Being a generalist paid off... Georgiana is Director of Marketing at Unbounce.
Once marketing consultant, agency hired-gun, brand manager and tech community organizer, Georgiana's been cracking integrated web marketing across search, ecommerce, copy, email, social, product, analytics and usability since 2002.
Today was the first day of the longest break I will (likely) ever take from my career. And I feel fine. I do.
Sure, being nearly 37 weeks pregnant is a good reason to take 6 months off. I’m making a human after all. But, if you know me (a-type, work-obsessed) you may wonder if I’m capable… Some days, I wonder too.
For the next 3 weeks I’m on straight-up vacation in an attempt to decompress from what’s been a crazy few years of work. I’m lying… It’s been longer than that, but that’s just because loving what I do is requisite for how I spend so much of my time. I’m granting myself 3 weeks to relax, sleep and prepare before I’m hit with the biggest challenge of my life to date.
After the baby is born at the end of July, I’ll take 5 months(ish) of maternity leave that will go by, I fear now, way too quickly. In a country where paid maternity leave is a year long — taking a mere 5 months makes me career-driven, which I believe is thought to be, the opposite of motherly. My girlfriends give me a strange blank stare when I remind them that I don’t plan to take the full year. Blink “Oh right. Yes. I forgot you were going back so soon…”. My tongue hurts from imagining people biting theirs from telling me to get my priorities straight.
When we found out that I was pregnant in November (following the simultaneous fear/happiness/shock) the first thought that went through my head was ‘will this fuck my career and the company I care so much about?’. I’ve worked my ass off for 12 years, I lean in. I wasn’t delusional enough to wonder ‘will this set me back?’, I asked myself ‘how far will this set me back, and how do I mitigate the damage?’. The answer, to maybe the most selfish (and unmotherly) question I’ve ever asked myself, was to not take the full year off that I’m entitled to, to spend with my child. A little human who, I was fully aware (though maybe only in theory until now) will promptly take priority over everything else.
I’ve been sitting with this decision, like a thorn in my side, for nearly 9 months. I love my job. I love my colleagues. I love my team. I love the challenges that come along with working at one of Canada’s most quickly growing startups. All of this is no less true today than it was 9 months ago.
But here’s the thing…
Every once in a while, I wonder to myself how I’ll feel come January, when my 5 month old is developing his/her sense of humour and starting on solid foods. I wonder how on earth I’ll integrate my baby into a daycare at such a young age. And how I’ll re-integrate into my role as a director of a dept and team who has succeeded without me for 2 quarters. Will the guilt be unbearable? Will there be enough motivation to return to work to sustain me through how hard it’ll undoubtedly be on me, my partner and baby?
I am career-driven. To friends and family, I’m unapologetically motivated by being among the best at what I do. What kind of role-model would I be if I gave up on what gives me such a sense of accomplishment? I suspect I might go stir crazy after a few months of baby-land, too. Being needed and valued for something other than feedings and diaper changes might be just what I’ll need after a few months. This baby is becoming a (yes, huge) part of my life, but not the reason for it.
Ok so remember at the start of this when I said I feel fine? I do. Because, I (let’s be real, have no choice but to) take comfort in the fact that I don’t have to decide my exact path today. My only job, for the next 6 months will be to take care of my family (omg). And, more immediately, in 3 weeks or less, to mentally prepare, for what will change everything forever.
This is me today. Fine. Because I know that clarity will come when I need it.
In February I told you that I was taking a break from freelancing and embracing a full time gig at Vancouver based startup Unbounce. Well, it’s time for some more bitter-but-oh-so-sweet news; As of June, I’ll be making the move from my hometown Montreal to Vancouver, for a while.
In March, I spent almost 2 weeks intheofficethere… Needless to say, it wasn’t long before my heart started to struggle with relocating. I won’t say it’s Vancouver that sold me (yet, but look at that view!), but rather Unbounce itself and the people I already have a connection with (one of which is Russell’s BFF). After some promises to remain a devout Habs fan and to return to Montreal, I decided this really is an opportunity I have to follow.
The MontrealTechCommunity is one I will sorely miss …I can’t stress that enough. It was just over 3 years ago that I joined Twitter, and sheepishly attended my first tech event (a WPMTL meetup) where knowing absolutely no one, I was welcomed by Eva Blue, Kathryn Presner, and others. Somewhere around that same time I stumbled in love with Tanya McGinnity and Montreal Girl Geeks — Which honestly, changed everything.
In only the last few years, I went from working at my family business (and a small ad agency on the side) to running Montreal Girl Geeks, speaking at events, and (sometimes overwhelmingly) successfully freelancing at what I love.
This of course also means that I’ll be stepping down as President of Montreal Girl Geeks. I’ll be announcing there soon too. I hope to find a community in YVR that’s nearly half as fantastic as this one.
Hoping to have a drink on a terrace with you before June!
Those of you who know me, know I’m a strong believer in free agents and that independents are a growing bunch I’m proud to be part of. This however, is one fulltime opportunity I could not refuse; Vancouver based startup, Unbounce.
I’ve joined the Unbounce team as Marketing Manager (part blog editor, part community manager and part co-marketing coordinator).
Follow what we’re up to over on the very popular Unbounce blog, @Unbounce on Twitter and (you know I’d love a like) on Facebook. We talk about awesome things like conversion rates, usability, A/B testing, social media and content marketing.
This past Saturday I presented “Moving from Wordpress.com to Wordpress.org” with Sandy Sidhu at WordCamp Toronto. Was lots of fun to be there with fellow Montrealers Liesl Barrell, Digibomb, Kathryn Presner, Jeremy Clarke (and more) too. The organizers, volunteers and speakers did a great job and I’ll likely make the trek out to TO again next year.
Taken with Instagram at Belvédère du Chalet - Mont-Royal
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how my experience as a female tech founder differs from my male counterparts. Almost a month into my first tech incubator, I’m learning a lot - but I’m also seeing my weaknesses brought into sharp focus. Writing this is a way to exorcise some of the demon doubts…
Posterous made some changes to their site today that frankly, I can’t be bothered with. I like updating via web (which was finicky) and I wasn’t crazy about their iphone app, so not sure Posterous was really for me.
So apparently there is no export options for Posterous, but there is an import into Wordpress (by creating a new dummy wp.com) and then apparently some hack to export your posts/comments outta there onto a PHP 5 enabled server and then into Tumblr… but yeah, that’s a whole lotta time that I’d rather spend working or tweeting or cuddling with my dog.
Hey folks, thanks for following along with Lia’s news here on Tumblr! I’ve decided to move to a Wordpress site. Not only do I have more control over my posts but I have more faith in that platform’s longevity. And guess what? wemadeahuman.com was available, so I got that too.
Likes: eating, morning naps, clean diapers, pats on the bum, the first 10 minutes of tummy time, the first 7 minutes of bath time, coconut oil massages, lamps, windows and being swaddled.
Dislikes: the 30 seconds before eating, the 2 minutes before a burp, the 5 minutes before a fart, waking up alone, getting toenails clipped, red lights and yes, getting her brace put back on after bath time.
On Monday we returned to the Shriners for another ultrasound (shown) and exam. The doc says she’s doing great and to come back in 3 weeks for another progress report. Now, rather than 24/7, we can take the brace off for 1 hr a day for a bath.
The day after Lia was born, the pediatrician at the Royal Vic told us that he felt a little pop in her hip. He promptly assured us that it’s nothing too serious but that we should go to the Shriners to be sure.
Last Friday, after an exam and ultrasound it was confirmed; Lia has Hip Dysplasia. She was given a brace to wear 24/7 until her next check up, on August 11th (10 days) when we will get a progress report and find out how long she’ll need to wear it (commonly 6-12 weeks).
A little background: Hip Dysplasia is present in about 1% of births, the doctor told us he treats it about once every 2 weeks. It’s apparently more common in first born girls, and is hereditary (though neither DJ or I have heard of anyone in our families). Interestingly, the majority of cases resolve themselves, but since it’s impossible to know which cases will, the brace is used.
…A few Google searches in after getting home and the reality of this condition, if untreated, is definitely scary. We’ve read stories of 5 yr olds, 11 yr olds and even older, forced to stay home with such a brace… Surgeries needed, etc.
Though it was very sad to get the news, and see her strapped up this way, we’re super grateful that it was caught and we were able to start treatment so early (at only 7 days old!).
Needless to say, the cute newborn outfits can wait…
Above is Lia sporting her brace, equipped with socks with the toes cut out to soften the straps against her skin… Yup, it officially bothers us more than it bothers her :)
It’s official. I’m on vacation for the rest of the month, followed by maternity leave until early 2015.
My team gave me the cutest baby send-off pack too. Themed appropriately for our name, the Unbounce Honey Badgers. So much cute stuff, with a card signed by 50+ Unbouncers across the country and baby/badger themed cupcakes from Les Glaceurs which I ate in a fury so they didn’t make it in the photo. nom.
Sunday was the perfect day for a Baby-Que on the canal.
Seriously, Kate & Saskia outdid themselves… From a beer cake (not diaper cake!), the coolest location, delicious pulled pork and wings, to the most realistic burger cupcakes… you had to close your eyes to eat them.
40 of our favourite people joined DJ and I for what was a day neither of us had ever really imagined we’d have held in our honour… Thanks everyone for making it so “cool”.
On a beautiful Saturday in June, mom & dad attend day 1 of 2 full day weekend prenatal classes at the Vic… If you’d asked me a few years ago, I never would have imagined myself spending F1 weekend this way. It must be love.
The Royal Vic opened it’s doors in 1893 and will retire in 2015 (when it’s replaced by the new “Super Hospital”). No one quite knows yet what the future holds for it, but in its deed, the hospital’s land and its buildings (donated by 2 Scotsmen) must only ever be used for healing.
This was the 2nd ultrasound done on Victoria Street in Vancouver, right before leaving for Hawaii. The technician was ridiculously nice and wanted to make sure to give us a “cute” photo (not ‘alien like’, like most)
Michael Aagaard descends upon the Earth to share his otherworldly CRO knowledge with us.
If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably at least thinking about running your own A/B tests. Maybe you’ve got some live right now. But are you really getting results that will help your business perform better? Would you know if you weren’t?
When we wanted answers to the pressing questions that marketers have about A/B testing, we brought them to one of the most passionate, insightful and statuesque people in the industry: Michael Aagaard, Senior Conversion Optimization Consultant at ContentVerve.
Read on to discover how to run tests that will give you accurate, actionable results — and what to do when you can’t.
1. When is it safe to declare a champion in an A/B test?
It can be tempting to roll out a winning variation as soon as you start to see a lift in conversions, but it’s crucial that you don’t jump to conclusions before you see the bigger picture. In Michael’s words:
You need to include enough visitors and run the test long enough to ensure that your data is representative of regular behavior across weekdays and business cycles.
The most common pitfall is to use 95% confidence as a stopping rule. Confidence alone is no guarantee that you’ve collected a big enough sample of representative data. Sample size and business cycles are absolutely crucial in judging whether your test is cooked.
The way someone is feeling while browsing the web on a Monday morning (groggy), Friday afternoon (“TGIF!”), or over Sunday brunch (leisurely) can affect your conversions. And it’s not just the day of the week that matters — depending on what you sell and how you sell it, the difference in behaviour between the first and last weeks of the month could be enormous.
Michael himself runs tests for four full weeks, with a minimum of 100 conversions (preferably closer to 200) on each variant and a 95% confidence level being prerequisites for declaring a champion. He then uses this calculator to check the statistical significance of his results.
Despite his own methodology, Michael stresses that there’s no one-size-fits-all rule for declaring a champion, as there are many contextual factors that make each test unique. Focus on covering both a large enough sample size and a long enough duration of time to ensure that you’re getting a complete view of the page’s performance before calling it.
2. How do I run an A/B test if I don’t have enough traffic?
We often talk about conversion rate optimization and A/B testing as if they were one and the same. While it’s true that A/B testing is an invaluable part of CRO, it’s also true that A/B testing isn’t always a viable option.
Running A/B tests on low traffic pages can actually be dangerous, as Michael explained:
Small samples are easily affected by changes in the dataset. If you have a sample of a few hundred visitors in total, a single conversion can shift results dramatically.”
Okay, so what? Just run the test until you eventually have a big enough sample, right? Well, you could be waiting a while.
Let’s say you want to run a test with two variations. Using a duration calculator, we can see that if the current conversion rate is 3% with 100 daily visitors, and you want to detect a minimum improvement of 10%, you’ll need to run the test for … 1035 days. Ouch!
Ouch, indeed. So what can you do?
For starters, do your homework
It might be tempting to Google “landing page best practices” and just do whatever comes up. And an article from Unbounce is the first result, so hey, you could do worse. But if there’s one piece of advice you take from Michael, it should be this:
When you can’t A/B test properly, it’s even more important to spend time doing qualitative research and validating your hypotheses before you implement treatments on the website. The more homework you do, the better the results will be in the end.
Unlike quantitative analysis — essentially making decisions based primarily on numerical data — qualitative analysis attempts to measure the more nebulous qualities of something.
If quantitative analysis tells us what happens, qualitative analysis tells us why it happens. Here are two types of qualitative analysis you can try:
In a ConversionXL piece on qualitative analysis, Michael wrote that “interviewing customers and stakeholders is without comparison the most insightful qualitative research method in my CRO toolkit. In my experience nothing beats actually talking to your target audience.”
High-converting landing pages address a visitor’s need as quickly as possible, in language they can understand and relate to. What better way to find out how than to have them tell you themselves, in their own words?
We asked Michael to elaborate:
I’ve been involved in several optimization projects where customer interviews revealed that the core value proposition was fundamentally flawed. Moreover, the answers I got from these interviews got me much closer to the winning optimization hypothesis.
Use interviews with customers and stakeholders as inspiration for your test hypothesis. Click To Tweet
Seeing what’s worked well for others is a great way to discover your own path. But knowing what works isn’t as important as knowing why it worked.
When you read a case study in which someone got a conversion lift by, say, changing their CTA button color from red to green, it means that the person who performed the test found out that a green button performed better on their landing page.
It does not mean that green buttons will always perform better than red ones on all landing pages forever.
Instead, use case studies as an inspiration to help form a test hypothesis:
By changing ______ to ______, I can get more prospects to ______ and consequently increase conversions.
Michael shares a simple approach to developing your A/B test hypothesis.
Instead of worrying about changing from red to green or green to red, think more in terms of what impact those colours actually have.
By changing my current button colour to one that contrasts more against the rest of the page, I can get more prospects to notice my CTA and consequently increase conversions.
Don’t copy A/B case studies; use them as inspiration to form a strong test hypothesis. Click To Tweet
3. How do I know if my conversion rate is “good”?
Conversion rates are fickle things. They can fluctuate frequently due to something as minor as the time of day, to major shifts in your competitive landscape.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that your goal isn’t a higher conversion rate; it’s whatever that higher conversion rate will enable you to do. As Michael put it:
If you run a business, it’s not really about improving conversion rates, it’s about making money. So instead of asking yourself “Is my conversion rate good?” you should ask yourself “Is my business good?” and “Is my business getting better?”
The purpose of improving your conversion rate is to impact other, more tangible metrics in your business. Michael reminds us to look past the conversion rate, and focus more on things like lead quality, profit and revenue.
If an increased conversion rate doesn’t translate to increased business success, it isn’t a win. Click To Tweet
Your business is unique. Your tests should be, too
The recurring theme when speaking with Michael about A/B testing was that there are surprisingly few hard-and-fast rules. Much like his advice regarding qualitative analysis, context is always key.
Do your research. Run the right kinds of tests for your business. And don’t just look at your conversion rate — look at how that conversion rate impacts the rest of your business.
April 9th is International CRO Day, and Michael is just one of more than 50 (!) speakers who will be giving free online talks on conversion-focused marketing. Don’t miss your chance to get some of the best, most actionable and so-totally-free advice on CRO you’ll ever hear.
You don’t need to be a hacker like Angelina to growth hack your content marketing. Image source.
Growth hacking has become a bit of a marketing buzz word in recent years, and for good reason – the strategy has helped many marketers accelerate the growth of their business at what seems like an impossible rate. By identifying and focusing on what works, marketers everywhere are generating bigger wins with less effort.
If “hacking” can help you grow your business, can it also help your content marketing efforts?
In this episode, we speak to Garrett Moon, co-founder of CoSchedule, about easy-to-implement growth hacks that will make your content marketing more effective.
In this episode you’ll learn…
How learning a bit of HTML can give your content a leg up in search results.
Why releasing their financials helped Buffer create buzz and boost their traffic.
If you should actually be planning that funeral for guest blogging.
Unbeknownst to most, the number seven is a powerful and magical trance-inducing trick number, invented in the 14th century to convince soldiers to wade into battle unafraid and confident in their quest.
Whether you believe me or not doesn’t matter, because I’ve just cast a spell on you that will get you to take my latest ecourse: a seven-day email-only adventure that will teach you how to create lead gen landing pages that keep your funnel full.
Here’s how it’s going to go down:
On day 1 you’ll learn how to use form-first design to make your forms more meaningful.
On day 2 you’ll see how the user experience (UX) of form design can make or break your conversion rates.
On day 3 you’ll learn magical words (like the number seven) that can persuade or dissuade an action.
On day 4 you’ll get insights into copywriting for conversion including form(ulas) for headline and call to action copy.
On day 5 you’ll learn about the mighty confirmation page and what you should and shouldn’t be doing on it.
On day 6 you’ll get 10 lead gen A/B testing ideas.
On day 7 you’ll get an awesome freebie: seven high-converting Unbounce landing page templates that are only available to folks who take the course.
Still don’t believe me that I’ve convinced you to take the course? Click this link and put your email address into the landing page you find. Then we’ll see what happens.
Here’s to conquering new legions of leads together.
I love social media. I live social media! As in, I literally make a living off of it.
Working in social media means navigating some tricky waters. Contests that kill one time and flop the next, the all-too-familiar restraint of 140 characters, an angry Facebook comment popping up on the weekend when you’re already a few beers deep…
There are always new mistakes to be made, fumbles to be fumbled, and don’ts to learn (the hard way).
But some social media lessons are learned the easy way. Say, from reading a blog post.
Here are six social media marketing don’ts that need to be kicked to the virtual curb.
1. Automated messages
Ever follow a person or company on Twitter, only to have a message arrive in your inbox one nanosecond later with a “Thanks for following!” and a nod to their website, Facebook page, blog or [insert self-promotional link here]?
FOR THE LOVE OF ANIMATED GIFS, PLEASE STOP.
Automated messages are my #1 social media pet peeve and I’m willing to bet I’m not alone. Only that bet would be rigged, because I know I’m not.
I get that on paper, they seem like a great idea. Engage with your followers immediately! Show them your helpful content! Lead them to your website! Win-wins all around! Sure.
But you know what else sounded good on paper? QR codes.
In reality, automated messages come off as lazy, detached and out of touch.
While I’m sure there are people out there who swear that automated messages have grown their follower count or resulted in a lead, the risk of leaving such a bad taste in your followers’ mouths just isn’t worth it.
For every response you get, there are likely 50 other people like me who silently cringe and wonder when you’ll get the memo.
There are no hard-and-fast rules for social media, but one thing that remains constant is that genuineness wins when it comes to earning the trust of your community and building relationships with them.
And those canned, self-serving, abundantly-clear-there-is-no-real-person-sending-it messages are anything but genuine.
Real engagement isn’t automated. On Twitter, skip the canned auto-replies. No one likes them. Click To Tweet
Hashtags are synonymous with social media itself – they’re great for categorizing your posts, finding and jumping into conversations, giving your campaigns their own special theme, or inducing a slew of eye-rolling when used in offline conversation.
But just as one realizes when reaching the bottom of a movie theater-sized package of Skittles, too much of a good thing can often be a bad thing.
Piling on the hashtags will either convolute the message you’re trying to get across or make it look like you’re desperately gunning for new followers instead of engaging with your current audience.
Most of the words people are hashtagging are so vague, they’re not doing much of anything for them anyway…
Are you guilty of over-hashtagging on Twitter? You could be convoluting your message. Click To Tweet
3. Blanket publishing across all networks
Not to be confused with my arch-nemesis automated messaging, automated publishing – scheduling posts to be published at a later time – is the best and essential for anyone working in or with social media.
Automated publishing saves a ton of time, energy and gray hairs (shout-out to Buffer and Hootsuite for making my job that much easier).
That said, deploying one post across all networks is a recipe for this:
I’m assuming the update above was triggered from Twitter to simultaneously post to LinkedIn (where I found it), which resulted in a strange “0 comments” image being pulled and the inclusion of a hashtag on a platform that doesn’t support them. Womp womp.
If you’re sharing to your personal accounts, you may not care about formatting, but for businesses it’s important to optimize posts for where they’re going to be posted.
Each social network is its own beast with its own rules, and making sure your updates display properly puts you one step closer to more clicks and more engagement.
If you blanket publish across social media networks, people notice. Tailor posts for each channel. Click To Tweet
A vibrant image on Facebook or tagging the right people on Google Plus can make all the difference. Plus, it just shows that you give enough of a s@#$ to provide a more appealing experience for your audience. Thumbs up to giving a s@#$!
4. Mishandling negative feedback
We’ve all been privy to the wonder that is the internet troll – the online equivalent of an angry Grandpa Simpson.
This isn’t about them. Their problem isn’t you, it’s that their mother didn’t hug them enough. Or hugged them too much…
I’m talking about the not-so-nice comments, frustrated questions or criticisms from regular people that any business has to deal with.
Responding to negative feedback is tough, and it can even be a bit intimidating when dealing with an especially irate person.
It helps to remember that most people are reasonable and just want to be heard. A calm, prompt, and most of all, human response can go a long way.
What you don’t want to do is come off as apathetic, fake or defensive. I’d say any response is better than no response, but if you’re about to go all ape shizz on them you should probably hold off:
The above example is admittedly extreme (most of us have enough common sense not to insult our customers).
But a response with even a hint of contempt or listlessness — or straight-up not responding at all — can do a lot of damage to your relationship with your customers and brand reputation.
Talk to people like they’re people and do what you can to address their problem, whether that means clearing it up yourself or putting them in touch with a team member who can. If you’re doing your best to understand where people are coming from and help them, that will come through.
Curating content for Unbounce’s social community is a big part of my job. I visit a ton of different blogs each day, ready to share the good stuff with our audience. The funny thing is, a lot of blogs don’t seem to be ready for me.
When I’m ready to share an article, there are two things I don’t want to have to do:
Search for sharing buttons
Search for a Twitter handle
I know, I know — if these are my problems, then my problems aren’t real problems. And the Buffer extension mostly takes care of this non-problem, on my end. But from one marketer to another, it’s just good sense to have your content be as easy to share as possible and optimized for doing so.
That means putting sharing icons front and center, making sure the title of the post or a custom message is pre-filled (and under 140 characters with the link), and including your company handle so you’re credited by default.
Obviously we’re all about landing pages here at Unbounce, but it’s not just because they pay the bills. It’s because they serve a real purpose and serve it well.
Landing pages allow you to send visitors to a super-targeted page that addresses their specific wants or needs.
If you’re a software company running a Facebook ad for your newest feature, sending the people who click on that ad to your homepage – which probably has a lot of general information about your product and a high attention ratio – will just leave your visitors confused and likely to bounce.
By sending them to a landing page focusing solely on that new feature with one call to action urging visitors to try it out, your chances of converting them increase dramatically.
For a more detailed explanation (with examples!), check out Tia Kelly’s awesome post on why sending social traffic to your homepage will leave you forever alone.
Focus on what works
The landscape of social media will always be changing and with it, its best practices for engaging with and building our communities.
As we learn what works and what doesn’t, it’s up to us to weed out the bad tactics and focus on the good ones. In other words, find what works. And then keep doing it.
What am I missing here? Any social media marketing pet peeves you want to add to the list?
On the wall next to my desk I’ve pasted some tips on how to write well from three of my heroes: Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell – and Hollywood legend Billy Wilder. I write every single day, whether I feel like it or not. That’s how I get better.
Sometimes it can be a real grind to get the words out — it’s part of the gig. But I always have these simple rules to follow to help me get back on track.
Billy Wilder wrote 79 screenplays for movies like Casino Royale, Ocean’s 11 (the original versions), The Apartment and Some Like It Hot. In that time, he learned a thing or two about writing and how to hold an audience’s attention.
What is amazing to me about Billy Wilder’s rules for writing is how well they translate to marketing.
At the end of the day, whether you’re writing a screenplay or copy for a landing page, you’re writing for an audience. And if that audience isn’t interested, you’ll either end up with no one at your movie, or no prospects converting into customers.
Turns out Billy’s 10 writing rules also make for a great guide to landing page optimization. Let’s take a look at them and see what we can learn about landing pages from one of Hollywood’s most prolific writer/directors.
1. “The audience is fickle”
Audiences today are as fickle as they were in Billy’s time – whether they’re at the movies or on the internet. Nearly half of internet users will abandon a page that doesn’t load within three seconds.
One article from the National Center for Biotechnology Information suggests that the average American attention span in 2013 clocked in at about eight seconds. Compare this to that of the average goldfish with an attention span of nine seconds.
But it’s not just about being fickle – audiences are so bombarded with choices that they can hardly manage to concentrate on one thing for the same amount of time as a goldfish.
As marketers, we need to remember this. If your landing page isn’t delivering the goods immediately, you might as well print out a copy, cut it up into tiny pieces, and feed it to your goldfish.
At least the fish will be interested for a little while longer.
Some of us have the attention span of a goldfish. Present your landing page offer clearly &… Click To Tweet
2. “Grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go”
For one audience, Some Like It Hot may be the most engaging, edge-of-your-seat thriller ever filmed. Others may find it to be the most boring, slow, meandering mess of a movie they’ve ever seen.
All audiences are different and it’s up to marketers to discover how to hold their specific audience’s attention. The great part of working in our field is that we have the ability to analyze data that can give us clues as to what resonates with our prospects.
Have a look at how this landing page by Golden Sands Resorts uses evocative imagery to grab their visitor’s attention:
They grab your attention by placing you in an amazing room with an ocean view, and give you all the information you need to convince you to stay there. And you don’t get to just book the room — you have to apply, which creates a sense of exclusivity.
By using attention-driven design techniques, (using whitespace to allow certain aspects of your landing page to stand out, using directional cues to point at a CTA, using encapsulation to surround a landing page element, etc) you can grab your visitors’ attention, get them to see your unique value proposition, and follow through to the call to action.
3. “Develop a clear line of action for your leading character”
Wilder was a master of the mystery genre. The film Double Indemnity is filled with more tension than a high-wire line. There are choices made in this movie that may make you want to scream at the screen, but all of those choices lead to the conclusion, where all loose ends are tied up and all questions are answered.
No one likes to be filled with anxiety in the real world, but that feeling of anxiousness is a big part of what keeps people going back to movies. The choices the characters make on screen sometimes make us want to yell at the screen, and that’s how the writers make it fun for us.
This scene sums up this idea perfectly:
It seems obvious that Stanwyck is going to finish Fred MacMurray’s character off, but the result ends up being much different.
It’s a great movie scene, but we want to avoid this kind of tension on our landing pages at all costs by giving prospects a clear line of action to follow. Only one possible action. Only one goal.
Giving landing page visitors too many choices on a landing page creates decision fatigue. With too much choice, visitors will often choose nothing at all.
As the screenwriter of the landing page, your job is to give the visitor just one choice to make. Anxiety is what makes movies interesting – it’s also what makes landing pages fail.
4. “Know where you’re going”
If Bud Baxter in The Apartment had not been trying to climb up the corporate ladder he would have nothing to pursue and the movie would be as unmemorable as Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.
You tryin’ to tell me you don’t remember this movie?
A landing page supports a campaign. But if you’re not clear on your campaign goals, your landing page will reflect that and leave prospects confused – just like watching a movie with no plot.
Landing pages support campaigns. Don’t build one until you’ve established your campaign goals. Click To Tweet
From there, you’ll have all the information you need to guide prospects toward the next step: the conversion.
5. “The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer”
In one of the great murder mysteries of all time, Witness for the Prosecution, Wilder takes the audience through more twists and turns than a coastal road in a James Bond movie.
This movie poster would actually make for a pretty decent landing page template. Image credit: cinemafantic.wordpress.com
The genius of this film is that the audience never quite knows what’s about to happen. The screenplay leads people to believe one thing, and then reveals another to be true. It’s done in an elegantly sophisticated way – not with brute force.
The less aggressive you are on a landing page, the better you’ll be at converting your readers.
This isn’t to say that you should pull the ole bait ‘n switch like Wilder does — it simply means that subtlety goes a long way toward making your visitors comfortable enough to convert.
“Shut up and take my money” is a fun thing to say in an article’s comment section or on a Reddit thread, but in terms of subtlety, this is the landing page equivalent of an Adam Sandler movie.
Don’t make people think about the fact that they’re about to part with their money – make them think about how great their lives are going to be once they purchase your product or service.
Don’t remind landing page visitors that they’re about to pay. Explain how you’ll improve their life. Click To Tweet
6. “If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act”
What Wilder means in this rule is that if the ending is not achieving the results you’re after, then you need to look at the problem from the beginning.
Are the characters not lining up together the way they were intended to? Is the protagonist not becoming the hero he was meant to be? Is the story just not interesting at this point?
If so, you must go back to the beginning to help them get there by offering them a different launching point.
The third act of any landing page is the action taken by the visitor to that page – the conversion. If you’re not getting conversions, take a step back and look at your proverbial first act: your headline.
Test your headlines to ensure you’re getting the attention of your audience right from the very beginning. Make sure you give them a reason to stay and to find out what’s going to happen in the end.
7. “Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever”
With any film, the goal is to give the audience the information they need to put the story together for themselves – to give them enough to understand where the journey may take them.
On a landing page, this is done by using a hero shot to help the audience picture your product and imagine themselves using it.
Shots of happy, satisfied customers using the product convey a sense of gratification that an audience can relate to. Or, like the image of the dapper fellow above, it gets the audience thinking about how amazing they’re going to look when they have their very own tailored three-piece suit.
Using these aspirational elements together gives your landing page audience a kind of sense of completion – you’ve given them just enough information to start imagining their future with your solution, and they’re beginning to fall just a little bit in love.
8. “In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re seeing”
Billy Wilder made very little use of voice-overs in his movies. Brian Cox’s character in Adaptation (written by Charlie Kaufman) is dead-set against them.
The closest thing to a voice-over that we could use on a landing page is video. If done right, videos can work really well to help nudge visitors toward conversion.
Like voice-overs, your videos should never repeat the information that you’ve already presented on your page. They should complement the rest of your page and offer extra information that certain types of buyers may need in order to convert.
And whatever you do, remember that your landing page should still be able to stand on its own without the video. A significant percentage of your landing page visitors will never watch your video at all.
9. “The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie”
The second act of a movie is often one of the most difficult to write. It has to set the stage for the grand finale and can easily feel like it drags on.
On your landing pages, the second act is like the seemingly mundane (but very necessary) elements that propel readers through to your call to action.
These elements are things like your trust seals and testimonials:
Trust seals are those logos that you see on sites that give your visitors a reason to feel that their information is safe when they submit it to your site.
Testimonials are highly condensed success stories in which your customers talk about their experience with your brand.
These fall under the category of social proof, which also includes things like a ribbon of company logos on your landing page:
The proof is in the putting it on your page.
They may not seem like much (and you may be sick of reading about them), but altogether, they help get you to the third act where you can get those well-earned clicks.
10. “The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then – that’s it. Don’t hang around”
There’s a story that Elijah Wood has told about when Jack Nicholson asked him “What happened?” with regards to The Lord of the Rings. “You know, that movie,” Jack said, “It just had so many endings… it just wouldn’t end!”
With most Billy Wilder movies, a rather exacting formula is used and his movies generally hover around the 90-minute mark – depending on how long it takes to tell the story that needs to be told.
Marketers often ask about the perfect length of a landing page, and Sherice Jacobs sums up the answer succinctly in this article:
The ideal length of your landing page will depend largely on the goal of the page.
How long does it take you to tell your brand’s story?
It takes exactly as long as it takes to get your audience to convert, and no longer. The way to find out is to test your pages and see what your audience prefers.
Just like focus groups at film screenings can advise producers about audience reaction, every landing page needs to undergo rigorous testing to ensure you are reaching your audience in the most efficient means possible.
This is either the best, or the worst reaction you could ask for.
Give them just enough, hit them with the call to action, and wait for the virtual ovation to begin.
Not all stories have a Hollywood ending… but they could
As it turns out, Billy Wilder has tons of landing page opitmization advice to offer. He once said:
Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as well be your own, instead of someone else’s.
This is something that all marketers need to remember. Much of what we do depends on failure, and knowing that it gets us closer to the happy ending we’re looking for.
It’s by testing different elements of a landing page and learning what does and does not work that we become closer to writing our own Hollywood endings.
Where have you found inspiration that has helped you to build better landing pages? Tell us your story in the comments below!
Who knew binge-watching Parks and Recreation could make you a smarter marketer? Image source.
Have you ever spent time setting up an A/B test only to see a marginal increase in your conversion rate (or even worse – a drop)? You can test all the best practices on your landing page and still not get that conversion boost you were hoping for.
Sometimes, the best A/B testing ideas come from unexpected places. What if you were able to learn your prospect’s favorite TV show and then use that information to formulate smarter A/B testing hypotheses?
In this episode, we speak to Allison Otting, Disruptive Advertising’s Lead CRO Designer, about how to let your prospects guide your landing page optimization efforts.
In this episode you’ll learn…
How learning about your customer’s aspirations and hobbies can bring you A/B testing ideas
Why borrowing ideas from skateboarding culture got a skiing company a 34% lift in conversions
What Ron Swanson can teach you about creating landing page design layouts that convert
Would You Rather? is a popular party game amongst college students. You’ve probably played it before: someone asks you to pick between two terrible things, and you pick one, and then everyone laughs at you for your decision.
Good news! You’re an adult now. And a marketer, at that. You’re used to making uncomfortable decisions literally all of the time. You might sigh whenever you get hit with an exit overlay, but damned if your conversions don’t go up when you use them on your own site!
It could be worse, though — just leave it to us to show you.
We’ve come up with some situations where picking the lesser of two evils is a pretty torturous task.
Let us know what you’d do in these brain-busting marketing scenarios, and be thankful your reality isn’t anything like this.
Which situation sounds the worst to you? Let us know in the comments!
Good landing page design isn’t just about pretty pictures – it’s about structuring your page to guide users toward the goal. Image by Baldiri via Flickr.
Some of us have the luxury of having talented graphic designers on staff.
For those of us who don’t, designing a landing page that doesn’t get in the way of conversion can be a real pain in the butt.
I’m not just talking about a pretty page. I’m talking about everything that goes into effective landing page design: directional cues, font usability best practices, color theory, layout tricks and more.
If design isn’t your forte, this article’s for you. I’ve scoured the web for the best blog posts on how to make deliberate design decisions that will impact the performance of your landing page – from color psychology to typography to more subtle visual tricks.
This post comprises the fourth chapter in Quick Sprout’s comprehensive guide on understanding consumer psychology. It starts by reviewing color theory, including the different emotional impacts created by pure colors, shades and tints, as well as the science of picking colors that work together.
Colors come with social and cultural connotations, and this guide includes a chart that explains how the meaning of color varies for different social groups (colors that entice in North America are different from those that entice in India, for example).
The guide also looks at:
The relationship between gender and color preferences
Studies that show how color impacts conversions
How to create designs that are more friendly to people with disabilities
A common mistake made by designers is using too many colors on the same page.
An overload of colors can wind up conveying too many emotions or messages at once, which can potentially confuse the person viewing your design.
Instead, test using one prominent color that is offset by a neutral color like white, gray or black.
2. Color Usability Optimization: 4 Keys to Harnessing Physiology for More Conversions
Most resources on the relationship between color and conversion focus on the psychology of color; that is, the emotions and qualities that are ascribed to various colors.
But Angie Schottmuller of Three Deep Marketing developed a system for boosting conversions that focuses on how humans process colors physiologically. In other words, what the human eye does to color and how this impacts a user’s behavior when visiting a site.
In this really detailed post, you’ll learn:
Her “Clockwork Conversion Color Model,” which centers on strategic use of complementary colors to boost conversions
The four scientifically-based color principles that make up the model, and how you can employ each on your landing page
Use pure colors for your primary CTA and neutralize the other colors on the rest of the page by mixing in white, grey and black.
This helps you avoid the overuse of pure colors, which can distract and exhaust the eye.
3. Choosing the Right Font: A Guide to Typography and UX
There are a lot of conflicting opinions about what kinds of typography are optimal for the web, and the truth is that it depends entirely on the context for which you are designing.
But UserTesting’s guidelines will give you all the information you need to make an informed, thoughtful decision about how you use type on your landing page. You’ll learn things like:
The number of optimal characters per line for desktop and mobile
How to think about the contrast between your text and background
The differences in the way readers respond to serif and sans serif fonts
The purpose of any text on your page is to help your users accomplish their goals. Always keep this in mind when choosing typography for your landing page.
Ask yourself questions like:
What kind of experience are my users expecting when they land on my page?
What devices are they using?
What do they want to accomplish on my landing page (shop, learn, be entertained)?
The answers to these questions will help you decide which style and color are right for the type on your webpage. And, like any good landing page designer, don’t rely on gut instinct: make sure to test, test, test.
As CRO expert Peep Laja eloquently puts it in this article:
Design is not just something designers do. Design is marketing.
If you’re a marketer who doesn’t really have an eye for design, that statement might intimidate you – which is why Peep provides a breakdown of eight web design principles that will help you create better landing page experiences.
Though many of the examples he provides are for websites rather than landing pages, this post is a must-read.
How you use mathematical ratios and sequences to create web design that looks pleasing to the eye
How you can take a page from photography’s playbook and use the rule of thirds to select (or crop) images that will look good on your landing pages
Tons of other psychological and scientific tricks that can subtly affect your prospect’s perception of your landing page.
The Law of Proximity dictates that elements that are close together on a landing page will be associated together in the prospect’s mind.
Don’t place elements together in your design if they don’t go together thematically. Alternatively, use this law to your advantage if you want to indicate that certain elements do go together!
Now that you’ve got your share of design knowledge and know how to make things look good, let’s flip the script and check out an article that explains that beauty really is only skin-deep.
In this tongue-in-cheek landing page examples post, Mattias Guilotte looks at three not-so-pretty landing pages that convert remarkably well. He shares surprising conversion stats and takes a guess at why each page performs well in spite of being hard on the eyes.
This post is a cautionary tale about why you should always test before blindly following design “rules.”
…Just like the ones you just read in this post.
Wrapping things up
There’s a lot of great information in these articles that will keep you busy for a while. Read through and find hints of where your landing page design may be falling short.
And then run tests to validate your assumptions.
Finally, never forget that only solid copy can give way to beautiful and comprehensive landing page design.
P.S.: Know of any great blog posts about design theory that I didn’t include? Post them in the comments!
In the world of conversion rate optimization, battles are won not based on beauty, but on efficacy. Does your landing page design convey meaning and purpose? Or is it an inscrutable compilation of buzzwords and symbols?
Credit where credit is due: the headline states clearly what the product being offered is, and there’s even a big photo of it! However, as David Kadavy pointed out, the hero shot might not be very relevant to visitors:
Do the people who are shopping for water softeners give a s#$! what they look like? I’m doubtful.
Hero shots are a critical component of a high-performing landing page. While this one definitely shows the product, it doesn’t display any benefit to the product nor the context in which one might use it.
If you didn’t already know what a water softener looked like, this picture isn’t going to be helpful.
Oli shares a quick tip on maximizing the effect of your hero shot.
Many of the pages critiqued used images and icons to ill effect, but the caricatures presented on Digital Direct’s landing page were the breaking point for Peep.
Peep felt that the icons did nothing to communicate the unique value proposition of the digital marketing agency. In fact, he felt that they removed credibility:
You hit me with this stupid, idiotic, cartoon bulls#$!. I’m not going to give my serious money to your funny business.
Aesthetic flourishes like icons and artwork can be a source of delight to your visitors, and could ultimately make your page more persuasive.
But if your graphics don’t serve to clarify what your copy is saying, they’re just distracting from it. Focus on the message. (And then test the heck out of it.)
Focus on the value proposition. If your design doesn’t clarify your UVP, it distracts from it. Click To Tweet
Want to use video? Either commit or quit
Videos are a powerful way to make your page more engaging and suck up more of that sweet, sweet conversion nectar. But you can’t just stick a video on your page to turn up the conversion dial; if your video is just tacked on as an afterthought, it’s not going to get the attention it deserves.
This week’s participants didn’t get the memo — even Microsoft, who unceremoniously dropped a play button onto their washed out, vegetable-laden hero image for their OneNote product.
Oli wasn’t impressed with the way the video was hidden in the page header. He felt that Microsoft should test the video to see if it increases or decreases conversions. If it does increase conversions, it deserves to be more prominently presented. If it doesn’t increase conversions, it shouldn’t be there at all, since it only serves as a distraction from the CTA.
Oli also had problems with Borgess’ video on orthopedic surgery:
He found the well-produced video to be a good overview of the interesting technology involved in Borgess’ orthopedic surgery — but felt it lacked context and did nothing to compel the visitor to watch it.
The page itself doesn’t explain that this is a surgical procedure until much later, and never goes into detail about it.
If you want to use video on your page, do it justice; give it the space and the context it deserves. And whatever you do, make sure your page still stands on its own without the video. Some people simply won’t watch it.
Copy is your first wireframe
Your page should be structured around what needs to be communicated: your unique value proposition. The words you choose to communicate it can make or break your page.
As Peep put it:
Copy is the only weapon you have for increasing motivation… copy is gonna be the main driver that gets people to take action.
Even if a page is visually pleasing, weak copy can torpedo it.
Take Mezoz, a company that crafts marketing apps for specific verticals. David felt their value proposition — helping salon owners market their business — was a promising one.
Once marketing consultant, agency hired-gun, brand manager and tech community organizer, Georgiana's been cracking integrated web marketing across search, ecommerce, copy, email, social, product, analytics and usability since 2002.
2012 - Present
Director of Marketing / Unbounce
Director of Social & Marketing Strategy / Unbounce
Product Marketing, Content Marketing, Social Strategy & Community Management, Campaign Management and Strategic Partnerships & Business Development.
Web Marketing & Optimization Consultant / Independent
Independent integrated web marketing for small and medium business; Including SEO, social media, content marketing, usability, copywriting, email marketing, analytics, pay-per-click and project management.
President / Montreal Girl Geeks
Organizer of a popular community of 500+ active women in tech; Including monthly event planning, sponsorships, biz dev, community management, web design and development.
Global Community Manager / OpenDesks Inc.
Small Business Marketing Columnist / Annex Publishing & Printing Inc
Author of an industry tech column geared toward retail SMB web marketing and new technology. Topics include social media, search engine optimization, web analytics, and mobile marketing.
Social Media Consulting / AskMen.com
Working with internal resources to optimize social campaigns, establish brand continuity between social accounts and website, manage contests, optimize sharing, analytics, and attain goal of 100k Facebook fans and 50k Twitter followers.
Social Media Marketing / Cupcake Camp Montreal
Social Media Marketing for a non-profit event in Montreal which raised $36k for children's charities in 4 hours, and hosted 2000 attendees in 2010.
Marketing & Brand Manager / Terrafolia Inc.
Retail marketing and communications in highly competitive online floral industry. Oversaw all marketing including brand, product and resource management, web design and development, ecommerce strategy, SEO, community management, point of purchase materials and much more.
Web Marketing & SEO Specialist / Starmedia Communications
Performed account coordination, content marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click management, copywriting, usability, social media, email marketing, project management and training.
Activities: Golden Key Honour Society