email marketing

Can you send a daily email to a business-to-business email list? How often can I email my B2B list? Check out these 4 lessons learned.

One of my favorite conversion strategies is the second chance. The second chance only comes when I have a way to continue the conversation; to get someone to come back again and let me make my case again.

There is no better second chance channel than email.

When entrusted with an email address, and permission to continue the conversation, I have one, two, three or more chances to persuade a prospect to reconsider.

In a business-to-business situation — the considered purchase — in which a decision will be made over a period of weeks or months, email is a true friend. And if it is executed with respect, it is a friend to those struggling with a purchase decision.

The question is, how many second chances am I going to take?

Five Emails an Hour

I tell companies that they can send email as often as their content allows them.

I once got five emails from American Airlines within the space of an hour. Did I unsubscribe? Did I feel spammed? The emails were telling me the status of a flight I was booked on as its departure time and gate changed. The emails were completely relevant to my situation, and were welcome.

If we were to stand by our statement that businesses can send as often as their emails’ relevance allows, we need to understand the dynamics of a high-frequency email campaign.

How Often Can I Email my B2B List: An Email a Day Experiment

The goal of this experiment was to examine the following hypotheses:

  1. Sending email would outperform social media marketing.
  2. Sending frequent email would significantly increase my conversion rate.
  3. Sending frequently would cause an unacceptable number of my subscribers to unsubscribe.
  4. Sending frequent email would reduce my ability to deliver email due to spam reports.

a. The List

We chose a selection of 2000 names from my house list. This list consists of contacts made through personal interactions, meetings and consultations. It is primarily a business-to-business email list.

I would call the list a “semi-warm” list having received email from me only quarterly. This list had received emails on January 11 and April 30. The experiment began September 7.

Your list could easily be generated from social media traffic or search engine traffic.

b. The Content

Because of the frequent nature of these emails, it was important that they provide some value and be entertaining. This proved to be a significant challenge.

Each email followed the following formula:

  • A non-promotional subject line
  • Relevant copy
  • Link to relevant content online or registration for a live event
  • Offers varied, including an invitation to subscribe to my mailing list, registration for a live workshop and an invitation to a Webinar on writing for landing pages.

Subject lines included “Are you the victim of the Email Invisibility Ray?,” “Social Media: Marketing from my La-Z-Boy,” and “Why eight-year-olds beat me at Chess.”

3. The Frequency

Emails were sent daily, Tuesday through Friday for two consecutive weeks. Eight emails we sent in all.

High Frequency Email Campaign Test Results

1. Email Performance vs. Social Media

We’ve had relatively good luck using social media to drive traffic to my site. However, in Figure 1, you can see that the email resulted in significant increases in traffic, even outperforming our summer social media experiment.

How often can i email B2B list? Traffic sources overview: email effect on site traffic.

Figure 1 • Traffic sources overview: email effect on site traffic.

Hypothesis: “Sending email would outperform social media marketing.” True

One interesting note is the rise in search engine traffic at the time of the email. This underscores that click-through rate is only a partial measurement of email effectiveness.

2. Increased Conversion Rate

It is probably not surprising that sending email to a targeted list is going to result in more conversions. However, keep in mind that my social media networks are also quite well-targeted.

As expected, both conversions and conversion rates for new subscribers increased. We can also attribute thirteen (13) workshop registrations to this email series, generating almost $1300 in sales.

Just looking at new email subscribers, the conversion rate for our social media experiment were 2.5%. For the period of this email, conversion rates were 7.6%.

Email frequency's effect on conversion rate.

Figure 2 • Emails’ Effect on Conversion Rate.

Hypothesis: “Sending frequent email would significantly increase my conversion rate.” True

3. Opt-out Rates

This was the metric I was most interested in examining. How would unsubscribe rates change over the course of the experiment?

Email frequency effect on deliverability. Open rate, Click-through rate and Bounce Rate for each drop.

Figure 3 • Open rate, Click-through rate and Bounce Rate for each drop.

I consider an unsubscribe rate of 1% or less acceptable and expected in any email that asks the reader to take action. So, I got pretty nervous as unsubscribe rates rose to 3.2%, and stayed well above 1%. Over the course of the experiment, 15% of the list unsubscribed.

There are two ways to look at this:

  1. We lost 15% of our prospects.
  2. We identified the 85% of list members that are interested and qualified.

If my goal with this list was primarily to sell, I would consider the 15% loss to be acceptable and even desirable. This is called Shaping your list.

However, my goal is to evangelize conversion and to educate, so the opt-outs represents a pretty significant loss of reach.

From a brand perspective, there were very few negative comments, and many positive ones.

Given the opt-out rates, would I do this again. The answer is a resounding yes.

Hypothesis: “Sending frequently would cause an unacceptable number of my subscribers to unsubscribe.” False

4. The Effect on Deliverability

The other negative effect that frequent emails can have is an increase in spam reports.

For most service providers, deliverability is the inverse of the bounce rate. If my emails are reported as spam, we would see an increase in bounces. Intuitively, when shaping a list, you expect bounce rates to drop quickly as bouncing addresses are removed from the list.

For our experiment, the bounce rate began at 2.5% but quickly dropped, leveling at an imperceptible 0.06%.

One reader was kind enough to let me know that they had “spammed” my email. I used the site MXToolbox.com to see if my domain had been placed on any black lists. However, it would be our Email Service Provider (ESP) that took the hit if spam was reported. This is one big value of an ESP. They keep themselves – and you – off of black lists.

How often can i email B2B list? Effect on opt-out rates. Unsubscribe Rates for the Email Series.

Figure 4 • Unsubscribe Rates for the Email Series.

Another measure of reader interest is open rates.

Email service providers count the number of times a special image is downloaded to establish open rates. Since many people have images turned off in their email client, the open rate is not an accurate measure of actual opens.

However, I would interpret a steady drop in open rates as a sign that the list is becoming fatigued with my communications. Open rate can also be a good indicator of the quality of your subject line.

Open rates were relatively flat, dropping on Fridays.

Overall, I believe that few of my readers reported these emails as spam.

I attribute this positive outcome to the non-promotional nature of the copy, even though the emails were clearly promoting our email list, workshop and webinar.

Hypothesis: “Sending frequent email would reduce my ability to deliver email due to spam reports.” False

How Often Can I Email my B2B List Conclusions

With some simple analytics in place, we can pretty easily establish the ideal frequency of our email campaigns. Based on these results, we should be sending email more frequently. You will probably come to the same result. However, we tested a certain kind of email with this experiment; an email that is informational and entertaining as well as promotional. This style of email requires a bit more work and creativity on our part.

The payoff is quite clear.

Email is a more effective channel in a B2B sale than is social media. It is also a great way to get more out of your search engine and advertising traffic. When you get an email address, you get a second chance at the sale. And a third, fourth and fifth chance.

For the complete content of the emails sent during this experiment, and the results of some split tests conducted, visit.

We share 7 proven strategies to improve your email open rates. Try them out and give your email content a chance to convert.

Email is one of the highest converting marketing channels and few activities drive a higher ROI than building an email list. But having 50,000 email subscribers doesn’t really matter if you can’t get any of them to open your emails.

We’ll show you seven relatively simple (yet criminally underused) strategies that are GUARANTEED to improve your email open rates. By the end of this article, you will have an actionable plan for significantly boosting the ROI of every email you send.

7 Surefire Ways to Improve Your Email Open Rates.

7 Surefire Ways to Improve Your Email Open Rates.

1. The Best Way to Improve Your Email Open Rate: Work on Your Subject Lines

Your email is desperately fighting for attention in your prospect’s inbox. Your job is to differentiate yourself within that inbox, and the only way to do that is with your email subject line. But it’s not just about standing out. What is most important to boost those email open rates is that your subject line is relevant to your audience.

Let’s take a look at some examples from my inbox:

Work on your subject lines if you want to improve your email open rates.

Work on your subject lines if you want to improve your email open rates.

  1. Sujan’s email uses a pretty standard article headline. This will really only appeal to me if I want to get more out of my video, and that’s actually a good thing. Using a good blog headline is usually a fine strategy for email subject lines.
  2. Brian’s email will appeal to me if I feel confused or have been searching for some specific answers. That said, this subject line won’t really be enough unless I already have built some trust with the sender. In this case, Brian has already done a great job of establishing himself as my go-to SEO expert, so it works.
  3. Mary’s subject line makes use of an eye-catching emoji, which is good for differentiation. At the same time, the promise is a bit too broad for someone like me to be interested. In all likelihood, however, Mary is targeting a less experienced audience, which might be intrigued by this subject line.
  4. Drew’s subject line is a bit confusing, but it also provokes my curiosity. He is hooking me in with this idea of “9/10 experts DISAGREE”. That’s interesting, and now I’m curious to see what they disagree about.

Remember that the goal of a subject line is not to get just anyone to open the email. You have a specific audience you’ve built, and it’s important to use the types of headlines that will resonate with that audience.

Want more examples? Get inspired by these 165 great email subject lines.

2. Match Your Lead Magnet To Your Content To Your Product

There’s a lot of content out there about how to build an email list. But one of the biggest mistakes I see businesses and bloggers make is thinking too short-term with their lead magnets and other lead acquisition strategies.

Email marketing is a scalable form of relationship marketing. It’s meant to be a long term pursuit, and accordingly, it’s important that what you are talking about remains consistent throughout that process.

If you attract someone to your list via an ebook on increasing web traffic, then start emailing them about how to run an ecommerce store, and then try to sell them a product on increasing productivity, you won’t have much success.

Every part of your sales funnel should be designed to appeal to the same customer profile.

When someone signs up to your list to hear about a given topic, the emails they receive should also be on that topic. By aligning your lead magnets, emails, and products, you can significantly improve your conversion rates across the board.

3. Split Test Until You Find The Optimal Send Time

One of the easiest ways to increase your open rate is to send your emails at the right time.

How do you find the right time? Two words: AB testing

This requires a little bit of intentionality upfront, but it’s so easy to do, and it can have a MASSIVE impact on the reach of your content.

Here’s one way to do it.

Schedule your next 7 emails to go out on different days of the week. For each email, break your subscribers into 4 identical groups and send to each group at a different time of the day.

This will give you a total of 28 different send times to compare against each other. If you have a smaller list, you might need to run this experiment several times in order to get statistically significant results, but what you should start to see is that certain days and times will consistently perform better than others.

By sending at these optimal times, you can significantly boost your open rates.

4. Delete Prospects that Never Open your Emails

Sometimes email subscribers just have to go. It’s hard to part with those emails you spent so much effort collecting but evidently they are not responding to your standard email campaigns. Cleanse your email list regularly as it will also help you improve deliverability. Gmail and Yahoo emails will pick up on this and send your email to their junk folder where nobody can see it, much less open it. And this makes a huge difference to your email open rates!

If you don’t want to get rid of them, split your audience and send them a very different kind of email. A farewell email. Help them move on or open your email to stay.

5. Deliverability is Key to Improve Your Email Open Rates: Resend To Unopens

This is the easiest strategy we’ll discuss today. Even when you do everything right, a lot of your emails will never even be seen.

Thanks to Gmail’s inbox categorization. A lot of emails now fall under the promos tab. There are some things you can do to try and get in the primary inbox, but that’s a bit too complicated for today’s post, so instead, I’m sharing a simple trick that anyone can use to instantly increase opens, often by an additional 25%.

Simply resend the email to anyone who didn’t open it up the first time. I like to wait around 3 days to resend, but you can experiment for yourself and see what happens.

Resend emails to increase your email open rates.

One email is nice, but two could get the job done.

In the example above, the original email performed pretty well, so the resend was a bit less powerful than usual. But even if your list is as small as 5,000 subscribers, that additional 7% in total opens means nearly 400 more people are seeing your message.

6. Be Authentic: The Email Campaign Subscribers Look Forward to Opening

One of the first things people notice when signing up to a new email list is tone.

A lot of marketers and business owners nowadays are just running email marketing because they’ve been told to. They are following a template and trying to sell products. And while there is nothing wrong with that, it’s very, VERY obvious to your readers.

The most successful email marketing campaigns often come from the biggest personalities. When you sign up for their list, you aren’t introduced to a sales pitch. You are introduced to a personality.

You read personal stories about their background and experiences. You read about their fears and failures and ultimately, their successes.

Pretty soon, you feel like you know this person sending you these emails.

That’s the power of being personal.

And while I can’t teach you to have a personality, I can give you some pointers:

  • Start your emails with brief, relevant anecdotes
  • Use a conversational tone in your writing
  • Talk about real failures and successes that you and your customers have experienced
  • Always be relevant to your audience

Being personal is not hard, but it does require you to get out of “marketer mode” from time to time.

7. Authenticate your Email Sender: SPF, DKIM, DMARC

If your emails are not reaching the inbox of your subscribers then your email will never be opened. If you want to improve your email open rates, prove to the servers – particularly big corporation servers – and subscribers that it is really you who is sending out the emails.

Here’s what you’ll need to do to get your email authentication going.

Setup Sender Policy Framework (SPF) Authentication.

Setup DKIM Authentication (DomainKeys Identified Mail) to help detect forged addresses in an email.

Enable DMARC protocol to protect your email from spoofing.

Conclusion: Increase Your Email Open Rates

Let’s review:

  1. Work on Your Subject Lines
  2. Keep customer targeting consistent from lead to sale
  3. Split test until you find optimal send times
  4. Cleanse your Email Lists Regularly
  5. Deliverability is Key to Improve Your Email Open Rates: Resend To Unopens
  6. Include personal elements (particular stories) in your emails
  7. Authenticate your Email Sender: SPF, DKIM, DMARC

By implementing these strategies, you can immediately increase the open rates of your email campaigns.

Easy.

Before you go, we’d love to hear from you. Have you tried any of these strategies or do you have any tips of your own to add?

Let us know in the comments!

How long should your emails be? Do people read long emails? Do short emails convert better? These questions have been debated for a long time. My guest has the data and this is one question she answers for us.

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There’s nothing better than getting another shot at a conversion. Sometimes, people aren’t ready to buy. I get that. I’m fine with that.

But I always want another shot. Maybe when the time is better.

Because it took a lot to get that person to the site.

Email makes more website visits valuable

The search engines are getting ever pickier at the kind of content they consider authoritative. You’ve got to work for it.

Social media requires so much time to do right, and most of the activity stays on the social media apps.

Every online advertising source has gotten steadily more expensive, prohibitively expensive. It was Google. Then Facebook. Then “the Gram”. Competition has driven up the cost of each of these in turn.

And what do I have to show for it? A landing page bounce or a full shopping cart left abandoned on one of my digital aisles.

No, I want another shot.

I’ve got a lot of choices when it comes to catching a wayward visitor. Exit overlays, live chat and the BB8 equivalent, chatbots. I can try to get you to agree to push notifications. I can give you a discount in exchange for permission to send you a Facebook message. I can pout, I can cry, I can beg.

But after almost four decades, the best choice is still that quaint old communication medium email.

“So a lot of experts nowadays will tell you that you need to write really short emails because there’s a statistic out there that says that our attention spans are that of a goldfish. I hate that.”

What the Data Says: Email, Podcasts, & Lead Conversion

What does the data tell us about effective email, podcasts and converting leads to sales? It's in here.
  • * Biggest misunderstandings
  • * Important metrics
  • * Applying the data
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What the data says displayed on phone and spread of pages

Email is the new email

It’s the original social media platform.

Every year, we hear about the demise of email. And every year email is the new email.

Email still can’t be beat for rich content, for conversations that feel one-to-one, and for getting another shot at a future customer. While everyone was fawning over the sexy new kid, social media, good ole email kept my readers close. Despite these new channels, the money is still in the list. And no algorithm change is going to take your list away from you.

People reply to my emails and tell me a little about themselves. Because they can. And I write back. And it can make my day.

Because that means I’m going to get another shot at making them a customer. Customers are some of my favorite people.

“Only 10.9 percent of e-mail experts send emails with subject lines of 20 characters or less.”

Yes, we may have abused our email privilege, but not by sending too much email. It’s something else.

To explore this, I’ve invited Liz Whillits to join me. Liz is Senior Content Marketing Specialist at AWeber, one of the OG email services. She is a self-proclaimed marketing nerd, and that makes her our kind of crazy.

“46 percent of emails are opened on mobile devices. Most mobile devices will cut off your subject line at somewhere between 30 and 40 characters. So anything over 40 characters is definitely getting cut off for your mobile readers.”

Liz doesn’t think you’re sending too much email, and she’s got the data to prove it. If we’re not sending too much email, then what’s keeping our email from being more productive?

When you get back to the office…

Our inbox has become our task master. If we want to know what’s going on with our team, communicate with our clients and agencies, or handle that return, it’s still done through email.

Email used to be the place we turned when we needed to take a break from creating that report, from polishing that design, or from meeting with the team. It used to be email to which we turned for a distraction.

“If you don’t clean your list, your emails are less likely to reach the inbox. So you could be putting all of this work into your email marketing strategy only to have your emails not reach the inbox.”

Today, the inbox drives our daily to-do list. This is true of veterans like me, as well as the younger members of the Slack generation. This is where it gets its power.

But instead of suggesting that you review your autoresponder, I’d like to invite you to make your everyday emails a little more personal. Add a bit of wit when you acknowledge receipt of that spreadsheet. Drop a meme to that terse, business-like reply you’ve just banged out.

Do something… anything that will make your coworkers glad to get email from you. In the long run, I think this will change the way you write for your prospects and clients.

I’m going to start doing this today.

Now, go science something with that personal flair.

How Long Should you Emails Be Show Notes

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Read the Interview with Liz Willits

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Would you like to know why your mobile visitors don’t buy from your ecommerce site? Brian Massey, the Conversion Scientist®, unveils the mystery – and tells you what to do about it.

If you are like most ecommerce sites, you’re getting more mobile visitors, but the conversion rates are significantly lower than your desktop and tablet visitors – a lot lower.

Find out how to reverse this trend, increase your sales, and learn to love the small screen.

Understand your mobile ecommerce website visitors

Let’s take stock of your mobile visitors. What are they really like? This will require some analytics work. Even if you aren’t yet comfortable with analytics, get a Google Analytics login and follow along.

Are tablet visitors mobile or non-mobile?

Tablet visitors are generally happy with a desktop-like experience because they have large screens. However, tablet visitors are often in a “lean back” context, browsing for entertainment rather than to accomplish a goal. If your tablet visitors have conversion rates and average order values similar to your desktop visitors, you can regard them as, what I call, “non-mobile” or “big screen” visitors.

Look at your mobile visitors and non-mobile (desktop plus tablet) visitors separately.

Why your mobile visitors don’t buy from your ecommerce site: Questions to ask

To fully understand why your mobile visitors don’t buy from your ecommerce site, answer each of the following questions. There are no right or wrong answers.

1. Is your mobile traffic growing?

Look at the total number of visits (or sessions) for mobile and all visitors over time. Then look at the last month. Google Analytics has a report (Audience -> Mobile -> Overview) that will show you the percentage of these visitors to your site.

The Google Analytics Mobile Overview report shows mobile traffic (green line) is clearly trending up as a percentage of all traffic (blue line).

Figure 1: The Mobile Overview report shows mobile traffic (green line) is clearly trending up as a percentage of all traffic (blue line).

Has the percentage of mobile visitors changed over time? Is this percentage bigger or smaller in more recent months?

2. Does your mobile traffic convert lower than your desktop traffic?

How much do you make from each mobile visitor? Look at the revenue per visit or session value for mobile visitors and compare this to non-mobile visitors. You’ll find this by clicking the Ecommerce tab in the Mobile Overview report.

Choose the Ecommerce view to see average session value reports.

Choose the Ecommerce view to see average session value reports.

If your mobile visitors are converting less or spending less per transaction, you will see it in these metrics.

Report showing the average order value for mobile is less than desktop. Figure 2: In this example, the average order value for mobile visitors is only $0.20 compared to $3.75 for desktop visitors.

Figure 2: In this example, the average order value for mobile visitors is only $0.20 compared to $3.75 for desktop visitors.

You may want to analyze a longer period of time if you have seasonality in your ecommerce business.

3. Do your mobile visitors convert in other ways?

Look at non-ecommerce conversions, including email, subscriptions, registrations, phone calls, and social messenger permissions. Compare these conversion rates to your big-screen or desktop conversion rates.

report showing registration rates for mobile vs desktop visitors. Looking at Goal Set 1, we see that mobile visitors have a lower Registration rate (last column) than desktop visitors.

Figure 3: Looking at Goal Set 1, we see that mobile visitors have a lower Registration rate (last column) than desktop visitors.

4. Do your mobile visitors buy as much their desktop counterpart on the first transaction?

Look at your average transaction size, or average order value. Is it larger or smaller for mobile visitors? In Figure 2, we can see that the average order value for this online store is considerably smaller for mobile visitors ($46.60) than for desktop visitors ($160.43).

5. What channels make up your mobile traffic?

Do you have more mobile customers coming from email and social media?

While more visitors from YouTube are coming on desktop, the opposite is true for Facebook visitors.

Figure 4: While more visitors from YouTube are coming on desktop, the opposite is true for Facebook visitors.

6. What is your ecommerce cart abandonment rate?

This is the number of visitors who add to cart, but don’t check out.

CAR = Transactions / Sessions with Add to Cart

Related Reading: Mobile Call-to-Action Buttons: Best Guidelines for Placement, Copy, and Design

7. What is your mobile checkout abandonment rate?

This is the number of visitors who start to check out, but don’t complete the process.

COAR = Transactions / Sessions with clicks on Checkout

Answering these questions will help you determine the particular behavior of your small-screen visitors. When you are campaigning for resources, you need to be able to tell the story of your mobile visitors.

Report showing mobile visitors have higher abandonment rates than desktop.

Report showing mobile visitors have higher abandonment rates than desktop.

In the example above, we see that mobile visitors have much higher Cart Abandonment (75.66%) and Check-Out Abandonment (68.88%) rates than desktop visitors (52.43% and 37.62% respectively).

This is an indication that this mobile checkout process may have some issues.

The reasons your mobile visitors aren’t buying from your ecommerce site

It costs more to buy on a small-screen mobile device because it takes longer and it extracts a psychological price. There are three major reasons your conversion rate is lower for smartphone users.

  1. Your mobile visitors are coming with a lower level of urgency. They are standing in line, waiting for a table, or checking out of a group conversation.
  2. Your responsive website template assumes a mobile site is just a small desktop site. It’s just too hard to checkout.
  3. Your website is too slow. Mobile visitors have to wait much longer for a slow site because their connections have lower bandwidth.

Conversion Rate Optimization Tips: Mobile visitors aren’t here to buy. Don’t fight it

Mobile users are likely to have a “lean back” attitude compared with your big-screen visitors. For a portion of your visitors, their shopping experience is less urgent, driven more by opportunity than by purpose.

Mobile visits are more often sourced by interruptions than by intent-driven search advertising. They are clicking through, based on a recommendation on Instagram, clicking on your Facebook ad, or coming from your abandoned cart email. In these cases, they are responding to an interruption. They may have a need for your product, but they weren’t shopping intentionally. They were interrupted.

Visitors coming from a search engine are intentional. They are signaling that they are actively trying to solve a problem.

Your mobile traffic is more likely to come from interrupt-driven sources: email and social media websites. Accept this, and move on.

“If you are investing more in the cheap clicks of social media, you are going to attract more “lean back” mobile visitors.”

Start a conversation instead

If you have a large percentage of mobile visitors coming from interrupt-driven campaigns and they are not converting, don’t focus on the sale. Focus on getting an email address or permission to communicate via a social messaging app, like Facebook Messenger.

What call to action would a mobile visitor respond to?

Content: Offer sizing guides, buyers guides, style guides, installation, and how-to videos in exchange for an email address.

Save my work: Offer to store the items they’ve added to their cart in exchange for an email. We call this a “screen hopper”. They may be more willing to buy later when they are checking emails on their computer at work. Offer to send them a link to their wish list via Facebook Messenger. Just know that their return visit will probably be on their smartphone.

Join our community: Offer to make your more passionate mobile visitors a part of an exclusive community.

Discounts. Offer a future discount in exchange for their email address or permission to send them a message.

Don’t redo the whole site. Land mobile visitors on specially designed pages in your online store.

Focus on getting the second visit.

It’s hard to complete forms on a smartphone

Forms are frustrating. They take the joy out of the purchase. No one likes entering their address once, let alone twice. And we tend to make more mistakes on a mobile keyboard. It’s not hard to track form errors in analytics. If you do, you will likely find more errors from mobile visitors.

The reason mobile is harder is the input method: 2 thumbs vs. 10 fingers for a keyboard. And on-screen keyboards aren’t tactile. There’s no feedback. Mistakes happen more often, extracting a psychological price.

Your clue that you have a user-experience problem is a high checkout abandonment rate (see above). If so, you should help your mobile visitors out.

Watch some screen captures

The recommendations I give here may or may not be affecting your visitors. Before you begin making changes to your site based on my rantings, find out which issues are affecting you.

The best way to do this is by watching screen recordings. I KNOW IT’S BORING. But it will take you less time to watch 100 of your visitors interact with your checkout than to make all of my recommended changes.

Screen recordings are pretty easy to get these days. Look at tools such as CrazyEgg, Sessioncam, Mouseflow, and Hotjar.

I recommend watching 50 to 100 visits that include a checkout or an abandonment. The best tools will let you search for these particular recordings. As you watch, tally the number of visitors who struggle, and notice which fields trip them. Star the visits that result in an abandonment. You’ll want to play these for your development team later.

Reduce the form fields

It may seem obvious that you need a credit card billing address, expiration date and CVV number. But, do you really?

Can you get this information from PayPal, Apple Pay, Visa Checkout, or some other service?

Use the right mobile keyboards

There is no good reason to make me enter sixteen numbers using a QWERTY keyboard. The number targets are tiny. Give me the numeric keypad.

The same goes for entering a phone number, CVV, expiration date, PIN, and US postal codes. Use the numeric keypad please.

Choosing the wrong keyboard may be the reason mobile visitors don't buy from your ecommerce site. Use the numeric keyboard for numeric fields.

Figure 5: Use the numeric keyboard for numeric fields.

If you want my email address, please use the email keyboard. It doesn’t require me to do anything special to enter “@”, “.” or “.com”.

Eliminate the endless drop-downs

How many countries are there in the world? If you are choosing your country on a mobile device, you know there is a lot, about two minutes worth of scrolling through a dropdown. I’m from the United States. I have to scroll to the bottom of a long list of countries to find “United States”.

If you don’t ship to Mars and Venus, they shouldn’t be on the list.

Your mobile visitors know the abbreviation for their country. Let them enter “USA” or “Canada” or “UK”.

Also, I’m from Texas, which means I scroll through 40 states. I hate your state dropdown, but not as much as those poor souls from Wyoming.

Avoid fancy fields on mobile forms

There’s been a trend toward auto-formatting fields. Phone numbers magically get parentheses around the city code. Dashes magically appear.

Fancy fields fail too often on mobile devices. If you have the resources to continuously QA all of the new browsers on all of the new devices coming out, you’re probably okay.

Cover the exits

Use exit-triggered, or exit-intent popups to make a final pitch to your mobile visitors. These popups appear when your mobile visitor tries to leave the site. This is a great place to offer to continue the conversation, save the cart, or provide a discount.

Use trust and proof in your mobile ecommerce checkout

You can’t make mobile visitors wait

I often hear that web visitors have the attention span of a goldfish. Mobile visitors could have the patience of a redwood tree and still abandon your page because it doesn’t appear to load.

Your mobile site is slow. This is because no one has a 4G connection to the internet, even if they’re standing right under the cell tower. Have you tested your website with the WiFi turned off? Probably not.

Your mobile site must be snappy. Google considers a mobile page speed slow if it takes more than 2.5 seconds to load over a 4G connection. There is nothing more painful than having to wait for the information needed right there and then when on a smartphone. Even a goldfish won’t hang around if you’re not responding quickly.

Barriers to Sales in Mobile Ecommerce Websites: Someone else designed my shopping cart

You will run into some barriers in optimizing your mobile checkout.

We’ve all been told to think “out of the box.” But “out of the box” shopping carts do not let us customize for our mobile visitors.

Third party services such as Shopify and BigCommerce do their best to give you a strong starting point. But you’ll need resources to customize their default experience for mobile.

Integration with third-party payment options requires work. Services like PayPal and Stripe need to balance security with integration that looks seamless. This is just the first step toward mobile-optimized checkouts.

Your mobile website isn’t a mini desktop site

Google successfully convinced most online businesses to go to a responsive web template with its Mobilegeddon threat. As I said in “Is Google Using Mobilegeddon to Lead You Astray?”, a responsive desktop website only gets you part of the way there.

  • Mobile visitors want more than a mini-me of your desktop site. They want:
  • Smaller forms.
  • Faster load times. Have you tried using your mobile site outside of your corporate WiFi network?
  • Thumb-driven content. Sliders and carousels work on mobile.
  • Custom keyboards for numbers, email addresses and text.
  • Location-based content, like maps.

Mobile visitors want something fundamentally different. Give it to them. Expect to make changes to the way your responsive template works. After a period of testing, your mobile site will evolve away from your big-screen site. That’s as it should be, and it’s the only way to get your mobile site converting as high as your desktop site.

Related Reading:

With a limited amount of money in your marketing budget, spend it on things which are going to give you the best return on investment. These email marketing facts tell you why email remains a great way to spend your money.

Unfortunately, many people wrongly think that this type of marketing is dead. The amount of emails I get in my inbox each day says otherwise. Here are some facts about email marketing to prove my point:

  1. 205 billion emails are sent each day. This is expected to rise to 246 billion by the end of 2019.
  2. Email is still one of the most widely used methods of communication despite the wide range of platforms and apps available.
  3. Although Facebook is an important tool for marketing, email marketing is the most direct and personal way to reach and interact with your target audience. People are more likely to sign up for your email list than they are to interact with you on Facebook. In fact, companies still employ third-party email marketing services to assist them with this aspect of eCommerce.
  4. Your customers want updates. Don’t just settle for one sale per customer, you want multiple sales. Your customers want to hear from you and want email updates about your brand. Don’t let them forget about you, give them what they want!
  5. Emails have a larger ROI. For every $1 spent on email marketing, an average $38 is returned – this is very important if you have a limited budget.
Want to learn more about email marketing? Check out our infographic below.
Email Marketing Facts

Email Marketing Facts

Talking about useful AB testing tools to the readers of this blog may be like preaching to the choir. But if you are new to this blog, or new to conversion optimization in general, you may be wondering which AB testing tools you can start using without making a huge investment. Fortunately, there are some AB testing tools out there that are either free or won’t cost you any additional money because you already have them – you just don’t know it yet.
In this post, we’re going to look at AB testing tools that you may have had all along and how to use them to optimize different aspects of your marketing strategy for conversions.

Useful Website AB Testing Tools

Since most people will want to do AB testing on their website, we’ll start with the tools you can use here. Did you know that if you have fewer than 50,000 unique visitors per month, you can use tools like Optimizely for simple AB testing for free? It’s a really simple tool to use. You just sign up for your free account and start up a website project.

Create a project with Optimizely for free when you have fewer than 50,000 visitors a month

Create a project with Optimizely for free when you have fewer than 50,000 visitors a month

Once you’ve entered your URL, you will be taken to a screen where you can immediately start creating a variation to test on your website.

Create a variation for your AB test

Create a variation for your AB test

Once you’ve created your variation, you click the Start Experiment button and get the code you need to add to your site.

Start your Optimizely experiment

Start your Optimizely experiment

You will set up a goal so you know which variation leads to the most conversions.

Create a goal for your AB testing experiment

Create a goal for your AB testing experiment

And then sit back and wait for visitors to come to your website to determine which variation gets the most conversions!
If you’re stuck for ideas on what to test on your landing page, you can try the common elements – headlines, subheads, images, calls to action, etc. – as well as some creative options listed in our landing page testing ideas post.
If you have more than 50,000 visitors each month, or would prefer to not add another tool to your toolkit, you can also look into Google Analytics Content Experiments. This allows you to conduct testing with your Google Analytics.
To start, you go to Behavior > Experiments for your website and click the Create Experiment button. Then you define the experiment you want to perform, starting with the goal of your test. You will use your Google Analytics goals to ultimately determine which variation of your AB test is the winner.

Create an experiment in Google Analytics

Create an experiment in Google Analytics

The key difference between Google Content Experiments and your average AB testing tool is that you have to create an additional page on your website that has the variation, whereas most AB testing tools (like Optimizely) will let you “edit” your page in their editor. So depending on what you want to change, it may be an easy or difficult process to create that second page.

Setting up variants in Google Analytics may require more steps than using a traditional AB testing tool like Optimizely.

Setting up variants in Google Analytics may require more steps than using a traditional AB testing tool like Optimizely.

Next, you will receive the code you need to insert on your website to start your experiment.

You code for your AB test in Google Analytics

You code for your AB test in Google Analytics

Finally, you will confirm that the code has been installed and you will start your experiment. Once your experiment is completed, Google Analytics will declare a definitive winner.

Alternatives to AB Testing Your Own Website

An alternative to doing AB testing on your own website is to monitor the tests of others. There’s a free way to do it and a paid way. First, you can try to find your competitor’s website history in the Internet Archives. The downside to the free is that you’ll have a lot of clicking to do.

The Internet Archive brings you the tool Wayback Machine which lets you see how a website appeared on a particular date.

The Internet Archive brings you the tool Wayback Machine which lets you see how a website appeared on a particular date.

The other option I mentioned in my landing page testing ideas post, Rival IQ, allows you to see your competitor’s website history in a much easier to digest format.

RivalIQ is a paid tool for viewing website histories.

RivalIQ is a paid tool for viewing website histories.

There’s a good chance that if you look through your competitors designs over the last couple of years, you’ll see subtle changes to headlines, images, colors, etc. that will relate to some AB testing. So instead of testing on your own, you can learn from their tests and pave your own unique way from there.

Email Marketing AB Testing

If you are running email marketing campaigns, chances are you are using a popular email marketing software platform that likely has an AB testing component built in. MailChimp, for example, allows you to select an AB testing campaign and then allows you to test four aspects of your email campaign: the subject line (highly recommended), the from name, the content, and the send time.

AB testing options in MailChimp

AB testing options in MailChimp

You can choose a certain percentage of your recipients to test with and you can choose click rate, open rate, revenue, or other goals to judge the results of your testing. For example, if you chose to test subject lines, you would simply enter two subject lines for your recipients instead of one.

AB testing email subject lines in MailChimp

AB testing email subject lines in MailChimp

Or, if you were going to test two different types of newsletter content (such as a text-only email versus an HTML newsletter), you would get two email templates to send to your recipients.

AB test your email content

AB test your email content

Most email marketing software offers AB testing. At the bare minimum, you can at least test your subject lines. Some go further with the from name testing, email content testing, send time testing, and other forms of AB testing.
But considering that your subject line is the make or break point of whether someone opens your emails, it’s safe to say that so long as you have the option of testing that, you are good!

Alternatives to AB Testing Your Own Email

There is a simple and free way to monitor your competition’s email and potentially see what headlines are working for them – just sign up for their emails. And be sure to at least open them. If you just ignore them, some will automate you out of their main line of emails. And that might mean you’ll miss out on some good subject lines!
Bonus tip: if your competition is using email marketing software like Infusionsoft, ActiveCampaign, or others that allow automations, you should open the emails and click on the links on occasion. You may get to see one of their automation funnels in action too!

Blog Content AB Testing

Similar to email AB testing, blog content performance can rely heavily on one specific element: the title. If you choose a great blog title, people will click through and read your post from your blog’s homepage, search engines, social networks, and other sources. If you choose a bad blog title, then you may not get an clicks or readers at all.
That’s why AB testing your blog post titles can be a crucial key to the success of your content marketing strategy. If you have WordPress, Nelio A/B Testing is a tool you can use to do just that.
While it’s not free, it starts at $29 a month for websites with 5,000 views per month. And it will allow you to test crucial elements of your blog, beyond just the headlines of your blog posts.

You can use Nelio A/B Testing to test WordPress blog content

You can use Nelio A/B Testing to test WordPress blog content

For serious publishers, WordPress website owners, and WooCommerce website site owners, this can be a powerful AB testing tool that can help you test a variety of things that other testing tools simply can’t.

Alternatives to AB Testing Your Own Blog Headlines

Going back specifically to blog headlines, if you don’t want to test your own, there are ways of finding out the best headlines for a specific topic. The free way would be to use BuzzSumo – even without an account, you can usually get the top five to ten headlines about a specific topic based on social sharing.

Find the top headlines for a topic using BuzzSumo

Find the top headlines for a topic using BuzzSumo

If you don’t mind paying, a similarly priced tool that offers even more information that you can try or compare to BuzzSumo is Impactana. Both start at $99 per month, but Impactana goes a step further by allowing you to see headlines that are not popular based on social shares alone, but also based on views, backlinks, comments, and other metrics (based on the type of content).

Impactana uses more metrics than BuzzSumo to show you the top headlines for topics

Impactana uses more metrics than BuzzSumo to show you the top headlines for topics

This can give you a strong idea of what headlines and content generate the most social buzz, search authority, traffic, and audience engagement.
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Social Media Ad Campaign AB Testing

While social media advertising is not free, AB testing for some social media ad platforms is because it’s built right in. Take Facebook, for example. You can create an Ad Campaign, an Ad Set that is targeted to a specific audience through specific placements, and multiple Ads under that set that help you test variations so you can determine which one drives the most conversions.
Here’s how the process looks in the standard Facebook Ads Manager. First, you will start by choosing your ad objective.

Choosing your ad objective in Facebook

Choosing your ad objective in Facebook

Then you will name your Ad Campaign.

Naming your Facebook ad campaign

Naming your Facebook ad campaign

Next, you will define your Ad Set by choosing your target audience, ad placements (the desktop news feed, the mobile news feed, Instagram, etc.), and setting your budget.

Defining your Facebook Ad Set

Defining your Facebook Ad Set

Before you continue, you can save the name of your Ad Set.

Your budget and schedule for your Facebook ad

Your budget and schedule for your Facebook ad

Finally, you will configure your first Ad.

Configuring your Facebook ad

Configuring your Facebook ad

Once you’re finished with your first ad creative, you will place your order. Once you do, that ad will go into review and you will get the option to create a similar ad.

After finishing your order for your Facebook ad, you're ready to get set-up for your variation

After finishing your order for your Facebook ad, you’re ready to get set-up for your variation

This will allow you to create another Ad under the same Ad Campaign and Ad Set. You will get the option to modify the Ad Set if needed.

Modifying your Facebook ad set

Modifying your Facebook ad set

Otherwise, you can click Continue to create your next Ad variation. This will bring up the same Ad you created before so you can create your variation by changing one specific element, such as the image, originating page, the headline, the text, the call to action, the news feed description, or the display link.

Change the element you want to test in your Facebook ad AB test

Change the element you want to test in your Facebook ad AB test

Once you have made your variation and placed your order, you will again get the option to create a similar ad or to continue to your Ads Manager. You can also decide to add more variations from the Ads Manager by clicking on the Create Similar Ad button.

You can add more variations by clicking Create Similar Ad

You can add more variations by clicking Create Similar Ad

The downside, as you can see above, is that you can’t name the individual ad variations. Therefore, unless you’ve changed the images between them, they all look the same in the Ad Manager view. Hence, to know which variation in terms of originating page, the headline, the text, the call to action, the news feed description, or the display link is working, you will have to click through to the winning variation and view the post to learn from it.

It's easy to toggle off an ad if it's not working out

It’s easy to toggle off an ad if it’s not working out

The upside, however, is you can easily toggle off the losing variation of your ad based on its performance.
But overall, this is a great way to use AB testing in your Facebook Ad Campaigns. And it’s the simplest way as it doesn’t require you to use Power Editor, although if you are more comfortable in Power Editor, it can be done there as well.
If you use LinkedIn Ads, they also offer an option for creating variations with their text and image ads. Fortunately, their variations editor is even simpler. Start by going to LinkedIn Ads Manager, select your LinkedIn advertising account, create a new Campaign, and then select Text Ads.

How to begin a LinkedIn ad campaign

How to begin a LinkedIn ad campaign

Start by giving your campaign a name.

Name your LinkedIn ad campaign

Name your LinkedIn ad campaign

Next, you will create your first ad.

Creating your first ad

Creating your first ad

When you save your first ad, you will get the option to continue or create up to 100 variations of your ad.

After you create your ad, LinkedIn makes it easy to create your variations

After you create your ad, LinkedIn makes it easy to create your variations

When you click to create another ad, you will be able to create an entirely new ad from scratch to test different URLs, headlines, descriptions, and images.

Building your LinkedIn ad variations

Building your LinkedIn ad variations

Once you are finished creating your variations, you will continue through the campaign creation process to select your target ad audience and set your ad campaign budget.

Select your targeted audience and your budget

Select your targeted audience and your budget

Once you have finished creating your campaign, you will get a clear view in your ads dashboard of how each of your ad variations are performing. This will allow you to learn what works and what doesn’t quickly, as well as allow you to toggle the losing variations off.

Your dashboard will tell you how your ad variations are performing

Your dashboard will tell you how your ad variations are performing

Alternatives to Doing Your Own Social Media Ad AB Testing
There are two free alternatives when researching paid advertisements. The first is Moat. Moat allows you to look at other companies display banner ads. While this isn’t specific to social media ads, it can help you learn about the images and ad copy that big brands use to drive paid traffic to their websites.

Use Moat to discover what your competitors are doing with their ad testing

Use Moat to discover what your competitors are doing with their ad testing

If you notice particular imagery, copy, calls to action, button colors, or other elements have been used over and over again, you can assume that said elements have been doing well, considering you can almost guarantee big brands are testing the elements that they are paying for.
The second resource you can tap into that is specific to Facebook is the AdSpresso Facebook Ads Gallery. Simply sign up for their newsletter and start searching for brands that advertise on Facebook. Not only will you get to see the variations of ads they have used over time, but you can click on their ads to get some pretty good details about the ads.

AdSpresso shares a lot of valuable information about Facebook ads

AdSpresso shares a lot of valuable information about Facebook ads

Between these two resources, you should learn a lot about how to create a successful ad campaign on social media and beyond. And they’re both better options than sitting around and refreshing your Facebook or LinkedIn news feed, hoping to see some ads from your competitors.

In Conclusion

As you can see, between free and premium tools, there are various ways to A/B test many aspects of your online marketing beyond just your landing pages. Be sure to look at the different aspects of your online marketing strategy and think about the ways you should be testing it to improve your results today!

About the Author

Kristi HinesKristi Hines Headshot is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media enthusiast. You can follow her latest tweets about business and marketing @kikolani or posts on Facebook @kristihinespage to stay informed.
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I’m fond of saying that AB testing, or split testing, is the “Supreme Court” of data collection. An AB test gives us the most reliable information about a change to our site. It controls for a number of variables that can taint our data.

Things change over time. You might make a change to your site at the same time that a competitor runs a sale. Was it your change or the sale that was responsible for a drop in transactions on your site? AB tests eliminate such issues by serving variations over the same period of time.

Things change among visitors. Generally, visitors coming to your site from an email campaign are more likely to buy than visitors from search ads. For most businesses, mobile visitors convert worse than desktop visitors. An AB test can make sure that the “mix” of visitors is the same for the each change that is tested.

Plus, the AB test gathers data from real visitors and customers who are “voting” on our changes using their dollars, their contact information and their commitment to our offerings.

And our AB tests can lead us astray.

Testing Email: Open Rates & Click-Through Rates

When testing email, open rates and click-through rates don’t give you the true performance of your emails. They also don’t let your team take credit for keeping the accountants busy.

We recently did an analysis of one of our e-commerce client’s email campaigns. They had been testing how the “disclaimer” line in their emails was affecting purchase behavior.

The “disclaimer” is the first line in an email. It typically says something like “Having trouble viewing this email? Click here.” The reason this line is important is that most email clients now show the subject line and the beginning of an email in the inbox view. Here’s an example from my Gmail promotions folder.

The first line of your email is as important as the subject line.

The first line of your email is as important as the subject line.

One assumes that, if these messages are working, they will be reflected in a better open rate. It turns out not to be true.

So, we tested different versions of this text over the course of 23 emails. The Open Rate predicted which would generate the most revenue in less than half of them.

As a predictor of revenue, click-through rate didn’t fare much better, calling the revenue winner in thirteen of the tests.

Revenue-Per-Recipient Puts Marketing In The Money

When we talk about monetizing a list, the metric we like is Revenue-per-Recipient.

It is calculated as:

revenue per recipient is email revenue divided by email delivered

It tells us how much spendable revenue we’re getting from each member of our list. To look at it another way, it’s an estimate of the value of each person on our list.

With proper analytics, we can measure this for the whole list, particular segments of the list (customers vs. new subscribers for instance), or for different treatments in a split test.

Measuring it requires some discipline and a bit of analytics work.

Getting To Revenue-Per-Recipient

The key to getting the Revenue-per-Recipient (RPR) number is tying email clicks to transactions. This may require some help from your friendly IT department.

Configure Your Analytics Package

Most e-commerce companies will be pumping the results of each transaction into their analytics software. If you’re generating leads for your business, your analytics system can track new prospects for you as well.

We talked last time about tracking phone calls generated by your site. Done right, you can track the number of calls made by email clickers.

Do the work necessary to get reliable reporting of sales or leads into your analytics package. Once this is done, you have what you need to calculate the impact of email on the bottom line.

Mark Your Email Traffic

This is where the discipline comes in. We need to be able to identify the traffic generated from each email drop. This is done typically by adding special parameters to the links in the emails that come back to our site.

What you add to you add to your URLs depends on your analytics package. Google Analytics has a set of standard parameters. An email link, properly tagged might change from:

http://buyschtuff.com/halloween

to

http://buyschtuff.com/halloween?utm_campaign=halloween-special&utm_source=subscriber-list&utm_medium=email

When someone clicks on this link, Google Analytics will know that it was from the email talking about the Halloween Special, that it was sent to the Subscriber List, and that it was clicked from an email.

I have found that it’s important to add the date of the email drop as well, and this can be added to the campaign description. Here’s the format I use.

http://buyschtuff.com/halloween?utm_campaign=halloween-special-20131029&utm_source=subscriber-list&utm_medium=email

Many email service providers offer integrations with popular analytics packages, such as Google Analytics. They will add these tags automatically for you. The only down side is that the campaign names they choose may not be as easy to read. Mailchimp sends Google Analytics campaign names like “934f31ce51-Webinar_Follow_up_Email_10_31_2013.”

Readability is important.

We will want to be able to identify performance of individual emails when we’re testing or sending to specific segments. We will soon want to be able to marry our email service provider reports with our analytics reports. Readability will be key.

Power Reports

This process gives us the ability to see the revenue each email produces directly. Here’s a report taken from Google Analytics.

Track your emails to the dollars.

Track your emails to the dollars.

For any of the emails in this kind of report, we can pull the number of recipients from our email service provider. This gives us our Revenue per Recipient for each drop and an overall number.

Revenue per Recipient accounts for list size and revenue generated.

Revenue per Recipient accounts for list size and revenue generated.

In this example, we got 37 cents for each member of our list. However, we can see that this number is skewed by the first one, delivering a whopping $1.20 per recipient.

Don’t be concerned that 37 cents sounds so small. RPR numbers are rarely exciting in their magnitude.

A Word For B2B Lead Generators

It may not seem that this will work for lead generators, especially those with long sales cycles. Nonsense.

As lead generators, we should know the value of a lead to our business. For our purposes, how we calculate it is less important than being consistent. Lead value is calculated by New Customer Revenue/New Leads.

We could calculate it once based on last year’s numbers and use it for all emails until you calculate it again.

We could calculate it every month by dividing the past month’s new revenue with all new leads from the past three months.

You should choose the method that you can justify, and that delivers a consistent RPR month over month.

Power Process Tip: If you can calculate the true value of a lead for your organization, you can calculate your value as a lead generator in terms everyone understands: dollars.

Optimizing Revenue-Per-Recipient

There are two ways to increase your Revenue per Recipient, both of which are best practices in email marketing.

  1. Increase the revenue your list is generating. Duh.
  2. Decrease the number of recipients. What?

Like trees in the winter, it’s important to prune and shape your list. Those who have never opened a single one of your emails should be dropped. In fact, many email marketers drop non-openers every 90 days or less.

It’s scary, but it’s good business.

Of course, we all want our lists to deliver steady revenue growth. This comes from understanding the offers, subject lines, email copy and landing pages that make the most money for the business.

It’s relatively easy to test emails. Just remember to test to the dollars using RPR.

A Final Word About Accuracy

This method doesn’t take into account the revenue generated when your emails create non-click demand. You don’t get credit when recipients see your email, but call, come to your store, or visit your site through other means. Nonetheless, RPR this is a valid measure of the dollar impact we are having on our businesses.

It’s time to stop boring people with how good your open rates and click-through rates are. Tell them what each and every person on your list is worth in dollars. When you track the results of your emails down to the dollar, you track your own value down to the dollar.

Portions of this article first appeared on Marketing Land.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

How does one build traffic to a blog? That’s easy. One writes. One posts. One shares.
Unfortunately, not all posts are created equal. Not all topics interest the same number of readers. And not all keyword phrases get the attention of the great granter of traffic, Google.
Having blogged since 2005 on marketing topics, from email to conversion optimization. Every post has it’s own signature when I look at it in Google Analytics. There are Eagles, Icebergs, Burps and more.
I thought I would share them with you.

How We Look at Traffic

Our subscriber list gets an email each week of with new posts. We publish new posts three times per week. We put new posts on LinkedIn and Facebook, and will generally share with on Twitter multiple times over the course of a week or two. Our most active posts will get reposted on LinkedIn.
We count on this initial outreach to drive relevant backlinks for search engine optimization. I use Referral Traffic as a proxy for backlinks. While backlinks aren’t about generating referral traffic, there is a correlation between the amount referral traffic and the number of backlinks a post has.
So, when evaluating the performance of our blog posts, I’m examining:

  1. Email traffic
  2. Social traffic
  3. Referral traffic (for backlinks)
  4. Organic traffic

With these segments, I look at the Google Analytics Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages report for individual posts that rank high in traffic generated, and go back more than a year.

The Google Analytics Landing Pages report can be used to isolate the most visited entry pages on the blog.

The Google Analytics Landing Pages report can be used to isolate the most visited entry pages on the blog.

Separating Social Referrals from Referral Traffic in Google Analytics

First of all, Google Analytics seems to include social referrals in it’s “Referral Traffic” filter. I want to look at social separately, so I created a filter based on the social networks that send traffic to us.
^t\.co|facebook\.com|twitter|pinterest|disqus|linkedin|
lnkd\.in|quora|plus.*\.google\.com|digg|netvibes|
scoop\.it|slideshare|instapaper|
meetup\.com|paper\.li|stumbleupon

The difference between Referral and non-social Referral Traffic-Graph-Arrows

This article shows that Google’s “Referral Traffic” advanced segment includes social referrals.

The Kinds of Posts You Find in Analytics

Every post is unique. Each has its own signature in analytics. However, there are some common themes I’ve seen in the data and I’m going to share them with you here.

The Burp

The Burp is a post that gets all of it’s juice from email and social media. There is a spike of activity followed by near “silence,” if you can say visits make a sound.
These are topics that may have been interesting to people when shoved into their inbox or social media timeline, but didn’t grab the attention of the search engines.

Burps are the most unsatisfying of all blog posts.

Burps are the most unsatisfying of all blog posts.


Burps can be blamed on poor search optimization, poor choice of keywords or just boring content. The post shown above had a nice email spike and got some referral traffic. But the referrals didn’t seed organic visitors like some. See below.

The Burp and Fizz

A variation of the Burp is the “Burp and Fizz.” This traffic pattern burps when email and social sharing are being done. Then it sizzles with search traffic – just a little – over time.

Strong email, social traffic and referral traffic resulted in only a rumbling of organic visits.

Strong email, social traffic and referral traffic resulted in only a rumbling of organic visits.


Only a small amount of organic traffic emerged from this post.

Only a small amount of organic traffic emerged from this post.


These may be long-tail topics, or the small amount of search traffic may be driven by less-relevant backlinks.

The Iceberg

Like its frozen namesake, the iceberg is massive and floats through your analytics, slowly melting over time. In our case, the iceberg has been one our most visited post since it was published in March of 2011. It has generated a large volume of search traffic, decreasing slowly.
Icebergs can be misleading. In our case, email is not how potential prospects find us, so traffic to this post is largely poor quality from a lead generation standpoint. As more visitors come to this post, our conversion rates drop.

This Iceberg generated a great deal of traffic, but is slowly melting over time.

This Iceberg generated a great deal of traffic, but is slowly melting over time.


We can see the influence of key backlinks here in driving search relevance. A new resurgence in traffic came after a swelling of referral traffic. A little investigation showed that the post was featured in January of 2014 on the Crazy Egg Blog.

Beach Ball at a Concert

Sometimes a post just won’t fly without frequent support. Here’s a topic – Generating Mobile Phone Calls from the Web – that looked like it was going to iceberg on us (see below). However, every couple of months we did a presentation on the topic of mobile and generating phone calls from the web.

This topic kept trying to die, but was buoyed by presentations and publication on other sites.

This topic kept trying to die, but was buoyed by presentations and publication on other sites.


Each presentation included being mentioned in blog posts and online show marketing. So, we got new life from each, like popping a beach ball back into the air at a concert.

The Celebrity Curve

This post mentioned SEO celebrity, Rand Fishkin.

This post mentioned SEO celebrity, Rand Fishkin.


I did one of my live Instagraph while Rand Fishkin was presenting at Business of Software 2014. Rand is well known in our industry as the founder of MOZ and it’s various products.
Our email list gravitated to his name, which you can see in the orange line below. His our social channels responded with less enthusiasm. However, we were on the search engines’ radars for his name, at least until his next thing became more relevant.
Celebrity posts offer short-lived organic traffic.

Celebrity posts offer short-lived organic traffic.


Celebrity is a fickle master, even when creating content.
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The Eagle

These are the posts you write for. You seed them with some email and social media attention, and then they spread their wings, riding the winds of the search engines. [pullquote]The Eagles are the posts that your blog is built on.[/pullquote]

This post took on a life of its own thanks to the search engines.

This post took on a life of its own thanks to the search engines.


Eagle posts take flight and drive organic traffic to your site.

Eagle posts take flight and drive organic traffic to your site.


It’s hard to tell what causes Eagles to soar. Some enjoy early social traffic. Others get early referral traffic. There doesn’t seem to be a pattern to jump starting an Eagle post. However, most of our Eagle posts are not on conversion-related keywords, but focus on Adwords, Facebook, Live Chat, and Exit-intent Popovers to name a few.

The Blue Bird

It’s unclear how a blue bird post gets started. There’s little support in the way of email, social or backlinks. Yet, it nonetheless finds an updraft and takes flight.
 

Even with little help from email and social outreach, some posts will fly. We call these Blue Birds.

Even with little help from email and social outreach, some posts will fly. We call these Blue Birds.


A blue bird is just a gift of the search engines.

Dodo Bird

This form of post takes a while to get off the ground, but soon evolves into a workhorse.

It took a while, but this post eventually caught on with search traffic.

It took a while, but this post eventually caught on with search traffic.


For some reason this post didn’t take off for months, and it’s unclear what got it going some seven months after it was published. Who are we to argue. This looked like a classic Burp Fizz post for most if that time.

Identifying Blog Posts that Drive Organic Traffic

The signatures you use to grade your blog posts may vary from ours, though this approach has proven to be very effective for the business.
You need to take a long-term approach to content. It’s never obvious when a Burp Fizz is going to turn into a Dodo Bird.
When you understand what makes Eagles, Blue Birds and even Dodos soar; when you understand the impact of icebergs on your reports; when you can see the impact of celebrities on your traffic, then you can select the right mix of content to grow your site.
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Video helps your marketing. It’s not a very controversial statement, but for years now YouTube has been hovering around the number two spot of the most-used search engines, yet somehow video in online marketing still has a feeling of just emerging from its infancy.
Despite that, marketers feel very comfortable using video for their own projects, with close to 80% of marketers polled by eMarketer claiming they’ve leveraged video for their own brand’s marketing. Marketers are starting to see that they can benefit greatly from leveraging video in channels like email marketing.

Email and Video: An Unlikely Marriage?

Email marketers are among many starting to see the benefit of video in their campaigns. Jon Spenceley of Vidyard.com reported that the brand Clear Fit saw a 53% higher click-to-open rate on emails that featured a video call-to-action over their non-video counterparts.
Even mentioning the word “video” can increase open rates by 20% as reported by the Daily Egg blog. In fact, it’s preferred over even more precise terms like “webinar” and “conference”.
A white paper released by The Relevancy Group LLC showed an increase in customer engagement across the board when videos were used in email campaigns. This includes conversions, click-through, social sharing and even average order size!

What are the benefits of using video in your email marketing messages? Source: The Relevancy Group, LLC Executive Survey, n=66 2/13, United States Only

What are the benefits of using video in your email marketing messages? Source: The Relevancy Group, LLC Executive Survey, n=66 2/13, United States Only

Video also has the added benefit of being mobile friendly and this is especially good news since last year mobile finally overtook desktop-fixed internet-access hubs.

Number of global users on desktop versus mobile from Smart Insights

Number of global users on desktop versus mobile from Smart Insights

These numbers are no doubt impressive and there is some psychology behind why video is so effective.

Why Do Customers Prefer Video?

While numbers are definitely indicating a preference for video, we’re interested in exploring why? Let’s start with a simple video-email analogy.
The process of checking email is largely a passive activity. You have information sent directly to you and you review it. Checking your email is a simple process, and it’s precisely the reason marketers find video such an attractive transition within the user’s experience.
Videos can engage customers without requiring them to change their current state which is important because your customers don’t have to do work in order to do business with you. [pullquote]Video content allows customers to enter into your sales funnel without feeling like they’ve abruptly left another activity behind.[/pullquote] That’s a hugely beneficial psychological component supporting why video seems to increase the effectiveness of marketing activities.

Carefully Weighing Video in Email Marketing

Videos are great for the user but how much should they be used and where? What should your marketing campaigns look like? A lot of the focus on video and improved conversions in the research cited above touts the benefits of video specifically in email marketing campaigns. But don’t go and blindly add video to every email and marketing document you send out!
Embedding video is great for the user and engaging them with your brand in their current state of mind, but there are also drawbacks. Even well-rounded and optimized email campaigns need to consider what can go wrong before including video.

Thumbnails

Thumbnails, perhaps the most overlooked aspect of video, can actually create several unintended problems for your campaigns. YouTubers have long known that thumbnails matter and email marketers inexperienced with video should take some notes. A good thumbnail needs to be good-quality with a central focus and also be adaptable to changes in sizes. A thumbnail may have to scale from as small as a couple of hundred pixels to over a thousand.  Size considerations also apply to text included in the thumbnail, since it can quickly become unreadable.
The best thumbnails:

  • Evoke emotion
  • Leverage controversy
  • Focus on a human face with an engaging expression
  • Accurately represent the content

These need to be used carefully and in accordance with the brand’s overall messaging and feel.
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Embedding

While thumbnails are important, email marketers need also to consider whether to leverage the new video embedding feature that many email clients now support. There’s more support now for this feature than ever, but its current ubiquitousness might have you question whether all your customers are receiving your marketing messages. Since approximately 58% of email users (via Social Mouths) cannot view video embedded in their emails, marketers should be careful about placing all their eggs in that basket.
Even if a customer can open the content, the ability for your customers to engage with your brand in an individual email is limited. Ideally you want your customer to engage with your site more directly.

Leveraging Landing Pages Can be Confusing

Landing pages can support email marketing and help take visitors from the email to the website or to an important conversion in between. You may have a landing page AND an email sporting an embedded video, but that creates a bit of confusion for your customers on how they should share this information. Do they forward the email with the video? Do they email a link to the landing page? If the customer forwards the email, will it create formatting issues with the video?
If you prefer to use a landing page to support your email marketing, you should embed the video in the landing page and use a call-to-action that mimics the look and feel of a video player. The slight disruption is outweighed by side-stepping user confusion of where to share and of course by drastically improving the user’s ability to actually access the video content.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot to consider when working with video in email marketing. It may not be the right move to include video in your email marketing efforts. If it is the right move, you may have a separate set of considerations when it comes to landing pages. Pascale Guay, CEO of Dialog Insight, responds to the limitation of video content in email marketing on her company blog saying the most important strategy for email marketers is to make use of the channels used by their target audience above all else. If your target audience responds to email marketing – use this channel! If your open-rates soar because of video content – use this channel…carefully.
Are you using video in your email campaigns? If not, how come? If so, how is it working for you? Leave a comment below!

About the Author

Jenix Hastings
Jenix is a journalist who specializes in discovering and documenting digital media. She makes a living as a copy writer specializing in web content and recently began writing for her personal blog: www.jenixwrites.com. Jenix is also a proud new mother and when she isn’t writing she’s sharing in the daily discovery of her beautiful daughter. Reach out @JenixHastings.

Exit-intent overlays are effective tactics for building subscriber lists. Incentivize signups, capture addresses, and target specific users.

The other day we gathered for an email brainstorming session.  What followed was the usual list of half-baked metaphors:

“Email is like fine wine, it gets better with age.”

“Email is like styrofoam, it’ll take 10,000 years to break down.”

“Email is like a cockroach, you can’t kill it.”

We were repeating ourselves, but the point was clear: despite being 350 Internet years old, email has never been more important to ecommerce.  How did this happen? Weren’t we all giving email the last rites in 2009 as ‘social’ stormed The Internets?

Instead, something peculiar happened: email grew some grey hair and stopped wearing cheap suits. It became a place for business, something we now use mostly for work, shopping, and all kinds of other grown-up stuff.  Think about it: what did you do online in 1998 that you still do today? You don’t go on Yahoo Chat, and you don’t Ask Jeeves. But you still use email every day.

Image of 1990's desktop: What the f*** was “Network Neighborhood” for?

What the f*** was “Network Neighborhood” for?

And since Clooney got married, John Stamos stands as the last breathing representation of email: a relic from the ’90s that we still appreciate—and that still looks pretty damn good.

Email is like John Stamos. A relic from the '90s that we still appreciate—and that still looks pretty damn good.

Email is like John Stamos. A relic from the ’90s that we still appreciate—and that still looks pretty damn good.

Email By the numbers

To illustrate just how valuable email has become to ecommerce, we need only look at a few telling statistics:

  • Over 77% of online customers prefer receiving marketing messages via email. (MarketingLand)
  • Email marketing produces a $44.25 return for every $1 spent.
  • Companies see, on average, a 4300% return on their investments in email marketing. (Digital.com)
  • 79% of leads don’t convert to sales, and lack of nurturing is the main reason. (Unbounce)
  • Prospects who receive email marketing messages order 28% more often. (iContact)
  • Email is projected to grow from roughly 4.1 billion accounts (2014) to 5.2 billion accounts in 2018. (Radicati Group)

So why is it so much more valuable than social media?

The reason is that email addresses are much different than fans or followers. Gaining direct access to someone’s inbox is the ultimate sign of trust from an online customer.

“Without a doubt our email list is the best investment we’ve ever made.”
Douglas Karr, MarketingTechBlog

And if you build a list of subscribers who know and respect your brand, it’s likely to become your most powerful revenue channel.

The list-building conundrum: how exit-intent overlays can help

The sheer value of email subscribers creates a natural conundrum. How can marketers reach beyond signup widgets and accelerate list growth?

Sure your signup widgets and call-outs help. But they won’t build you a hugely valuable email list by themselves.  And I’m not talking the dead-end ‘get one or two leads’ or ‘half the emails get returned’ kind of list.

I’m talking lists full of warm email leads that are familiar with your products, have read your content, and recently interacted with your brand.

The tool I’m going to discuss today is building some seriously kickass email lists for marketers across the web; Neil Patel has used it to double his email his email opt-in rate.

The tool is an exit-intent overlay, i.e. a modal lightbox that activates when a user is about to abandon your site.

An exit-intent overlay on Gr8fires.co.uk, activated when a user is about to abandon the site.

An exit-intent overlay on Gr8fires.co.uk, activated when a user is about to abandon the site.

The juice that drives exit overlays is called “exit-intent technology,” which is designed to detect abandoning visitors based on user behaviour. Exit-intent technology identifies abandoning users by measuring the path a user follows through a site, sensing resting moments when users are idle, and detecting cursor movements the break the browser plane towards the ‘Back’ button.

When abandoning visitors are detected, the exit overlay activates and attempts to capture a signup by offering something of value to the user.

And when done right, exit overlays will build you a kickass email list in a relatively short period of time.

4 Reasons exit-intent overlays are the best list-building tool on the web

1.   You can incentivize the signup

Customers need a good reason to sign up for your email list, and exit-intent overlays are fertile ground for providing this incentive.
Busted Tees uses an immediate discount as incentive in the example below.

Image of BustedTees exit overlay.
The incentive you offer can take many forms. Here’s another example from CopyHackers, which incentivizes the email signup with the promise of valuable, free information that marketers can use to improve their business.

Image of Copy Hackers exit overlay
Offering a course has the extra advantage of guaranteeing multiple interactions with the prospect, as the offer can be served piece-by-piece.

2.   Exit-intent overlays are big and bold—but not intrusive

Exit overlays have much better visibility than traditional signup widgets.

When an exit overlay activates, it dims out the rest of the window to maximize contrast and visibility, as per the example from The Chive below.

Image of The Chive exit-intent overlays

That said, exit overlays are not intrusive in the way old school pop-ups were:

  • They don’t disable or inhibit the functionality of the navigation bar
  • They don’t slow or prevent users from leaving the site
  • Since they’re served only to abandoning users, they don’t interrupt active browsing sessions

Essentially, an exit overlay acts as a second page view that’s only seen by segments of abandoning users you choose to target

3.   Exit overlays can be targeted at specific users and pages

Abandoning users are not all the same; they leave your site for all different reasons.  To accommodate differing motivations, exit-intent technology allows you to target specific user groups such as first-time or repeat visitors, cart abandoners, referral traffic, and paid traffic.

Targeting rules can also be applied to pages. You can target (or exclude) any page on your site—which comes in handy for appealing to different users who are at various stages of your conversion funnel.

For example, targeting first-time visitors from low-converting segments like social media traffic can be a very lucrative tactic for building email lists. Traffic from social media usually hasn’t established a relationship with your brand, so grabbing an email address from these users can be a valuable tactic for starting this relationship.

4.   Exit-intent overlays capture signups from “hedonic” cart abandoners

If you’re like me, you believe the idea that abandoned shopping carts are costing etailers trillion of dollars per year is utter hogwash.

Yes, most virtual carts are ‘abandoned’. But by attaching a dollar figure to the “cost” of cart abandonment, we’re presupposing that everyone who adds items to a virtual cart does so with intent to buy.

The truth is, a good portion of cart abandoners add items out of interest, not commitment. They’re simply browsing, often using the cart as a bookmarking tool to save items for later.

And a group called hedonic shoppers makes up a large percentage of these ‘casual’ cart abandoners.

According to research, people have two primary shopping motivations: hedonic and utilitarian.

Utilitarian shopping is driven by our need for necessities like housing, food and clothing. For utilitarian shoppers, purchasing is a problem-solving activity.

Hedonic shopping, however, is driven by our desire for fun and entertaining shopping experiences.

To illustrate, here’s Shopify’s data on cart abandonment:

Shopify's cart abandonment rates.Note that hedonic motivations show up in two of the top five reasons for abandoning a cart.  Hedonic shoppers don’t need to buy to get satisfaction; they need only browse. And we see these motivations manifest themselves most noticeably in cart abandonment.

So the question now is obvious: how do we engage hedonic shoppers beyond that first interaction with your cart?

How to Growth-Hack Your Email List Using Exit-Intent Overlays: Image of BabyAge exit-intent overlay

Email is the obvious answer, yet according to BizReport, 80% of marketers aren’t sending triggered emails after cart abandonment.

Exit-intent overlays can rapidly build subscriber lists from abandoning cart traffic – especially when they promise more of the rich, engaging experiences the hedonic shopper desires.

Case Study: How Xero Shoes used exit overlays to grab 3,000 new email subscribers

Xero Shoes manufactures and markets “barefootwear,” a brand of light, low-profile footwear that feels like you’re wearing nothing at all.

In the words of founder Steven Sashen, Xero Shoes allows customers to Feel The World™.

Xero Shoes website

Like all etailers, Xero’s fortunes rest on the performance of paid and organic traffic sources. And of course, email marketing is a key tactic for monetizing this traffic.

Challenge and Strategy

Barefootwear is a complicated product that takes time to explain properly, and educating prospects on its benefits posed a big challenge for Xero.

Further, Xero’s email sidebar widget had a low signup rate—a common problem amongst etailers today.

But rather than see this as a barrier to sale, Xero hypothesized that they could kill two birds with one stone using an exit overlay campaign.

Bird 1: Accelerate growth of the company’s subscriber list.

Bird 2: Use the email content to explain thoroughly Xero’s product offering and overcome customer pain points/objections.

Xero’s email sidebar widget had a low signup rate — a common problem amongst online retailers today. But rather than see this as a barrier to sale, Xero hypothesized that they could kill two birds with one stone using an exit overlay campaign.

The creative was designed to position Xero Shoes as an alternative to what “shoe companies” offer and to drive curiosity around founder and owner Steven Sashen.

Xero decided to place their exit overlay on the company homepage—the highest-traffic page on the domain—with the intent of grabbing new signups from low-converting segments such as social media traffic.

Finally, returning visitors were excluded from viewing the exit overlay—ensuring the messaging wouldn’t irritate blog readers or existing customers.

Results

Over a six-month period, Xero’s exit overlay campaign averaged between 15 and 20 signups per day, resulting in a list of over 3,000 new subscribers.

Over a six-month period, Xero’s exit overlay campaign averaged between 15 and 20 signups per day, resulting in a list of over 3,000 new subscribers.

This represented a 412% increase in email signups and drove a 9.81% boost in overall company order volume.

Takeaways

Gaining access to a prospect’s inbox is the ultimate sign of trust which is why email marketing has become so valuable to ecommerce.

Exit overlays – modal lightboxes that activate before users abandon your site – are one of the most effective tactics for building subscriber lists.  With exit overlays, marketers can incentivize signups, capture addresses from uncommitted prospects, and target specific users and pages.

Angus Lynch is a conversion copywriter at Crowdvert, a Vancouver-based conversion rate optimization agency, and the Director of Marketing for Crowdvert’s proprietary user engagement tool, Rooster.