Author: Guest Author

How to Get High-Quality B2B Leads with Facebook Ads

Allen Finn already wrote the definitive piece for WordStream on why Facebook ads can be great for B2B.

But at the time I write this, only 39% of marketers say they've even tried using Facebook ads to create conversations with B2B prospects, according to Zoominfo.

If Finn's piece wasn't enough to convince you, I’m going to share my own experience about why I think it’s insane that Facebook is so underrated for B2B, and I’ll tell you three ways to generate high-quality B2B leads.

The Case for B2B Facebook Ads

According to Marketing Charts' summary of a Hubspot report, the average cost-per-B2B-lead for agencies in 2017, from all channels, was $172.72.

By contrast, when we run Facebook campaigns for our agency clients, it's not unusual to see it as low as $50. In fact, here's a screenshot from a real campaign we're running for an agency client.

(And, as I’ll explain below, we’re excluding a lot of the cheaper leads because we focus on quality.)

What's more, the average cost per click on LinkedIn, the most popular social channel for B2B (the source of over 80% of B2B leads) was $6.50 in 2017. On Facebook, those same clicks are available for $1-$2.

So it's clear there's a gap between Facebook's utility as a source of bargain B2B leads and how business owners and marketers perceive the platform.

Facebook's reputation as a recreational network – in contrast to LinkedIn’s as a place where "serious business people" congregate – is doubtless responsible for some of the misunderstanding.

But I've also spoken to plenty of small businesses who have tried Facebook, and many believe it simply doesn't work.

"We can drive clicks all day," they'll tell me, "but we never close any of them. They'll almost all unqualified."

One business owner I spoke to had gotten more than 50 leads in the last month, and only one was qualified.

Again, that contrasts with the results we've seen firsthand. For instance, here are some stats for a client campaign from the last ten days: 18 leads* for a total of $691.73 in ad spend. After an audit, we determined that seven of them appeared “qualified” (full-time entrepreneurs, legitimate websites).

That's just under $100 per qualified lead.

All of which begs the question: if many business owners and marketers are only generating unqualified leads, what are the successful marketers doing differently?

In the remainder of this article, my goal is to share with you the things we know for sure moved the needle to improve the quality of B2B leads – as opposed to untested theories, or things that might have had an effect but we can't isolate it – so that you can apply them in your B2B lead generation strategies and skip past the part where most businesses get stuck.

*The reason we get fewer leads overall  although many more qualified leads than some campaigns  is that we introduce friction in the funnel, by requiring people to certify they are full-time business owners, and/or meet a certain income level, before they can book-a-call.

Use Proof

Think about the last time you made a big procurement decision for your business.

Did you look at lots of options, compare a number of features, seek the opinions of others, and approach the decision deliberately and carefully?

Or did you immediately hire the first sponsored result that came up after a 15-second Google search?

If you said option two, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

In all seriousness, your clients likely arrive at decisions the same way. If you cater to million-dollar businesses with marketing departments, they don’t take lightly the decision to hire an agency. The most qualified prospects are efficient and forthcoming, and they respect your time.

But, I’m sure you’ll agree, most don’t make knee-jerk decisions

That’s why using proof in your Facebook ads is one of the best ways to ensure that qualified prospects will fill out your contact forms and call you on the phone.

To illustrate the magic of proof, we ran the following split test:

We were already using proof in one client’s ad:

But we decided to pull out all the stops. We removed all the numerical proof from both the ad and the landing page of one ad, and we doubled down on another, punching up the headline with even more proof:

Here’s the sub-headline of the landing page from the “Uber-Proof” version:

And here’s the landing page with the sub-headline removed:

Then we let the test run for two weeks to collect data.

The results?

Caveats first: a split test expert will tell you this is by no means statistically significant. You’d need thousands of conversions.

But it’s strongly suggestive that the data underpins what makes sense to us intuitively when we put ourselves in the shoes of a business owner considering hiring the business running the ad: proof works.

Let the Algorithm Work

Most of the articles I’ve read on B2B lead generation on the Facebook ads platform mention the multiple ways you can slice-and-dice your audience.

And many mention defining a client avatar really specifically…

  • Are they a CEO or a CMO?
  • Are they male or female?
  • Do they like apple pie or cherry pie?

Okay, maybe not the last one. But most articles do go on to suggest making a fine-grained uber-audience, with tons of cross-referenced targeting parameters.

There’s just one problem: we’ve tested these “smart” audiences against “dumb” audiences, and they’ve got a pretty poor track record.

Here’s how a “dumb” audience, with just three interests and little else, performed in a recent campaign:

Here’s how a “smart” one, with seven total parameters – two demographic and five interests – performed in the same campaign (fewer impressions because we shut it down once it got blown away):

Zilch.

Of course, we’re cherry-picking here (even though there are dozens of other examples I could include if I weren’t conscientious of taking your time).

But it only takes one counterexample to disprove a theory – that complex audiences and “pre-defined” avatars always perform better – and we’ve got countless such examples.

In fact, we’re hard-pressed to find a “smart” audience that does outperform a dumb one.

I’ve got two hypotheses for why this is: one theoretical and one grounded in Facebook ads theory.

First, if you’re a fellow fan of Nassim Taleb’s books The Black Swan and Antifragile, you’re familiar with his theories on “teaching birds to fly.”

Simply put, human beings have a pretty garbage track record of predicting the future (see the ‘08 financial crash) or determining in advance what people will buy and what they won’t (see practically any business case study).

A “smart” audience in Facebook does just that: tries to predict in advance the exact characteristics of buyers, subscribers, clickers, or leads.

The more effective way to tell?

Trial and error.

That’s why, for every campaign, we put up to 100 potential interests in a spreadsheet and test at least five of them in parallel at all times.

We let the results tell us which targeting parameters work best.

My second theory is really just a Facebook fact: as long as you’re tracking the right conversion parameter, the algorithm will figure out who to show the ad to in order to get the lowest conversion costs. (It’s worth shouting out another important point of Allen Finn’s article: make sure you know how to use the tracking pixel!)

When it comes to how much audience you give Facebook to “play with,” there’s a balance. Make your audience too broad, and you’ll run out of budget showing your ad to everybody in the universe before you get any conversions. But narrow your audience too much, and you’re limiting the algorithm’s ability to find potentially qualified prospects.

And a lot of the “smart audiences” do just that: exclude people Facebook could potentially identify as good prospects.

Get SUPER Specific with Your Copy

There’s a marketing saying that goes “Google is where people go to make a decision; Facebook is where they go to avoid making a decision.

And yet, as I’ve shown, some of the cheapest qualified B2B leads are not on Google ads but rather on Facebook.

So what gives?

Well, there’s less competition, for one, as long as most business owners continue to believe Facebook “doesn’t work” for B2B.

And it’s also harder to create bidding wars of the type you see on Google ads, because Facebook’s platform is audience-based rather than keyword-search-based.

But the above axiom does get one thing right: You don’t have the luxury of just being the-thing-somebody’s-searching-for:

That’s an advantage if you don’t want to be commoditized and comparison-shopped, like the mowers above.

But it requires getting your prospect’s attention while she’s on Facebook to do something other than search for solutions to her business problems…

...and that requires specific copy.

First, a self-evident example:

Say you’re fed up with your inventory software.

You wish it pushed real-time updates to all the handsets. That way your employees wouldn’t have to waste time logging on to one of the core computers to check their inventory.

Now, say there was a software company who made just that.

Do you think you might click on an ad that said “Finally – an inventory software that pushes updates in real-time,” with a headline that said,Stop Wasting Time Logging on and Get Back to Business”?

I sure would, in this obviously completely hypothetical example.

What if instead it said, “Acme Inventory Software, for all your inventory needs”?

You might, if you were bored. Or desperate.

But hopefully you see my point. Specificity matters when you’re getting people’s attention while they’re looking at baby pictures on Facebook.

Want to Try Facebook Ads for Your Business, But Scared of Unqualified Leads?

When businesses see crappy results from Facebook ads, it usually takes on of the following forms:

  • Part-timers/”wantrapreneurs”
  • People who want something-for-free
  • Time wasters

But, as we’ve shown, qualified prospects are out there, and they will respond to your company. You need to:

  • Show them proof you really do what you say you do
  • Define your campaign goals carefully, and find the right balance with targeting
  • Get ultra-specific with your copy

Unqualified leads will waste your time. Apply these tactics to your Facebook ads account, and I guarantee you’ll not only have fewer of those but also attract more of those high-quality B2B leads you’re looking for.

About the author

Nathaniel Smith is a direct response marketing strategist who specializes in Facebook ads for B2B.

5 Ways to Use Facebook Messenger Bots to Increase Conversions

There has been increasing interest in chatbots over recent years because of their ability to take on the burden of time-consuming business tasks. Now more than ever, there are benefits of adding a bot to your Facebook page in order to respond to customers quicker than ever and provide them with a high-quality service.

Facebook data shows that:

  • 61% of people in the UK messaged a business in the three months between March and June 2018.
  • 53% of people are more likely to interact with a business they can message directly.
  • More than 50% of people consider business messaging the modern way to communicate.

And who can blame them!? Messaging a business is much easier than contacting via telephone or email, as it can be done easily while on the move.

There are a huge range of benefits for businesses that are installing Messenger chatbots to their Facebook page, too. One of the most important is a chatbot’s ability to increase conversion rates, as long as the pre-designed messages are written and planned effectively. Here are five ways that you can use Facebook Messenger bots to increase your conversions, as well as our top tips for writing high-quality messages.

1. Improve customer service

The first way to use Messenger chatbots to increase conversions is obvious: Through the use of automated messaging, you are guaranteed to provide potential customers with an immediate response to any questions they may have.

Providing excellent customer services is crucial to upping your conversion rates and sets you apart from the competition. When building your chatbot, make sure you take into consideration FAQs sent to your business and provide a means through which people can quickly find answers to them. The easiest way to do this is to offer multiple choice responses that gradually narrow down to a specific question.

By ensuring that you are providing high-quality answers, potential customers can quickly and easily decide if they wish to purchase your products or services. Not only does the relaying of accurate and precise information play to your favor, but by providing an immediate response you are reducing the chances of these people sourcing an alternative supplier or buying from someone with a quicker response rate.

And a bonus perk: By getting a bot to request information from customers you are also pre-qualifying them before spending human hours on getting the details.

You can view your response rate on your Facebook homepage.

2. Build brand awareness

Use your bot to let people know what it is your company does, particularly when communicating with people who have recently entered your brand’s sphere of influence. This is a great way to capture interest. By conveying your brand in a way that appeals to your target audience, you are qualifying people from a cold audience to a warm audience and moving them down your sales funnel. There are a few ways to do this, and there’s no reason that you can’t do them all. It’s all about what works best for your brand.

First up, provide people who decide to message you with a greeting message. This allows them to learn a little more about your business before they engage in conversation.

UNICEF’s greeting message provides information about what the organization does.

Your second option is to provide a menu at the bottom of your Messenger window. This enables people to ask questions to learn more about who you are, what you do, and other useful information. 

This bot menu allows users to learn more about the agency.

You can also engage in brand awareness directly as part of your bot conversation. By letting people know about a recent event your business has been a part of or an interesting project you’ve been working on, you are likely to capture your audience’s attention.

3. Encourage people to visit your product page

Once you’ve used one or both of the above features to warm your audience up, you can start directing them to your product pages. However, it is important that you make it feel natural and conversational and NOT like a sales pitch. This is a big no. If you don’t want to direct people to your product pages this way, you can always add a shop button to the menu, but well-organized conversation does tend to work well.

Burberry provides you with the option to browse its products in both the menu and the conversation.

4. Send broadcasts to subscribers to increase your customer lifetime value

As well as your standard bot conversation, you can send out ad hoc broadcasts to your subscribers. There are many useful ways to use these to draw attention back to your brand and increase customer lifetime value and the likelihood of future conversions. Once again, make sure that these aren’t too sales orientated and send them out sparingly – no more than once per week.

You can use broadcasts to let customers know about important business news you think they will find interesting, to offer them content that they may find useful such as a blog which will draw them back to your website, or to ask them if they want to be made aware of future product launches and information.

With broadcasts, it’s important not to bombard people with information but to engage them in a conversation. Try asking questions to see if they are interested and wish to continue. You should also offer multiple opportunities to end the conversation if they aren’t interested.

5. Include augmented reality

Victoria Beckham is one of the few people to embrace augmented reality as part of her chatbot, and the results are seriously impressive. She uses it to allow users to use their camera try on her collection of sunglasses to see whether or not they would suit them. This is a great way to encourage conversions, which we are hoping to see more of in the future. For more information on her bot you can check out this case study.

Victoria Beckham’s bot includes augmented reality, allowing you to try on her sunglasses collection

Our top tips for writing chatbot messages

You now know how to use bots to increase conversions. But how do you craft effective messages? We’ve included some tips below for you to bear in mind when building your Messenger bot.

1. Don’t overdo it with the text

Your bot should never have more than three messages in a row without asking a question or providing options for a person to respond with. Messenger bots should be conversational, so make sure you only provide a couple of sentences per message. Remember it’s a conversation, not an email.

2. Use emojis

Chatbots are meant to be much less formal than other methods of communication. Adding emojis can make the experience more fun and friendlier, while reducing the need for so many words.

3. Use breaks between messages

Avoid using large blocks of text or swamping users with multiple messages immediately after one another by introducing text breaks into your conversation. We recommend two-three seconds between messages, much like a normal conversation.

4. Include images or GIFs

Make conversation feel more authentic with the inclusion of images and GIFs. It’s okay to add humor to your bot, too, but do so with caution as people find different things funny.

5. Provide people with the option to unsubscribe

Make sure people have the option to unsubscribe if they want to. Although you want to build up your bot following, there is no point in having subscribers that aren’t interested in your brand. You also don’t want people to start resenting your brand for receiving unwanted messages they are unsure how to get rid of. The easiest way to allow people to unsubscribe is to add it into a “Bot settings” option in the menu.

By clicking on “Settings” on this bot you are given the option to unsubscribe.

6. Collect data from your subscribers for future targeting

Make use of the answers and information people give to your bot by tagging them and creating subgroups. This enables you to send broadcasts to certain caveats of people that have opted in and for you to retarget people that have shown an interest in a certain topic. This is another way of increasing customer lifetime value and keeping people in your sphere of influence by serving them content they want to see, thus heightening the chances of conversions.

Include Facebook Messenger in your marketing strategy

Before you go and set up a chatbot for Facebook Messenger to start increasing your conversions, we want to let you know that bots should be used in conjunction with other advertising formats. Chatbots are there to complement them and should not be used as a replacement.

About the author

Jordan Bucknell is the CEO and founder of Upbeat Agency, a Facebook and Instagram ads agency based in London. The agency offers ad strategy and creation for both platforms as well as customized Messenger bots. Their purpose is to help companies drive sales, generate leads, and scale their businesses. 

Not Happy With Recent Exact Match Changes? Here’s What to Do

It’s happened again – guess it was only a matter of time.

On September 6, 2018, Google announced changes to its exact match keyword targeting (yet again), this time to include searches with similar intent. Essentially, your ads can show up for searches which Google deems to be close enough intent-wise to your target keyword. This table shows their example of what alternate queries might now match your “exact match” keyword.

So, is it all doom and gloom? Actually, maybe not.

A recent analysis here at WordStream found that in most cases the change is actually helping advertisers.

The folks at Search Engine Land also seemed to find that post-update the exact match option is generating a pretty decent quality of clicks. To offer one dissenting opinion – Adalysis’s analysis suggests that even though keywords may be matching to similar searches, conversion rates and average order values for some keywords may have dropped.

These different results just go to show that each account may perform differently – so it’s always a good idea to do your own checks to see if any of your accounts needs some fine-tuning to your exact match keyword targeting.

How to Audit Your Exact Match Keywords

Here’s how to audit your Google Ads accounts to see if you should be worried or need to make changes.

Search terms data

The first and most obvious way to see if the changes have hurt your performance is to go through your search terms data just like you would to identify any negative keyword opportunities and see if there’s a problem.

For the purposes of this analysis you only need to look at the exact match type (close variant) but I personally look at the original match type as well just to be doubly sure.

Are there any keywords you wouldn’t expect to see and definitely don’t want to be paying for?

Conversion rates

Another way to determine if your keywords need improving is by looking at your conversion rates on a keyword level.

Make sure you filter your keywords so you’re only looking at data for exact match, and look at your keyword conversion rates to see if they’ve dropped since the change went into effect.

If you’re not one of the lucky ones who saw improvements due to the change, keep reading…

3 ways to tune up your keyword targeting

Due to the nature of the recent expansion of the exact match type, the possible combinations or variations your exact match keywords might now show up for aren’t easy to pinpoint.

When Google expanded exact matches to include typos and plurals, Brad Gilbert’s exact match script was all you needed to take control of your targeting. Now, your keywords can trigger for searches with similar intent, which is a bit more difficult to make a list for.

Nevertheless, here are some of the changes you can make so your Google ads show up less often (and the key word here is less) for close variants.

Identify new negative keywords

No discussion on improving keyword targeting would be complete without a mention of negative keywords, right?

As discussed above, go through your search terms lists to identify keywords you don't want your ads to show up for and keep adding them to your negative keyword list.

The only caveat here is that depending on how your account is structured and whether you use Single Keyword Ad Groups you may need to resort to negative keyword ad groups, negative keywords within individual ad groups or individual negative keyword lists as opposed to using master negative keyword lists on a campaign level.

Filter your search terms

If there are specific qualifying terms that are really important within your account, you could create a filter for exact match (close variant) + keyword text containing [x] + search terms not containing [x] to identify any problem areas quickly and effectively.

For example, I have included a screenshot from a client campaign for gravity blankets – I may wish to see a list of search terms for which the keyword text includes the word “blanket” but the search term does not.

Move to phrase match

Another option is to switch to phrase match only and see if that improves your results.

In fact, a while back I wrote about the incredible power of Experiments in Google Ads, and running an Experiment to test if one match type performs better for your account than another may have quite a positive impact on your Google Ads ROI.

If you do decide to do this, be careful with SKAG’s, as if you simply change the match type to phrase for those keywords you’re going to get a lot of (possibly junk) clicks.

In closing…

Considering Google’s push toward automation, some of our work has to be geared toward what we don't want our ads to show up for, not just what we do.

I dare say we’re going to more of these changes to match types in the future, and as PPC professionals our best bet is to keep a close eye on our accounts and use all of the tools available to improve ROI.

About the author

Shirish Agarwal is the founder of Flow20, a digital marketing agency based in London that focuses on delivering leads for businesses via PPC, SEO and Social Media.

6 Cognitive Biases You Can Exploit to Boost Sales

As human beings, we tend to think we are perfectly rational beings. We aren’t – at least that’s what decades of cognitive research has shown.

Research has shown that simple, seemingly innocent tweaks can significantly influence the choices that consumers make. These simple tweaks can significantly influence decisions thanks to cognitive biases, which are common mistakes in reasoning that occur when we value perception or beliefs over reality.

Some of these cognitive biases are common enough that you can count on them to influence consumer behavior – and even include them in your marketing strategy. Here are six cognitive biases that you can use in your marketing strategy to boost sales.

Cognitive Bias #1: The Mere Exposure Effect

In a 1968 study, Oregon State University Professor Charles Goetzinger ran an experiment in his classroom. Without informing the rest of his class, he had one student come to each meeting in a black bag with only his feet visible. Goetzinger then observed the reaction of other students. Initially, his students treated the “black bag” with hostility. Over time, however, as they kept seeing the black bag in class every day, their hostility turned into curiosity. Eventually, classmates developed friendships with the student in the black bag.

Goetzinger’s experiment only proved the efficacy of a theory that has been posited long before: familiarity breeds content. You can use that.

How to Use the Mere Exposure Effect to Boost Your Sales

1. Leverage retargeting to boost sales. When trying to advertise your products or services, retargeting people who have visited your website before will yield significantly better results than targeting raw prospects. In fact, a particular study found that the CTR of a retargeted ad is 10 times higher than that of a display ad and that website visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely to convert.

2. Repurpose and distribute existing content. You can also boost sales by significantly expanding the reach of your content by repurposing and distributing it. A simple blog post can be turned into an infographic, video, podcast, slide presentation, and so much more. When distributed across other channels, some people are likely to see it more than once – and that’s good for your sales!

3. Reshare existing content on social media. You can also leverage the mere exposure effect by resharing existing content on social media. Buzzsumo researched this effect by analyzing 100 million articles and found that constantly resharing articles on social media can increase reach and engagement by 686%.

Cognitive Bias #2: Loss Aversion

In a 1979 study, psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky found that people tended to prefer not to lose something they already have than to acquire something of equivalent value. In other words, most people will find it more painful to lose $10 than to miss out on an opportunity to gain $10. This phenomenon is known as loss aversion, and a growing body of research is showing that it is primitively hardwired into us to be loss averse: a 2005 study involving capuchin monkeys came to similar conclusions, that monkeys prefer to take a gamble on a potential gain than on a potential loss – even if both are, economically speaking, of equal value.

You can incorporate this cognitive bias into your strategy by remembering that your prospects will go out of their way to avoid risking a loss.

How to Use Loss Aversion to Boost Your Sales

1. Offer free trials and samples of your product. When people have the opportunity to try your product or service and really engage with it, they are more likely to form an attachment to it than if they never owned it to begin with. And when they’re able to take advantage of this opportunity to engage with your product or service without risking any monetary loss, they’re much more likely to sign up and try it out. Consider offering free samples, demos, or even a free trial period, like Amazon Prime offers below.

2. Offer a limited-time bonus. If you advertise and offering that is only available for a limited time, you create a sense of scarcity that encourages consumers to hurry up and commit to a purchase. If they choose to buy now, then they get the bonus; if they don’t buy now, then they lose out on this bonus offer.

3. Use a countdown timer. Show your prospects just how urgent the offer is by using a countdown timer. They can watch the hours and minutes trickle down to your offer closing – not only does this leverage the scarcity principle, but it ensures that your potential customers can actually feel the urgency.

Cognitive Bias #3: The Compromise Effect

In a 1992 experiment, researchers gave participants the opportunity to choose between 35mm Minolta cameras. In the first test, participants were presented with the following options:

  • Minolta X-370 priced at $169.99
  • Minolta Maxxum 3000i priced at $239.99

Participants were split 50-50 between both cameras.

The experiment was then modified to see if a “compromise” option would affect the results. This time around, participants were presented with the following options:

  • Minolta X-370 priced at $169.99
  • Minolta Maxxum 3000i priced at $239.99
  • Minolta Maxxum 7000i priced at $469.99

The majority – 57% – went for the middle (“compromise”) option. The rest of the participants were almost evenly split between the other two cameras: 22% selected the lowest-priced option and 21%  selected the highest-priced option.

As shown by the results of this study, simply adding a “compromise” option, a sort of middle ground, can significantly tip the choice people will go with.

How to Use the Compromise Effect to Boost Sales

1. Accompany the option you really want people to choose with extreme options on both ends. The compromise effect is most effective when the options available on the lower and higher end are extreme. If it’s difficult to clarify between all the options, or if they are too similar, they might end up confusing users.

2. Put the “compromise option” in the middle. When designing your pricing plan, place the compromise option (or your main option) in the middle to give it a kind of special attention, making people focus on it more than the other extreme options. As a result, more people will likely to take advantage of this featured option.

Below is an example from Aha!’s pricing page – the “Enterprise” plan in the middle is a perfect example of compromise pricing in action:

Cognitive Bias #4: The Framing Effect

In a 1984 experiment, psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky asked participants a question about an impending outbreak of an unnamed disease in the U.S.

Here’s the exact question they posed:

Imagine that the U.S. is preparing for the outbreak of an unusual Asian disease, which is expected to kill 600 people. Two alternative programs to combat the disease have been proposed. Assume that the exact scientific estimates of the consequences of the programs are as follows:

  • If Program A is adopted, 200 people will be saved.
  • If Program B is adopted, there is a one-third probability that 600 people will be saved and a two-thirds probability that no people will be saved.

Which of the two programs would you favor?

With these options, 72% of the participants chose Program A, while 28% chose Program B.

The same question was presented to other participants with different options:

  • If Program C is adopted, 400 people will die.
  • If Program D is adopted, there is a one-third probability that nobody will die and a two-thirds probability that 600 people will die.

Even though the options were practically the same (as with Program A, 200 people will be saved in Program C) and just framed differently, the results were different. With these options, only 28% chose Program C while 72% chose Program D. This shows that how something is framed can significantly impact the response.

This has great implications for boosting sales and conversions: how you frame your offer will determine how people respond to it.

How to Use the Framing Effect to Boost Your Sales

1. Frame your offer in such a way that it is clear that not taking up the offer is a losing proposition. For perspective, in a 2009 study in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, researchers found that when Ph.D. students were told to register for an economics conference, more students registered when the early registration “discount” was framed as a penalty fee for late registration instead of as a discount. In other words, we are more worried about losing what we already have than about gaining something new.

2. Frame your offer in comparison to something similar. Frame the value of what your users will be getting in context by including a comparison to something similar. I use this tactic on my own website, on the Website Builders:

Instead of simply saying that “website builders cost $XX a month,” I framed this option as costing a significant fraction (“a few dollars each month”) by comparison.

Cognitive Bias #5: The IKEA Effect

In a 2011 study, researchers observed consumers as they assembled IKEA boxes, folded origami, and built Lego pieces. They found that participants saw their “amateurish creations” as similar in value to the creations of experts. More interestingly, the participants expected others to share this view of their work.

Based on these results, the researchers concluded that people tend to value a product more if they were involved in its creation – even if they were originally uninterested in being involved. They termed this the “IKEA effect.”

The IKEA effect has a clear application in your marketing strategy: when you involve users in the process of creating your products or services, they are more likely to convert when you sell it to them.

How to Use the IKEA Effect to Boost Your Sales

1. Involve consumers in the process of building your products. Consumer can be involved by committing time to product development, by giving input in the process of its creation or improvement, or by investing money. An example of this in action is crowdfunding campaigns: when people contribute financially to the development of a product even before it is made, they are more likely to do everything to ensure it succeeds. While Oculus Rift was a massively successful crowdfunded project, researchers have attributed its success not to the funds raised but to the community and sense of ownership the crowdfunding fostered.

2. Give users the option of having your products customized for them. Whether it’s the packaging or certain parts of the product itself, offering a customizable option involves your customers and potential customers more personally. A notable example of this is Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke campaign. When Coca-Cola launched this initiative and allowed users to have their own customized version of the Coke, sales exploded. And the results were almost instant. Just within the first year, Coca-Cola saw significant, measurable success:

  • The Share a Coke campaign was one of the most successful marketing campaigns ever in Coca-Cola’s history.
  • Over 500,000 photos were posted online using the #ShareaCoke hashtag.
  • Coca-Cola users created over six million virtual Coke bottles.
  • Coca-Cola gained 25 million Facebook followers.

Cognitive Bias #6. Peltzman Effect or Risk Compensation Theory

In a 1975 study published in the Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Professor Sam Peltzman found that when laws – such as mandatory use of seatbelts and other safety devices – were introduced to regulate driving and ensure safety, drivers were emboldened to drive riskier when using those devices than in their absence, thereby offsetting some of the gains recorded due to the introduction of such laws.

The findings from this study have general applications, too. People adjust their behavior based on perceived risk; they tend to be more careful if they feel there is greater risk if they take a particular action and less careful if they feel there is little risk in them taking a particular action.

This phenomenon is known as the Peltzman effect, or risk compensation theory, and it has great implications for your sales conversion. The less “risky” you make doing business with you, the higher your conversions.

How to Use the Peltzman Effect to Boost Your Sales

1. People will judge a book by its coverand your business by your website. In a study of 2,000 consumers, Econsultancy found that 32.2% of people pay attention to how professional and well-designed a website is before deciding to trust it. Trustmarks and site speed can help with this. The same study found that 48% of people feel safer shopping on a website if the site uses a trustmark, and 23.65% of people find it difficult to trust a site that takes too long to load. If you lower the perceived risk of your website, then you can encourage more of your visitors to convert.

2. Make it easy for prospects to contact you. The easier it is to contact you, the more trustworthy you appear. Econsultancy also found that for 46.35% of people, not displaying contact details is a sign that a site is not trustworthy. So make sure that you have contact information in a few central, easily accessibly locations to put your prospects at ease.

3. Outline a clear “no-risk-on-you” refund/return policy. Another way to make it easy for people to trust you is by offsetting the risk on them if they do choose to make a purchase. If you offer an unconditional refund/return policy, you lower the risk of doing business with you – and encourage conversions in the process.

For the Best Results, Use Cognitive Biases Sparingly

Each of these cognitive biases can be applied to your marketing strategy to help boost sales. But you make sure you don’t over use these biases. Consider your target audience and your marketing goals to determine which tactics would work best for you. Then try them out one at a time to see which yields the best results.

About the author

Robert Mening is a web designer and conversion optimization expert who runs WebsiteSetup.org, a project that has helped over 250,000 start their own websites.

Top 10 PPC Trends to Jump on in 2019

WordStream partnered with Search Engine Journal to find out what PPC experts are predicting for 2019. Below is an excerpt of the top 10 trends that 28 industry leaders expect to see next year – the top trends that marketers like you should jump on in 2019. Want to read the complete list, featuring insights from each of these 28 experts? Click here to download the complete Top 2019 PPC Trends You Need to Know.

2018 was another huge year in the world of PPC marketing.

We saw massive changes at Google, such as AdWords being rebranded as Google Ads; the new Google Ads “experience” (i.e., interface); and the launch of numerous new campaign types, features, enhancements, targeting options, and tools.

Meanwhile, at Bing Ads, we saw the launch of tons of new features, targeting capabilities, reports and other improvements – but the most exciting news was that we (finally!) saw the arrival of LinkedIn profile targeting.

We also saw the rise of Amazon as a potentially serious challenger to Google, with advertisers shifting budget toward Amazon because more people now begin their search for products on Amazon than Google.

So what does 2019 have in store for PPC marketers?

We asked 28 of the smartest PPC people I know to find out!

Last year some of the hot trends included artificial intelligence, voice search, audience targeting, and automation.

In 2019, though, clearly two trends are on just about everyone’s minds: Audiences and automation.

But that’s just the beginning.

Here are 10 of the biggest trends you need to know for 2019 – covering paid search, paid social, and remarketing – according to 28 of the top PPC marketing experts.

1. Audiences vs. Keywords

Aaron Levy of Elite SEM believes 2019 will be the year the keyword dies, as advertisers shift focus away from match types and terms toward context and people.

“It’s been a long time coming; search engines have given us too many additional levers to handle along with keywords,” Levy said. “I believe next year will the beginning of the end for keywords as a primary search lever.”

Not all are quite ready to declare the keyword dead, including Andrew Lolk of SavvyRevenue. If you aren’t using audiences, you’re doing PPC wrong, he said.

“Keywords will be important, but audience-targeting on the search network will in 2019 be of equal importance for securing high performance,” Lolk said.

Christi Olson, Head of Evangelism for Search, Microsoft, isn’t ready to declare the keyword dead, either.

“But what will continue to separate the best-in-class search marketers from the average Joes will be how audience data is are segmented and implemented via an audience targeting strategy,” she said. “The key to success in 2019 and beyond will be to create a detailed strategy of the various audience types and audiences lists and how you can layer them (with positive and negative bid types) to shape your paid search strategy.”

Purna Virji, Senior Manager of Global Engagement, Microsoft, suggests spending more time focusing on creating and optimizing your customer segments.

“Drill down in them even further, so your ad messaging can be as relevant and feel as personalized as possible,” she said. “This will be hugely important in 2019!” Brooke Osmundson, Senior Digital Manager, NordicClick Interactive, thinks audiences and keywords will still work hand-in-hand in 2019, noting that “this will be vital to learn what types of audiences are actually searching for your products and services.”

“In-Market audiences have proven to be effective [in 2018], and utilizing remarketing based off of top-funnel in-market audiences can help form a comprehensive funnel strategy,” she said.

2. Automation + Human Intelligence

Automation isn’t coming. It’s already here.

In fact, the trend we’re seeing from the engines is more automation, said Frederick Vallaeys, CEO, Optmyzr.

“Google said its search ads should be ‘ads that work for everyone’ and they mean it,” he said. “They believe automation makes it possible for more businesses to be successful search marketers so we’ll see more ‘smart’ features from Google, and Bing will follow in lock-step.”

Ben Wood, Digital Director, Hallam, expects Google Ads to continue to improve their built-in automation features.

“It’s approaching the point where it’s best to lean into Google automation tools rather than shun them in favor of third-party tools,” he said. “It’s no secret that Google wants advertisers to use their automated bidding strategies in campaigns, by increasing the number of data points used as part of their bidding strategies.”

But all this doesn’t mean you need to worry about being replaced by a machine.

Yet.

“It won’t be a race to see whether humans or machines are best,” Vallaeys added. “It will be a race to see which PPC experts have the best process to leverage the machines to blow away their competition.”

As Ilya Cherepakhin, Executive Media Director, Acronym, puts it: “With Google’s responsive ads launching, the latest change to exact match, and audience targeting gaining popularity, the days of manual campaign management are fading away,” he said. “Especially, when working on a large scale, machine learning is proving to be quite effective.”

That means you should free up time by letting the machines do the heavy lifting, Virji said.

“If you spend a lot of time on repetitive tasks such as bid tracking, or reporting, you can start to automate it even further, so you can spend more time on where it really counts: your customers,” she said.

Navah Hopkins, Services Innovation Strategist, WordStream, agreed. “Consider delegating grunt work (bid management, keyword variables, etc.) to automation and machine learning, while retaining tasks requiring creativity and brand/business knowledge (ad copy, campaign strategy, etc.).”

Evaluating the machine’s recommendations will be incredibly important in 2019 and beyond.

“Some are good, some are bad,” said Brad Geddes, Co-Founder, AdAlysis. “Smart marketers need to understand when to leverage and when to ignore the machine.”

3. Amazon & Advertising Alternatives

It’ll become more important than ever for marketers to diversify their PPC spend over the next year, according to Wesley MacLaggan, SVP of Marketing at Marin Software.

“We expect Amazon to continue its hot streak in 2019, with Sponsored Product Ads and other formats being a key aspect to a successful PPC strategy, especially for CPG and retail brands,”  he said.

Image Source

Lisa Raehsler, Founder, Big Click Co., said that 2019 will be an amazing time for ecommerce brands because they will have more opportunities to reach buyers with greater personalization and precision:

  • Bing: Currently in pilot, Bing Ads is testing local inventory ads that display product stock availability nearby to drive in-store visits.
  • Facebook: Improved ads to include a new instant storefront template format that can automatically generate a video with products personalized to users.
  • Pinterest: New features allow users to buy directly from a product pin with price and inventory availability. Not only that, they will also be able to make personalized product recommendations to users.
  • Google: Putting mobile first, Google’s local catalog ads feature local in-store availability and pricing in an easy scrollable mobile layout.

4. Account Management & The Role of PPC Marketers

AI is continuing to revolutionize PPC campaigns, according to Marc Poirier, CEO, Acquisio, but campaign managers are certainly not out of a job.

“In fact, campaign managers are now able to conduct their own machine learning battles to select which system will get their client’s or company’s campaigns the best results,” he said. “As people are more comfortable with these advancements and are adopting them more frequently, the machine battles for best performance will escalate this year.”

Daniel Gilbert, CEO, Brainlabs, believes that all PPC managers need to start thinking about how to adapt their skill set in the age of machine learning.

“We’re not quite at the stage where AI can outperform humans, but we’re getting closer,” he said. “Knowing how to leverage automation and developing skills like new-market analysis, cross-channel strategy, and complex competitor strategies is a must for anyone in this space.”

Vallaeys said PPC professionals will have a lot of strategizing to do in 2019 to find their place in an ever-more automated industry.

“I believe that layering sophisticated management on top of the engines’ automations will produce the best results so there will be plenty of opportunity for practitioners to shine,” he said.

So what’s the future for PPC marketers?

“The PPCer of the future will utilize smart automation for bidding, ad testing, and serving, and query mining in order to make more efficient accounts and leave the PPCer to the weapon with which she can still soundly defeat any machine: all things client (or boss!) –facing,” said Kirk Williams, Owner, ZATO. “We see the future of paid search resting in efficient accounts that allow the PPCers (who still want their jobs) to invest their time in troubleshooting, analysis, reporting, CRO assistance, projections, and… probably meetings.”

As Susan Wenograd, Account Group Director, Aimclear, points out, while managing all those numbers and all that math, never forget: you are a marketer!

“Keep sharpening that skill,” she said. “You will stay ahead of the game, because you won’t care what algorithms change or what features disappear since you aren’t so beholden to them.”

5. Attribution & Cross-Channel Advertising Experiences

More companies are embracing that we don’t live in a single channel world and are advertising (or marketing in general) across multiple different platforms more than ever, said Michelle Morgan, Director of Client Services, Clix Marketing.

That’s why Amy Bishop, Owner, Cultivative, expects an increased focus on cross-channel and cross-device attribution.

“It has become easier and easier to build well-coordinated multi-channel campaigns, but reporting silos continue to be a challenge for many businesses,” she said. “I expect to see an increased investment in reporting and attribution martech and a higher level of pressure on all marketers to connect the dots across channels and devices as it pertains to results.”

The problem?

There’s still no perfect fix, Morgan said.

The solution?

“Continuously tweak and adjust models based on performance,” Morgan said. “No single attribution model makes sense for all businesses, so it’s up to us all to find what works best for our unique snowflake of a business model.”

One solution comes from Pete Kluge, Group Manager, Product Marketing for Adobe Advertising Cloud. He said savvy marketers should strive to deliver advertising experiences in 2019.

“Advertisers must understand that reaching consumers and keeping them engaged through each stage of the purchasing funnel requires the delivery of positive experiences that keep them wanting more – and search is very often part of that journey,” he said. “Delivering positive advertising experiences, specifically with search, will be the backbone of any marketing campaign as we move into the future.”

Added MacLaggan:

“As the worlds of search, social and ecommerce blend together, marketers will need a complete view of the entire customer journey so they have a more accurate understanding of campaign performance and attribution, and can allocate PPC budget accordingly.”

6. Ads

The ads themselves – the messages users see – will remain as critical as ever.

“Should you use RSAs, Text Ads, the third headline (it’s debatable if you should skip the line or not); and really looking at the cohesion of your ad message,” Geddes said.

Pauline Jakober, Founder & CEO, Group Twenty Seven, added:

“In addition, with multiple versions of headlines and descriptions available to us, I predict that strategic marketers will need to become more deliberate in considering whether headlines one, two, and three will work with description lines one and two. (And don’t forget about extensions!)”

7. Videos

Hopkins said you should plan to build social (specifically video) into your strategies as social gains increasing placements on search engine result pages (SERPs).

“Even if you don’t want to put ad spend into video (average cost per view is $0.02), you can still leverage YouTube as an audience target for your search campaigns,” she said. “This is particularly useful if you’re in an expensive industry, and need help focusing your budget.

Gilbert added that video has emerged as the top type of mobile content.

“We’ll be seeing platforms encouraging advertisers to adapt to more updates like Google’s recent vertical video ads,” he said.

8. Remarketing

Larry Kim, CEO, MobileMonkey, said he is exclusively focusing on remarketing in 2019. Why?

“Because they have much higher CTRs and conversion rates.”

He has also been combining remarketing with Facebook’s Click to Message ad format.

“Combining these two tactics yields ROI that I haven’t seen since 2013 when ad prices were much lower,” he added.

9. Brand Building

2019 will be about brand building, according to Jeff Allen, President, Hanapin Marketing.

“PPCers have been so focused on ROI that they forget marketing is also about creating demand for a product and, hopefully, creating brand loyalty, too,” he said. “From display, to YouTube, to keeping some low-performing generic keywords running… digital marketing in 2019 will stop trying to make every click profitable and start segmenting strategies by goals.”

“Platforms and tactics will come and go – a concentrated push to prioritize brand affinity and loyalty will stand a longer test of time,” Wenograd added.

10. More New Ad Types, Extensions, & Features

Without a doubt, 2019 will feature several known unknowns for PPC marketers.

That is, we know there will be several new ad types, reports, and tools – but exactly what kind, we don’t know about yet.

“Local Services Ads will roll out nationwide and for additional industries. We can expect to see a shift in query volume from the standard keyword to text ad to landing page process, and start to think about localization and conversion based opportunities,” Levy said.

“I expect that ads will start to permeate other facets of Google and Bing like maps, knowledge panels, answer boxes et. al. as Google starts to monetize ‘position zero’ and incentivize advertisers to keep their users right on the SERP.”

In the end, though, that’s what makes PPC marketing so challenging and so rewarding.

Want More PPC Trends & Insights for 2019?

Click here to download the complete 28 Experts on the Top 2019 PPC Trends You Need to Know.

Page Speed: 3 Opportunities to Improve Rankings

We’ve learned to live with desktop page speed as a Google ranking factor, and now we’ve accepted that mobile page speed is a ranking factor, too. After the search giant announced that they were going to roll out the Speed Update, they changed their approach to measuring page speed via the  Google PageSpeed Insights tool, as well.

My team wanted to know if there was any correlation between a page’s speed and a page’s positions in mobile search results, so we ran experiments to find out. We conducted one before and one immediately after the Speed Update. The results? Surprising.

Based on what we learned, these are top three ways you can use page speed as an opportunity to improve your ranking.

1. Google’s made page speed its priority; make it yours.

The Google Speed Update makes it pretty clear that page speed is indeed a priority today.

We should have seen it coming though. Google introduced mobile-first indexing in 2018 and invested in a fleet of speed-related tools and projects: PageSpeed Insights, Accelerated Mobile Pages, Progressive Web Apps, Lighthouse, Impact Calculator, and Mobile Speed Scorecard.

Whether or not you could have predicted the Speed Update, you need to make Google’s priorities your priorities if you want to increase your rankings. In order to take advantage of this opportunity, you need to understand how page speed is measured, what influences your page speed, and how it impacts your rankings.

Thanks to PageSpeed Insights, it is easy to take measurements of your current page speed, both for desktop and mobile. Since Google announced the update, the very concept of page speed measurement has changed. Now URLs are graded according to two categories:

Optimization is just the new name given to the existing technical improvement checklist.

Page Speed is a new criterion with two metrics:

  • First Contentful Paint (FCP) – a measurement of when a user sees the first visual response of a page.
  • DOM Content Loaded (DCL) – a measurement of when an HTML document has been loaded and parsed.

More on the importance of these metrics later.

2. Embrace the switch from lab data to field data.

The Page Speed metric represents Google’s shift from lab data to field data. In order to assign a Speed score to a site, Google not only evaluates the actual speed of your site (lab data) but also considers data from the CrUX database (field data). This means that even if your site is lightning-fast, your user’s slow internet connection can spoil your overall score.

CrUX, or Chrome User Experience Report, is the tool that analyzes web performance data generated by real users on millions of websites: the way they interact with your page, devices they use, how long your content loads for them, and more.

Image Source

It isn’t possible to get this metric through your own local tests. However, you still can see and analyze this data from CrUX: it is publicly available on Google BigQuery Platform. Using CrUX, you can get data on connection type, device usage, granular data about FCP, DCL, and more.

All you need for that is pretty basic knowledge of SQL and a project in Google Cloud Platform (which, once created, you can access in CrUX public project page). Even better, as CrUX provides the information on the performance of 3 million different sites, you can use this tool with its firsthand data for competitive analysis.

3. Increase your Optimization Score.

The findings of our experiment are curious: while we found no correlation between a mobile site’s position and site’s FCP/DCL metrics, we did find an extremely high correlation (0.97!) between a mobile site’s position in search results and its average Optimization Score.

While there is little we can do to influence FCP/DCL metrics (as they are based not only on the actual speed of your site, but also on the users’ connection speeds and their devices), improving your Optimization Score is crucial. The good news? It’s also totally manageable.

Google provides a list of recommendations on how to deal with the factors that can lower your Optimization Score in PageSpeed Insights.

Here is a quick list of what you can do:

  • Avoid landing page redirects. They slow down rendering of a page, which negatively affects desktop and mobile experience.
  • Enable compression. Small image size cuts time spent to download the resource as well as data usage for the client, plus it improves pages’ rendering time.
  • Improve server response time. 53% of mobile users will leave a page if it does not load in less than 3 seconds.
  • Implement a caching policy. Its absence leads to a great number of roundtrips between the client and server during the resources’ fetching process, which leads to delays, page rendering blocking, and higher costs for visitors.
  • Minify resources (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript). It helps to cut on redundant data from the resources delivered to visitors.
  • Optimize images. They account for about 60% of a page size, and heavy images can significantly slow down site’s rendering.
  • Optimize CSS delivery. A page needs to process CSS prior to its rendering. When CSS is full of render-blocking external stylesheets, the process requires a great number of roundtrips that delay rendering.
  • Prioritize visible content. If above-the-fold content exceeds 14,6kB compressed, it requires multiple roundtrips between the server and user’s browser to load and render content.
  • Remove render-blocking JavaScript. Every time a browser encounters it in site’s HTML, it has to stop and execute this script, which slows down the rendering process.

If you’re unsure how to implement any of the above page speed optimizations, talk to your website developer or check out more tips here.

Be Patient: Improving Page Speed Takes Time.

Clearly, the Page Speed update is the major one, so there is no choice to be in or out: you have to be all-in. Just remember that page speed improvement is a process. You can’t do it once and for all.  Take some time going through these opportunities for improvement and try some out. And then keep trying some more!

Plus, as Google has been crazy about speed lately, follow all the page-speed-related news: there is a high probability you will see more opportunities coming.

About the author

Aleh Barysevich is Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Link-Assistant.Com, the company that makes SEO PowerSuite (website promotion toolkit) and Awario (social media software) for digital marketing professionals. Aleh is a seasoned SEO expert, speaker at SMX and BrightonSEO, author at Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, Social Media Examiner, and more. Connect with Aleh on Twitter @ab80.

6 Simple Tweaks to Boost Lead Capture Form Conversions

You wouldn’t be the only business to experience contact forms going stale: just 22% of businesses are happy with their conversion rates, which means the majority of us have plenty of room for improvement.

So why isn’t the traffic we’re driving to our website actually converting into high-quality lead form submissions?

The answer isn’t necessarily a problem with products, services, or offerings.

In fact, there are several factors on the form itself that could influence the volume of conversions you’re getting—ranging from your page layout to a form that’s too complex.

Here are six simple tweaks to boost your form conversion rate and encourage those high-quality leads to convert.

1. Use image select questions

Have you ever exited a lead capture form because you felt too overwhelmed with the number of fields you needed to enter?

While it’s wise to collect information from your audience such as job titles (especially if you’re a B2B company) and locations, it’s not absolutely essential—and it could put off users from starting to fill out your form.

Think about it: If you’re filling in a form to receive a free ebook, you only really need a person’s first name and email address. If they’re greeted with a 15-field form that asks for their location, LinkedIn profile, and company size, they’ll need to invest a huge chunk of time clicking around before gaining access. Just check out the example below:

Source

The above example from Salesforce already feels daunting. And while I’m sure an organization their size has tested this extensively, many of us can't afford that luxury.

A fantastic workaround to this problem is to use image select questions.

In the example above, the form requires 13 clicks in total (including the CTA and T&C checkbox). With image select questions, you can create forms that require as little as three clicks. This means the time (and effort) investment you need from your audience is slashed dramatically.

We tested this concept on the home page of our online broker comparison website, BrokerNotes. The website uses a tool to segment online traders into different buckets. We initially used dropdown question types to do this; however, by using image select questions instead, we managed to gain an impressive 54% conversion rate from our lead capture form:

Source

Not only do the images make the form look more appealing, but our audience also needs to click just three buttons before finding a suitable broker. This makes for a more convenient experience for our audience.

Ask yourself, is there a way I can entice more engagement and form completions? How can I make my lead forms more enjoyable? Consider using images to capture attention and illustrate complex ideas, just like we do at BrokerNotes and Leadformly.

2. Harness data to pre-fill answers

Also known as “smart forms” or “intelligent forms,” this form submission trick takes the data you’ve already collected on your prospect, such as:

  • Their name
  • Their current location
  • Whether they’re already a customer

And then it automatically pre-fills required form fields!

Here’s how it looks in practice:

Source

Notice how intelligent lead capture forms will take significantly less time to fill in because the majority of fields have already been entered?

That’s bound to lead to more clicks and a higher submission rate. In fact, SaaS brand IronMountain tested this approach and found it increased the number of leads by 140%.

The same concept applies for social logins, too—like this form on Canva’s sign-up page:

Source

If customers are able to skip a sign-up form by hitting a “Sign in with Twitter” button, it further lessens the number of clicks (and therefore the time) they’ll need to invest in the form.

That’s why websites using social autofill can improve form conversion rates by up to 189%—a change I’m sure you’d love to see.

3. Opt for a single-column lead capture form

Earlier I mentioned how complex and overwhelming forms can cause friction and leads users to bounce. Multiple columns can exacerbate this problem.

Why? Because single columns look more digestible and easier to tackle than multi-column alternatives, making people more inclined to fill in the form.

Granted, it’s a simple trick—but one that works. In fact, one study found that single-column forms are completed 15.4 seconds faster than multi-column alternatives, proving your audience can take action without investing a huge chunk of their day into completing a form.

This video from Baynard Institute demonstrates exactly how easy it can be to confuse users with multiple columns:

Exitbee has a fantastic example of how you can create single-column forms without compromising on fields:

Source

Although they’re asking their visitors to fill in five fields (more than the name and email information they need), it looks manageable—purely because it’s organized in a way that’s easy on the eye.

4. Rethink your call to action

You likely already know the importance of a call to action. But don’t fall into the trap of using generic words like “buy,” “download,” or “submit.”

To put it simply: Those words are boring. More importantly, they don’t always have enough power to convince people to take action and complete your lead capture form.

Instead, use targeted words or phrases that are relevant to the form you’re asking people to complete—like this example on Netflix’s website:

Source

Netflix wants people to sign up for their service, but instead of using “sign up” as their call to action, they’ve given people a reason to: because it’s free.

FreshBooks uses this concept in the form on their homepage, too:

Source

Using social logins as your primary call to action can help reduce anxiety and build trust. This is exactly what Autopilot does on their home page:

As you can see, users can sign up using their Google account. With this sign-in option, Autopilot is essentially piggybacking off the Google brand within their call to action. This is highly likely to build more trust and, of course, conversions.

When determining the best call to action, it’s also wise to think about:

  • Colors
  • Fonts
  • Placements
  • Phrasing

The smallest tweaks can have the biggest impact. Just take first-person phrasing, for example—”start my free 30 day trial” generated 90% more click-throughs than “start your free 30 day trial.” But there’s no one size fits all. The only way to find your form’s perfect call to action is to test, test, and test again.

5. Clearly include your privacy policy

Did you know that 92% of people worry about their privacy online?

You can stop this issue from losing you submissions by including a link to your privacy policy beneath your form—like this example by ClassPass:

Source

Before someone hits the “Sign up” button, they’ve got the opportunity to view the company’s terms of use and privacy policy.

That’s essential if you’re collecting data on visitors in the E.U., and it will help to avoid a hefty fine under new GDPR laws. Your audience needs to know how their data will be stored before handing it over.

Your privacy policy isn’t the only way to instill this sense of trust. You could add:

  • A message on how their data is used—e.g. “We use this data to find the best match.”
  • Your commitment to storing data safely—e.g. “We’re committed to keeping your information secure.”
  • Exactly what they’ll get in return—e.g. “No upfront cost. Cancel anytime.”

6. Use conditional logic

Terms like “conditional logic” usually conjure thoughts of coding and engineers. But when applied to lead forms, this can be an effective method to increase conversion rates and the quality of leads by asking your leads targeted questions.

With conditional logic, you can ask questions and yield information based on answers to previous questions. For example, when applying for a loan from BankBazaar, the first thing they ask is what the loan is for:

Because each loan has different needs and terms, it doesn’t make sense to ask the same follow-up questions for each loan type. For example, this is the second step when selecting “Car Loan”:

 Selecting “Home Loan” will take you somewhere completely different:

You can do this in any industry. For example, B2B brands can ask what role/function the lead works in before asking persona-driven questions. This way, you can nail lead segmentation without the headache—for both sales and marketing.

Final thoughts

As you can see, boosting the number of conversions you’re getting from your forms isn’t an uphill task—a few small tweaks could be the change you need to skyrocket your submission rates.

However, there’s one thing to remember: Always double-check your forms are working before you set them live. You’ll see a big fat zero when viewing your form analytics if you’ve accidentally made a coding mistake throughout this process, so test your forms on various devices before releasing them on your website.

Now, you should be good to go!

About the author

Marcus Taylor is the founder & CEO of Venture Harbour. He was recognized by Forbes as an influential marketer on the 30 Under 30 Europe 2018 list.

5 Ways to Upgrade the Links in Your Google Ads

Many marketers and advertisers obsess over ads: you tweak the text, carefully choose landing pages, test out CTAs, and adjust your bids regularly. Ad spending is continuously growing and shows no signs of slowing down, so this constant attention is called for. Creating focused, well thought-out ads is as necessary as ever.

Links are the touchpoint between your brand’s website and prospective customers. Even though marketers are aware of their importance, they often overlook adjusting their links to maximize impact on their advertising campaigns.

In search ads, links are eye-catching because of their color and provide marketers with the opportunity to stand out. In sponsored social posts, they can act as a strong CTA. And in every type of ad, they can provide vital insights that will inform your overall strategy.

If you want to get the most out of your advertising campaigns and make sure each ad is as impactful as possible, here are five ways to upgrade the links in your ads.

#1: Try deep links to boost app engagement and improve ROI

Deep links are a great way to improve mobile ads and bring users further down the sales funnel. These links bring prospects directly to a specific screen in an app or prompt users without the app to download it. Deep links are an effective way to boost app engagement, reduce bounces, and increase conversions.

Image Source

Think about it. Advertisers spend so much time optimizing landing pages, and with the surge in mobile advertising, deep linking is the best way to engage with users who have their app downloaded.

Those who have downloaded your app are already engaged and interested in your brand. Don’t target them with ads that just lead to your website or open the homepage of your app; improve the user experience by taking them exactly where they want to go.

In their ads, marketers can call on prospects to complete a certain action from buying products to booking requests. Then, with deep linking, they can send users directly to the relevant app page that can facilitate this. The easier it is for users to carry out this action, the more likely they are to convert.

This all adds up to a better ROI.

Note: Deep linking can be tricky and may require some backend work, so you should employ the help of your development team to set them up. Whether you want to deep link to an Android or iOS app, check out this beginner's guide to get started.

#2: Use display URLs and site link options wisely

Choosing the right landing page is a big part of moving prospects through the sales funnel effectively. On the product pages of your website, URLs can get quite long, especially if you’re running an ecommerce site. But when composing search ads, you can choose to insert a display URL so you can present a neat link to those who see your ad.

The Google Ads’ display URL feature lets marketers choose the link to feature in their ads. This can be shorter, more comprehensive, and more appealing than the ad’s destination URL.

This feature also helps improve the aesthetics of your PPC ads. And you can use it to let users know what page the ad leads to or to feature a CTA that will entice viewers to click.

For example, if Amazon wanted to create a search for this page:

www.amazon.com/Paperwhite-High-Resolution-Display-International-Version/dp/B00QJDU3KY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535123611&sr=8-1&keywords=kindle

It could display a link like:

www.amazon.com/KindlePaperwhite

or

www.amazon.com/Buy-A-New-Kindle

The below ad from Adidas links to this extremely long URL:

www.adidas.ie/?cm_mmc=AdieSEM_Google-_-adidas-Brand-B-Exact-_-Adidas-X-X-Brand-_-%27adidas&cm_mmca1=IE&cm_mmca2=e&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI9Le-yICG3QIVAbTtCh3BOgiFEAAYASAAEgIzJ_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CJfI_9KAht0CFcym7QodjCQB6w

Display URLs are quite flexible, but they must have the same root domain as your destination URL. This is to prevent spammers featuring misleading links and tricking people into clicking through to their site.

You can also let surfers decide their journey and choose the page that is most relevant to them with Google Ads’ site link extension. This feature lets you link to several web pages in your search ads. Often, advertisers will link to key content. This is ideal if users just searched for your brand’s name.

Sitelinks can be added to all your ads or at the ad group or campaign level. They can help prospects find exactly what they are looking for and they stand out on SERPs.

#3: Set up URL tags to monitor the effectiveness of your ads

Most marketers monitor all of their marketing activities so they can see what’s most effective and confidently assign their budgets. This is no different for advertising. While most ad platforms provide analytics, using UTM tags on your URLs is useful for showing you detailed data on your ad clicks all in one place.

All of the information will show in Google Analytics, where you can compare it with other marketing campaigns and channels.

Google Ads has an auto-tagging option and, since a recent update, you can now edit this tag information without losing your ad stats. Just be aware that these tags will only work in Google Analytics. If you are using another analytics platform to track your marketing or if you want to add tags across all your advertising links, you can also add UTM parameters to your destination URLs manually or use a UTM builder.

#4: Boost click-throughs with branded links

At Rebrandly, we found that branded links can boost the CTR of links on social media by up to 39%. So if you’re promoting posts or tweets, you might want to feature a branded link. You can also use these URLs as part of your PPC ads to improve engagement too.

In Google, a high click-through rate will improve your ads’ Quality Score, and this can decrease costs.

Branded links can really help an ad or post stand out, because they are completely customizable. You can use them to create a strong CTA or an eye-catching statement.

If you do decide to try out custom links in your search ads, be sure to enter it as the main destination link, rather than the display URL. If needed, you can also change the destination of your ad’s URL without losing any stats.

#5: Route traffic depending on device, location, and other factors

HubSpot’s Smart Content will allow you to display different content depending on the user’s location, device, and many other factors.

Image Source

If a user’s IP address shows they are coming from the UK, you can direct them to a landing page for your English website, or ensure the pricing is displayed in pounds. You can also set up page routing based on the UTM tags featured in the link they click on. This will mean a better user experience for visitors.

This approach to link routing can also be created with the help your development team.

Now, upgrade those links!

Although often overlooked, links can give your ads a much-needed edge. Links can increase click-through rates, improve user experience, and even boost conversions, so consider upgrading yours today.

About the author 

Louisa McGrath is a content manager at Rebrandly, the link shortener empowering marketers to put their brand on their links. She can be seen blogging around Dublin city center, except on Sundays when she stays in to pore over the newspapers.

5 Ways to Prepare Your Search Campaigns for Black Fiveday

The term “Black Friday” originated in the United States and refers to the day after Thanksgiving, when congestion and competition in stores increases as the Christmas shopping period begins. More recently, it is better known to advertisers as the day when sales thrive and accounts move from the red into the black.

But Black Friday isn’t just a day for queuing outside of packed shopping centers and fighting through aisles to grab the last deals on quickly emptying shelves anymore. As bargain hungry shoppers continue to take their hunt online, they have changed the nature of this shopping phenomenon. For starters, it’s no longer just one day: it’s Black Fiveday.

In 2014, US retailers including Radio Shack and JCPenney started opening their stores at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Since then, the Black Friday period has continued to expand. It is now commonplace for retailers to continue their sales over the weekend and through the first Monday after Thanksgiving, now commonly known as “Cyber Monday.” Cyber Monday is quickly becoming one of the most significant days of the year for ecommerce sales across the world, with shoppers flocking from the stores to their screens to grab last-minute deals. This marks the end of the Black Friday craze, hence the period of the five-day sales now referred to as Black Fiveday.

With the Black Fiveday period falling a week earlier than in recent years, there is no time like the present to get preparing. Follow these five simple tips to get your search campaigns ready for the Black Fiveday madness.

1. Plan Time and Bid Adjustments

While typically seen as best practice for any paid search campaign, ad scheduling may interfere with your performance potential over the Black Fiveday period. With many advertisers dropping bids during evenings and over the weekend, and some completely excluding activity altogether, the last thing you want is to not be eligible to appear for relevant searches during these five days. Give your ad schedule a once-over and ensure you are taking advantage of the unconventional buyer behaviour.

Similarly, you should consider time and day bid increases. Peak hours occasionally differ during the Black Fiveday period. For instance, the average peak hour for traffic and sales in the UK and Europe in 2017 was 4 p.m., meaning that usual lunchtime peak you typically see on Fridays may not be applicable.

2. Use Device Bid Adjustments

It almost goes without saying that every marketer should be implementing device bid adjustments to their paid search campaigns. It is crucial to utilize device-specific aspects including user intent, conversion paths and content, and that need is only magnified during Black Fiveday.

According to Campaign Live, Black Fiveday 2017 saw 36% of all online sales made on mobile (49% on desktop and only 15% on tablet), an estimated increase of 15% from 2016. This could relate to the nature of Black Fiveday sales: shoppers are hunting for bargains at times that are less convenient for them, hence using mobiles for easy accessibility. At the same time, our society’s confidence in using mobiles to make purchases is forever increasing, suggesting that it is going to be another strong year for mobile devices. 

With all of this mind, do you need to review your device bid adjustments? It is quick and easy to do using the new Google Ads interface. It could also make the difference between your ad showing to a potential customer who is browsing while in a coffee shop before work and missing out on that sale.

3. Try New Audience Lists

Black Fiveday opens up online shoppers to a world of new websites and brands they may not have previously been aware of. According to Think with Google, more than 8 in 10 shoppers of consumer packaged goods (CPG) are either considering multiple brands or have no brands in mind at all when shopping. This presents an ideal opportunity to get your ads in front of a new audience during Black Fiveday, and you can do so by using Google’s latest Search Campaign targeting methods.

Earlier this year, Google Ads rolled out “In-Market” and “Life Events” audience targeting for Search Campaigns. In short, ”In-Market” refers to customers who are actively researching for specific products or services, and “Life Events” refer to individuals who are going or who have gone through major life events, including marriage, moving home, and graduation. Matching those intents and occasions to your product or service and creating a campaign only targeting those audiences can be a great way to get your brand in front of a new set of eyes.

For example, a handmade home decorations company may want to target the Christmas shopping market with their new range of tree ornaments. In this case the “Christmas Items and Decor" In-Market audience would be a valuable audience to target. Another example would be a bridal wear store using the “Getting Married Soon” Life Event to promote their shoe sale to brides-to-be.

Remember, in order to target a new audience only, it is important to exclude your existing audiences lists from the campaign. This will stop your ads from being shown to users who have already engaged with your website, and it will free your budget up to be presented an entirely new audience!

4. Rethink Your Budget

Unfortunately, with the ever-increasing popularity of Black Fiveday, advertisers face inevitably higher levels of competition and CPC. And with many brands already facing budgetary constraints, it is not always possible to give your campaigns a cash injection before the big event. However, additional budget may not always be needed. Instead, a redistribution of spend before and after Black Fiveday could provide the funds to compete in search.

Consumers are starting their Christmas purchases earlier, with many making their purchases over the Black Fiveday period. As a result, December sales are slowing down, leading to a 1.5% decrease in UK retails sales in 2017. This is now being referred to as the  “Black Friday Hangover,” as Christmas shopping surges shift from December to November. Similarly, as the build up to Black Fiveday begins, shoppers are likely to hold out for the promotions at the end of November rather than purchasing earlier in the month. This presents two opportunities to hold back slightly on spend and instead use those funds during the five-day period.

Look back at your account’s spend history from the previous November and December, and see if your spend was affected by the Black Friday Hangover. If you have found that you did not reach your allocated spend, then consider reducing your budget for that time period this year and adding what was unused to your budget for the Black Fiveday period. Even a small addition to your spend over Black Friday will improve your competitiveness and increase your opportunity to succeed.

5. Create Remarketing Lists

Remarketing is a thing of beauty. It gives you the opportunity to create specific Search ads for individuals who have already visited or engaged with your website. Ad copy, scheduling, ad extensions and more can be customized using the user behavior you have already obtained. If you haven’t already built remarketing lists in your account then there is no time like the present. Go do it now!

If you do already have a bank of remarketing lists, then look at creating campaigns specific to the lists you already have. For example, target your list of non-converters with copy focused on promoting your Black Fiveday sales. Try to include USPs including price, delivery options, or savings in the copy to overcome the concern that stopped them from converting originally.

Similarly, you may want to create new remarketing lists to begin populating data in preparation for Black Fiveday. If you know a particular product or service is going to have a promotion over the five-day period, create a list of its page visitors who did not convert in order to target them again once the offer goes live.

Conclusion

Black Fiveday is no longer an optional event for companies to engage in. Customers now expect to see promotions and deals, even in countries which don’t celebrate the holiday it originates from. Therefore, implementing even the smallest of actions to your paid search strategy will help you over the five-day retail phenomenon.

About the author

Sophie Logan has over five years experience in digital marketing and currently works at Hallam Internet. Alongside her interest in optimizing ad-copy and PPC landing pages, Sophie’s accreditations include Google AdWords, Google Analytics, and Bing Ads Accredited Professional certification.

5 More Ways to Lower Your Cost per Acquisition in PPC

Keeping ad spend low while driving the highest possible conversions is the ultimate goal for digital marketers. Although PPC can be powerfully effective, it can also eat into a marketing budget if you don’t find ways to minimize costs and maintain a high ROI.

Cost per acquisition, which measures the aggregate cost to acquire one paying customer on a campaign, is one of the most important metrics to watch in PPC.

We previously shared five ways to lower your CPA:

  1. Lower your bids
  2. Find more specific keywords to target
  3. Increase your Quality Score
  4. Analyze your offer types
  5. Qualify with your ad text

Here, we delve into five more methods you can use to improve your account. Ready? Let’s go.

1. Review your locations

One of the most common causes of wasted spend is non-converting locations. While it might be tempting to target as many locations as you can, targeting too broadly often means showing your ads to uninterested audiences and paying for unqualified clicks. You can be a lot more methodical about location targeting by observing your geographical data at a granular level. This way, you’ll discover opportunities to immediately reduce wasted spend. 

Simply log into your Google Analytics dashboard, and check the Goal Conversion Rate for each location. For example, if you’re targeting the US, you can sort out the best and least converting states.

Here, Wyoming and Vermont have the highest conversion rates for this goal, but California drives the most traffic. In this example, you can choose to dive even deeper into the data by checking the best and least converting cities or metro areas for more insight.

Once you have identified your least converting locations, you can either completely turn off ads or reduce the bids for these areas considerably.

2. Maintain high Quality Scores, always

Despite the arguments over the role of Quality Scores in PPC, we continue to see evidence that high Quality Scores are key not only to better-performing ads in general but also lower CPAs. Larry Kim has argued that optimizing for Quality Score is the same as optimizing for CPA and provides clear evidence to support this by analyzing CPA data from hundreds of WordStream client accounts. As the diagram below shows, Larry found that the CPC decreased as quality score increased.

Even without a graph, it’s not difficult to figure out why higher Quality Scores mean better CPAs. The Quality Score estimates the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages. Higher scores mean your ads are relevant, so they get shown to more people and you can enjoy lower CPC, on average. Since the CPA is obtained by dividing your costs by the number of conversions, you’ll have lower costs, higher conversions, and, ultimately, lower CPAs.

So how do you improve quality score? The key still remains to write better ad text, ensure your landing page delivers on the ad promise, and tighten your keyword groups. This brings us to the next way you can lower your CPA.

3. Try smart bidding

Smart bidding is an automated bidding strategy that employs machine learning to optimize your ads based on set targets. Smart bidding options available on Google Ads include target CPA, target ROAS, search page location, and enhanced CPA.

When you select Target CPA, for example, Google Ads attempts to deliver leads at or below your set CPA. This is particularly helpful if you're on a budget. For the best results from smart bidding, you should have had at least 30 conversions in the past 30 days before using Target CPA and 50 conversions in the last 30 days for Target ROAS.

4. Use the “IF” function

In the words of Google, “IF functions allow you to insert a specific message in your text ad when a condition is met, and a default text when it does not. This makes your ads tailored to each search and more relevant to potential customers.”

The supported targets allow you to tailor ads by device or audience. As a result, users see slightly different messages depending on their device (mobile or desktop) or the audience category (e.g., cart abandoners vs first-time visitors).

5. Finally, don’t “set it and forget it"

Far too many marketers adopt a "set-it-and-forget-it" approach to their campaigns. But this won’t work: PPC is an ever-changing field. You need to constantly test and optimize your campaigns until you find the right balance.

By weeding out or bidding less on non-converting locations, maintaining higher Quality Scores, and adopting better ad structures, you can effectively lower your PPC campaign’s CPA. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, try smart bidding and leverage the IF function to make ads more compelling. Regardless of which strategies you choose to adopt, though, be sure to check back in regularly to monitor and continue to improve your account's performance.

About the author

Guy Sheetrit is CEO at Over The Top SEO, an award-winning international SEO agency.