NBA Season Kicks Off With New Data Insights

The 2019-2020 NBA season kicked off on October 22, and all eyes are on big performers like Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George. With a new distribution of superstar players on teams like the Lakers and the Clippers, it’s likely to be one of the most competitive seasons we’ve seen in years. Not only are there changes in player-to-player dynamics, but in fan-to-team dynamics.

In the early days of the NBA, data analytics was still in its infancy. Today, there’s not a single NBA team that doesn’t use this technology in some way, with most teams having an analytics department. Whether it’s galvanizing fans to attend a pivotal game, buy merchandise, or check out the latest game recap, data analytics informs NBA teams in how to best engage their fanbase. How did the NBA transition from rarely using data, to it being an integral piece in the marketing process? 

Personalized Email Marketing

Remarkably, statistics show that less than 1% of NBA fans have attended a game in person. This problem isn’t totally unique to the NBA, as estimates have shown dwindling attendance at MLB games in recent years. Meanwhile, the NFL has been slowly working its way back up to its 2007 attendance rates. Outside the U.S, a similar downward trend in attendance was seen for other sports like rugby. 
Has a sports engagement problem prevented fans from filling seats in their local arenas? The answer seems to be a clear yes. But as NBA teams share the results of implementing data marketing, it seems this problem can easily be rectified with the right insights.

Jared Geurts, Senior Director of Marketing Analytics for the Utah Jazz spoke openly about how the franchise made some simple changes that led to a 61% increase in digital revenue and a 42% decrease in digital spending.

Ticket sales exploded from $25,000 to nearly $1 million – strictly revenue earned from email campaigns. In the years prior, the team would send out general emails to all fans in order to sell tickets and bolster engagement. The only change they made? A bit of data-driven personalization. They segmented fans into different interest groups, such as those who prefer weekend games, and tailored email campaigns accordingly. This created a more authentic connection with fans as their specific interests were heard.

“We’ve actually, by quite a large margin, been the best team at converting new leads. That wasn’t the case before we really started focusing on personalizing those ads,” Geurts explained. “Just from some simple personalization and caring more about our customers than what we want to sell.”

Personalized Experiences at the Game

Another exciting development in NBA trends is how analytics is generating insights about fans while they’re at a game. By knowing more about who is showing up for games, teams are beginning to create interactive experiences that appeal to the demographics in the building. As Deloitte notes, something like requesting a song or earning rewards after a certain number of trips to a concession stand helps fans feel like they’re not only at a game, but part of the collective experience. Much like email campaigns, stadium screens are becoming more personalized as well. Fans sitting in certain sections may see different promotions based on who they are/what group they are in attendance with. 

Drawing Outsiders Back In

Data insights from sports apps may even help teams reach those elusive fans who’ve yet to attend a game or haven’t attended in many months. With the right targeting, it can be just a reminder these fans need to remember they’ve been wanting to attend a live game. By forging partnerships with apps and offering special deals to fans on those apps, teams build a promising bridge for connecting with fans on the fringe.

Giving Fans More Details

NBA Engagement Channels

Relying on new technology has changed things for both fans and players. It’s not a new practice to rest high-performing players as certain points in the season. Yet, fans have been much more vocal about their disappointment on social media in not seeing their favorite players at the games they attend.

“Analytics have become front and center with precisely when players are rested, how many minutes they get, who they’re matched up against,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

Teams are also using analytics through biometrics and wearables to determine when players are becoming fatigued and may need rest. Silver mentions the delicate balance of upholding their obligation to fans, while simultaneously keeping star players in the best health possible. 

In addition to fan engagement, Silver told interviewer Daniel Pink that analytics are now used for scouting new players, generating more detailed game stats, and even aiding players in improving their game on the court. Data also allows players to prepare for games with detailed stats about the opposing players they’ll be covering. With so much room for perfecting and maximizing success both on the court and in the stands, the sky is the limit for NBA teams implementing data analytics this season. 

Top 5 Marketing Automation Tools for 2018

Top 5 Marketing Automation Tools for 2018

The right use of marketing automation can increase customer lifetime value, make your marketing processes more efficient, and even help increase your revenue. By harnessing all the data at your disposal, automation can help you execute a more comprehensive marketing strategy that cuts across channels. For instance, you can follow users around on the web, delivering relevant messages to them when they are more likely to engage with them. Granular personalization is possible with automation, and it does not come as a surprise that most marketers swear by these marketing automation tools. However, to reap the benefits of data and analytics, you need to choose the right marketing automation tool for your needs. Here are five of the best out there, right now, ranked from top to bottom.

1. Pardot

If you are looking for a tool that can handle all your marketing automation tasks, Pardot should be on your priority list. In addition to having one of the most comprehensive template libraries for workflows, Pardot also has a built-in search marketing automation tool and a social media marketing tool. The search tool can pick up data from Bing, Google, and Yahoo, and you can post real-time updates on all leading social networks, including Facebook and Twitter. Pardot even allows you to test your automated workflows so you can see all your imagined user-case scenarios in action before you make them live.

What we like about Pardot:

  • Really clean UI, which is very intuitive and easy to learn
  • Comes integrated with Salesforce, which allows seamless integration of your sales and marketing processes
  • You don't really need API integration, thanks to Pardot's form handlers. Even if you aren't using Salesforce CRM, bringing your third-party data into Pardot is a breeze.
  • Comprehensive search marketing capabilities
  • Blended lead scoring and grading, which allows you to hone in on your most interested customers, and hence, improve your conversion rates.

2. Autopilot

Right alongside Pardot, in terms of capability, is Autopilot. This cutting-edge marketing automation tool offers seamless integration with Salesforce, Slack, Zapier, and Segment. Perhaps the best part about Autopilot is its smart lists. You can combine lists, behaviors, and UTMs to create dynamic segments. These segments can then be engaged with predefined action-based workflows. Autopilot releases new integrations and features regularly, and most of them are handy for marketers.

What we like about Autopilot:

  • Clean and intuitive UI
  • Neat drag-and-drop functionality
  • A 30-day free trial for those new to marketing automation
  • Real-time activity reporting, which allows you to optimize your campaigns in real time
  • There is no cap on third-party integrations

3. Marketo

Marketo is one of the most popular marketing automation software out there. While it may not be the most intuitive automation tool, it has an extensive feature set. Marketo's in-depth reports are especially useful for marketers. The predefined templates allow you to get off the blocks quickly, and the report templates can also be customized extensively, depending on what you want to focus on.

The tool takes a modular approach to marketing. Marketing automation, customer engagement, marketing management and real-time personalization are all different modules that you need to pay for separately. This means you pay for only what you need. However, it can lead to more expensive marketing automation for companies that need all the features.

The software's landing page and newsletter builder are a bit clunky, too. If those are your primary marketing objectives, you might be better off elsewhere.

What we like about Marketo:

  • A comprehensive feature set that covers the whole gamut of modern-day digital marketing
  • Native integration with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, which allows you to integrate your sales and marketing reporting easily
  • Deep reporting, with report templates to get you started quickly
  • Fast and reliable customer support

4. HubSpot

HubSpot's marketing automation tool is meant for small businesses. The beautifully designed UI is intuitive enough that you won't need to hire an IT expert. The capabilities are limited, especially when it comes to handling complex workflows. In fact, the custom automation workflows only give you "Yes" and "No" options. However, if you are a startup or a small business, HubSpot has plenty to meet your needs. Lists are easy to make, and integration with third-party CRM is a breeze. If you want A/B testing functionality, you will need to pay for HubSpot's highest plan.

What we like about HubSpot:

  • A quick learning curve -- HubSpot is intuitive enough for someone new to marketing automation
  • Really neat landing pages, with impressive built-in SEO for fast results
  • An active community and a huge reservoir of knowledge on marketing and marketing automation -- especially useful for first-time users
  • Free trial

5. Infusionsoft

Like HubSpot, Infusionsoft is also popular among small businesses. It is one of the best-designed marketing automation tools, and its campaign builder is especially impressive. The company also allows easy integrations with over 300 third-party tools, although there is no native integration. Infusionsoft can be useful for small e-commerce stores, given its built-in inventory tracking and payment processing capabilities.

What we like about Infusionsoft:

  • Universal tracking, which allows you to track your audience across channels
  • Integration with more than 300 third-party tools in the marketplace, which cover almost everything in marketing automation
  • The intuitive campaign builder -- easy for creating complex marketing workflows
  • Decent testing capabilities

When deciding on a marketing automation tool, keep in mind your primary objectives and the size of your campaigns. For instance, if A/B testing landing pages forms a big part of your digital marketing strategy, Marketo might not be the ideal choice, given its clunky design capabilities. Take into account what you want to achieve with marketing automation. It is the best long-term strategy to fully utilize the power of data and analytics.

Marketing Automation and Big Data: A Perfect Match

In an age where digital data is not only valuable but ubiquitous, organization and automation becomes a marketing agency's pillars of time management and financial advantage.


More needs to be done to understand the motivations of a consumer. Content creation and targeting are only the tip of this iceberg and the start of a deep dive to converting a customer into a lead or sale. It's data that educates a marketer on what makes an individual tick. Through data, they'll be able to establish what exactly triggers them and the most efficient way to do so.


To do so, you need to build a customer profile:


"Through marketing automation systems, we should be able to build better-rounded customer profiles through variable data field capture during different communication touch points."


Using big data can gain a marketing agency advantages when it comes to developing relevant content and messages, collecting and analyzing data on how customers interact, and delivering a more consistent, positive customer experience across devices.


Digital advertising isn't just posting an ad online and hoping for the best. Leveraging automation enables agencies to determine what type of content is best at attracting leads, how they find you, and why they chose to connect with you. It can help figure out how, when and where customers tend to interact with you, as well as what platforms and devices they're reaching you on.


Even though we're online, you still have to imagine a face and personality behind that screen.


Online marketing may have muddied the border between buyer and seller, but it hasn't completely eroded it. The intimacy of conversation may get down to bare bones quicker, but getting to know one another, in order to build up a level of trust from the seller's side and understanding from the buyer's side, has not been completely lost.


Now instead of asking questions, you're simply provided with profiles through those variable data fields we just mentioned. You get to know their behaviors, tendencies, and interests, while marketing automation and big data work "together to create an effective way to collect, sort and gain insight from thousands of data points about customers, campaigns and products or services."


This can partly be done by the miracle of predictive analytics, which can predict the future by mining the past. Consider Amazon; they gather past purchase data, wish lists, similar purchases and customer ratings to predict future shopping patterns. They simply acquire all the data they need to build up an accurate enough profile that will efficiently usher you from point A to point B:


"With the increased accuracy of self-learning algorithms, marketers will be able to better deconstruct big data to create incredibly targeted and optimally timed user experiences."


Getting a customer from each of those points requires a meld of data and automation; the data working as the blueprint, and automation working as the tools, delivering quickness, accuracy, and an improved user experience, one that puts the user in the driver's seat:


"They can access the exact information they want, how and when they want it. But every potential customer isn't necessarily going to want exactly the same information. With automation, you can also create multiple paths, so each person can have a different experience, based on their own needs and interests."


When "80% of your sales come from only 20% of your customers", automation is a necessity to pinpoint just what type of customers will react and how. For example, say you're running an email marketing campaign and you're trying to deliver the best possible user experience, you might monitor:


  • When your customer open emails
  • When they engage with content
  • What content they engage with
  • The frequency with which they choose to engage
  • Conversions that take place


Platforms like AutoPilot can deliver a tailored experience that accommodates each and every one of your leads as a unique individual, rather than just another part of the catch-all. Sure they might share similarities by way of being interested in what you're selling, but they all have different triggers and ways of going about things.


On the other end, the Zapier platform can help gather that data and turn it into data you can use to create a more efficient workflow and finish routine tasks quicker.


These platforms and tools will not only help you get better organized, but they'll help you draw in more leads. You can't treat your audience as a monolith. They might all like your product or service, but they all arrived there differently, are using different devices, react to different content, and come from different areas where the product or service might serve a different purpose.


You may not see them, and that disconnect and widening gulf isn't helping, but there's still a person behind the screen and the only way to turn them into a sale or lead is treating them like one.

Google Wallet’s Gmail Integration: A New Awakening for Email Marketing

Another player to the mobile payment phenomenon has joined the match.


Google rolled out further measures to their already-existing Google Wallet-Gmail integration, by giving recipients the ability to "receive or request money right from the email itself -- without having to install another payment app. They can even arrange for money they receive to go directly into their bank account."


While "Google Wallet has been integrated into Gmail on the web since 2013, [in the new update] Google is rolling out a new integration on mobile. Gmail app users on Android will be able to send or request money with anyone, including those who don't have a Gmail address, with just a tap."


Users aren't required to have a Gmail address, but must have the Gmail app on an Android device opened to participate. At the moment, only Android users can join in the festivities. "You can send money using their [the recipient's] email address or phone number and there is no need that the recipient needs to have the Wallet app."


Here's a demonstration of how it works:



Looks simple enough, right? It's basically a response to the functionality expansion of communication apps to include money exchanges. "Snapchat offers the ability for friends to pay others via Snapcash, Facebook has a similar feature through Messenger, and, outside the U.S., messaging app WeChat is becoming a mobile payment giant."


Plain and simple, "the goal, seemingly, is to take on quick payment apps like PayPal, Venmo or Square Cash, by offering a feature to move money right within Gmail's app."


Convenience is the driving factor in all of these developments and expansions. By turning your platform into an all-encompassing, versatile entity, you're obviously going to appeal to more users. Google especially gets a one-up with the fact that you don't even need a Gmail account, nor do you have to download a 3rd party app.


It's all done right within the one app, and that money can automatically be directed to a bank account.


What this also means, besides having yet another platform for mobile payment transfers, is the propping up of email addresses as an important marketing tool:


"Email is not just a channel, but also a personal form of identification superior to the industry-standard cookie, whose value is deteriorating thanks to the boom in blocking and browser privacy."


Google looks at email addresses as an ubiquitous touchpoint that distinguishes online users from each other. Think of it like a fingerprint or a social security number; no two are going to be alike. The worldwide search engine even cites how "a user's email address is the key to digital identification across all channels."


Think about it: what's the first thing Android or iOS/Apple asks after you buy their device and choose your language? Your email address! You use it to log into your devices, apps, websites, and accounts, and it's the first thing asked whenever you try to make a purchase on your mobile device. Once you do, you're automatically in Google or Apple's database.


Plus, it's such an essential part of life that it only makes sense to utilize email addresses as something more than a messaging system:


  • "Consumers have an average of 3.2 personal and business email addresses per person."
  • "73% prefer email over SMS, direct mail and app notifications for communicating with businesses."
  • "78% of 14-24 year olds say they have email addresses because email is part of everyday life."


Value is being discovered in the email address, which will likely lead to a surge of email marketing and development into other, profitable practices. After all, if this integration allows peer-to-peer transaction and the recipient doesn't even need a Gmail account, where does it end?


These peer-to-peer transactions only requiring an email address and the Gmail app sets an intriguing precedent. Knowing that there will be an inevitable adoption by iOS/Apple will only expand the market. This competition, initially spurred by the likes of Venmo and PayPal, will lead to a greater expansion of mobile payment capabilities.


If you're into predictions, then this should lead the way for a further transaction expansion overall, not just between friends going out to dinner and splitting a bill, but in the B2B and B2C market, as well. The next updates, once proven reliable and secure, could be businesses initiating sales through their email marketing efforts.


That sort of development would change the way we look at email marketing. It would actually encourage more users to open their emails. Consolidating the transaction process to an email would eliminate a significant portion of the buyer's journey altogether. Sure you might lose website clicks, but this is a non-issue when the ultimate goal for all retailers should be conversion:


"A new perspective on digital marketing in which brands view their email databases not as millions of data records, but as a collection of individuals to whom they must shape their messaging to reflect their personal needs, interests and goals."


Digital marketing strategies could be turned upside down. There's already importance in reaching out through that channel, but there's the possibility it could be turned into an entire marketplace complete with transaction capabilities in the future.


However, there are going to be objections to the fact that you can now make payment transfers with something as simple, and seemingly vulnerable, as an email address:


Google defends itself:


"Gmail isn't vulnerable the way so many other email systems are; Google ensures that. Gmail as an email client is the best use case for email. It's user-friendly. It hasn't been backed."


This is where issues are going to emerge. As much as we use our email addresses online to connect with Apple or Google, there's still going to be a tinge of doubt once you start transparently trusting them to safeguard all of your financial information.


Again, this is even though you already trust them with your email address. There's just something about mobile payments and making transactions with something as simple as an email address that can draw reluctance.


Regardless, this is just another step closer to fully optimized convenience, where almost two or three steps of the buyer's journey is replaced with one. If you can make things easier for your audience through a new and innovative piece of technology, especially compared with someone else in the same industry, you will undoubtedly have the advantage.


What do you think of Google Wallet's integration with Gmail? Leave us a message on our Facebook or shoot us a call to discuss!

6 Digital Marketing Trends for 2017 and Beyond

1. Snapchat is only gaining in popularity among milennials (But Facebook is still king)

Among milennials, no social media platform is matching Snapchat in a short-term popularity contest:

"According to research by student loans company LendEDU, 58 percent of the 9,381 milennials it polled said they typically open up a Snapchat before Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn."

It's rise to social media supremacy has been unprecedented. Not only has it overtaken Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn as America's second-favorite social network (It was fifth last year), it "grew as much in one year as Twitter had in four years combined!"

Don't give them the crown just yet, however. Facebook still sits on the throne and doesn't appear to be giving up its title anytime soon. In the same survey where Snapchat had become the second-favorite social network of Americans, Facebook blew it out of the water; "8% of Americans cited Snapchat as the place they visit most. It's still far behind Facebook, a place that 61% of social media using Americans say is their favorite."

But that doesn't indicate a shift could be gradually approaching...

"Facebook (including Messenger) remains the most popular social platform among Americans 12-24 years old, with 21% saying they use Facebook most. Snapchat is second with 26%, far outpacing Instagram at 17%.

"[In the past year], 10% of the entire nation's population of social media using 12-24 year-olds moved from Facebook to Snapchat as their platform of choice."

Only time will tell if Snapchat's popularity is a constantly ascending staircase or a bubble just waiting to burst. Seeing as it only appeals to the younger generation, whereas Facebook is still appealing to all ages, I'd side with the latter (Don't bring this up to me in 2032 when Snapchat is running the world).

2. Yes, More Social Media Advertising Spending

As social media expands its capabilities as an advertising platform, advertisers are fully committing to either standing pat on their current marketing budgets, or investing even more:

"61% of advertisers plan to spend more on Facebook, said ClickZ Intelligence. And the web publisher found that investment in Twitter is expected to increase by more than 25%."

This has less to do with brands suddenly discovering Facebook and Twitter, and more to do with different avenues through which people can be reached and engaged with. We're beyond link and image posts. On Facebook, for example, you can create videos, versatile Canvas ads, 360 videos, and video slideshows. It's all indicative of a new availability of advertising to pounce on and use to distinguish your brand.

In another survey by PointVisible, they found that over the next 12 months 39% of B2C and B2B content marketers plan to increase their spending, while only 2% planned to decrease it. 42% said spending will likely remain the same.

In content creation overall, 70% of B2B marketers and 73% of B2C marketers said they will be spending more in 2017 compared to 2016. Content marketing will be a "$300 billion industry by 2019 -- this means it will double in under four years."

And speaking of content...

3. There's going to be a lot more of it

Since we're on the topic of more spending, we can distinguish where that spending is going towards.

There's a perception that users are just overexposed to traditional advertisements and inundated by how ubiquitous it is. Think about it. There's no escape, unless you completely disconnect from technology.

New approaches need to be taken to reach out to users without overwhelming and irritating them to the point of exhaustion, and studies have been conducted to find them.

One of the more revelations from PointVisible's study was that "70% of people would rather learn about a company through articles rather than an advertisement" and "4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it."

Content is getting more versatile as users have grown weary of seeing the same ads over and over again on a loop. Something new has to be offered to keep them interested. It's why we're expecting an increase in blogs as an advertising tool, and why "69% of companies report their video marketing budget is increasing."

4. But also, More Newsletters

Are you starting to pick up on this trend of more? There's going to be more of everything digital marketing-wise in 2017 and further on.

As mentioned before, there's a need for newness from our advertising efforts. It's become a life component that's unavoidable and needs readjusting, in order to provide users with a memorable experience once again. Just like with any technology, if there's a newer, more efficient, more convenient, and more stimulating competitor, users will gravitate to that.

So what if we try to find new ways to not only reach our audience, but to help it grow, as well. Aside from videos, "in 2017, more brands will launch targeted e-newsletters as the key method to grow audiences."

E-Newsletters are an excellent way of developing an audience without investing too much money and investing too many hours. But they have to be done right, because an E-Newsletter could be composed for nothing if its design isn't engaging enough or if its content isn't interesting enough.

It has to appeal to your audience, which you can find and add to your email list through lead generation ads and visits to your website asking for their email, with content that provides value. You want your newsletter to be informative, feature headlines that grab your attention, and be laden with designs and appealing images that keep the reader interested and their eyes darting from end-to-end of the email.

5. Mobile is still everything 

It goes without saying that if you're still not optimizing for mobile, you're selling your business short. As of early 2016, "mobile represented 65% of digital media time, while the desktop is becoming a 'secondary touch point' for an increasing number of digital users."

Basically, why go through the process of loading up your desktop or laptop when you have a computer within your pocket? It's all about convenience. Just give me the information and stimulation I need at the moment, without me having to get up and get it.

Life just keeps getting easier in terms of instant gratification. It's probably why "mobile will account for 72% of US digital ad spend by 2019" since that's where all the eyes are, as indicated by studies, mobile vs. desktop usage, and, you know, just looking around you at any given time while you're in public.

Go ahead and try it next time. When you're out in the city, and hopefully not peering into your phone, look around and notice how many people are buried in their phones. Then you'll realize just how important mobile optimization is. You're potentially missing out on the sales or awareness you could be generating when those users aren't home and need a distraction.

Think we're missing out on a trend? Drop us a message on our Facebook or call us!

Save Your Marketing Agency Hours of Work with Automation

Time is money when you charge clients by the hour, which makes every minute all the more precious in digital marketing.


At some point, in order to limit spending as much as possible without having it impact the quality, shortcuts will have to be made in non-creative/strategy areas. It has to come at a point where critical mistakes can't be made that would disrupt the integrity of a running campaign.


Say your goal is to acquire leads. You get the leads through a series of campaigns and then you need to offload them to a separate document. But if you have several hundred leads, copying and pasting every name, number, and email address is a painstaking task that would take hours.


The process needs to be consolidated, so that the same result is reached in a matter of seconds, rather than hours.


Automation allows the process of organizing leads and building processes to be expedited:


“You don’t have to manually add every client or lead into your database. If someone wants to work you or just inform themselves, you could have them fill out a form. Then, that information can be automatically added to the database.”

So rather than tediously combing through campaign after campaign and uploading them individually, marketers can simply link their campaigns with an automation tool that will automatically upload the leads.


This cuts down hours of work that would otherwise be wasteful if done by any other method. It would literally take multiple staffers copying and pasting every name, number, and email address that we acquired, in order to save as much time as possible.


Since we employ automation, however, more time can be spent on important matters that need attention-to-detail, like creative and strategy.


Zapier, the automation tool we use, links with Google Spreadsheet, Facebook Forms, Twitter Forms, and Google Analytical Forms.


Automation is becoming an increasingly utilized tool because of how much it improves productivity. Backed up by Nucleus Research, “marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead.”


Even more intriguing was a study done by The Annuitas Group, which found “Businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience as much a 451% increase in qualified leads.”


For any size business, but especially for larger ones that can be inundated with hundreds of leads per day, automation is a means of consolidating time and improving organization, which obviously factors into time constraints.


Once you possess those leads, thus begins the process of creating a workflow to reach out. Here’s a good example of an automation workflow from Marketo:



We take this approach with email marketing campaigns. Once we gather our leads, we’ll strategize an approach to reach out to these leads in a manner that isn’t too overbearing, but one that reminds our recipient that we’re here.


Put yourself in the shoes of your recipient. You don’t want email after email every day, right? It gets irritating really fast and actually leaves a sour taste in your mouth about a company that you were formerly interested enough in to give your email to.


Instead, create a personal relationship that doesn’t rely on a sales-y approach that makes your motives clear. I’ll leave the email marketing tips for another blog (This one I already wrote, in particular), but any good marketing manager will attest to quality over quantity.


Above anything else, ensure that you already have a plan in place, including your email marketing nurture flow and the automation tool that works best for you.

How A/B Testing Can Help You Fully Reach Your Audience

One of the toughest things about achieving a successful campaign, as a marketer, is first figuring out the components of generating that success. There’s no instruction manual to advertising placements, whom to target, what to write, or what images to use, so marketers are left to sift through research and past campaigns.


Things are only more complex now with the wide range of ways to consume content. The internet may have taken some of the attention off traditional mediums, such as TV or radio, but now there’s the issue of what to advertise and how to advertise it.


Thanks to the rise in mobile usage, now everything has to be truncated and adjusted, in order to fit accessibility requirements.


We all know that the purpose in advertising is to generate an emotional response from the user, which will inevitably lead to a conversion. To do so, the content needs to engage and connect with their needs. But with so many outlets and mediums to reach them through, the only way to fully understand and comprehend our target is through experimenting with the content.


That is why we test. Because the only way to get a proper read of an intended audience is to introduce options, uncover the responses, and then apply the results to the next campaign you run for them. Therefore, you are presenting them with what they prefer.


Generally, you want to limit your testing to two options. Otherwise, you may saturate your efforts and end up with a number of ads that are showcasing results that are too close to each other to make a proper judgment on.


So presenting two options and getting a 60/40 result in favor of one side, as opposed to running four options and getting 35/30/25/10, provides better indication of what to run with.


Now, there’s nothing wrong with testing multiple options, but only in the right circumstances. This is called Multivariate testing. Here’s a brief description:


“Multivariate testing changes many different elements in an email or landing page. It’s great if you need to test multiple variables but you don’t have the time conduct a series of one-off tests. They’ll help you discover which version performs the best, but you won’t be able to pinpoint which change had the biggest impact on the performance of your campaign.”


Plus, it’s far more expensive and time-consuming to create all of those variations.


Today, we’re going to talk about A/B Testing, which is essentially two identical tests with one variation.


Say, for example, you have a landing page users click to for a little more info, before downloading a white paper. Now everything is the same—the info, the form to fill out, and image—but with one difference: the CTA button to download.


For Test A, the CTA button reads “Download Now”


For Test B, the CTA button reads “Download Now”


The difference? The color. Test A’s CTA button is green, while Test B’s CTA button is red. While this may seem minor, even something as simple as a change in color could dramatically affect the action of a user.


Here’s reasoning, as cited by a study, as to why a red CTA button boosted conversions by 21% over a green CTA:




“Take a closer look at the image: It’s obvious that the rest of the page is geared towards a green palette, which means a green call to action simply blends in with the surroundings. Red, meanwhile, provides a stark visual contrast (and is a complementary color to green). “


All of that just because of a simple change in color! Now let’s take a look at a change in type, albeit with a few more than two examples:




And the results:




Was that the answer you were expecting? Let’s examine it and see how there could be such a stark difference in conversion rate between the top performer and second place.


Remember the previous example of color contrast? It has that; the main CTA is a bright red, while the bottom text is a dull grey that’s almost difficult to see, so there’s a little bit more intrigue there.


Notice the contrast between the sizes, too. The top text is prominent, while the bottom text is so small you can barely make it out upon first glance.


Of course you’ll also see one of the greatest words in the history of marketing: FREE.


Now, this isn’t to say that red is a better color than green or that bigger/smaller texts are going to work every single time. These are just some examples you can try with your campaign. As mentioned before, what matters most are the circumstances of what you write, how you write it and where you place it.


What you should take away from this are how subtle changes you may perceive as insignificant can actually make all the difference between five sales and two.


Similar results are applied to using certain words.


Here’s an example I discovered and placed in another blog:


“Social psychologist Ellen Langer tested the power of a single world in an experiment where she asked to cut in line at a copy machine. She tried three different ways of asking:


‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?’


‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?’


‘Excuse me’ I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?’


60% said OK to the first sentence. The other two? 94% and 93%, respectively. The only change was ‘Because’.


Notice how weak the reasoning after the two instances where ‘Because’ was used is, yet it made a stark difference in the result. “I’m in a rush!” is an obvious reason that many of the other people in line could be experiencing, while the other reason isn’t a reason at all.


‘Because’ was a trigger word that convinced those in line to let the subject cut, despite seemingly giving no good reason to do so.


Once again, allow this to be an indicator of just how much of a difference one word can make. As much as this blog is about testing different styles in persuasion, it’s also about realizing the importance of certain words, colors, or placements and just how much of a difference they can make.

What Stops People From Converting (And How to Make Them)

"The more they pass their heart around, the more jaded that they become."


I never thought I'd reference a Drake lyric when discussing conversions, but it's actually appropriate for the topic we're about to dive into. I'm talking of course about the buyer's journey.


Allow me to explain.


First, let's examine the lyric. What Drake is making reference to is how women can become more suspicious of a person's motives with every break of their heart. The more they try to love, the more suspicious they become of perfidy and that they may get hurt again.



We've all been guilty of putting our trust into someone that turned out to be deceitful. You learn from your mistakes and take that newfound experience with you, but you also become dubious of a person's intentions. As a result, you sometimes paint with a broad brush, rather than tacking it up as a singular event.


Now, let's apply this to a potential buyer on your website and why they're cautious about buying. We'll conveniently ignore any financial issues and assume that the buyer is well-off, but remains hesitant about pulling the trigger on a purchase.


There are several reasons for this, and one of them is they don't want to get burned and garner the loathsome feeling of buyer's remorse again. This, too, we've all been guilty of. We've all seen a shiny new product and allowed a salesman to smile in our face and convince us that "You absolutely need this!", and "How much it will change your life!", and "How life will be so much simpler and easier!"


Then we bring it home and realize it does nothing that was promised. Not only are you out however much money you spent on it, you also feel bamboozled. You always believed that you'd never be the one to make a poor purchase, yet here you are now with five three-packs of Shamwow's when you could have just bought ordinary paper towels for more than half the price.


You just might require counseling if you let people know about your purchase and become a source of mockery as the 'Shamwow Guy'.


Naturally, you become more guarded. Your arms become shorter when you reach into your pockets and you catastrophize every future buy. You don't want to lose out on anymore money and you certainly don't want to feel like you were bested, so you question each purchase more and more.


Now you're looking at the purchase button with a cart full of books, just to use an example, and are hesitant to buy. Because some books you've bought in the past haven't been as resourceful and helpful as you thought, however, maybe you reconsider this haul.


You question it, and the more you question it the less likely you are to buy. So you decide to wait another day when you have more money, or if you could find it online for free, or if you even really need them anyway.


The full cart is now left in purgatory, overflowing with books that will never be read by their prospective buyer.


It's up to the marketer to navigate the buyer through this process and prevent them from abandoning for one reason or another. There needs to be a level of trust between the buyer and seller that promises the buyer they are going to receive exactly what they're expecting.


Transparency is an effective way of bridging this gap between seller and buyer. If you're selling a book, why not allow the buyer to get a small sample of what they'll be buying by offering them a chance to read a few pages first.


Amazon and eBay excel at transparency because they provide access into the seller's habits. There's a star rating, a counter of how many sales they've made, access to their full online store, a description of the product and reviews of the product from other buyers. In my experience, the first thing I do when buying a product on Amazon is look for the seller with the most customers and highest star ratings.


Let's say you're a traditional seller, though, and don't rely on individual sellers to set up camp on your website and sell their products. I liked this suggestion from Copyblogger:


"Everything on your site needs to show you can be trusted: Real contact information. Your photograph. Thorough responses to FAQs. Clear, reasonable calls to action."


Putting a face to your product shows potential buyers that they're not dealing with some faceless corporation that could care less if you're satisfied or not following your experience. When a seller puts their face and name to their product, they're plunging into precarious waters because they're putting something as important as money on the line: Their reputation.


A person only has one name and one face. If they're deceitful, it will follow them everywhere because they staked their reputation on it. If John Smith sells a lemon of a product, it would only take me one Google search of John Smith to know not to trust him, especially since his face will be accompanying him in those searches.


Everything you do when selling a product needs to revolve around creating a trustworthy environment for your buyers. The product is an extension of yourself and your identity. It's your idea come to life, so treat it as such. If you thought it was a good enough idea to turn it into something tangible, then you need to be honest with your potential customers.


Trust is difficult to cultivate, especially with someone you just met, mainly because of their past experiences. Your buyer's jaded and you need to lay it all out there that you're different. The only way to break through someone's tough exterior is to make yourself vulnerable first by genuinely letting buyers know who you are and what your product does.


Once the customer is satisfied with their experience, the all-important foundation of trust has been laid.

5 Reasons Why Your Email Marketing Campaign is Failing

Did you know the average person receives an email 100 times per day? That's a lot of content to digest, which is why most emails will never be opened.


Don't let this newfound knowledge deter you from crafting an email marketing campaign. When you meet a wall, you don't stand there and stew. You break that thing down! But you have to find a way to stand out since you're in competition with millions of other emails.


I like to use this one analogy when talking about this sort of crowded competition. Imagine there are millions of people dressed alike and they're all yelling, including yourself. There's a wild cacophony of noise that's impossible to decipher and only serves to annoy potential customers more than anything.


Now imagine you put on a funny hat. Now give yourself a megaphone. Now you're getting some attention. But you have to take it one step further now. So you do research and discover the words and phrases people want to hear. You hop back on the megaphone, yell those words and phrases, and the customer singles you out to hear more.


Discovering methods to make yourself unique is what marketing is all about. The Nike's and Apple's of the world didn't become massive on a global scale because they followed a pattern. Daring to be different is what separates success and failure in advertising.


And since you've found yourself here, you're off to a great start.


1. Uninspired Headlines


As is the case with any subject reliant on copy to hook its audience, the first words people read will likely determine whether they're going to move on to something else or be enticed into reading more.


The success of email campaigns are contingent on just how gripping the headline is, because it is always the first thing people see when scrolling through their messages. It's importance is heightened once you consider just how many emails the average person receives, with the average office worker receiving 121 emails per day, as of February 2015.


An average consumer that shops online is constantly being bombarded with emails. Every time they've given their email to a retail company for discounts, or forgot to click off of that pesky "Click Here If You Want Updates on Discounts!" box at the end of orders, that's just another email or two or three in their inbox every day. In all likelihood, they're ignoring them and/or sending them right to the trash.


Finding a way to stand out is an absolute necessity to achieve any semblance of success through email marketing. "33% of email recipients open emails based on subject line alone" and another "69% of email recipients report email as based solely on the subject line," according to a recent study by Convince&Convert.


Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to standout. This copywriter's method is to employ emojis, brackets and caps. In my personal experience of scrolling through my email clutter, I've always found myself stopping when coming across those three subject line traits, simply because they caught my eye. I may not click on them, but noticing the email is the first step towards clicking.


But there are certainly other ways. Here's a few suggestions with the stats to back them up:


  • 61.8% increase in opens when using the word "alert" in subject lines
  • Using the words "Sale", "New," or "Video" in subject lines boost open rates
  • The top five subject lines in a recent study all included "Re:"
  • Personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened
  • Subject lines that create a sense of urgency and exclusivity can give a 22% higher open rate
  • Emails with "Free" in the subject line were opened 10% more than those without


If there are ways to succeed, there are ways to fail:


  • Emails with "Quick" in the subject line were opened 17% less than those without
  • Emails with "fw:" in the subject line were opened 17% less than those without
  • Subject lines with 3 or more words are opened 15% less than those without 1-2
  • 18.7% decrease on open rates when the word "newsletter" is used in subject lines


But opening up the email is only a portion of the battle. There's still much to be done in the way of content, including this one key that's guaranteed to deter conversions...


2. Too Long; Didn't Read


I don't have to tell you about the shortened attention span caused by social media and journalism's easy bake oven of content that relies far more on quantity than quality. You already know this, and you've most likely applied it to your strategy. In order to succeed online, you need to be concise, succinct, and to the point.


Go any longer and you're losing your audience. People don't want to read. They want their information given to them immediately, oftentimes regardless of facts, so they can move onto the next source of sweet, sweet content. Take a look at a vintage advertisement the next time you wonder if everything used to be so short and directly to the point. You'll find those ads often include a few paragraphs of info detailing the product.


Your emails don't have to be descriptive novels. If a reader sees a huge block of text, they're not going to spend the time reading it. Eliminate all of the fluff and include only the key components that will drive the user to convert. Let the reader know what you're talking about and trying to get them to do, but keep it specific and don't beat around the bush.


Always use shorter sentences and simpler words. It's not a Creative Writing class, it's just an email headline. Just because you've been reading Tortilla Flats and want to invoke your inner John Steinbeck doesn't mean you should.


In fact, sometimes it's smarter to go no copy in the body at all, especially for sales. You would need a graphic designer to accomplish this, however.


There's one thing that's worse than too many words, though, and that is....


3. Too Many Emails!


As I mentioned before, people are already under the constant shelling of email artillery. They wake up, go through and delete their emails. They get to work, go through and delete their emails. It's lunch, they go through and delete their emails. So on and so on.


With the right subject line, there's no need to push three or more emails per day. Research the two best times to send emails and push there. The only thing worse than having people ignore your emails is having them notice your emails too much, clicking, and unsubscribing so they can never see your emails again.


Their mouth will be left with a sour taste because of how much you were trying to sell to them. There's nothing wrong with pushing discounts, but when you're repeating the same discount multiple times daily it can get tiresome.


Be substantive in your copy, unique in your subject headlines, and send out your emails at the right time. Of course, you always have to make sure that the right people are getting your emails.....


4. Targeting the Wrong People or Too Many people


What's the point of strategizing and intricately crafting copy when you don't have a clear focus on who you're targeting?


Sure you went after the biggest audience that may appeal to some, but your engagement rate is going to suffer, and, most importantly, so is your budget, since it takes more money to appeal to more people. The amount of people unsubscribing from your emails will also grow since they never wanted to see your emails in the first place.


Rather than appealing to the broad masses, narrow your search and target the people who are most likely to buy. If you're selling wedding flower arrangements, don't appeal to everyone who likes flowers. Go after the smaller group that's far more likely to buy; recently engaged couples and families planning a wedding in the near future.


But you should have known all of this before you crafted your emails and pinpointed your targets. If you didn't, your campaign is probably going to fail because you.....


5. Didn't Plan a Nurture Flow


Let's begrudgingly go back to school for a moment and think back to a time you really studied for a test. You did everything possible to get ready. You read the material, made flashcards to remember definitions, key people and dates. You even spent an extra few minutes each night stuffing your mind with juicy morsels of knowledge.


And when you were finally ready to take the test, what happened?


You aced it.


Why? Because you remembered everything. The extra hours you spent studying and the efforts to remember key details paid off because the knowledge ingrained in your mind was easier to recall and regurgitate. The same goes if you're preparing for a speech. If you spend the time getting to know the subject, you won't be nervous when the time comes because you're confident in knowing what you are saying.


Now how are you supposed to feel confident about your email marketing campaign when you don't plan for it? While it's not a matter of studying material, preparation is a heavy component of the campaign's success. This isn't the time to wing it. You're investing a lot of time and money, so there should be an incentive for you to prepare.


When you're creating the nurture flow, consider your whole audience and what your objectives are going to be. What steps do you want them to take? What type of product are you selling? Should you introduce relatable reading material beforehand? Should you tell people more about your company?


Are you trying to convince people to stick around? Send them an initial email, then wait a week and send them another with an added incentive. Still no response? Send them one last email that offers the incentive, but also include an ultimatum that tells the user it will be the last time they'll receive an email.




This should go without being said. Time and time again, though, someone makes an egregious mistake, sometimes with hilarious results:


img_2581 (1)


This should be the easiest part of the process since all you have to do is read. It takes no longer than a few minutes, since the email is concise, and it'll help you immensely in the long run.


Email marketing campaigns aren't like social media campaigns, where you can sometimes go back and make an edit or at least delete the ads. Once the email goes out, that's it. It's hitting inboxes across the globe and whatever glaring mistake you made is what your audience will receive.


Remember to always take time after finishing to proofread the copy. Even if you find nothing wrong grammatically, you may stumble across some wording that doesn't sit well with you. So this isn't only the time for a grammar check, it also presents another opportunity to make edits and craft your structure better.


Plus, you took all of this time to craft and strategize. Why not devote ten more minutes to perfecting it?