Wikipedia and Forbes who rank below me. Both of those sites have many more backlinks than I do.

online marketing backlinks

So, what’s the main difference? The page I send users to provides a much better user experience. I spent over $40,000 creating that guide. I know it sounds crazy, but I am now finally seeing the fruits of my labor.

Another great example of how Google values user experience is when it penalizes a site. For example, if BMW gets penalized for unethical link building, Google still has no choice but to rank BMW for the term “BMW.”


It’s such a popular query that users would be really upset with Google if it stopped ranking BMW. Users wouldn’t care if BMW did unethical link building—they just want to get to BMW’s site.

Granted, Google can ding BMW’s ranking for generic keywords, but if it dings them for brand keywords, it will hurt Google’s reputation with users more than it would hurt BMW.

What does this mean for you?

By no means am I saying that you should ignore SEO. Optimizing your code for search engines, building links when you have spare time, and growing your social media channels are all activities you should continually do.

But they shouldn’t be your main focus.

You should be shifting the majority of your focus to building a great product or service as that is what users want. And when you aren’t building, you should be creating great content.

You need to provide content so great that people will want to not only read it but also bookmark it, share it, and tell their friends about it. Your content should be so detailed and helpful that no competitor would dare to copy you as it would take too much time and energy.

In addition, you should be signing up for Google Webmaster Tools and continually analyzing your click-through rates. You can get this data by clicking on “search traffic” in the navigation bar and then clicking on “search analysis.”

google webmaster tools

Your goal should be to get more clicks out of every impression. You can do this by following the tips in this article.


SEO isn’t rocket science. Sure, Google has a ton of PhDs working for it, but its goal is aligned with yours: Google just wants to provide users with the best possible experience.

So, if you can create the best product/service and write the best content out there, you will be helping users. Eventually, Google will see this, and your rankings will climb. You may not see the best results in the short run, but over time things will get better.

What do you see as the future of SEO?

Using Emojis in Ad Text Boosts CTR!

Emojis have become ubiquitous in text messages, private online messaging, and even blog posts and other written communications. But did you ever think Google would allow them in AdWords ads?

Emojis in ad text

We recently discovered that AdWords is, in fact, allowing emojis in some ads. Our data scientist Mark Irvine ran some tests this week using (willing) client accounts and we have some early – and promising – results to share.

Mark noticed that there was no real rhyme or reason as to which emojis were accepted and which were rejected by Google as “punctuation errors.”  He did get this one through for testing and as you can see, it was served about 10% more than the non-emoji ad. It also received 4 clicks to the other ad’s 0!

Emojis in ad text click-through rate comparison

It’s not just smiley faces, either. What better way to sneak imagery into a text ad for a donut shop than with a donut emoji?

Emojis in ad text example

Advertisers have a lot more emoji options than smiley faces that they may be able to incorporate into their ad text. Check out this sampling of some of the more popular emojis below:

Emojis in ad text emoji list

As you can see, you’ve got your standard smileys, as well as some representations of various types of people (and professions). Look a little closer, though – notice the sheer variety of emojis you could put into your ad text? We’ve got body parts, hand gestures, clothing, animals (LOTS of animals), plants, technology, weather symbols, the phases of the moon, and a whole bunch of chart, graph and app icons.

You may notice that the ubiquitous “smiley face poop” emoji isn’t in this list. (I’m not sure you’d have much luck getting that one past Google in an ad anyway.)

Have you seen any emojis in PPC ads? Would you consider using them yourself?


grade your adwords account

If You Want Your Content Marketing to be Great, Ask Influencers to Participate

participation marketing with influencers

With ubiquitous internet connectivity and billions of people empowered to create and publish online, digital marketing competition is greater than ever. Companies are increasingly challenged to create quality content that can stand out to attract and engage new customers.

How can businesses grow their reach and improve content quality in such a market?

Through participation marketing with industry influencers.

Over the past year, the expression “influencer marketing” has exploded in popularity and many marketing communications professionals are continuing to see influencers in the light of “celebrity endorsements”.

There’s more to influencer marketing than advocacy.

But there’s more to influencer marketing than advocacy and all influencers are not created equal. With participation marketing, companies can take a view of working with influencers of different types to produce a variety of benefits – all through content.

What kind of benefits? The investment in co-creation of content between brands and influencers enables quality content at scale. With brands and influencers working together, co-created content can reinforce mutual authority for all involved. In such a cooperative scenario, influencers can gain exposure, brands can reach new audiences, and customers are “info-tained” and inspired to engage. Everybody wins.

At TopRank Online Marketing, we’ve worked with over 200 influencers in the past 5 years to create numerous content assets ranging from our famous conference eBooks to videos to blog posts to infographics. These assets have driven over 800,000 views and well over 1,000 leads. Content co-created with influencers also continues to serve attract and engage objectives as long as they are live online.

Establishing a successful influencer content program requires a framework for identifying, engaging, and managing relationships. Here’s a 5 step approach to do just that.

influencer content goals

1. Set Goals for Marketing and Influencers

In order for co-created content to be successful for marketing, specific audiences and goals should be identified.

Think about: What do you hope to achieve with an influencer content program? How will influencers benefit? More importantly, how will your customers benefit?

Think about the distinct audience that you’re after with the content being co-created and set goals specific to what your idea of success looks like. Quantify those goals as well, whether it’s to increase the reach and engagement of your brand to the influencer’s community or to inspire more leads and sales by a certain percent.

Also, set goals for the influencers. For short term projects, focus on participation quality. With longer term programs, focus on participation, marketing outcomes and the relationship.

influencer content focus

2. Pick Your Theme and Focus Topic

You can start by asking, “What does your brand want to be known for?”

Themes facilitate planning content and also serve to focus the sourcing of the right influencers. Themes that are meaningful to all parties involved: brand, influencer and target audience will be far more successful.

In addition to branding goals, themes in co-created content programs are often driven by key customer questions that can be answered by brand marketing. Looking at distinct customer segments and the buying experience at each stage should reveal the themes and triggers that your content program will focus on. What is the solution? How will it work for me? What do I do next?

Consider what questions your customers are asking at awareness, consideration and purchase stages. Then think about the themes that will drive asking and answering those questions through influencer content.

identify recruit influencers

3. Find, Qualify and Recruit Influencers

Beyond the famous “brandividual” influencers in your industry, consider niche experts that have an active and passionate following. Also consider subject matter experts within your own company.

To start, talk to executives, marketing, PR and sales to identify a seed list of influencers. Then use an influencer discovery tool like Traackr or BuzzSumo to filter them out and add new influencers your team didn’t know about. Results are better when influencers matches are found on more than one tool.

When reaching out to influencers, be sure to accentuate the positive and the mutual value. Focus first on what’s in it for the influencer. If possible, find out what their goals are and see how working together can move them towards reaching those goals whether it’s overall exposure and being associated publicly with your brand or early and unique access to information.

Influencer participation pitches should be credible, succinct and offer a clear description of what is being asked.

Once a topical list of influencers is identified, they can be engaged in a variety of ways including:

  • Share their status updates on social networks
  • Comment on their blog posts or industry articles
  • Follow on social networks
  • Write about them
  • Interview them

Influencer participation pitches should be credible, succinct and offer a clear description of what is being asked. Pitches should also be very easy to act on. In other words, make it really easy to participate. For example, writing takes time, so offer to do a phone interview instead.

Other tactics that work include: humor, high degree of personalization, incentives and association with other influencers already on board.

CoCreate Influencer Content

4. Content Co-Creation is Participation Marketing

Influencer content co-creation might best begin with small, easy projects that advance the relationship to more robust and substantial time commitments.

Any content type you can create in a content marketing program can be co-created with influencers.

After content is collected from influencers, assemble, edit and package in a promotable format. Then share a preview to inspire their continued participation to promote. Be sure to set expectations by sharing your timeline for production, publishing and promotion.

Any content type you can create in a content marketing program can be co-created with influencers, from eBooks to videos to articles to social microcontent.

Measure Influencer Content

5. Promote and Measure

Provide influencers with tools such as sharing images, pre-written tweets, embed codes and short URLs. Making it easy to participate and promote can substantially increase the success of your influencer content program.

Offer influencers feedback on what’s working and what is not. Since they’ve invested in the creation of the content, it’s in their interest to see the promotion succeed.

You’ve Got This!

By partnering with influencers, marketers can tap into a wealth of knowledge and a breadth of exposure for brand messages. These are not self-promotional messages though, they are the things that the brands’ customers care about.

The mutual investment in creating useful and engaging content can pay dividends for all involved. This is especially true for the resource-strapped marketer looking to scale content quantity, while not sacrificing quality. The icing on the cake are the relationships built that can fuel content collaboration, partnerships and even new business in the future.

A version of this post originally appeared at Brand Quarterly

Watch for our latest influencer content project featuring speakers from the 2015 Content Marketing World conference publishing throughout the month of June.

Photos Shutterstock: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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If You Want Your Content Marketing to be Great, Ask Influencers to Participate |

The post If You Want Your Content Marketing to be Great, Ask Influencers to Participate appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.