Time’s up! MarTech is here and it’s your last chance to attend

In just one week, the world’s largest independent marketing technology conference designed for senior-level marketers and marketing technology professionals happens at MarTech in San Francisco, May 9-11. The show is programmed with one specific goal: to illuminate successful real-world practices at…

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How to Manufacture Urgency to Blow through Conversion Roadblocks

We don’t need things.

We might need a six-dollar, almond milk, sea salt caramel mocha (no whip) when it gets a little chilly outside.

But we don’t need-need.

The lights are on. Roof over our head. Heating or AC blasting in the background.

That applies to most things you’re trying to sell.

Doesn’t matter if we’re talkin’ ‘bout that shiny new app you deployed or the fancy new eComm product. People don’t need it.

Which makes your life tough. How are you going to move the needle, get more subscribers, and scale revenue, when the vast majority of the people you’re speaking to have zero actual need to buy your widget?

You need urgency. Or more specifically, you need to manufacture urgency out of thin air.

Here’s how a few of the web’s top converting sites create urgency out of thin air to get visitors to finally commit once and for all.

Why Urgency Works

People don’t need your stuff. But it gets worse. Because people also resist change at the same time.

So you’ve got two problems. You need to shake people out of their inertia. And then somehow get them to act.

Thankfully, the solution’s no secret. There’s a book on it. Along with countless studies.

For example, ConversionXL explains one account where just a little bit of urgency sprinkled onto a product page lifted revenue by over 27% for Bob & Lush.

They came up with the idea to that “clarity of deliver time on a product page would push more customers to convert.”

Sound familiar? It’s what some of the best in the business, from Amazon all the way down to the QVC have gone to great lengths to employ.


So they made one relatively small tweak to their product pages.

The new variant included a little simple text box that highlighted when someone would receive their product if they ordered within a short time frame.

dog-food-urgencyImage Source

Not only did revenue jump (27.1%), but the the number of purchases (9.5%) and checkout visits (10.1%) did, too.

Of course, the inclusion of this delivery date estimate wasn’t just a hunch. An epiphany. Or a ‘growth hack’ some growth hacker wrote about in their Bible to Growth Hacking on GrowthHackers.com

Instead, the hypothesis came from a place that good ideas always flow. But few rarely tend to go.

Consumer Research (AKA The Part Everyone Always Skips)

In 2012, Marcus Taylor of Venture Harbour launched a ‘Groupon deal for musicians.’ (And wrote about the experience in another excellent ConversionXL case study. Yes, I’m completely ripping them off today).

He reportedly invested months and even dipped into personal savings to fund it. The boats were burned. There was no going back. It had to churn a profit.

musicians-guide-urgencyImage Source

No need to bury the lead. He increased conversions from a mediocre-but-fine 2.5% up to an astonishing 10.8% by infusing urgency into every pore of the site.

That incredible conversion lift wasn’t the part that got me, though.

This was:

When people think of conversion optimization, they go to landing pages. They go to headlines. CTAs. Images. And other similarly miniscule details that kinda don’t move the f-ing needle.

But all of those elements (which we’ll touch in soon) are at the mercy of one giant thing: the audience.

All of the CTA tweaks in the world can’t save you from targeting the wrong audience in the first place.

That’s the critical difference Marcus understood. And acted on. (Emphasis, mine.)

“Prior to launch, I “tested” hundreds of traffic sources, from Reddit Ads, to specific music forums. I wanted to know was which traffic sources I need to prioritise during the real campaign.

I ended up with a custom Google Analytics dashboard like this, which made it clear which traffic sources delivered the most relevant traffic.”

converting-traffic-sourcesImage Source

“Not only did I know where my customers would come from ahead of time, but I knew more about my audience, such as how guitarists were almost three times more likely to buy than drummers, and that my conversion rate was highest in the UK and Australia.”

Similarly, when ConversionXL worked with Bob & Lush initially they didn’t haphazardly start throwing stuff on a DIY landing page builder. Rather, they begun with a boring, tired, old survey.

One hundred eighteen people opted in. And many agreed that their biggest fear centered around “running out of food for their dogs.”

That’s the catalyst. The trigger.

It manifested as a purchasing roadblock based on “knowing when the food would arrive.”

So that’s what ConversionXL leveraged. You’ve already seen the updated landing page variation that was a success. Just by using simple language to entice people to buy now (instead of waiting around).

The tactic – the thing you see on the screen – isn’t the point. It’s the impulse it targets. The underlying motivation that’s already preventing people from feeling like they need your thing.

It’s no coincidence that this is the exact same strategy that one of the interwebs top converters implements.

Expedia recently announced gross revenues of $16 billion. Up 8% from online sales.

Which should come as no surprise when you see what they’re doing.

How Expedia Manufactures Urgency Out of Thin Air

Visit Expedia.com.

The homepage is fairly bare. A giant reservation form takes over almost everything above the fold.

Below that, a few of “Todays Deals” are highlighted.

So far, not much is happening. It’s not until you actually search for a trip that things start to get interesting.

Vegas sounds fun. Pool season sure beats reading another blog post like this in your pajamas.

Plug in some dates. Hit Enter. And here goes.


Whoa. Lots happening.

You see plenty of greens (good!) and reds (bad!) to help you instantly understand their meaning.

In the lower right-hand corner, multiple little callouts keep popping up, sliding in and out of the screen, emphasizing the same thing: a BUNCH of other people are looking at booking these deals right now – so they might not last long.

Then of course, the Daily Deal hits you at the top of the screen. A classic countdown timer that ticks away. My heart rate sped up. Palms sweaty. Despite not having any real interest in booking this initially.

Once again, that was no accident. As this case study featured on Behave.org (formerly WhichTestWon) indicates.

behave-urgency-testImage Source

All that was added was a countdown timer. That’s it.

They even removed a few elements, including ‘free delivery’ and ‘order now’ in order to remove extraneous distractions and focus viewers on what mattered most: that countdown timer.

The result after 50,000 viewers? An instant 8% conversion lift.

Ok. Enough boring marketing stuff. Back to Vegas.

How Expedia Uses Price Anchoring & FOMO to Make this Trip Look like a Steal

Those FOMO callouts slide in and out of view.

The countdown timer continues ticking down. And then the product attributes help you decide.

For example, scroll down a little bit until you reach Cosmo.


It’s garnered a little yellow “Top Hotel” badge. It literally screams “Wonderful!” with excellent ratings and reviews to match.

Price anchoring in full effect, with the ‘sales price’ slashed down to the new effective one.

Scarcity comes into view with the strip of text in red that highlights the number of people who also booked this hotel in the past forty eight hours. Along with when it was last booked.

So. If we’re even remotely serious. We need to move fast.

Let’s select Cosmo. Because c’mon: wraparound terraces!

You look at available rooms and are immediately met by an “Unreal Deal” that will “save you 100% on your flight.” That’s backed up by the pricing, which shows you’ll ‘owe’ $0.00 more to select it now.


Deals like that won’t last. Don’t last. Which means you should act.

Not later, but now.

How Expedia Forces You to Take Action (Now)

Words matter.

It’s not that people absorb every letter in detail. They don’t. Hell – people don’t even read. ‘Specially not online.

But the sum is greater than the parts. It’s scanned in a moment’s notice and the meaning hits home.

For example, email marketing service AWeber ran a simple copy test on their call to action.

The only change? A single word.

aweber-urgency-nowImage Source

AWeber added the word “Now” to their call to action. And they saw a 12% increase in paid signups with a credit card.

An online travel booking flow is no different than any other conversion flow. Doesn’t matter if we’re talking about signing up for a new email marketing app or trying to go through a shopping cart checkout sequence.

The stats are remarkably the same, too. Online travel bookings see a 81% abandonment! While shopping cart abandonment averages right around 70%.

61% of those cart abandonments are because of ‘extra costs’ (including shipping, taxes, fees, etc.)

total-abandoned-cartsImage Source

You know how this feels. You’re super pumped about that new pair of plastic jeans (yes, that’s a thing) you just found. Except when you head over to checkout, you see that another ~30% has been tacked on due to taxes, shipping, and fees.

Guess what Expedia does, instead?


First, they ‘drop’ the price. Two cents. Literally. But it’s green and happy and there’s a check mark exclaiming “Good News.”

The other thing it says? “Book now to secure this price.”

Zooming into the pricing area on the right, you also see the savings of booking the flight and hotel together. Then, down below, you see the total price (again first – price anchoring).


And then a “Due at hotel” line item that cleverly buries all of those damn resort fees that we hate so much.

But they’re almost invisible because of how Expedia has positioned this pricing and sale.

Instead of being ‘thrown off’ the conversion scent at the moment of truth, you’re practically already packing your bags. #Humblebragging about your upcoming Vegas trip.


Ranchers use a cattle prod to get those big, dumb, slow moving animals to do what they want.

Whether that’s to eat, find shelter, or head to the slaughterhouse.

Consumers don’t need to do anything.

They might want lots of things. But they lack nothing. And so there’s no inherent desire to purchase your widget.

Instead, you have to create it. Manufacture it and bring it into existence.

For guidance, start with the web’s top converters. Expedia is a master at creating urgency by using countdown timers, product attributes, prince anchoring, FOMO, and a host of other psychological tactics that would make Cialdini proud.

Increasing conversions online isn’t about tricks or gimmicks or hacks. It’s about building up the value of your offering so much that people can’t help but convert.

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

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Writers: An Opportunity to Get Copyblogger Certified

"Apply to join Copyblogger's list of recommended writers." – Sonia Simone, Chief Content Officer

This one is just for the professional writers in the audience.

You may have seen that we have a listing of recommended Copyblogger Certified Content Marketers. I’m going to tell you a bit about who those folks are and how they’re selected.

If you want to hire an excellent professional writer who understands content strategy, that’s where you look for one.

And if you’d like to join that group of recommended writers, this is how you can apply.

What’s in the program

Certification has three main components:


The Certification program starts with a four-week online course taught by me and Brian Clark. It’s designed to take you from being an excellent writer to being an excellent writer who can implement content strategy.

“The Certification program pulled it all together for me. It was truly my aha moment — I got it! Not to be melodramatic, but all the components of content marketing aligned for me.” – Mark Crosling

Note: This isn’t a writing course. If you don’t come into the program with solid writing skills, you won’t leave with them, either. We may do a writing course at some point (I’d like to), but that day is not today.

The course will show you how to think about content strategy at a professional level. It includes workbooks and checklists you can bring with you to client meetings, so you can nail down the hard questions (and look incredibly smart and prepared) before you write a single line for your clients.

Once you’ve completed the course, you’re eligible to submit your work and apply for Certification.


Not everyone who completes the course becomes Certified.

Every application is closely reviewed by someone on our writing team. We’re looking for excellent writing, professional presentation, and a demonstration of solid content strategy. If your application shows us a writer we’d be proud to recommend, you’ll be Certified.

Every evaluation includes a detailed critique. So if there’s a fixable problem, you’ll know what the specific issue is and how to correct it … and you can re-apply.

For me, this individual application process is at the heart of what makes Certification valuable. You’re not showing that you could pass a multiple-choice quiz — you’ve shown work that demonstrates, to a fellow professional writer, that you’re a pro with solid skills.

Ongoing education

The program also includes membership in our Authority community of content marketers. That’s where you’ll get ongoing education for your Certification, including sessions on traffic strategies, evolving content best practices, and insights into how to run a more profitable business.

You can even apply for an in-depth mastermind-style “hot seat,” where we take a close look at your business and help you develop a plan for how to reach your next goals.

“The other thing about the program that’s great is the invaluable support and information you get during and AFTER you’ve completed it. Being in the Authority program gives me access to awesome continuing education. Worth every penny — and the listing on the site has really gotten me a ton of work.” – Trudy Roth

What it’s doing for our writers

Making a living as a writer isn’t easy. Finding new clients, managing your business as a business, positioning yourself to rise above the pennies-per-word freelance treadmill.

The Certification program exists to reward good writers with more clients, more revenue, more stability, and more respect.

“The education Rainmaker Digital provides through Authority and the Content Marketing Certification program has helped me further advance my freelance writing career, and the result has been an increase in the quantity and quality of client inquiries.” – Kristi Hines

We also, of course, reap the benefits of having a highly qualified group of professional writers we can point to when businesses tell us, “We’re sold on content strategy, but we can’t find anyone who can implement it well.”

What you should do next

  • If you’re a writer and you want to turn yourself into a valued content strategist
  • If you’re a writer and you want support and advice on reaching your professional goals
  • If you’re a writer and you want to find better clients and belong to a prestigious list of recommended writers

… then you want to join us and get Certified.

Take your writing business to the next level with our Certified Content Marketer training

If you’re interested in becoming a Certified Content Marketer, add your email address to our waiting list below to be the first to hear when the program reopens.

Find out when our Certified Content Marketer training program reopens:

The post Writers: An Opportunity to Get Copyblogger Certified appeared first on Copyblogger.

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Search Engine Optimization – 5 Things you Need To Know

The internet is now the #1 source consumers turn to to buy products and services. 

Are You Ready? The first place your customers go to find you is the web. Your internet presence will most often be the first impression you give to a potential new customer. Make sure it’s great. Can You Be Found? Millions of business owners and consumers use the internet to find information, research companies, and make buying decisions. If you have a website, you need to be loud and clear.

Here are the 5 basic steps for website optimization:

Step 1 is site optimization (proper page titles and descriptions, meta tags, labeling images with alt text, etc).

Step 2 is listing you in key places on the internet.

Step 3 is narrowing down keywords: getting down to the nitty gritty with who are target audience is!  

Step 4 is optimizing your site’s content (articles and info) with those target keywords.

Step 5 is writing up style guidelines for the site (rules that your writers, web helpers, contributors should follow:  ex: always use alt text with an image).

How to Create the Ultimate Marketing Plan

Four out of five B2B buyers start their journey with a web search. Nearly three quarters of the buying process is complete by the time a prospect is ready to engage with your sales team. With customers now in control, how do you create an effective marketing plan that resonates with target…

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

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