Two Birds, One Stone: How To Increase Conversions While Building Your Brand with UX

Every digital business wants to build a brand that attracts more customers, converts them, and turns people into brand advocates. Unfortunately, not all websites and apps persuade people to become customers, let alone brand advocates.

That’s where the hot trends Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and User Experience (UX) Optimization come in. CRO is closely tied to attracting new customers, while UX Optimization is closely tied to creating a more human experience that engages people with a brand.

matrix-meme-increase-conversions-build-brandI imagine you’re feeling a bit like Alice…tumbling down the rabbit hole?

Both CRO and UXO can and should be done in conjunction. Without one, the other suffers. Great CRO by itself is useful to convert more people, but if the experience suffers then people quickly abandon your product, leave a bad review, and will definitely not recommend you. On the other hand, a great UX by itself might build some loyal brand advocates, but growth will be snail slow until you hit a critical mass of users.

With that being said, it’s time for us to jump in and learn how to harmoniously apply both CRO and UX Optimization together.

The Importance of UX Prep before Conversion Rate Optimization

Let’s talk about the effect of great user experience design on branding. Brands like Uber, Kleenex, and even the infamous Blackbeard are very easy to recognize. Why? They understood the importance of creating a lasting impression. This lasting impression, or brand success, is widespread and as a result, their business potential is nearly unlimited.

The reason why these entities became recognizable brands is because of great products, great service, and people enjoy talking about them. Since people trust their friends and families most, it is word-of-mouth marketing that can be one of the most powerful marketing methods. If you hear it from a friend, you’re more likely to try it. And when you hear it from many friends, you become keenly aware of a brand. In today’s competitive marketplace, it is listening to customers and thoughtful user experience design that pushes companies to the branding level.

Where does brand building start? And how?

Brand building starts day 1, when you start to think about how your product or service will benefit people, and continues for as long as you are in business. This way of thinking is the core of UX.

Customers Pave the Way

So how do we get started with user experience? And what about conversion rate optimization? Well the fact of the matter is that without some basic understanding of how people use your digital product, CRO techniques are taking a stab in the dark, and are likely a waste of time and budget. What’s the point of optimizing a web page or a flow of actions if they are fundamentally broken, confusing and frustrating people? Before focusing on conversion optimization, it’s important to understand what people need so that we can then optimize it. There’s two ways to apply user experience thinking so we can then learn what to optimize. The first way is to have an expert catch “low-hanging fruit” issues, and the second is to gather customer feedback.

Applying What We Already Know

Luckily for us, the psychological science behind user experience is nearly 80 years old (originating during World War II!), which means there is a wealth of knowledge about how people think and act with computers and interfaces. By using this knowledge, a UX expert can fix many of the “low-hanging fruit” problems with a website or application, even before it is launched to the public! When an expert runs through an interface to find issues and suggest quick interface wins, this is called a user experience Review, or UX Review. The findings of the review are built into a report that ranks solutions in terms of severity and priority, so that developers know what is most important.

To get your own UX Review, there are a variety of agencies and freelancers who are a Google search away, or who can be found on freelance websites such as UpWork. For a quality report, it will cost you anywhere between $250 and a few thousand dollars, depending the complexity of your website or app, and how extensive the review is. Generally, the more extensive the review, the more costly it will be.

Applying Research Tailored to a Specific Product

The second way to apply user experience is to actually get customer feedback. And I’m not talking about A/B tests, but actual live tests or discussions with actual customers, called usability testing.

The best part about customer feedback is that it might lead to BIG changes in the right direction. After speaking with 3-5 customers, we might find out that people aren’t clicking that call-to-action because the website has major trust issues, beyond something we can resolve with simple copy or CTA changes. Or we might test 3-5 customers on our application, and find out that people don’t understand the value of the product, because it isn’t what people are used to.

silicon-valley-meme-users-don't-get-it

It’s not the people, it’s the product! Make sure to fix all of those low-hanging fruit issues and test with real people before thinking about conversion optimization techniques.

CRO: What You Should Know

Now that we’ve first covered our bases with user experience research, it’s the perfect time for conversion rate optimization! With a better understanding of our customers, and with an interface better designed for people, we can focus on converting more people into happy customers. Conversion optimization is also a big part of branding, because first impressions count.

Let’s talk about some of the basic tools and techniques of CRO, and the effect of CRO on branding. The first tool of any CRO expert’s arsenal is analytics. With analytics, we can gain useful insights about how people first interact with our brand. Are the majority of people leaving quickly? Are they willing to provide their email address and continue the conversation? Are they exploring the website or app store to learn more? Most of us know about negative conversion metrics (bounce rate, low time on page, etc), and thinking of these as a first impression with our brand will allow us to come up with great solutions.

Once you pinpoint drop-off points and areas with low engagement, conversion optimization focuses on A/B testing copy, imagery, call to actions, and the value proposition to determine which combinations lead to the highest conversions. The goal is to create more compelling content, and a seamless flow, to encourage more people to open up a conversation with the company (conversion).

We won’t dive too deep into the actual tools and techniques of CRO, as that is widely covered on the Kissmetrics blog and around the net. Here is a list of common CRO tools, and here is a list of common CRO techniques to use with those tools.

UX Optimization: What You Should Know

With CRO successfully underway, it’s time to revisit UX. User experience Optimization focuses on improving engagement metrics such as active users, frequency of use, number of shares, churn, repeat purchases, perceived ease of use, etc. It’s important to define what engagement metrics are key to growing business in the short-term, and the long-term. User experience experts can then work with customers to research and design digital products that create the emotional and behavioral responses that fit customer needs AND improve the target business metrics.

So what UX techniques are important to improve customer engagement? Similar to CRO, UX Optimization should start with Analytics, taking a look at key pages and action flows to see where engagement metrics are low. Most companies have some form of analytics set up. We can either ask for access to take a look ourselves, or request reports of key metrics for an important time period. Some of the standard analytics tools include: Google Analytics for websites, Google Analytics for mobile apps, and Kissmetrics for SaaS applications.

In the analytics tool, we’ll want to look for acquisition, behavior, and flow data. Acquisition is conversion information about how people arrive at a website or application. Behavior includes engagement information such as bounce rates, time on task, downloads, active users, frequency of use, etc. Flow data maps out the typical flow of pages that people common access, such as home page -> product -> cart -> purchase. Each company has different metrics that they prioritize, along with a goal to reach (such as less than 50% bounce rate). Find out what pages and flows are underperforming, and you’ve found potential problem areas!

With a general idea of problem areas, we can conduct a thorough expert UX Reviews to identify low-hanging fruit, and conduct usability tests to pinpoint usability issues and customer frustrations that are often overlooked in an expert UX Review alone. With basic issues fixed, we can build rapid prototypes to test engagement metrics against current designs, which is somewhat similar to A/B testing during CRO.

To conduct your own UX Review, there are many free UX checklists available that cover common principles, best practices, and recent trends. Some of the most important principles today include:

  • Persuasive design
  • Color psychology
  • Usability.gov’s extensive guidelines
  • Nielsen’s usability heuristics
  • Fitts’ Law
  • Navigation best practices
  • User onboarding
  • Social proof
  • Trust & credibility
  • Gradual engagement
  • The power of human faces in imagery
  • Gamification
  • Conversion optimization
  • Engagement optimization

An expert review is an important part of the UX optimization process. It can be done quickly and affordably, and catches both major and minor issues that can be fixed quickly.

onboarding-cant-be-a-crutchWell that was obvious, how did we miss this one?

When it comes to usability testing, there are a wide variety of remote usability testing tools, and laboratory tools (Morae is the most common lab tool) that we can use to measure engagement metrics.

Some tools such as UserTesting and Validately allow you to recruit test participants directly from their pool of testers. However, if the demographics of the testers don’t fit your customers, you can recruit participants with a tool like User Interviews. The beautiful thing about usability testing is that we are able see how people actually use our digital product, as opposed to only analyzing metrics. Sometimes the best design solutions are discovered when watching people in action (NOT focus groups)!

Usability testing also reveals what’s really important to customers, so your CRO experts can offer people better products, services, and promotions (and a custom bonus or gift to customers might be more profitable than a straight discount offer)!

bad-ux-cro-promotionYou’ve discovered customer values from UX testing. So what value can you offer them, besides JUST a massive discount?

After the UX Review and usability tests pinpoint interface improvements, it’s time to build a rapid prototype to test to see if the improvements increase our key engagement metrics. Tools such as Axure and UXPin make rapid prototyping easy. Once our prototype is set up and ready to go, it’s time to set up another set of usability tests and compare engagement metrics with the prototype to those with the current live version of our digital product. If the design changes offer an improvement, implement them!

Marrying CRO and UXO

CRO and UX Optimization have great synergy together.

As more people convert to customers, it’s important that customers stay engaged with the digital product. Engagement comes in many forms: more active hours using the digital product, downloading and sharing content, visiting/logging in more frequency, referring people (colleagues, friends, and family), completing tasks seamlessly, and more.

The better these “metrics”, the stronger the relationship between the company and the customer, the closer a company comes to building a brand relationship with people. And as more people get to know a company brand, the more diverse the conversion funnels become! A larger company has a larger audience, and must continuously grow to meet wider needs.

ux-cro-cycleCRO and UX Optimization are meant to be together

Takeaway: Conversions Don’t Always Lead to Engagement, and Vice Versa. Think Big. Think Branding.

CRO and UX Optimization are the twin pillars upon which a company’s branding rests… CRO and UXO experts working together will push a digital product leaps and bounds beyond what either one can do alone. Both are equally important in the early stages of a startup, to help convert more customers and ensure the experience is as intuitive and seamless as possible. As a company grows, both have a strong impact on the company’s branding through first impressions, conversions, engagement, and word of mouth marketing.

So the formal user experience and conversion rate optimization process is:

  1. Understand customers first via customer feedback.
  2. Optimize low-hanging fruit with a UX Review before spending budget on optimization.
  3. Optimize conversions, to attract customers.
  4. Optimize engagement, to retain customers.
  5. Rinse and repeat until your company creates a lasting impression on the world.

If a company follows this process from day 1, they will enjoy more conversions, build brand advocates, create an experience that people find useful, build something people remember, and create something that people will share.

With that, I’ll leave you to share this article with your colleagues, friends, and family😉 I hope it was insightful and fun to read!

About the Author: Ryan O’Connor (Ryan’s LinkedIn), the co-founder of GobySavvy, is on a mission to help companies discover the balance between creating delightful digital user experiences while achieving business goals. He created the GobySavvy UX Optimization blog to discuss hot trends in conversion and engagement focused design.

5 Unlikely Obstacles Hindering SaaS Conversions

Want more conversions?

Well, it’s possible.

However, the first step is realizing that conversions are people. And those individuals desire a remarkable customer experience.

The key is to remove barriers in the sales cycle. This includes cumbersome checkout processes and poor follow-up sales procedures.

Your SaaS team must perform better. It’s one of the best ways to crush the competition.

“Successful sales people, and successful sales teams, exhibit a superior ability to eliminate the common barriers that would otherwise prevent their prospects from making buying decisions,” writes Bob Apollo, managing partner at Inflexion-Point Strategy Partner.

“They take pains to identify how and why their prospects choose to buy, and what they need to do to straighten the path and remove the obstacles that might stand in their way.”

Earn more sales. Solve these five obstacles blocking your SaaS conversions:

1. Too Many Steps to Sign Up

Do you remember that classic Tootsie Roll commercial? The one that challenged kids to answer the question: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?

Kids would literally waste an entire afternoon counting their licks.

Your SaaS team should ask a similar question. How many clicks does it take for a customer to convert?

People don’t enjoy time-consuming tasks. And if they’re ready to buy, prospects don’t want to spend the next 15 minutes clicking through all your useless sales steps.

“Asking your users for a lot of information even before they’ve seen your app could backfire.

Marketers tend to get greedy with information, but the more info you require, the more friction you introduce. If you’re asking for more information up front, make sure to justify each action to eliminate friction,” states Sadhana Balaji, a product marketer at Chargebee.

So, limit the number of steps it takes for a prospect or free trial user to sign up for your service.

According to MarketingSherpa, “by optimizing step one of its sign-up funnel, 1-800-DENTIST lifted conversions by 23% in less than a week.”

3-easy-steps-make-an-appointment

Moreover, as you decrease the steps in the process, consider eliminating the multiple add-on features during initial setup.

Studies show that “contrary to economic belief that more choice is better, confronted with too much complexity, we make bad decisions, or stick with what we have already got.”

Thus, overwhelmed prospects may just abandon their sale completely.

Save the customer time and boost your revenue. Remove the 12-step signup process.

2. Treating Every Prospect the Same

People are different. We don’t think the same. We don’t eat the same foods. And the needs of a 20-year-old woman are different from an 80-year-old man.

This concept holds true within your target audience. Prospects are buying your products for different reasons. Some may desire the all-in-one platform, while others love the 24/7 email support.

Use your customers’ differences to your advantage. Start segmenting.

Segmentation helps your team sell specific product benefits to different users.

“If you are looking for segmentation ideas, a great place to start is by asking the sales team about the various roles and buyers they speak to on a regular basis…Use the information you gather from sales to create segmentation strategies that will resonate with your audience,” states Anna Talerico, executive vice president of ion interactive.

The goal of segmentation is to customize the shopping experience. You want prospects to feel like you’re talking directly to them.

Graphic design tool Snappa sends targeted emails to their subscribers based on their position in the sales funnel. Here’s an example of their process flow diagram:

sales-process-flow-diagram

“Marketing leaders must have a single view of the customer that allows them to engage in two-way, personalized conversations across technologies, locations, and physical objects at mass scale,” says Joydeep Bhattacharya, author of Seo Sandwitch Blog.

Don’t get stuck selling everything to everybody. Differentiate your message.

3. Nurturing Like A Used Car Salesman

Research reveals that “65% of B2B marketers have not established lead nurturing campaigns.” Without a clear path, your SaaS team may be causing more harm than good.

Poor lead nurturing results in unethical sales practices, missed deals, and negative brand image. No one wants 10 voicemails in a day from a salesperson.

Rather, strive to educate and build a relationship with your prospective user. That means informing them about your product, not selling.

“It’s about giving the right content to the prospect at the right time, and you can only do this by watching for signs that they’re progressing through the buying cycle. This is done through lead scoring…,” says Sarah Burke, content writer and marketer at Spokal.

Learn where the buyer fits into the sales process. Then, adjust your lead nurturing efforts accordingly.

The image below details the types of content that fit the buying cycle. Top of the funnel prospects may desire video, while the bottom of the funnel consumers may need quotes.

buying-cycle-top-bottomImage Source

Moreover, lead nurturing is built on trust. If buyers don’t trust your brand, it’s time to add some social proof to your sales message.

“Trust badges are also known to increase conversions. Getting a BBB seal can put people at ease knowing that you’ve been vetted by one of these organizations. You’ll also want an SSL certificate to show that your payment gateway is secure and trustworthy,” writes Sid Bharath, an entrepreneur and growth hacker.

Sell with the intention to build relationships.

4. Value is Unclear

Studies indicate that “91% of organizations said they aspire to be among the customer experience leaders in their industry, yet only 37% had started a formal CXM (customer experience management) initiative.”

To jumpstart your CXM program, figure out what value you offer your users. It should be clear and concise.

Aim to make an emotional connection between your product and the consumer’s needs.

Invision’s value proposition is simple. The SaaS offers people the opportunity to design and collaborate efficiently. They want their customers to design with confidence.

invision-homepage-screenshot-june-2016

Kevin Dewalt, a startup founder, investor, and advisor, suggests offering incentives to portray value. He states:

Offer additional purchasing incentives to customers who complete Acceleration events to get them to convert early. Examples of purchasing incentives are coupons, annual contracts, or special offers. Or simply tell them to enter a credit card now so they don’t lose service.”

Take control the customer experience. Show the value of your service.

5. Redesign Your Sales Page

Adobe reports that “38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content/layout is unattractive.”

Customers want eye-catching websites. Your design must grab and hold their attention.

In addition, with loads of information at buyers’ fingertips, it is rare for someone to call a sales department.

So, if customers don’t like what they see, they may just leave. That’s why your sales page must explain your product and address your consumer’s concerns.

“As buyers spend more of their time self-educating before contacting sales…the pricing page of SaaS websites has reached critical importance in the buyers’ journey for enterprise SaaS sales..,” writes Brian Devaney, inbound marketing strategist at New Breed Marketing.

Unbounce’s sales page is an exemplary example. It tells prospects what they will receive and the prices. And the layout is clean with ample white space.

unbounce-sales-page-june-2016

Evaluate your sales page. Is it time to change the copy or the layout?

No More Barriers

Eliminate the roadblocks in your sales cycle. Gain more users by improving the overall experience.

Ditch the multiple steps to sign up. Stop mass selling with one message. And revamp your sales page from the customer’s perspective.

Get rid of the obstacles. Start converting.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

How to Make Analytics Work for Your Videos

When the word “analytics” comes up, most content owners immediately gravitate toward viewership counts. However, though views are important, they’re only part of the larger picture. Truly comprehensive analytics help content creators ensure the videos they produce are providing real ROI.

Without proper analytics, businesses have no way of knowing whether their videos are just popular or are actually converting viewers into buyers. A video that has lots of views but doesn’t lead to sales is little more than a money pit.

With a well-built analytics tracking system, companies can see exactly where their leads come from, how they convert through the funnel, and where their marketing dollars have the greatest impact.

Real Data and Deceptive Views

Most companies recognize how important good data is to their revenue streams. New marketing technologies allow even the smallest companies to get a firm understanding of how their programs are performing across various demographics.

In the recent past, view counts were king. Businesses understood that more viewers equaled more brand recognition and more sales. Views are helpful, true, but they’re one of the easiest metrics to acquire and interpret. Anyone can go to YouTube and see how many views a video has, but that number only reveals how many people started the video – nothing more.

Views don’t tell you whether users left five seconds in, bailed halfway through, or made it to the bitter end. View count could be double or triple the actual engagement figures, but without other indicators, companies have no way of knowing. Engagement is difficult to measure on the whole, but if one video has 10 percent of viewers watching to the end and another has 90, that’s an excellent place to start.

Additionally, view counts don’t say who is watching a video. A video geared toward Baby Boomers in Texas with an actual audience made up almost exclusively of Millennials in New York probably isn’t accomplishing what the content creator intended. Fewer views within the right audience are worth much more than tons of views in the wrong one.

What You Should Measure

If view count isn’t the end-all of video analytics, what is? Predictably, no single statistic is the answer. A comprehensive analytics strategy should include:

Engagement

Measure engagement with both average and time-based metrics. These numbers will show you what percentage of your video viewers are watching and where in your video they’re leaving. You can tell whether people rewatch a specific part several times or whether one particular lame joke or long-winded section is leading people to lose interest and close the tab.

wistia-video-engagement-metricsMonitor how far into your video viewers are watching to identify where you are losing them. Using heatmaps, you can see which sections of a video a viewer is watching more than once.

Play rate

Play rate refers to the percentage of users who encountered your video on a landing page or website and clicked the play button. In short, it tells you how much appeal your video has before engagement begins. More than a simple view count, this ratio can help you identify ways to optimize your video splash screen and where you locate your player.

average-engagement-wistiaUnderstanding where your viewers are watching from helps identify that you’re hitting the markets you want.

Call-to-action response rate

If your video includes a call to action – such as “Click here for more information!” – your analytics should tell you how many viewers answer that call. This number is the most closely tied to ROI because it directly correlates with lead conversions.

Demographics

Look at where in the world your viewers are located. Are you hitting the markets you want? Are there opportunities arising in markets you didn’t consider before? The more specific your demographic information is, the better prepared your marketing and sales teams will be to develop targeted programs and campaigns for different groups.

demographics-countries-wistiaUnderstanding where your viewers are watching from helps identify that you’re hitting the markets you want.

Unique views

Yes, views is still one of the metrics that, when taken as part of a larger whole, can help you form a better strategy regarding the content and placement of your videos. If you have 100 percent of your target demographic fully engaged and completing your call to action but there are only three of them, you might want to figure out a way to get your video in front of more people.

Used properly, analytics will quickly tell you things about your business that would take years to learn without them. A comprehensive analytics strategy will allow you to make better data-based decisions, save time using automatic forecasting models, view and analyze real-time trends, and save money, as all the wasted man-hours you used before can now be spent boosting your ROI.

Start Measuring the Right Way

You know what works, what doesn’t, and what to measure. Now what? Follow these five steps to kick-start your analytics strategy and get better results from your videos:

Choose the right platform to host and track your videos

You have several great options available. YouTube and Vimeo provide the most cost-effective solutions and work well for most businesses, but they don’t provide some of the more advanced analytics that other platforms do. Vidyard and Wistia cost a bit more, but they’re worth the investment thanks to their great analytical tools and integration capabilities with most CRMs and marketing automation platforms, tracking viewers from first click to conversion.

Set monthly and quarterly tasks to analyze your analytics reports

Compare the results with previous numbers to see what changed to determine whether you need to alter your strategy, placement, or content.

Spend time reviewing engagement, total views, and play rate

Many views with little follow-through could indicate that your call to action is weak, while strong results on low numbers could mean your placement isn’t optimal. If your play rate is low, the placement of your video on the page could be poor or your chosen splash screen might not be attracting an ideal amount of attention.

ABC: Always be creating

Marketing is about consistency, and video marketing is no different. Produce high-quality video content on a regular basis to keep people engaged and your message fresh. Analytics allow you to fine-tune your approach with each passing month to maximize your impact by seeing what worked well and what fell flat. Every new video – success or failure – is an opportunity to gather data and learn how to do better next time.

Too many companies mistake sparse analytics for good data or neglect the analytical approach entirely, leading to millions of dollars in lost potential revenue every year.

Don’t leave money and customers on the table. Use analytics to gather and act upon the information you need to boost your ROI, broaden your brand appeal, and grow your company.

About the Author: Brandon Houston is the CEO of Switch Video, a video animation company that produces simple videos that “explain what you do” in an engaging and compelling format. Switch Video has produced more than 800 videos for clients, including LinkedIn, IBM, HP, Bayer, and American Express. Reach out to Brandon on Twitter.

How to Create a Buyer Persona Map (Even if You Have No Idea Who Your Customers Really Are)

Buyer personas. Creating potential customer profiles is often enough to make even the best marketer freeze in their tracks – and realize how little they really know about their prospects.

If this sounds like you, don’t worry. And even if you’ve never created a buyer persona in your life, today’s article will help make sense of the process by giving you a sort of “map” to follow.  Let’s take a closer look.

Starting Fresh: Getting the Basics

The very first step in your map is going to be the core information about your customer. Things like:

  • Gender
  • Age range
  • Job title
  • Job responsibilities

You can likely get that much from the data stored in your CRM.

I’d also recommend “humanizing” the persona with a name and image. Doing so tends to bring out more of our emotional, empathetic side rather than looking at the potential customer as a number to slot somewhere into a sales funnel like a puzzle piece.

Learning from Example

For our example here, we’ve chosen to work with “Lucy”, a marketing director in her late 40s. Her job primarily entails lead generation, sales management, and gathering competitive intelligence. She organizes and prioritizes campaigns. She’s a pro at gathering competitive intelligence and using it wisely to help reinforce the brand and cement customer loyalty in a very competitive marketplace.

Because of the huge growth in social media, Lucy’s looking for a way to streamline the interaction process on social media without losing the “personability” of the brand. She’s in the market for a system/solution and wants to make a confident decision quickly.

So with this in mind, our persona map is going to look something like this so far:

buyer-persona1

Now, to liken this back to a map concept, we’ve got our starting point. Next, it’s time to look at the journey.

Our first stop along the map is the buyer’s needs. She has the basic research to know what’s out there. If we were looking at this from a traditional sales funnel point of view, she’s at the “comparison shopping” stage.  She’ll be looking to make a decision soon.

Understanding the Buyer’s Needs

Buyers are eager to tell you what they need. All you have to do is ask. Basic lead follow-up and nurturing questions can reveal quite a bit. Simple polls and surveys can often reveal a great deal about where the buyer actually is in the process (and whether they have an urgent need for your product or service versus basic curiosity). Even if we don’t know specifically what they need, we can make some blanket statements to apply them to our persona. What would someone in this job typically need from our solution?

For starters, the buyer likely needs the product to be well documented. She’ll be managing dozens, perhaps hundreds of staff members – some of whom (based on age) may be more technically savvy than she is. Some of the staff may pick it up quickly, others may need more time.  We’ll add the needs and the persona’s place in the decision-making process (one persona can have multiple roles in the decision process – they can be a user and initiator, for example)

buyer-persona2

There’s also the fact that whatever solution needs to be adaptive and flexible to accommodate existing platforms and tools. The company itself likely has certain procedures and requirements of its own that need to be added to the mix, like cloud-based access and certain security protocols. These kinds of factors can influence and even conflict with what the primary buyer wants. Never mind that decisions like these are often made by committee, which lengthens the time needed and the requested features.

Dealing with Common Objections

Like all maps, there are roadblocks that are likely preventing your customer from taking action.  There are constraints and concerns, frustrations and issues that affect their decision.  You can brainstorm these obstacles and add them to the map to ensure that sales knows how to address the most common objections before they become major pain points.

You also have to decide where this buyer falls on the scale of decision-making. Will they be using the product? Influencing the decision-maker? Initiating contact with the company? A mix of all of these? Make a note of these objections and the buyer persona’s place in the decision-making cycle on your map.

Following our example, we end up with something like this:

buyer-persona3

Here, we’ve managed to discover (and brainstorm) the buyer’s potential:

  • Needs
  • Concerns
  • Frustrations
  • Urgency/Timeframe to Buy
  • Place in the buying cycle
  • Requirements

All the kinds of sales-propelling information needed to acknowledge objections, concerns and frustrations while concentrating on needs, requirements and urgency.  We’ve not only learned core demographics about our buyer, but key information that may be preventing them from action, or details that could move a sale into the next stage.

Our buyer persona map is less of a neatly-organized, bulleted list and more like a mind-map that’s always being added to and revised.  It may not be as tidy, but our map is more authentic, and closer to the actual customer experience.

Think about the last time your company made a major purchase. It’s seldom a “beginning to end” one-time shot, isn’t it? There’s lots of details to hammer out, lots of presentations to sit through, lots of suggestions and sign-offs to gather. It’s a big process and a fancy list of bullets just doesn’t cut it anymore – not in today’s two-way communication world.

The Bottom Line on Understanding Buyer Behavior

It might seem counter-intuitive to go through this entire process with every type of buyer your company encounters. After all, you’ve likely got a lot more than just one type of customer. And if you’re in retail, you’ve got suppliers, wholesalers, resellers, and a whole avalanche of personas out there.  Don’t panic, prioritize. Focus on your best customers and find the unifying threads that tie them together, and then build on that persona.

And remember that buyers are multi-faceted human beings. Sometimes they make decisions that go against the grain of even the best, most well-developed persona. It happens. But here, it pays to remember that the journey is just as important as the destination, and the easier you make that journey, the more receptive the buyer will be to taking the action you want them to take.

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today! Follow @sherice on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ for more articles like this!

4 Ways to Make Your Content Gripping to Readers

mind grip

Do your readers hang on to your every word?

I bet they don’t.

Okay, that’s not fair because mine don’t all either.

The facts clearly show that a large chunk of your readers will skim your content, no matter what.

But that still leaves a lot of readers.

And these readers can choose to skim as well, read somewhat closely, or read every single word you write.

I think you’ll agree that the last option is the best for us as content creators.

Think of the blogs you read on a regularly basis. How many recent posts have really gripped you?

I mean those cases when you read every single word because you couldn’t help it.

Maybe one or two?

It’s certainly not common. And because it’s challenging to create content that does grip your readers, you won’t be able to achieve it in every case.

But that’s the goal that you should have in mind. It’s what I’m always trying to do when I write a blog post, guide, or guest post.

In this post, I want to share four methods that I personally try to use to accomplish this.

Start incorporating these tactics into your own content, one-by-one, and I guarantee that you’ll start seeing more comments, more subscribers, and better on-page metrics (like time on page, bounce rate, etc.). 

1. We NEED answers as readers

The first requirement for gripping content is that it needs to be interesting.

It doesn’t matter how well-written something is if your reader doesn’t have at least some interest in it.

I’m going to assume that you can come up with some decent content ideas fairly interesting to your audience.

More importantly, you need to use a principle called curiosity gaps as often as possible.

Curiosity gaps have less to do with what you’re writing about and more with how you are writing-to maximize interest.

Here’s what a curiosity gap is:

The more we are interested in finding an answer, and the less of an idea we have of what the answer actually is, the more curious we are. A curiosity gap is the space in between what we know and what we want to know.

Sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed use curiosity gaps in their headlines all the time, despite their claims that they don’t.

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And it’s because they work.

Joanna Wiebe, from Copy Hackers, implemented curiosity gaps on a pricing page and increased clicks on it by 927%.

Using curiosity gaps to make your content gripping: Okay, neat, but how do you actually use curiosity gaps in your content?

You can’t control what your reader already knows; that’s going to be different for everyone.

What you can control is how much they want to know the answer to something.

It starts off with the benefit that your content provides. That’s where you get the initial interest.

The benefit might be:

  • Showing how to make an extra $1,000 a month
  • Teaching how to use a tool to save 5 hours a week
  • Learning from your 10 biggest mistakes as a business owner
  • Or anything else that most of your readers would want to find out.

If you emphasize a good benefit in your headline and first few paragraphs, you’ve already built up some interest-perfect.

Now, you need to deepen the curiosity gap by increasing your reader’s desire to know the answer even more.

There are a few ways to do that, but the best way is to surprise them.

Take that first example I just gave you: a method to make an extra $1,000 a month.

Most readers will be interested in it, but they’ll also assume that it’s going to be straightforward, like working an extra 5 hours a week or getting a second job.

Instead, you need to surprise them.

What if we changed it to: A non-obvious method to make an extra $1,000 a month.

Now, the reader is even more interested because they don’t even have a good guess at your answer.

But you can apply this within your content itself, not just the headline and first paragraph.

Tell the reader that you’ll reveal a trick or secret of yours to get even better results from whatever you’re writing about.

The final note I need to make here is that you need to deliver on your surprise. If you promise a non-obvious method, it needs to actually be non-obvious, or you’ll lose your reader’s trust.

2. If you saw an angel, wouldn’t you pay attention?

We’ve all seen it on TV: a guy sees a girl he thinks is beautiful, the music starts playing, and light begins radiating outwards from her.

All of a sudden, he can’t focus on anything else but her.

That’s obviously not completely realistic, but it has some truth to it:

When we are in awe of something, or even just impressed by it, we focus our attention on it.

Can you guess how this applies to content?

If your reader is impressed by either you or your content, they’ll be glued to every word on the page.

The tough part is finding a way to impress your readers.

One of the best methods to do that is to use the “halo effect”: once we see someone or something in a positive light, we rate them highly in other aspects as well.

For example, studies showed that we naturally think that beautiful people are kinder, more trustworthy, and smarter than less attractive people.

But it goes beyond just basic traits.

One study had subjects grade a written essay, but only after they saw a photo of the supposed author. Some study participants were shown photos of attractive authors, and others were shown photos of unattractive authors.

Here’s the twist: the essay was the same regardless of the author photo the subjects saw. 

The researchers found that the clearly attractive authors got a rating of 6.7 out of 10, but the unattractive writers got only 5.9 out of 10.

On a different essay with the same setup, the attractive authors got 5.2, while unattractive authors got only 2.7.

Basically, if a reader thinks highly of you in one area, their opinion of you will transfer over to other areas and, in particular, your content.

When we like people or are impressed by them, we give them the benefit of the doubt.

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You’ll see a few things when you come to Quick Sprout or any of my other blogs, starting with a picture of me in the sidebar:

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No, I’m not ready for GQ, but I had professional pictures taken and cleaned myself up the best I could before the photo shoot.

Present yourself in the most attractive light you can, and that will carry over to your content.

It’s not all about looks: I went over only a few studies about the halo effect above, but there are many more. And others prove that the effect applies not just to looks but indeed to all traits.

If someone is really nice, we think that they’re probably smart.

If someone is really accomplished, we think their content must be amazing.

And so on…

You can see that I use the halo effect further within the biography under my picture.

When someone first finds out who I am, they see that I’ve worked with massive companies and have founded two successful companies.

When someone gets to my content, they’ll see I’m not just some random guy. Instead, they’ll think something like:

Holy crap, this guy is successful! He must know what he’s talking about, so I’d better pay attention.

But don’t think the halo effect is about tricking people. It’s about making sure they see your best traits as soon as possible.

Find a way to impress people either above or beside your content or within the content itself (tell a story that relays an impressive accomplishment).

Your face isn’t the only thing that can be pretty: Think about what makes a person attractive.

It’s not just their actions or looks. It’s also things like their clothes.

Pop quiz:

Which content do you think readers would rate higher:

  • a guide with minimal formatting?
  • a guide with a beautiful design?

The answer is obvious. The same content will be rated higher when it’s designed well, and that’s because of the halo effect.

That’s one of the reasons I spent so much on design for my advanced guides (in the sidebar):

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Yes, the content is great, but the design is as good, or better, than that of almost any other piece of content on the Internet.

Readers have carefully read the whole guide throughout the years not only because of the content but also because of the design.

You don’t necessarily have to go to the same length, but do whatever you can to improve the look of your content (images, formatting, font, etc.).

3. Explain complex topics like your readers are 5 years old

Think about the last piece of gripping content you read.

Chances are you weren’t scratching your head every 5 seconds or heading to Google because you didn’t understand something.

The best content isn’t written in complex terms, which is why some of the smartest people can’t write content to save their lives.

This is a very simple tweak you can make to instantly make your content more gripping-just write simpler.

You don’t have to write as if your readers were literally 5 years old, but you want to write in a way that will allow 95% of them to understand everything you wrote without having to look up words, acronyms, or other terms or concepts.

4. The same old angle is never gripping

Remember when you were a kid and when learning basic addition was fun?

Most people enjoy new things.

What they don’t enjoy is repetition.

Once you learned how to add, did you really want to spend hours every day doing it?

I’m guessing no-because doing exactly the same thing over and over is boring.

This goes back to the curiosity gap. If there is no gap (because you already know the end result), there’s no curiosity.

And yet marketers regularly produce content that is very similar to tons of other content already out there.

For example, if you search for “guest post guide,” you’ll find a few different guides from well-known sites:

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But you can go down hundreds of results, and you’ll still find more guest-posting guides.

Who’s going to find those interesting after they’ve learned 99% of what they need from those first few guides?

Approach it from a new direction: I’m not saying you can’t write about topics that have been written about. But I’m saying you need a unique angle that hasn’t been done (at least not too much).

More lectures on addition will be boring to anyone who can already add. However, teaching someone to add in their head could be new and fun.

Readers and students will always pay more attention to new angles and new ideas.

My challenge for you here is this: the next time you’re writing an article, see if it’s been done before. Search for similar articles.

If you find several, you need to change the approach you take to your article because chances are many of your readers have already seen those other ones.

For example, you might want to write an SEO guide.

Well, there are hundreds out there that go over all the basics of SEO, so there’s nothing you can add to that.

However, you can take unique angles to appeal to specific audiences. For example:

  • How to SEO a Joomla site in under 10 minutes
  • How SEO for a local business differs from SEO for a typical website
  • How to set up your social media accounts for better search rankings

Be different.

Conclusion

If you want true fans, you need to create content they love.

They can’t just like it because in that case they’ll often skim it.

You want them to read every single word because they can’t help it. These readers will then sign up to your email lists, buy your products, and help share your content.

This isn’t easy, which is why I showed you these four ways to make your content more gripping.

Start by applying a single method, and once you have that down, start with the next one.

Track your results before and after applying each tactic, and I think you’ll be happy with the improvements you’ll get in reader engagement.

If you’ve found any other technique particularly useful to make your content more compelling, please share it with everyone in a comment below-and I’d love to hear about it too.

How to Idiot Proof Your Ad Campaigns

Marketing promotion sucks when you treat people the same.

That goes for conversions, and it goes for advertising too.

But the minute things start to go awry, people start messing with their landing page headline or ad descriptions.

As if those tiny, miniscule elements are the primary reason traffic’s not comin’ or visits aren’t convertin’.

The best landing page, optimized 100% correctly, can’t make up for the wrong audience seeing that message.

Ad campaigns are already difficult. But the good news is that you don’t need to possess ninja PPC skillz.

Instead, here is a dead simple way you can isolate where problem areas might pop up and stop them dead in their tracks.

When ‘Best Practices’ are Good Enough

Commonly accepted best practices are a starting point. The tip of a metaphorical iceberg.

They get all the attention and ink online. But there’s a mountain below just waiting to sink your campaign.

On a GREAT day, landing pages convert around 10% of visitors (and those are the ‘uncommon’, special ones that vastly outperform all the rest). That means the majority of page visitors are doing, well, anything else besides converting.

Slapping on a different ad-description isn’t going to budge that number. It won’t change the fact that those people simply aren’t ready to buy. It might get you from 6-7%. Which is great!

But in a world where over 50% of all customers interactions follow a ‘multi-event, multi-channel’ journey that takes various touch points prior to converting, we should look beyond tactical ‘best practices’ to make sure the entire funnel aligns to deliver the best conversions for our buck.

Managing the growing complexity is a top priority for marketers, with most juggling anywhere from 5 – 31 separate tools to manage messaging in a multi-channel marketing environment.

This can be best illustrated with the help of Google’s Customer Journey to Online Purchase, which shows how a typical customer’s journey might look (including which channels influence which parts) for most industries. Yay visuals!

journey-to-online-purchase-google

The point is, there are many things involved in a single conversion. Whether we’re talking about a product purchased or lead generated.

Unfortunately, ad campaigns today can’t be simple, static paths from New Visitor -> Conversion. Not in a world where it takes a minimum of 6-8 customer touch points prior to conversion. Or when your most profitable customers are NOT the ones who visit your site 1-3 times, but 14-20 before signing up.

Today’s ad campaigns are more like a delicate system of variables that depend on each other for success. (Enter your best ‘synergistic’ MBA speak here.)

Making sure those things come together harmoniously is the best way to boost conversion rates for the long-term.

Here’s how.

1. Create Different Ad Campaigns for Each Customer Journey Stage

Ad campaigns should align with an appropriate stage of the sales funnel. Same as any inbound deliverable like an infographic, offline tradeshow, or other campaign.

You know, that whole Awareness, Consideration, Decision bit?

(If you have NO idea what I’m talking about, read about the buying cycle and triggers from David Skok. And then spend another 20 minutes reading everything else he writes – it’s worth it.)

buying-cycles-for-entrepreneurs

Ad channels (and even different campaigns on the same channel) can then be used for different purposes, whether that’s driving new sales to generating leads or simply boosting awareness. The opportunities are vast, but the execution needs to be precise.

ad-channels-sales-lead-awareness-distribution

Let’s start with generating initial awareness to see how this works.

Demand Generation

The goal here is to bring in new, targeted visitors. Obviously.

Problem? Nobody knows who you are. And frankly, they don’t really care. They haven’t yet become aware that they have a need for you yet.

So help them. Literally.

Start with their daily life. What issues pop up, take too long, or cause them frustration (that can also possibly tie back into your widgets)?

Listen:

Consumers ignore 86% of display ads. And those average banner ad click through rates are a dismal 0.1%. It ain’t easy out there.

Botching this jeopardizes everything else. So your value proposition needs to be awesome. Not good, or great. But, “Holy s$*% I need to [click this link / read this post] right now”.

Typical display ads, AdWords, and Facebook are well tread options. So let’s look at new, fresh examples like Twitter and Instagram. Less competition typically = less expensive = higher return on ad spend. And the principles are the same, regardless of channel.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to get the attention on Twitter. Instead of simply promoting your account (and making it all about you), solving a huge pain point or even providing a fun distraction can be enough to start introducing your brand to consumers.

verizon-twitter-ad-star-wars

The best social ads at this stage also ‘blend’ in with the content people are already consuming. You know, like that whole native advertising thing. For example, this one from I.D. Sarrieri is very Instagram-ish – selling a mood or theme featuring their products.

idsarrieri-instagram-ad

Find this one, and many more great Instagram ad examples here.

Last but certainly not least, is your headline.

The best headlines are a crystallized version of your value proposition, and they tap into some deeper primal motivation to grab maximum attention. Bnonn’s SHINE headline formula is a great way to get started, giving you the ‘essential’ ingredients like Specificity and Immediacy that are critical to getting people to take action.

You can also study the masters like BuzzFeed, who crank out brilliant headlines day-after-day that can be templated for re-using later. For example:

buzzfeed-headline-article

This one might look like:

  • # + [Perfect Adjective] + [Noun/Keyphrase Solution] + [To/For/Like] + [Fix Your Undesirable Thing]

Lead Generation

Once you’ve captured attention, the next step is to get them interested.

You do that by constructing a ‘bridge’ between their problems or pain points, and your widget which can ultimately solve those things for them.

One of the most popular techniques here is some kind of ‘lead magnet’ to generate a micro-conversion like a basic email address. Chances are, you’re familiar with all the usual suspects like eBooks, webinars, checklists, and more.

But ‘content’ based offers can mean much more.

For example, most designers are starved for stock photos, especially with the exorbitant costs at the well known sources.

Here, Bigstock is providing 35 free!

bigstock-free-photos-twitter-ad

(Here are a few more Twitter ad examples to browse for inspiration.)

Even something as simple as a recipe could work wonders because it blends (pun intended) an offer to get attention with the products they’ll need (and can purchase from you).

Smirnoff’s example below is a perfect example of bridging the gap between those two worlds.

smirnoffus-instagram-ad

Closing Customers

By this point, prospects should know who you are and at least have some interest in your product.

Otherwise, we run into that original problem of trying to convert cold, unaware leads (which all of the best tactical practices in the world can’t help).

The key? Make them an offer they can’t refuse. Especially if switching costs are an issue.

For example, MailChimp executes brilliantly by running a competitive offer to Constant Contact peeps with a free three month offer. That should help soften the blow of having to move all email templates and contact records, while also giving those people enough time to settle in with the service.

mailchimp-3-months-free-twitter-ad

(The actual content and CTA looks a little sloppy, but the overall offer is great.)

Admittedly, selling on Instagram is a, well, tough sell. It’s still early days, and the channel is mostly known for brand awareness.

But still, the Cromwell in Las Vegas does as good a job as any, highlighting their attractive property in a multi-ad set with an appropriate CTA.

cromwellvegas-instagram

If you’ve done all the hard work up to this point (like getting awareness, building interest, and developing trust), the sales offer should be simple and straightforward.

A great offer or promotion can help, but shouldn’t be required to get people to open up their wallets.

But if it is still difficult or damn near impossible, this next section can help.

2. Pinpoint & Upgrade Underperforming Stages

Creating different ad campaigns for specific sales funnel stages can help illustrate potential gaps, making it easier to break down exactly where you’re excelling (or falling short).

That way instead of overreacting and making rash conclusions, you can start measuring those micro-conversions between stages or steps to find leading indicators of success.

For example, experiencing low sales but demand seems to be there? Insert more lead gen and nurturing campaigns into the mix to bridge that gap. The end result, should resemble a complete ‘customer journey’ that seamlessly moves people from one step to the next.

customer-journey-brand

But what if those things check out, and still nothing. You’ve got ad campaigns targeting each step, and they seem to be performing well. Except for that whole sales thing.

Break your ad campaigns down even further into the individual variables that dictate success.

Google AdWord’s Quality Score is kinda the gold standard for using algorithms to award and set pricing in an auction based ad system. Facebook has also been testing different algorithms that act similarly.

What’s unique, is that these algorithms use factors like ad relevancy from the ads you’re running, to the keyphrases or audiences, and even through the landing pages. They factor all of these details, and then create a holistic score that dictates (a) how often your ads show and (b) what you’re going to pay.

Algorithms like these force advertisers to consider how every single ad campaign element works together to produce the best ROI (instead of simply focusing on the single ad creative you’re working on).

So let’s start with the tactics, and work backwards to see if we can get any quick wins.

offer-to-landing-page-stages

Addressing or changing elements like the ad creative and landing page are far easier than ripping up the offer and starting from scratch. You can A/B test these elements according to commonly accepted best practices (which take all of 5 minutes Googling).

And it’s the easiest, ‘low hanging fruit’ to quickly improve your Quality Score (or similar relevancy scores in other social ad platforms) that deliver fast results.

If issues still persist, take another step back to address the audience you’re targeting (or keyphrases in AdWords which inherently have a certain type of audience searching). Chances are, improving audience targeting could give you that breakthrough.

For example, custom audiences on Facebook help you get more specific by targeting segments of past customers, retargeting website visits, or even the individual product page visited. Target saw a “20% increase in conversion [using Facebook’s Dynamic Product Ads] compared to other Facebook ads”, according to Senior Vice President Kristi Argyilan.

Assuming your offer or value proposition is sound and that the channel is appropriate, iterating on the audience, ad creative, and landing pages should deliver something at the end of the day.

Otherwise, you have bigger issues (beyond advertising) that are holding you back.

Conclusion

The tactical best practices you read about all over the interwebs are important.

But only to a point.

Breaking things down by sales funnel stages can help you determine where you’re excelling or falling short in key categories. They alert you to gaps in the customer journey that can cause breakdowns in driving new sales.

Once that’s completed, you can get even more granular by looking at each independent variable within a single ad campaign to see where further bottlenecks are choking results. Working backwards from the ad creative and landing pages to your audience will give your campaigns a quick lift (assuming your offer or value proposition + channel selection check out).

Big conversion increases don’t happen overnight by swapping out your headline or button color. They come from iterating on these tiny details along the way, making small improvements at each little step.

And best of all, isolating different variables helps assign priority, keeping execution focused and simple in an increasingly complex world.

About the Author: Brad Smith is a founding partner at Codeless Interactive, a digital agency specializing in creating personalized customer experiences. Brad’s blog also features more marketing thoughts, opinions and the occasional insight.

How to Create Urgency to Fuel E-Commerce Sales

Swift action.

Our marketing and sales teams dream of prospects who see our product, know they want it, and then buy without hesitation.

We all know that’s an anomaly. Most sales require your team to nurture the customer relationship and even demo the product.

However, there is a way to speed up the process. The key is to create a sense of urgency that will move the buyer forward in the sales cycle.

Dan Tyre, sales director at HubSpot, writes, “[The] top 2% salespeople can recognize ‘tells’ in prospects that indicate whether they’ll move toward purchase or delay the process.”

It’s time to harness the power of your team’s existing expertise with practical steps.

Let’s explore how to create a sense of urgency within your customers.

Why Choose Urgency

Urgency gives us a reason to think differently about our purchases.

Expert behavioral psychologists found that “urgent situations cause us to suspend deliberate thought and to act quickly.”

By creating a sense of urgency in the sales process, you motivate potential buyers to take action on your website. And that includes signing up for an email, enrolling in a free webinar, or actually purchasing your services.

Your goal is to break through the cognitive friction that delays people from converting.

Be wary of assuming that urgency equals persuasion. Because no level of motivation will convince someone to buy a horrible product that doesn’t meet a need.

“Winning a conversion takes two things: A feeling of desire (“I’ve got to have this thing!”) and a nudge that refuses to allow the lead to procrastinate (“But I’ll get it later”). Your sales copy is the hook, and urgency is the tug on the reel,” writes Joel Klettke, a conversion-focused copywriter at Business Casual Copywriting.

The longer your prospect waits to make a purchase, the less likely the sale will actually happen. More time translates into unrelated life distractions, the opportunity to shop with a competitor, and mental barriers to hinder the deal.

Procrastination is not your friend. Build urgency to seal the deal.

Word Choice Matters

Words have meaning. Therefore, every word on your website matters. So, choose wisely.

Write copy that will be a no-brainer for customers to take action. The key is to resonate with the shopper’s inner thoughts to sell your services.

Start by showcasing benefits, not features. Give visitors a glimpse of the results they will receive after using your services.

People don’t buy products to remain stagnant. Showcase how your product will make their lives better. Highlighting the value-added benefits will keep you at the top of their minds.

Vishal Ray Malik, founder of ConversionLink, notes that urgency is a driving force for effective sales copy. He suggests using a few of these keywords:

copywriting-keywords

Inbound.org knows how to create urgency. Here’s an example of how the company elicits a response:

inbound-ask-the-community

To understand which words trigger action within your customer base, spend less time selling. Instead, focus more time listening to your consumer’s word choices.

Tell your team to jot down what your clients are saying during sales calls or demos. You also can have your live chat agents record specific examples after chat sessions.

In the end, you want to help your prospects recognize their needs and why now is the best time to buy. Give them a reason to solve their problems today, not tomorrow.

Limited Offers

Scarcity can entice people to take action. It’s human nature to want to be part of something special.

And to speed up the sales process, businesses must tap into their customers’ brains to create that scarcity.

“Businesses keep this legacy alive by creating new products or consistently updating versions of the products they already sell. Anything new and improved, or rebranded, helps a salesperson who is creating a sense of urgency,” says Borja Obeso, Founder of Rebel Growth.

Another way is to include countdown timers on your product page, rather than showing the date the sale ends. MakersKit implements this strategy on sale items.

makerskit-time-left-to-boy

Timers give the precise “deadline” of when a customer will miss an opportunity. So, it encourages the consumer to either buy or face the consequence of not having the product.

Moreover, clarifying the consequences of inaction may induce FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). This occurs when people don’t want to be left out of the “in” crowd or conversation.

Restricting quantity works, too. It produces exclusivity.

Knowing that a limited supply exists tramples procrastination and entices people to take part. Amazon is well known for this technique.

amazon-left-in-stock-notification

Limited offers let consumers know up front that action is necessary, in order to obtain what they desire.

Visual Urgency

E-commerce centers around being the most visually attractive product. People hate ugly websites, and don’t trust them either.

Smart design can be used to appeal to a customer’s sense of urgency. Graphical elements, like color, size, and shape, play a major role in whether people click a call-to-action or abandon a shopping cart.

Colors impact your customers’ buying decisions. Oranges, reds, and similar shades work well because they remind us of emergencies.

Zendesk, a customer service software company, uses orange for their “Try it for free” button.

zendesk-try-it-for-free-cta

Arrows can also help draw people’s attention to particular information or deals. Notice how content curation tool Quuu uses an arrow to highlight their “hand curated, not machines” benefit.

quuu-homepage-screenshot

Copywriter Christina Boyes, says, “Most designers and marketing writers will tell you that placing social proof and testimonies near the call to action buttons can improve your credibility and improve conversions.”

Video hosting company Wistia adds testimonials to their pricing page to help induce sales faster.

wistia-testimonial

Induce emotion with your visual cues. And compel customers to learn more about your services. Influencing their behavior will create an urgent demand for your product.

What Not To Do

Knowing what to do is half the battle. The other 50% involves knowing what will not cause urgency amongst potential customers.

So, sit down with your team and discuss the copy and design tactics that should be eliminated from your website conversion strategy. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Don’t urge customers to buy just for the hell of it.
  • Don’t nag customers every single day to participate in a “once-in-a-lifetime” sale.
  • Don’t participate in unethical sales techniques, like lying to the customer.
  • Don’t pressure a customer to buy when the service doesn’t meet their needs.
  • Don’t coerce consumers into special deals only to charge them higher prices late.

Use these no-nos as a foundation to build an honest sales campaign. Your customers will value your business more.

Encourage Action

Urgency is part of our human DNA. Sometimes, we just need a little push to move forward.

Learn how urgency can work for your business model. Word selection in your copy determines whether your customer will act or not.

Offer limited offers to pique interest. Produce visual aids to draw in the buyer. And avoid common pitfalls, like dishonesty.

Don’t wait for sales. Instead, create customer urgency.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.