In a previous article, we looked at five examples of companies that had success using online quizzes. We’ve seen the end result to each of these success stories and the marketing strategies they incorporated along with their quizzes, but what about the journey they took to get there?
Without the proper guide, creating an effective quiz like those highlighted in the first article can seem intimidating.
Following is a step-by-step guide that will walk you through the creative process behind quizzes with the help of a case study.
Throughout this article, we’ll examine The Elephant Pants and their quiz “Which Pair of Elephant Pants Are You?” We’ll give you some pointers on how to distribute a quiz and how to use marketing automation follow-ups to convert leads into paying customers.
Let’s get right to it.

Part I: How To Create A Quiz To Drive Online Sales

In the early stages of their company’s lifespan, The Elephant Pants brand relied on the fundraising support of a Kickstarter campaign. They created a quiz titled “Which Pair of Elephant Pants Are You?” with personalized results that recommended a specific kind of product to their customers, in this case, a particular kind of Elephant Pants.
The Elephant Pants included a link to their Kickstarter campaign to encourage customers to fund their project, additionally opting them in for updates and any new developments on the brand. By the end of their campaign, The Elephant Pants’ quiz helped them raise over $8,500 which was enough for a successful launch.

The Elephant Pants' quiz helped bring in the support of enough backers to launch their company

The Elephant Pants’ quiz helped bring in the support of enough backers to launch their company

Here’s what it takes to create a similar quiz that can help any online retailer make the most out of social media to help drive their e-commerce sales:

The Idea Online Quiz Title

Most pieces of interactive content start off as an idea, correct? The same applies for the idea behind your quiz. In The Elephant Pants’ case, their quiz revolves around recommending the perfect pair of Elephant Pants for everyone.
The Elephant Pants modeled their questions on relatable places, objects and activities to get a sense of your style, attributing it to the most suitable pair of pants for you.

This quiz question is full of relatable images that are associated with different personalities

This quiz question is full of relatable images that are associated with different personalities

So when it comes to your quiz, make it about something your brand is known for. Once you’ve got that sorted out, here are some ideas for the types of quiz you can go for:


  1. Product Recommendation Quiz -This type of quiz revolves around a single product recommendation based on the answers a quiz-taker gave. It allows you to suggest a single product tailored specifically to an individual based on their personal preferences. This is perfect if you want to sell a single type of product. The Elephant Pants used this kind of a quiz to recommend a particular kind of Elephant Pants to each and every person that took their quiz.
    The Elephant Pants created a Product Recommendation Quiz

    The Elephant Pants created a Product Recommendation Quiz


  3. Style Personality Quiz – This kind of a quiz is centered around the idea of categorizing people into a certain style personality. This allows you to recommend multiple items that fit a quiz-taker’s description of what their style personality is based on the questions they answered in your quiz.

Craft Your Online Quiz Questions

We’ve reached the body of your online quiz. This is where you want to establish a connection with your customer base through a one-on-one medium. Communicate with them through your quiz, but keep these things in mind when creating your questions:


  • Inject Personality Into Your Quiz – Put a part of you into the quiz, have it become a representation of you and your brand. Don’t be afraid to speak to your quiz-taker as if you were talking to them in person. Let the questions become as personal as possible.

  • Utilize Images To Your Advantage – If you haven’t noticed already, a lot of the more popular quizzes use images. Make sure that you do too. Pictures keeps things fun and relevant; and they make the quiz feel more like a game show if anything. The Elephant Pants used fun and familiar images to let their quiz-takers get comfortable which helps in encouraging opt-ins later on.
    This question relies solely on images

    This question relies solely on images


  • Make Sure To Keep Things Short And Simple – Using between 6 to 10 questions is the sweet spot when it comes to the length of your quiz. People’s attention spans are short, so let’s keep our quiz the same way. The Elephant Pants excelled in this category by keeping their quiz at 5 questions.
    This quiz is short - only five questions long - and notes where you are in the quiz at the bottom of the page.

    This quiz is short – only five questions long – and notes where you are in the quiz at the bottom of the page.

Add Lead Capture To Your Online Quiz

Creating a lead capture form and placing it right before the online quiz results builds an email list of subscribers to target by email.
The Elephant Pants were more focused on driving their fundraiser, but most businesses will employ a lead capture form. Here are some things to take note of when creating your own lead capture:


  • Promise Value To Your Customers – Incentivize your lead capture to give your audience more than just their results. Throw in things like a free contest giveaway entry, a free resource like an e-book or e-magazine, coupons/discounts, or even just personalized advice.

  • Make Sure You’re Honest With Your Marketing Strategy – Be honest about your marketing strategy by telling your audience exactly what they’re opting in for. If you’re going to send infrequent emails to your customers, make sure they know about it.

  • Only Ask For What’s Needed – When it comes to the information that you request via your lead capture, only ask for information that you will actually use. For example, don’t ask for a phone number if you’re not going to call it.

Create Share-Worthy Results For Your Quiz

As important as the questions and the lead capture form are, the results to your quiz have an equally large impact on your audience. This is the part of your quiz that gets shared on social media, so you want to make sure it’s worth sharing and appealing enough to encourage others to take your quiz.
Here are some pointers to help you out with that:


  • Come Up With Positive, Truthful Results – Positive results means positive emotions, which in turn generate shares. Compliment your quiz-takers with their results, but be truthful about it.

  • Use Attention Grabbing Images For Your Results – When people post their results on social media, the results are usually accompanied with an image. Include relevant images with your results to attract more people. In The Elephant Pants’ results, they use an image of the perfect pair of pants for you.
    A flattering quiz result increases interest in buying this pair of pants and the likelihood of the result being shared

    A flattering quiz result increases interest in buying this pair of pants and the likelihood of the result being shared


  • Lead Your Quiz-Takers To Something More – Your interaction with your audience shouldn’t end at the result screen to your quiz, it shouldn’t be as long as a paragraph either. Keep your results down to 3-5 sentences and include a personalized link to a specific product or a group of products. The Elephant Pants originally included a link to their Kickstarter to help fund the project, but after launching, their results now include a direct link to the pants that you got.
    Your quiz result takes you to a product page like this one

    Your quiz result takes you to a product page like this one

Part II: How To Distribute Your Quiz On Social Media

After creating your quiz, you’re not just going to let it sit there and wait for people to take it. You have to take action, and by action, I mean distributing your quiz across social media for it to be taken and shared.
Here are some good practices to follow when sharing your quiz:

Allow Your Results To Be Shared On Facebook And Twitter


  1. Use a captivating image to represent your quiz.

  3. Come up with an attention-grabbing headline.

  5. Share both the image and the caption with a shortened link to track results.

Use Paid Advertising To Promote Your Quizzes

Promoting your quiz on Facebook is fairly lengthy process, so we’ll cut it right down to its basics so that you can get on with the promotion of your quiz as quickly as possible.


  • Selecting Your Target Audience – You can select your target audience via location, demographics, interests, behaviors and connections. Each category can be narrowed down even further. For example, if you chose location as your way of targeting, it can be broken down to country, state/province, city and zip code depending on how close you want your audience to be.

  • Create A Custom Audience – Facebook allows you to create a custom audience based on a pre-existing list that you’ve uploaded. Facebook can generate a custom audience similar to your current customer base.

Part III: How To Utilize Marketing Automation To Follow Up And Drive Revenue

Picking up from where left off with your lead capture, once you’ve obtained some leads, your job is to convert them into paying customers. You can warm these leads up by keeping them interested through a series of marketing automation emails. Warm your leads up by keeping them interested with a series of marketing automation emails.
Here’s a four-step follow-up sequence that you can use:


  1. Thank Your Audience For Taking Your Online Quiz – The first step you need to take is to thank your audience for taking your quiz. It reminds them that they opted-in in the first place, and it also asserts your brand. Skipping this step is the difference between someone being reminded of who you are, versus someone that regards your email as a form of spam. Don’t forget this step!

  3. Recommend Other Possible Outcomes for Your Quiz – After a couple of days, send your audience a list of other possible results they could have gotten through your quiz. It keeps the audience engaged and interested, and may prompt several retakes of the quiz as well. It’s a natural but relevant transition from your original “thank you” email to sending out other content.

  5. Share Some Customer Case Studies Or Testimonials – After about a week, send another email that showcases customer case studies or testimonials. This helps to build up trust with your potential customers, especially if you target them based on the result they got.

  7. Close The Sale – The final step. After two weeks, it’s time to finally convert your leads into customers. Use incentives like coupons/discounts or a webinar signup to close the deal. Give your audience a reason to buy into your brand.

Recap And Takeaway

And that’s it! The last time we met, we went over five different brands that implemented their own strategies in conjunction with quizzes to personalize the online retail experience. This time, we provided you with a guide on how to create your own quiz.
We broke down the quiz creating process from the idea formulation to title choices, question crafting to lead capture forms, and finally how to create shareable results. After getting the basics of a quiz down, we highlight several ways to promote your quiz through social media. Lastly, we went over marketing automation follow-up to nurture your leads and convert them into customers.
Hopefully you can walk away with quite a bit from today’s article. Creating a quiz isn’t as complex as you think it might be, but successfully utilizing one and promoting it is a different story. This guide gives you a solid foundation, so take advantage of it and use it for your brand’s success.

About the Author

JP Misenas headshotJP Misenas is the content marketing director and audio/visual technician/engineer of Interact, a place for creating entertaining and engaging quizzes that generate email leads. He writes about innovative ways to connect with customers and to build professional long-lasting relationships with them.

Online Sales have a growth rate that’s 10 times more than their brick and mortar counterparts. This in turn encourages retailers to do everything they can to optimize their selling capabilities. With an emphasis on driving e-commerce sales, finding new and innovative ways to spur online sales requires an effective strategy.
If BuzzFeed hasn’t made it apparent already, quizzes have really started to re-emerge over the last couple of years, driving a ton of social traffic and interaction. Using interactive content like quizzes can to attract and engage audiences, generate leads, and increase e-commerce sales.
Here are five examples of successful online quizzes, all built by a quiz building app by Interact.

How Z Gallerie Personalized Their Site to Bring Tons of Leads Per Day

z gallerie style personality
Z Gallerie is a company that offers customers creative furniture and household products from all around the world. They cater to both professional and amateur interior designers alike, with 57 physical stores across the United States and a relatively strong online presence. Z Gallerie created the quiz “What is your Z Gallerie Style Personality?”  to generate leads and to personalize their product line.
Z Gallerie’s strategy is to provide a personalized experience for every potential and current customer. This kind of an approach is heavily present in their personality quiz. After six visual questions, Z Gallerie collects our contact information through a lead capture form. Then they follow up in a personal way through marketing automation.

Not all questions have to look like a survey.

Not all questions have to look like a survey.

After completing the lead capture form, Z Gallerie’s quiz delivers your “Style Personality” with a link to learn more about it. Clicking the link directs you to a personalized page with product suggestions based intensively on the answers you chose on the quiz.
The quiz acts to build the Z Gallerie list.

The quiz acts to build the Z Gallerie list.

A personalized approach not only keeps customers engaged, it also allows your brand to recommend products tailored specifically to an individual’s personal preferences based on your quiz. This lets your brand to create a connection with your customers on a level that would convert them into repeat buyers.

With the help of their personality quiz, Z Gallerie generates significantly increased lead acquisition.
Here’s how you can use this strategy for your brand: Create a quiz with personalized results for each individual customer so that you can offer product suggestions specific to that person. This can be done by either recommending one specific product or by assigning people a “personality” that relates to a group of products. Make sure you follow up with marketing automation to keep your customers coming back for more down the road.

Z Gallerie uses landing pages for each of the "Style Personalities" uncovered by their quiz.

Z Gallerie uses landing pages for each of the “Style Personalities” uncovered by their quiz.

How Birchbox Used A Personality Quiz to Differentiate Between Products

birchbox quiz
Birchbox specializes in monthly deliveries of personalized samples with original content and an exciting e-commerce shop. Similar to Z Gallerie’s reason for creating their quiz, Birchbox created the quiz, “Find Your Face Mask Soul Mate in One Minute” to give personalized suggestions on which facemask to purchase.
Where Birchbox’s strategy differs from Z Galleries lies in their execution. While Birchbox followed the same formula of creating a quiz that recommends products based on personalities, they mainly used it to differentiate similar products, most of which were different variations of facemasks.

BirchBox uses the quiz to offer a specific product, with no lead generation.

BirchBox uses the quiz to offer a specific product, with no lead generation.

Birchbox didn’t use their quiz to generate leads, but instead used it to place an emphasis on the perfect face mask for their customers. The quiz established a very personal connection with their customers by offering products tailored specifically to them. Personalized experiences such as these help grow the relationship between customers and retailers.
Here’s how you can apply this method: Create a personality quiz with results based on your customer’s personal tastes. From there, you can recommend the single most suitable product which is awesome because personalized recommendations convert at 5.5 times better than general ones. Who would’ve known?

How BioLite Capitalized on Trends to Suggest Products Via Online Quizzes

BioLite power personality
BioLite develops and manufactures advanced energy products that make cooking with wood as clean, safe and easy as modern fuels while also providing electricity to charge cell phones and LED lights off-grid. Essentially, efficient low-energy-required products that you can use or recharge. BioLite created the quiz “What would you do with 10 watts?” to generate leads and to raise awareness on how ready people can be when the power goes out.

This lead generation form is optional.

This lead generation form is optional.

BioLite’s strategy was incredibly simple. Taking into account the fact that BioLite relies on selling their 10 watt-only rechargeable products, they created a quiz in an effort to raise awareness on power outage readiness. After taking their quiz and getting your results, no matter how prepared you may be, BioLite can still recommend products that may be useful in similar situations.
BioLite offers a specific product based on the answers entered into the quiz.

BioLite offers a specific product based on the answers entered into the quiz.

Like most quizzes with a lead capture form, BioLite asked quiz-takers if they would like to submit their contact information to receive updates on environmental friendly products. The form brought in 4,852 leads.
Here’s what you can do to emulate this strategy: Create a quiz that makes people take into account various situations that questions how prepared they really are. This will encourage them to purchase your products in order to be better suited for such situations.

How The Elephant Pants Kickstarted Themselves Into Success Through Quizzes

which pair of elephant pants are you
Before The Elephant Pants – a clothing company supporting the African Wildlife Foundation – came to be as successful as they are today, their humble beginnings clung onto the support they received from a Kickstarter campaign. By creating the quiz “Which Pair of Elephant Pants Are You?” and linking it to their Kickstarter, they were able to generate enough leads to fund their launch.
Like the previous examples that we’ve seen so far, The Elephant Pants also used their quiz to distribute personalized results that recommended a specific kind of product to customers, in this case, a particular kind of Elephant Pants.
The Elephant Pants made sure to add a link at the end of their quiz in the results screen to help fund their Kickstarter. It also opted-in prospective customers to keep them interested and up-to-date with any new developments.
Low and behold, The Elephant Pants Kickstarter was a success, and through quizzes, helped raise over $8,500 which was enough to help the startup launch into a strong business today.
Here’s how to deploy this method yourself: Like several of the examples we’ve looked at prior to this one, create a quiz that recommends possible products that would encourage customers to fund your business so that you can have a lucrative launch. It also lets you develop a strong customer base from the start.

How Aaron Brothers (Michael’s) Artistically Uses Quizzes to Generate Leads

aaron brothers color quiz
Aaron Brothers (Michael’s) takes pride in their merchandise by offering custom framing, art supplies and picture frames. Aaron Brothers also brings the latest fashion designs in framing and home decor. With their artistic sense of style, they created the quiz “What’s Your Color?” for the sole purpose of lead generation.
With an emphasis on art, Aaron Brothers created a longer quiz to determine someone’s color. It was an entertaining piece of shareable content whose sole purpose is to generate leads for the brand. Personality quizzes that categorize quiz-takers into personalities are highly favored on social media, so they get shares on a frequent rotation.
The quiz ended up generating 515 leads and has been Aaron Brothers’ most successful part of their recent color-centered marketing campaign.
Here’s how you can draw out the same tactic: You might be tired of seeing this now, but this quiz is pretty much an exact replica of the quizzes that are so popular all over the internet. That’s the strategy. [pullquote]Reproduce the idea of a popular quiz and use it as a means of generating leads.[/pullquote]

Let’s Recap And See What We’ve Learned

As retailers begin to take note of the wild growth of online sales, they’re beginning to set their eyes on the most effective and innovative ways to join the bandwagon. So what’s stopping us from figuring out the best possible way of driving e-commerce sales?
You’ve seen how popular quizzes are; how they’ve swept the nation’s social media feeds with simple yet entertaining micro-interactions with shareable results. They aren’t just a form of enjoyment, they’re a super secret marketing mega weapon!
Once you’ve set your scope on your target audience, you can use quizzes in a personalized manner as a way of recommending individually-tailored products to customers. Using quizzes to deliver personalized results can help grow a customer base that not only encourages purchases and return buyers, but as a means of generating leads as well!
In the end, quizzes did exactly what these companies set out to do, and that was to drive e-commerce sales in a continually growing industry.

About the Author

JP Misenas headshot
JP Misenas is the content marketing director and audio/visual technician/engineer of Interact, a place for creating entertaining and engaging quizzes that generate email leads. He writes about innovative ways to connect with customers and to build professional long-lasting relationships with them.

In January a large property listing website announced they’d increased conversions by 300%. They’d significantly changed the site’s design and the way they searched for properties, delivering results by travel time rather than miles radius.
In March a second property website announced a boost of 300% but this time no design change whatsoever. They started delivering results by travel time, and that was the only change they made. Timing was everything.

Why does providing travel time boost conversions?

As with any conversion boost, it’s down to optimizing consumer experience. The search results were more relevant, but why?

Personalization: the key to transforming conversion rates

We already know that personalization is key whether you’re composing an email campaign or doing post-sales follow-ups. Where’s the personalization in location? Personalization is nothing without people, which is the downfall of a distance search. A mile “as the crow flies” isn’t relevant if the crow is on a bus or in a car.
Acknowledging infrastructure networks transforms a circle into a polygon. This polygon changes shape depending on the surrounding location’s network. Local search results that use a polygon model will eliminate all the erroneous results that would have been delivered in a miles radius search.

Search result with radius model

Search result with radius model

Map acknowledging transportation networks

Map acknowledging transportation networks

Search result with polygon model

Search result with polygon model

Sorry, I’m running 5 miles late

A mile is not a human metric: we do everything by time. We need to arrive at locations on time, leave on time, spend time at locations or visit several places in an allotted time. The problem is that one mile can take five minutes or one hour depending on congestion, infrastructure and other factors.
Tell a hungry person their favorite restaurant is ten minutes away, and they know exactly what you mean. Tell them it’s a mile away, and they will need to know a lot more. Using time in local searching makes the results relevant and understandable. When the amount of consumer leg-work is reduced, they’re more likely to decide there and then.

Time to personalize

People search for location-specific results because they need to get there. Websites that use minutes instead of miles can ask two simple questions that will personalize each search so that no one will ever need to work out “will this work for me?”


  • What time of day are they planning on traveling?

  • What mode of transportation will they use?

Give it the time of day

This information alters the relevant results for three reasons.


  1. Transportation timetables and open/close times will limit where a consumer can go.

  3. The results they seek will also differ – restaurants open at 3:00 am are different from those at 6:00 pm.

  5. Road congestion will most likely reduce in the early hours of the morning.

Some locations will always operate at the same time of day. Lunch reservations will always be in the same time window. Property searches may always use 9:00 am because the majority of people commute from home to work at that time.
Other sites may choose to automate the time function so that the visitor sees what is possible at the time of their search. This is useful if the site visitor wants to get there immediately, giving accurate results quickly.

Timely transport

The four polygons show different results for different transportation modes within 30 minutes. You can see that walkers can’t cover as much distance as drivers (obviously!). Adjusting for the exact mode of transportation ensures that every location result is reachable and removes any errors covered in distance searching.

Polygon search result for cycling


Polygon search result for public transport

Public transportation

Polygon search result for driving


Polygon search result for walking


Case Studies:

Restaurant listing site OpenTable lets customers book tables so that they can reach their restaurant reservation within minutes.

The distance to a restaurant changes by mode of transportation.

The travel time to a restaurant changes by mode of transportation.

UK national tourism agency VisitBritain lets tourists plan their day based on what’s near their attraction of choice.
Planning your day by travel times.

Planning your day by travel times.

The UK’s largest real estate agency group Countrywide lets property seekers pick how long they want their commute to be when listing new homes.
Coutrywide let's visitors shop for homes by commute time.

Coutrywide lets visitors shop for homes by commute time.

Time is mobile

With four out of five local searches on mobile devices ending with a purchase, marketers need to leverage their apps to ensure that they’re catering to the ever-moving consumer. Consumers can pick their search point or use mobile location searches to search by minutes from their current point.

Travel time search results on mobile device

Travel time search results on mobile device

Whose marketing efforts will benefit most from travel time search results?


  • Local businesses and listing sites can deliver local results within minutes rather than miles e.g. property, restaurants, bars, jobs.

  • Retailers providing click and collect services can navigate customers to the best pick up point and direct customers to access-friendly locations when products are out of stock.

  • Delivery services (food, laundry, furniture etc.) can create marketing campaigns around the minutes it takes to reach each individual customer.

  • Companies with location-specific geo-targeting campaigns can deliver location-based information in minutes rather than miles radius.

  • Classified listing sites eBay and Gumtree can supply product searches using travel time when users prefer to pick up locally.

It’s about time…I wrapped things up

[pullquote]Searching for locations by time delivers more accurate results. Consumers like it and convert.[/pullquote]


  • Consumers convert when they are delivered more relevant results

  • As the crow flies isn’t accurate because we can’t fly!

  • Consumers need a human metric for location searching. Don’t reinvent the wheel, get a clock.

  • Ask site visitors more to deliver more accurate results

About the Author

Louisa is head of marketing at The company is the creator of the TravelTime Platform, an API that allows websites to search, rank, sort and display location results by minutes rather than miles. She’s cuckoo for conversions – particularly if they have to do with local search. To find out more follow them on Twitter @iGeolise or go to

Welcome email tests that will help begin the onboarding process that turns tryers into buyers and buyers into long-term subscribers.

Email is still the most effective strategy for onboarding visitors. By “onboarding” we mean:

  • Getting tryers to use the product so they can become buyers
  • Getting buyers to use the product so they become long-term subscribers
  • Getting repeat buyers to share their appreciation of the product

Yes, email is important to your business. It can’t be done through Facebook or Twitter. It can’t be done through SMS. Maybe it can be done through direct mail. Maybe.

The first step in these processes is the ubiquitous Welcome Email. It gives customers a first impression of your business. Guides them through your product. And demonstrates the value that you can bring them. It’s what takes them from trial to paying user to a repeat user to a evangelist.

In fact marketers who utilize welcome emails find that they have a substantial effect on their conversions with some even experiencing up to a 50% conversion rate when implementing them into their onboarding marketing strategy. Impressive, huh?

Welcome emails aren’t as straightforward as you would think, however. They need to be tested. From timing to subject line, rigorously A/B testing the different aspects of your emails is a sure fire way to build the most effectual onboarding strategy for your business.

Today, we are going to focus on one aspect of welcome email A/B testing – Content.

Content is what entices your user to click-through and act. You need to get it right.

Welcome Email Tests to Engage Customers

Here are five A/B tests you should be doing on your content to optimize your onboarding emails and get users converting from trial to lifetime customers.

1. Test Simple vs. Hyper-Stylized Design

Let’s begin with design.

No matter how well-written your emails are, if it the look isn’t right the effectiveness will be hampered. Emails can be as simple or flamboyant as you wish. Generally they are divided into three types:

  1. The first type is E-zine style. It’s flashy, hyper-stylized with images and bold font taking centre stage.
  2. Next is SaaS style. It’s cleaner and simpler yet still professional.
  3. And finally Personal. This has no branding, no design. Just a straightforward email.

It’s up to you to test what works best for your business.

welcome email tests - stylized versus simple email design

Will your visitors prefer a stylized email or a simple “personal” email?

An interesting design case study comes from SitePoint, a specialist in content for web developers. After sending out over 40 newsletters, their campaign started to look a little lackluster.

Their initial emails were uncluttered and pared back in design. And they wanted to continue with this look but update it and get more clicks.

So they ran an A/B test.

The first thing they tested was the template, and the results were positive with an initial 16% rise in click through rates.

Next they tested images – should they include them or keep it plain text? SitePoint already had a hunch that their customers didn’t care for them and wanted a text only email.  This assumption proved to be inconclusive as the results were 118 vs. 114 clicks in favor of no images.

This inconclusive test demonstrated that readers didn't prefer nor mind images in their welcome email.

This inconclusive test demonstrated that readers didn’t prefer nor mind images in their welcome email.

These welcome email tests were just the first round of experimenting for SitePoint. They went back to the drawing board and tested everything again. They experimented with images and templates until they found what worked best.

The winning email template after ab testing of welcome emails. Simple, but a little design can go a long way.

The winning email was simple, but a little design can go a long way.

The winning email retained the simple look of their original email. It was just updated, more attractive to readers and most importantly, increased their click-through rate.

Contrasted to this is Wishpond. After extensive testing of their own emails, they discovered images were just what their audience wanted. Using images produced a 60% higher click-through rate versus just using text alone.

These two contrasting examples are just to illustrate the fact that there is no single best design for all businesses.

There is no one template fits all.

You need to test to discover what your customers like and what drives results.

2. Test A Single Call to Action

When you send out your welcome emails we are betting you have one goal in mind – getting customers to use your product.

All too often we see businesses sending emails with multiple links and requesting customers do numerous actions. It’s confusing and will distract your user from your goal.

So here’s a challenge – try restricting your welcome emails to have only one call-to-action,

That’s exactly what Optimizely did.

In 2014 they began rigorously testing all aspects of their emails. One of the tests had a goal of increasing click-throughs on the call to action.

To do this they sent out two emails. The first having only one CTA, while the second had multiple.

Welcome email: test a single call to action. Optimizely tested emails with a single call to action against their one with several.

Optimizely tested emails with a single call to action against their one with several.

There was one clear winner. The email with only one CTA produced substantially more click-throughs with a 13.3% increase.

Narrowing down your email to one call to action can be a tough task. You have a limited amount of onboarding emails to send. Yet you have so much to say.

Try removing any unnecessary call to actions you have in your emails and just focus on what you believe is most important.

Ask yourself what is the most important thing you want your customer to do after receiving this email and make this your call to action.

Then test.

3. Test Urgency Inducing Copy

When sending welcome emails to onboard your users there are some tactics you can use to convert those trial users into paying customers.

One method is urgency. Using a sense of immediacy in your email to get your customer to act now.

MarketingExperiments tested the effects of urgency in their email campaigns.

They planned a Web Clinic Invite and sent out two emails. One was just the simple invite. The other however, had three extra urgency inducing words – Limit 1000 Attendees.

Five welcome email tests to turn tryers into buyers - test urgency inducing copy.

Urgency may induce more of your email recipients to act.

The email containing the urgency had a 15.4% increase in click-throughs. Pretty impressive figures considering the only difference was 3 words!

When sending welcome emails, urgency can be incredibly valuable.

Here is another example of urgency from Sprout Social.

To get trials to convert to paying customers they use copy to imply urgency and encourage users to act now.

Urgency can be communicated in may ways.

Urgency can be communicated in may ways.

They use phrases such as “Only 2 days left” and “Time Flies – your trial period is over in just 2 days”. It shouts “act now or you’ll miss out!”

It’s a clever way to optimize your emails and get more customers converting.

4. Testing Email Length (How Long Should a Welcome Email Be?)

When a customer signs up you want to tell them everything about your business.

Explaining every feature and what you offer in a long winded email is going to show them the value of your business, right? Well probably not.

Conversely, saying too little can be problematic also. Customers might feel under informed and might not act at all.

Research has shown that the average open time for an email is only 15-20 seconds.

With such a small window of time, you need to test how long your emails should be to have the maximum impact.

iMedia Connection decided to carry out tests, with two versions of an email promoting an upcoming conference.

One email was verbose, containing all of the information about the conference within it as well as links to the website.

The other was half the length, with only a short description and a link to a website containing the information.

Testing email length: A bigger open rate doesn't mean a higher click-through rate.

A bigger open rate doesn’t mean a higher click-through rate.

The shorter email proved to be more appealing. iMedia Connection reported that not only was the open rate on the shorter higher at 30% vs. 20% but the click-through rate was also higher at 11% vs. 5%.

Short, brief content was the winner here but that might not always be the case. Getting your emails length right must be tested.

Good ab testing will help you find the perfect balance between being informative while also being concise.

5. Welcome Email Tests: Test Personalization

Personalization is one of the most effective techniques to increase conversions from emails. Using a customer’s data to appeal to their interests has been proven to work time and time again. And it isn’t as complicated as you may think.

DoggyLoot, an online store experienced astonishing success when they began personalizing their email’s content.

They recognized that Rottweiler owners wouldn’t want the same emails as Chihuahua owners. So they began to segment in the simplest way possible.

They began collection “doggie data” by asking owners one simple question – is their dog small, medium or large?

Based on this data, they created three email segments based on dog size. Each segment received an email that had products that were suited to their dogs.

Welcome email tests: test personalization. DoggyLoot sent different emails to owners with different sized dogs.

DoggyLoot sent different emails to owners with different sized dogs.

The results were impressive to say the least. The personalized emails that were targeted at large dog owners had a click through rate that was 410% higher than the average.

Personalization doesn’t have to be complicated. Just find whatever works for your business.

Doggyloot just asked the right questions on signup, enabling them to segment their audience with relative ease.

Whether you just add a user’s name or build comprehensive buyer personas, testing personalization can be a real asset to your welcome emails.

5 Welcome Email Tests To Turn Tryers into Buyers: Summary

These 5 A/B tests and case studies are guidelines. Some may work for your business while others might make no impact at all.

It is important to focus on how customers are reacting to your email content. Measuring click-throughs and conversions is essential. See what makes statistical significance, gets users converting and becoming lifelong customers. For more advanced A/B tests read our Ebook “Welcome Your First Million Users: The Ultimate Guide to A/B Testing Your Welcome Emails”.

Well-heeled travelers will enjoy a private guided tour of the world’s various wine-making regions. Colin Simpson of Into the Vineyard arranges these advantures for them. Into the Vineyard tours are tailored and personalized to the individual, setting themself apart from other packaged, run-of-the-mill wine vacations.

The Into the Vineyard luxury landing page

The Into the Vineyard luxury landing page

Colin came to us with a landing page built on Unbounce.
They have had fairly good success with these landing pages, boasting conversion rates of over 5% and more. Colin had a number of questions for Conversion Sciences about how to optimize his landing page to see a lift in conversion rate while maintaining high lead quality.
Many of our suggestions are included in the annotated infographic image included in this post. However, one of his questions was one that we are asked all the time. Its answer is important for you to understand when you create your own landing pages.

Is the placement of the form too far down the page?

The short answer is “No.” This may be contrary to the above-the-fold or very-close-to-the-fold rule many of you follow, but there are good reasons to place your form towards the bottom of your landing page.
Into the Vineyard offers a luxury item and appropriately uses a value-building approach. Furthermore, part of the value of their offer is the ability to customization the product. Bombarding visitors with a form too early not only gives them no time to appreciate the luxury of the offer but also may elicit feelings of impersonality.
This is something to consider if you are in the luxury market. Even if a form placed “below the fold” produces a lower volume of leads than would one above the fold, you may find these leads to be better qualified. They have not only read your content to the bottom but they also know what they are going to receive in exchange for their information.

Landing pages should show the steps of the process

Laying out the steps of the process puts many visitors at ease. The use of the red arrow draws the visitor to take action.

We saw this strategy work very well in split testing for a similar company, a company that sells golf tours to Scotland and England. [pullquote]A landing page that added the steps of the process after filling out the form generated a 300% increase in leads.[/pullquote] Note that this was not the only change to the page.
The bottom line is that the content of your landing page must make a clear offer, regardless of form placement, and your copy must support the offer, not just your product or company. Into the Vineyard does an excellent job of explaining what will happen if a person fills out the form.
The long answer to Colin’s question is “I’m not sure, let’s test it.” One of the awesome perks of using the Unbounce tool to create landing pages is its A/B testing feature.
For most online websites, A/B testing is the most reliable way to know where to place a form on your page to maximize leads and sales.
When you create your own landing pages, consider your market. Are you in the luxury market where your visitors may need a little more information to get excited and convert? Or, are you using this landing page to give the visitor a freebie in exchange for their information?
These two situations will lend themselves to different form placement. If you have the traffic, test the difference because no two business are the same and what works may not work for all.

More recommendations


Increase your email open rates. Get inspired by these 165 great email subject lines from the SXSW catalog.

The amazing SXSW conference has kicked into full swing here in Austin. I haven’t been to a single session yet, and I’ve already learned something of great value I can share with you.

It came in the SXSW session catalog.

The session selection process is very competitive. Every summer, SXSW puts out a call for session and panel ideas. People vote on their sessions and then the crew at SXSW passes final judgment.

If your session gets accepted you will find yourself competing for attendees with some of the most interesting, influential and innovative professionals. Your session title has to really grab attention in a sea of hundreds of choices.

It’s kind of like the competition for your inbox. All of this competition has created perhaps the most creatively named agenda in conferencedome. The SXSW conference has always been known for the quirky session titles it inspires. The competition for panel slots is intense, with 2500 ideas were submitted in 2011 and 3,000 panel submissions presented for 2012 alone. Part of the selection process involves voting by the public. So, an effective title gets attention when garnering votes for a panel.

We have the same problem with email.

We need attention grabbing email subject lines that pull inbox scanners from their numbed slumber in which most emails are unceremoniously deleted. If our email is to be read, our subject lines must save our recipients from mindless autonomy.

Your email campaign would enjoy significantly greater open rates if you used SXSW email subject lines. No one’s going to click through from your email if they don’t open it and read it.

165 best email subject lines from the SXSW catalog. Check them out!

165 best email subject lines from the SXSW catalog.

Email Subject Lines Must Wake Up the Mind at Any Cost

To use these techniques, you must believe that you can use almost any premise in your subject line to engage the reader and entice them to click.

To prove this point, I am going to take the most abstract title from the following list, use it as a subject line, and create an email that will get readers to click through to my site.

First, the list. Yes, these are actual SXSWinteractive session titles. I’ve grouped them by the strategies the presenters used in naming their sessions, strategies that you can incorporate into your email subject lines.

Best Email Subject Lines on Sex and Relationships

Even the “oldest profession in the world” required some persuasive messaging. Your reader may see sex as the most base or most exalted activity humans can engage in. This is the risk and the reward for bawdy banter in your email subject lines.

  • Brands That Believe in Sex After Marriage
  • Sex, Lies and Cookies: Web Privacy EXPOSED!
  • Sex in the Digital Age
  • Big Brands and You: Make the Love Connection
  • Social Media Comes of Age Without the Help of Porn
  • Nudity and Online Journalism
  • Sex Nets: Pickup Artists vs. Feminists
  • Sex on the Web – The Sabotage of Relationships?
  • The Sexual Survival Guide for Geeks: Healthy sex and relationships
  • Sausagefest: Getting More Women into New Media & Tech
  • Fun with the Lights Off: Interactivity Without Graphics
  • How Social Media Fu@k’d Up My Marriage (Learn how not to have your relationship ruined by the online world)
  • Subtle Sexuality: Adds Spice to Shows

Things that Don’t Fit Together (non sequiturs)

Our brains are wired to discard the familiar faster than a bear can spell Constantinople. It is the unexpected that gets the attention of our conscious and prepares us for action. These titles demonstrate the use of twists to pull readers out of their inbox apathy.

  • Block Party Capitalism: Where Analog and Digital Intersect
  • What Comic Books Can Teach Mobile Application Designers
  • Your Mom Has an iPad: Designing for Boomers
  • Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better
  • Why New Authors Should Think Like Indie Bands
  • Why my phone should turn off the Stove – Mobile monitoring of energy consumption
  • Building Fences in the Sky: Geo-fencing Has Arrived
  • I’m so productive, I never get anything done
  • Your Computer is the Next Wonder Drug (Improving interactions with the medical community)
  • What Digital Tribes Can Learn from Native Americans
  • A Penny Press for the Digital Age
  • Philanthropy Is Not the Future of Journalism
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Gaming
  • Multiple Personalities–Not a Disorder but the Norm
  • Does Your Product Have a Plot?
  • Meat is Might: Epic Meal Time Rules the Web
  • Social + Location + Mobile = The Perfect Beer
  • When Goliath Tries to Steal Your Lunch Money
  • Can Growing a Mustache Change the World?
  • Bootcamp for a UX Team of None
  • Explorations in Corporate Zoology
  • How to Be Strategically Unlikeable Online
  • Sunspots: The Promise and Pitfalls of Gov 2.0
  • Dreams of Your Life: A Darkly Playful Experience
  • Help, My Avatar Is Sick
  • Being Considered Obsolete Is Awesome
  • The Science of Good Design: A Dangerous Idea
  • Why Karl Keeps His Shades On: Style & Social Media

Great Email Subject Lines out of Left Field

  • Help! A Giant Meteor is Headed Our Way! Cause Shift, Things that need to change
  • OMG – My Pancreas Just Texted

Metaphors and Similes

Similes are like can openers for the mind. Metaphors are the batteries in the flashlight of your email. The technical term for this style of messaging is “transubstantiation,” using the characteristics of one thing to add meaning to another in the eyes of the reader.

  • Rev Up Your Product Design, the “Concept Car” Way
  • Online Personality Disorder: Resumes & Profiles
  • Knitting a Long Tail in Niche Publishing
  • Snackable Content: Working in a Bite-Sized Future
  • Hunt or Be Hunted: Get the Design Job You Want
  • Keeping Kids off the Street: Wall St. vs. Startups
  • Death of Digital Downloads: MP3s the New 8-track?

Target an Audience with the Best Email Subject Lines

Right-handed marketers, take note! Targeting your audience can significantly increase the relevance to two groups of people: those to whom you are speaking, and those who feel left out by the fact that you aren’t speaking to them (you left-handers felt a twinge of anger at being left out, didn’t you?). This approach takes guts, as you are consciously ignoring part of your audience in the hope of truly engaging another.

  • Why Women Fail to Rule the Social Networks
  • Greek to Geek: Classical Rhetoric & the Modern Web
  • Blogging: Why So Many Women Are Doing It
  • Digital Divas: How Girls Rule the Digital Universe
  • Monetizing Mommy

Lists of Three

There is something memorable, readable, and easy-to-count about lists of three. This method is especially successful when the third item is overly specific or doesn’t fit. See “Things that Don’t Fit Together” above.

  • Drugs, Milk & Money: Social & Regulated Industries
  • Credits Coins Cash: Social Currency & Finance 2.0
  • Free Coffee, Bad Apples & the Future of Currency
  • Clouds Here, Clouds There, Clouds Everywhere

Pop Culture References Can Make Awesome Email Subject Lines

If you know your audience, you slip them some “Funky Cold Medina” in the form of a pop-culture reference. For your geeks, “Star Trek” or “Star Wars” will do. For the younger generation, something from the “Harry Potter” series might make a connection. Music is usually a sure bet. Can you name the sources of the following references?

  • Star Trek and Social Media
  • Do Gamers Dream of HTML5 Sheep?
  • The Cloud as Skynet: Conquering Digital Overload
  • Get Smart! Hack Your Brain for Peak Performance
  • Wall-E or Terminator: Predicting the Rise of Al
  • Gimme Shelter from the Storm Clouds
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts: ESAPI
  • The Field of Dreams Manifesto
  • Is That Your Final Offer? Mobile Dynamic Pricing
  • Not Your Mommy’s Blog: The Evolution of Dad Blogs
  • Why Doesn’t Congress Grok The Internet?
  • LEAN STARTUP: Baby Got (Feed)Back – Putting the Lean in Learn
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Babelfish: Automated Translation
  • U.S. Military’s Mad Science Revealed: DARPA Projects predict the future
  • Dear Miss Manners: the Social Web, WTF?
  • Social Media and the NBA
  • Zombies Must Eat: How Genre Communities Make Money
  • Minority Report: Social Media for Decreasing Health Disparities
  • My Prototype Beat Up Your Business Plan
  • Geppetto’s Army: Creating International Incidents with Twitter Bots
  • #FAIL: Infamous social Media PR Disasters

Contrarian Email Subject Lines, why not?

  • Stop Listening to Your Customers: Researching customer needs without asking them.
  • I’ve Never Met My Coworkers: Running International Teams
  • Who Are You and Why Should I Care? Personal branding
  • When Facebook Falls: Future-proofing Your Social Media Efforts
  • 27 (Fun!) Ways to Kill Your Online Community
  • HTML5? The Web’s Dead, Baby.
  • A World without SXSW
  • Fail big, Fail Often: How Fear Limits Creativity
  • Congratulations! Your Brand is About to Become Obsolete
  • The End of Reading in the USA

Science or Science Fiction References

  • The Next Rocket Scientist: You
  • Do Tablets Dream of Electric News?
  • How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

Pure Shock and Awe Email Subject Lines

Boring subject lines make me want to poke needles into my eyes! Sometimes it makes sense to hit readers over the head with something that is just plain shocking. Sometimes.

  • How Not to Die: Using Tech in a Dictatorship
  • How Mexico’s Drug Traffickers Harness Social Media
  • Language of Mutilation: Grammar for Ads & Life
  • Demographics Are Dead: Unlocking Flock Behavior
  • Everyone Is Gay: Social Media As Social Action
  • Media Measurement: Science, Art or a Load of Crap
  • Please Touch Me! Enterprise Delight via Multitouch
  • Your Social Media Job Is Dead: Now What?
  • Avoiding Bulls**t Personas: A Case Study
  • Eat, S**t, Sleep: Enlightenment Through Unemployment
  • Bordering Incest: Turning Your Company into a Family
  • Baby’s Gotta face For Radio: Web Based Radio?
  • Grow some balls: Build Business Relationships
  • Social Media and Comedy: F**k Yeah!
  • Kill Your Call Center! Bring Your Support Home
  • Bend Over? Surprise! Agencies Are Screwing You
  • How Blogs with Balls are Saving Sports Media
  • How to Personalize Without Being Creepy


  • Bloggers vs. Journalists: It’s a psychological Thing
  • Seven Reasons Your Employees Hate You
  • Influencer Throwdown: Proving Influence Once and For All

Email Subject Lines with Invented Words

If you find yourself with subjectlinitis, tossing a memebomb or two may be your best hope. New words can turn a deletophile into a reader.

  • Adprovising: Agile Marketing Made Easy
  • The Making of Twittamentary
  • Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas
  • Discover the New Frontier of the Glocal Internet
  • The Local Backbone of the SoLoMo Revolution
  • Coolhunting and Coolfarming with Social Media
  • Wireless Wellness: App-tastic or Just Fun & Games?
  • The Hyperlocal Hoax: Where’s the Holy Grail?
  • Radically Onymous: How Ending Privacy is Awesome!
  • Old Spice Resurrected: How Aging Icon Pwned Internet
  • The Future Enernet: a Conversion with Bob Metcalfe (Internet founder)
  • Technomadism: Becoming a Technology Enabled Nomad

Rhymes and Alliteration

Sensual subject lines supplement the bottom line. Alliteration is the repeated use of consonants. Rhymes grab your readers like a musical phrase. Don’t be afraid to add a little poetry to your prose.

  • Social Music Marketing: Bands, Brands & Fans
  • An Unusual Arsenal: Tech Tools to Topple a Tyrant
  • Invention & Inspiration: Building a Better World
  • Contextual Communication: Crowds and Coordination
  • Check Yo-Self Before U Wreck Yo-Self, Startup Metrics of the Masters
  • The Creative Collaboration Conundrum
  • Binary B****es: Keeping Open Source Open to Women
  • Teaching Touch: Tapworthy Touchscreen Design
  • Defining the Diaspora: Global Collaboration and Social Change
  • The Man in the Van needs Geo Location
  • Chatter Matters: Using Twitter to Predict Sales
  • People as Peripherals: The Future of Gesture Interface
  • Of Fanboys & Fidelity: Adopting Comics for Broad Audiences

Twisted Euphemisms

  • Cure for the Common Font – Secrets of selecting type
  • Influencers Will Inherit the Earth. Quick, Market to Them!

Create a Common Enemy

You may find your reader united behind you by identifying a common enemy – like the delete key.

  • When IT Says No: How to Create Fast Feature Flow
  • The Systematic Undoing of Copyright Trolls
  • Screw the Job Market: Young + Passionate ≠ Broke
  • Rise of the Social Spammers
  • Can Washington Make Your App Illegal?
  • Epic Battle: Creativity vs. Discipline in Social
  • Why Your 5-Year-Old Is More Digital Than Most CMOs
  • Has Twitter Made the Sports Reporter Obsolete?

Insult Someone

Don’t be a wimp. When all else fails drop the political correctness and tell the reader what you really think.

  • Advise THIS! Matchmaking Startups & High Profile Advisors
  • Shut Up & Draw: A Non-Artist Way to Think Visually
  • Flash: F Bomb or Da Bomb?
  • Big Ol’ Babies: Why Baby Boomers=Public Media FAIL
  • Your Marketing Sucks: Why You Need to Think Local

Powerful Email Subject Lines: Lead With a Number

Four session titles that use numbers. When we offer the reader a specific number of things, they know they are going to get a manageable set of tips or tricks that is easy to scan and digest.

  • 11 Reasons QR Codes Are Not Engaging Consumers
  • 3 Secrets to a Killer Elevator Pitch
  • 100 Things Designers Need to Know About People
  • Enterprise Social Media: Five Emerging Trends

Big Email Subject Lines Make Big Promises

If you’ve got the goods, big promises will make you rich in as little as three days. Big promises make the reader ask, “So, how can you do that?” even if they are skeptical. Of course, if you can’t deliver on the promise with sufficient proof in your email, all is lost – including your credibility.

  • Expanding Our Intelligence Without Limit
  • How to Live Forever
  • We Are Legion: Digital (R)Evolution
  • Change the Course of History with Greasemonkey
  • UCB Comedy presents: The Best Damn Stand-up

New This Year: Add an “i”

Turn your subject line into an iLine! All it takes is one little vowel.

  • iVision Africa: New Media’s Role in Reframing Africa
  • iPlant: Advanced Computing to Feed the World

Any Email Subject Line Will Do

There you have it. Over 100 titles to tantalize and titillate your email mind like a jolt of electricity from an unlicensed nuclear reactor, guaranteed to help you get lucky and make your ex jealous – if you’re not a total iDiot. Did I miss anything?

Hit us with your favorite subject lines in the comments.

Even the most abstract subject line can be used to make a point. Here’s how I would tie one from the list to an offer for my business:

From: Brian Massey, The Conversion Scientist

Subject: OMG! My Pancreas Just Texted

OMG, my pancreas just texted.

My Liver just phoned.

My stomach just tweeted.

My brain is sending smoke signals.

Every cell of my body is dying to tell you about a new video I’ve just released.

Why am I (and all of my bodily parts) excited? Because online video marketing is rocking conversion rates.

Search engines love it.

Visitors love it.

Businesses like yours are getting more leads and sales from it.

And I think I’ve made it easy for anyone to understand how to use video on their Web site.

In just 11 minutes, I’m going to show you how to present a video on your site that will significantly increase the number of leads you’re getting from the traffic you already have.

Skeptical? Maybe I’m crazy.

I challenge you to take a look and see. If you don’t come away with a better understanding of how to increase conversion rates with video, I’ll get my spleen to cut down the chatter and leave you alone.

If you DO get it, I invite you to join a very special mailing list in which you’ll start to understand how to make all of your marketing convert visitors to leads and sales.

Watch Getting a Reaction from Online Video, and let me know what you think.

My heart will thank you for it.

Best regards,

Brian Massey

Your conversion marketing practice is actually a “stack” of disciplines or online marketing strategy components each of which you will have to master or have some level of capability with.

Mastering all of these online marketing strategy components may sound like a tall order, and it is. However, if you are marketing online, you are involved with conversion issues by definition.

The Quintessential Guide to Online Marketing Strategy Components

You may be wondering if marketing automation is really worth the investment. But if you’re a performance-oriented marketer–focused on the science of turning prospects into future customers, always concerned about knowing exactly which of your marketing efforts worked and why – that’s like asking if you’re getting your money’s worth from Microsoft Word; it’s something you just can’t do your job without.

In this article, I’m going to walk you through the modern online marketing strategy components – a strategy that cannot be implemented without automation.

To automate something, we must first understand it. Performance marketers are focused on turning their online channels into lead generation engines or revenue streams. They focus on conversion.

“Conversion” is the term given to a series of magical events in the life of a customer,in which a stranger becomes a suspect, a suspect becomes a prospect and a prospect becomes a customer.

In online marketing, a marketer focused on converting visitors to prospects or sales must embrace a set of capabilities, each enabled by and depending on its predecessor. These steps create a capability “stack” (see Fig. 1) that is helpful in planning the implementation of the efforts that make conversion marketing possible.

The online marketing strategy components for conversion you need to master.

Figure 1: The Conversion Marketing Components

The Online Marketing Strategy Components or Conversion Stack

Today, when one thinks of conversion marketing, one generally thinks of Website Optimization or Conversion Rate Optimization. These practices focus on measurement and optimization, and represent the top of the stack of capabilities that online marketers must master to outpace competitors online.

Before a business can begin measuring and optimizing a website or other online marketing strategy, the foundational issues of business goals, visitor profiles, content requirements, and delivery channels must be addressed.

Every business with a Web presence has invested at some level in the conversion stack. However, those companies that embrace these capabilities develop a momentum and velocity in their online strategy that allows them to accelerate past entrenched businesses.

These businesses use the conversion stack to leverage their marketing efforts, changing the math of marketing in their favor. The goal is to grow revenue while reducing real marketing costs.

Marketing automation helps marketers define and carry out each capability in the stack with a precision that would be difficult if not impossible to achieve otherwise, and therefore plays a crucial role in an organization committed to performance marketing.

Business Goals: The Base of the Marketing Strategy Components

Knowing exactly what you want your website to do for your business.

The digital space cannot meet all of the goals a business has for growth. However, your business can accomplish things online that are impossible or cost prohibitive through another channel, such as:

  • Improve the quality of leads, reducing sales costs and increasing close ratios.
  • Reduce inbound calls for information by moving interactions online.
  • Eliminate expensive marketing channels.
  • Reach prospects not found via other media.
  • Add online services that make your offering more valuable.
  • Increase cross-sells and up-sells.
  • Increase average sales price.
  • Steal market share and mind share from our competitors.

At this stage, we seek to define the integration points of our marketing automation system, and to establish our baselines performance metrics.

Defining Your Marketing Automation Integration Points

While we can measure many things with sophisticated marketing automation tools, it is critical that we focus on those capabilities that are necessary to our business goals, and ignore (or defer) those that are not.

If our business has a long sales cycle involving direct sales efforts, integration with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is crucial; it is how we track our leads through the sales process.

If we are tasked with reducing the sales cycle, we will want a two-way integration between our CRM and our marketing automation system so that we can monitor our success over time. Otherwise, a simple one-way integration may be sufficient.

Likewise, if we seek to increase the average sales price of new customers, we will need to integrate with our financial system to retrieve and measure that goal.

Choosing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

There is a metric that we can use to either define our success for each goal, or approximate it. For example, “reducing sales costs” means that the sales efforts are converting more leads into customers.

However, there is no off-the-shelf metric for “sales cost” reported by our marketing automation systems.

Instead, the close ratio – the number of leads converted divided by leads generated – would be a reasonable proxy for reducing sales costs.

Likewise, the success of cross-sells or up-sells may be measured by the frequency of repeat purchases or by the average lifetime value of existing customers.

There should be a small set of KPIs that define your top-level online business goals. All other metrics help you answer the question of “why.”

Don’t let the metrics drive your curiosity. Let the business goals drive the choice of metrics.

Defining Your Baselines

There are lies, damn lies and analytics, to paraphrase author Mark Twain. Analytics are rarely accurate.

You must instead measure changes in your KPIs. To measure changes, you must first establish baselines for each.

In most industries, a year’s worth of analytics data is necessary to fully account for seasonal changes in the marketplace, but don’t let this stop you. Implement your analytics tools and let them begin collecting data. In the mean time, estimate your KPIs manually, by gathering data wherever you can. Eventually, your analytics will determine your baselines.

The goal is for the current performance of any KPI to exceed its baseline. Proper reporting is done in terms of percentage increase or decrease. If a KPI consistently rests above its baseline, you have established a new baseline to beat in the coming weeks and months.

These baselined KPIs define your “dashboard.”

However, as you will soon find out, dashboards are unsatisfying because they don’t answer the question, “Why is this KPI changing.” We’ll talk about understanding “why” a little later.

Visitor Profiling: Aligning Your Business Goals with Visitor Buying Habits

Let’s review the second of the online marketing strategy components. Understanding the best visitors needs, the reason they are visiting today and the information they need to feel comfortable taking action. Traditionally, there has been a disconnect between the websites and the needs of visitors. Most business sites follow a “brochure” style approach, in which the site talks about the company and its products.

This is not what your visitors want.

They want you to talk about them and their problems.

Touchpoint Personas differ from traditional customer segments in one significant way: We are only interested in what they need at the moment they are interacting with our measurable online communications. This singular focus allows us to zero in on those things that a visitor needs. Touchpoint Personas are the important tool at this stage and you can click on the link to read my article on touchpoint personas and points of resolution.

These become the content that you will use on your website, in your outbound marketing and throughout your channels. As you will see, content allows us to answer the question “why” when our performance changes, for the better or worse.

Content Strategy: We are No Longer Marketers

What content will you create for these important visitors? Will it be articles, video, or audio? These are important considerations made easy from your touchpoint personas.

We are no longer marketers, but publishers. In almost any industry, any market, it is absolutely necessary that we provide information, guidance, education and entertainment to the marketplace. The Internet has turned our prospects into researchers, and we must provide them with the content that answers their questions.

Our personas give us a complete picture of those visitors that will move our business forward. We know why they are visiting and how they like to receive information. Their demographic profile will tell us which technologies they use and this helps us select the proper format for our content. The points of resolution tell us exactly what our content should cover.

At this point, our content strategy should unfold like the board game “Clue.” In the popular board game, we use a process of elimination to understand who committed a murder, which weapon was used, and where the deed was done.

In our game of “persona clue”, we create a list of similar actions. We deduce who we are targeting, which point of resolution we are addressing, and where this information will be delivered.

We might say, “Darla Decider will download ‘Ten Reasons Projects Fail’ as a white paper on our website.” What we have done with this step is change the conversation from, “Which landing pages do we need to develop?” to, “How can we make this important content available to our best prospects?” Content is the coal that will stoke the furnaces of your marketing automation system and one key ingredient of the online marketing strategy components you need to master.

Media and Channels: Mixing Media in the Right Proportions

How do your visitors want to hear from you? Where can your visitors be reached? Your choice of channels may include webinars, email, social media, blog posts and more.

If our content strategy is about giving prospects what they need, our media strategy is about placing content where our prospects can find it.

Touchpoint personas will be immensely helpful in identifying the right mix of channels through which to deliver and advertise content. Demographics will give you some idea of your prospects’ media preferences.

For example, prospects over 55 are still best reached through email.

Media selection is an evolving process, especially in a world in which so many new channels are appearing every year. In a few short years, we’ve moved from Web pages, email, and banner ads, to search marketing, social networks, RSS feeds, blogs, microblogs, and mobile applications.

It’s an exciting time to be a marketer.

This is where marketing automation becomes indispensable. It is your publishing and distribution system. It must help you manage a stream of content delivered through a variety of channels and track results along the way. Your investment in publishing automation will also allow you to test multiple versions of your content to see which affects your KPIs most positively.

Your System Should Be Easy to Use

You should be able to intuitively setup a variety of content campaigns and see the results. The days of the “launch and watch” website are over. In most industries changes must now come weekly or daily.

Your System Should Not Be a Silo

Producers will need appropriate access to create and stage new content. It should be easy for members of the team to check content and settings to ensure the campaign will launch successfully.

Your System Should Offer a Variety of Metrics

Each content format and channel will be measured differently. You must be able to track downloads of whitepapers. You must be able to track the conversion rates of email-based content. You must be aware of how often a link is shared on social networks.

Needless to say, you will need some help coordinating all of this activity and measuring the results. And this leads us to the another one of the online marketing strategy components. If you aren’t intimate with your marketing automation tool, you’re not doing performance marketing.

Online Marketing Strategy Components: Measuring and Optimizing

Putting the analytics and processes in place to measure the effectiveness of your efforts. This often means designing your online presence differently to enable tracking of visitor behavior. Testing your assumptions is the only way to achieve the high conversion rates that make you seem invincible to your competitors. This is how you reduce the cost of all online marketing efforts.

At the pinnacle of the online marketing strategy components is optimization.

Optimization involves making changes based on the metrics you’ve captured.

Every communication is a test.

Each time you send a communication, you are testing a set of assumptions – assumptions about what your prospects want and need in their buying process, about the format of the content, and about the places they want to consume it.

Every communication can tell us the “why” of our success or failure.

For each communication, you must devise a strategy to measure the effectiveness of the content. Each communication will have a set of primary KPIs.

An email newsletter may invite readers to purchase a new line of shoes, and to join your Facebook page as well. If the primary goal is to sell shoes, you must be able to measure the conversion rate of the email.

It isn’t sufficient to increase sales of the shoe. You must have a strategy to know how many sales were generated by this email.

Watch the Results

The final step of each communication – the step too often overlooked – is reviewing your results. When the communication has run its course, you simply look at the KPIs to learn the secrets desires of your audience.

  • Which articles are read most?
  • Which subject lines convert well?
  • Which discounts generate sales?
  • Which tweets draw the most visits?

Your marketing automation system should provide easy drill-down to the metrics that define the success of each effort.

The Online Marketing Strategy Components You Need to Master: Conclusions

You are sitting in the monthly executive meeting. You have created a slide deck with your top-level KPIs as reported by your marketing automation system. They are a summary of how your individual efforts have affected the bottom line.

When the questions come, you know the “why” and the “what’s next” for your marketing efforts. “Why did our conversion rates go down, but our revenue go up?” the VP of Sales asks.

You know the answer. You tick off the four or five programs that delivered solid results, and then list those that drew unqualified traffic to the site, stating that they will be modified or discontinued.

You’re a performance marketer.

The Business that Knows Grows

Each item of content you produce will have different versions, be available through multiple channels, and will be measured differently. Today’s online businesses won’t function without a useful marketing automation system, a tool that be used by many members of the team.

The Online Marketing Strategy Components aren’t linear, and businesses can expand their capabilities in any of these areas.

However, those businesses that dominate in their industry through online marketing will be proficient in all of the capabilities presented here.

Online Marketing Strategy Components Resources

For an explanation of KPIs read “Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity” by Avinash Kaushik.

To develop touchpoint personas, read “Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?: Persuading Customers When They Ignore Marketing” by Bryan Eisenberg, Jeffrey Eisenberg and Lisa T. Davis.

For designing measurable social media campaigns, read “Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day” by Dave Evans

Online Marketing Strategy Components: Don’t Worry

The good news is that the folks at, lead by the always brilliant Tim Ash have put together the Conversion Conference.

The attendees will be leading the online charge in each of their industries.

I can think of no better way to get up the many learning curves that your conversion practice needs than this two day conference.

Topics at Conversion Conference include:

You’ve likely read books written by some of the Conversion Conference Speakers, like Landing Page Optimization and Web Design for ROI. There’s no question that the speakers at this conference are the folks you want to be learning from. Check it out. You can even save $250 if you use promo code CCE650 when you register on the Conversion Conference website.

If you won’t be there, I pray that your competitors won’t be either.

P. S. I do a complete writeup of the Online Marketing Strategy Components in The Quintessential  Marketing Automation Guidebook, Conversion  Stack: Marketing Automation for Performance Marketers. It is free and you should find it enlightening.