Tuesday, June 30, 2015

6 Problems Lucid Software Solves Using Kissmetrics

As Digital Marketing Manager at Lucid Software, I can really appreciate all the hard work that has been put into Kissmetrics. It’s a valuable tool for tracking, analyzing, and optimizing our marketing efforts, which include many day-to-day tasks that go above and beyond traditional metrics. Below, I’ve outlined six marketing questions Kissmetrics is helping us answer in ways you may not have considered before.

1. Where do I start with my reseller efforts?

When you are just starting up a reseller program like we are, it may not make sense to start paying for a separate tracking solution right away. We are able to credit our resellers and affiliates for the customers that they send our way through their online presence. We don’t need to deploy a whole new solution for this—we simply use Kissmetrics to track the links we provide them.


Use Kissmetrics to power your own affiliate program

2. How do I tracking content marketing ROI?

Content marketing is all the rage these days. Just as popular as content marketing are the many articles that give advice on measuring ROI. Even if a marketing effort involves multiple pages, it is easy to quickly track the impact of the campaign as a whole when you’re using Kissmetrics. I was able to put a JavaScript tag on all the pages in question with one event. I also set up a property that tracks the page name for the possibility of future granular analysis. This allowed me to group and measure the performance of different KPI metrics like registrations and payments by related content.

3. Is increasing registration conversions impacting revenue?

In the SaaS world, it is very common to offer an evaluation period for your software so that the customer can ‘try before they buy.’ From a marketing standpoint, this can prove to be a challenge because you now have two metrics that you care about:

  1. Trial registration rate
  2. Payment rate.

It’s nice to know that Kissmetrics lets me tie back-end payment information that happens after the fact to the original trial registration. At the end of the day we are interested in the test version that drives the most revenue long-term, not just the version that converts the most people to trial. Kissmetrics makes it easy to keep those two versions distinct.


Kissmetrics is great at tracking A/B tests that actually drive revenue months down the road

4. Which of my customers should I be calling to do market research?

I am often interested in learning more about how a segment of our customer base uses our products, Lucidchart and Lucidpress, or how they first learned about us.

Since Kissmetrics ties anonymous visits to our customers once they login, I can go back in time and say “show me everyone that did X events or visited Y page.” I can then use that customer list to do outreach.

This proved very helpful to our team: we were able to effectively do our homework before we reached out, which means the people we were calling actually valued our calls.


Kissmetrics allows you to do very segmented market research with your own data – no spreadsheets or having to ask developers for data dumps

5. How do I manage my marketing efforts across multiple products?

When you have more than one product, it’s nice to be able to house all your testing and analytics in one place. I personally find this important, because ideas I test on Lucidpress might come from wins we originally got through Lucidchart testing. I can open a new tab and compare the set up on one domain, then quickly set up a test on a completely different revenue stream. Managing multiple domains also allows for another handy feature, which leads into my last question that Kissmetrics helps answer.

6. How can I test my analytics implementation before pushing it live?

Testing can sometimes mean lots of moving parts, so it’s nice to be able to incorporate testing implementation into your QA cycle. We have a development, staging, and production server.

With Kissmetrics we are able to take a look at whether events and properties are being recorded properly in development and staging before they ever get released to production. This is great for me because I can get more eyes on our tests before they go out. Writing the acceptance criteria for the QA team gives me another chance to make sure that all my ducks are in a row.


You can set up Kissmetrics on multiple servers – allowing you to make sure your testing and analytics solutions are working on development and staging servers

Bonus: What’s next?

When I sat down to write out some of the possibly lesser-known advantages of Kissmetrics, I limited myself to just the few benefits I could rattle off of the top of my head and use every day.

As a bonus, I want to mention that Kissmetrics is releasing new features on a regular basis. Whether it is robust regex support or their A/B test report, they are always focused on making their product more indispensable. Lucid Software has been a client for years now and we are excited to see what features they add next!

About the Author: Brad Hanks was the first marketing hire at Lucid Software, the creators of Lucidchart, a flow chart maker, and Lucidpress, an online design and page layout tool that makes brochures, among other things.

5 Subtle Yet Super Powerful Copywriting Tips

Copywriting is a bit like martial arts; you don’t need to take aggressive action to see results. Image source.

Marketing can be like martial arts.

In a fight, you can floor your opponent with brute force.

You can throw a burst of punches and strikes, or grapple until you’re blue in the face. Or you can calmly step back, target one of your opponent’s pressure points, and quickly end the fight with one swift strike.

Marketing your business is the same.

You can grow by taking aggressive action. You can crank out more content, or pay for ads and leads to increase traffic. Or… simply step back and target the “pressure points” in your marketing by finding small tweaks that create big wins.

One of the best ways to get big wins from small tweaks is to focus on converting more prospects into customers by strengthening your copy.

But not all copywriting tweaks are created equal.

You can spend hours tweaking the wrong things and get weak results, so here are five simple but effective ways to ramp up your conversions by cranking up the power of your copy… Mr. Miyagi style.

1. Use open loops to seduce your prospect

Ever had an awesome TV show that you couldn’t stop watching? A series of books that you couldn’t put down?

You have? Congratulations, you’ve experienced the power of open loops (also called the Zeigarnik effect).

Open loops prey on our brain’s natural desire for completion.

You see, the brain enters a state of confusion or tension when it views something as incomplete. The cause could be a story, a question, even a household chore that you forgot to complete — and the only way to overcome that confusion and tension is for your brain to close the open loop.

When it comes to writing copy, an open loop is a part of your sales message that doesn’t tie up immediately.

You can apply open loops to any copy and instantly make it more magnetic.

Here’s an open loop example from the CopyHour landing page.


The writer starts the sales letter with talk of a mysterious little secret that top copywriters used to sharpen their chops, and as a result make bucket loads of cash – instantly making you wonder what this secret is.

But it doesn’t stop there. The sales page goes on to constantly dangle this secret right in front of your face. This strengthens your curiosity and makes you more invested in finding out what the mysterious secret is – increasing the chance of a conversion.

Open loops aren’t hard to implement.

The easiest way to get started is to ask more questions in your copy and vaguely expand on the question, just like the example above. This lack of completion makes your reader feel curious and more invested in your copy.

2. Make your first sentence hypnotic

Your first sentence has to open with a bang.

It has to immediately snag your audience’s attention and drag them into your copy. If your readers don’t make it past the first few sentences, they sure as hell ain’t making it to your call to action.

Shortening your sentences (and your first sentence in particular) is an excellent way to make your copy a little bit more engaging.

The trick is to make sentences so short and easy to read that they instantly suck your reader into your copy. In his book Advertising Secrets Of The Written Word, legendary copywriter Joseph Sugarman even said:

My first sentences are so short, they almost aren’t sentences.

Take for example the opening sentence on Chartbeat’s landing page for their study on audience development.


Have a look at how short and simple the opening is:

It’s not enough to just count clicks and page views anymore.

When someone begins by reading that, they’re naturally inclined to wonder, “What is enough then? What’s wrong with counting clicks and page views? What should I measure?” 

These questions then fuel the reader with enough coals of curiosity to make him want to read on.

Also, shorter sentences look like a piece of cake to read, which increases the chances of someone actually getting through your copy. This is a huge benefit because it’s harder to stop reading copy once you’re already interested and curious.

3. Deploy power verbs for maximum impact

Good copy paints pleasing pictures in the minds of your prospects. It dives into their brains and engages their senses and emotions.

This is where most writers make a fatal mistake. They rely on adjectives and limp words to add flavor to their copy, but as killer copywriter John Carlton said in his book Kick Ass Copywriting Secrets:

Good copy goes light on adjectives. And heavy on action verbs.

The right action verbs give your copy a muscular, grab-you-by-the-throat effect that keeps your reader glued to the screen.

The example below shows the difference between fluffy adjectives and power verbs in creating vivid mental images:

The stomach-turning news was extremely shocking. All of a sudden, he didn’t feel very good. He quickly sat down on the large black sofa and passed out.

After powering up with verbs:

The news hit him like a sharp hook to the stomach. He felt his heart rip, and an ocean of darkness washed through him as he collapsed into the sofa.

Big difference, right?

When it comes to descriptive power and sharp imagery, the second paragraph leaves the first, adjective-infested one coughing in the dust.

Here are some examples of powerfully “verbed-up” sentences from Jon Morrow’s Serious Bloggers Only landing page:


Pay attention to some of the verbs he uses:

  • Because they stumbled into popularity
  • They are desperate to seize the opportunity before it slips away from them.
  • If you’re a serious blogger, you’re tired of wading through thousands of articles, reading contradictory advice, and trying to figure out how to piece it all together.

See how alive and vivid the writing becomes with just a few well-placed sharp, powerful verbs?

Keep a thesaurus handy at all times, and be sure to have a swipe file on standby. This will help you inject strong verbs and words into your copy without ripping your hair out in frustration.

4. Adhere to the AIDA formula

When writing copy, it’s easy to find yourself staring at a blank page wondering, “What’s next?”

That’s where the AIDA formula (by copywriter Gary Halbert) comes in handy.

It’s a formula that allows you to consistently create a smooth, strong sales message that latches onto your reader’s attention and keeps them interested.

So what does AIDA stand for?

  • Attention. This is where you snag your prospect’s attention with a benefit-driven headline and introduction to make him want to read on.
  • Interest. This is where you’ll pique the interest of your prospects and nudge them deeper into your copy by describing how your pain solving product/service benefits their lives.
  • Desire. After arousing your prospects interest, here’s where you pump up his desire for what you’re selling. Usually with a bullet point list that describes all the juicy benefits of your product/service.
  • Action. After your reader is blown away with the amazing benefits your product, you then invite him/her to take action. Usually to make an order or fill in a form.

Here’s an example of the AIDA formula in action from the webprofits.com landing page.



The headline is curious and grabs the reader’s attention by suggesting that the SEO game has changed.


Once the page catches the reader’s attention, it cultivates interest with paragraphs which explain how SEO has changed (next to the laptop).


After that, it arouses the prospect’s desire by describing the benefits of the product.



It finally closes with the “Get Free Analysis Now” call to action.


Following the AIDA formula inserts a smooth compelling flow into your copy and keeps readers glued to your sales message.

5. Harness the power of reframing to shoot up perceived value

A 1999 study by psychologists Davis and Knowles showed the shocking persuasive power of a technique called reframing. In the study, they went door to door and sold note cards for charity.

  • In the first pitch, they said that it was $3 for 8 cards. They made sales at 40% of households.
  • In their second pitch, they told people that it was 300 pennies for 8 cards, which was followed up by, “which is a bargain,” resulting in 80% of the households buying cards.

This tiny change in the pitch had a huge effect on results, but how and why was it so influential?

Here’s what happens:

When people are told the cost of the cards is 300 pennies instead of 3 dollars, their routine thought process is disrupted. Now, while they’re distracted trying to process the odd sounding “300 pennies” and why anyone would use pennies instead of dollars…

They’re immediately told that it’s a “bargain.” And because pennies sound so easy to spend in comparison to hard-earned dollars, they are more likely to accept the suggestion that the cards are a bargain.

This is known as reframing.

Reframing is a wickedly effective technique. It allows you to manipulate the perceived value of a product by making comparisons and shifting the focus of your reader.

Here’s an example of what reframing looks like:


You wouldn’t rush to buy something that’s $500 a year right? I mean for most people, it’s a decent amount of change.

How about for $42 a month?

Or $8 (the price two lattes) a day?

Sounds much more appealing doesn’t it?

This landing page reframes the price of a brand new car in terms of two lattes per day ($8), which serves to soften the blow of the price and make the offer more appealing.

Here’s another example from the CopyHour landing page:


The landing page reframes the price by comparing the total price of the course to how much it costs per day, instantly reducing the weight of the price in the prospect’s mind.

Crafting seductive landing page copy doesn’t have to be painful

Powerful landing page copy doesn’t have to be painful to create. Pick a couple of strong techniques and tips, focus on the needs of your prospects, and you’ll be fine.

Now it’s your turn. How do you go about cranking up your copy power to increase conversions? What’s the weirdest conversion boost/decline you’ve had with regards to copywriting? I’d love to know!


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Why Solar Energy Is a Good, Renewable Energy Source?

These days we hear a lot about using organic products, biodegradable products, recycling plastics, etc., to minimize carbon footprint and save the environment. But we do not realize that unless and until we minimize consumption, we can not really save our environment. For example, look at the world consumption; Today’s products are manufactured, used and disposed of at a higher rate than the earth can accommodate in a less harmful way. Therefore it is important that we move to green alternatives now, otherwise, will be covered by pollutants and toxins produced in the normal course of the manufacture of non-biodegradable products like plastics. In this article, we will discuss as a green alternative that has a remarkable effect on reversing the negative effects that we created by technological progress and industrial revolution.

There are many ways to fight climate change, but the transition to a power of clean, renewable solar power is an ideal way. So let’s look at some of the interesting facts about solar energy.

· It is the most abundant source of energy. The amount of energy the Earth receives in one minute is approximately 10,000 times the energy needed worldwide.

Undoubtedly, solar energy is the energy source of cleaner available on the planet. Unlike fossil fuels, solar power produces no toxic byproducts. Solar panels use photovoltaic system that has no harmful effect on the environment and humans.

· Solar energy is practical, versatile and flexible in relation to wind energy and the main source of solar energy is the sun that is accessible to all parts of the globe. Unlike hydropower (which is also a source of renewable energy and cheap energy), solar power is not a threat to marine life and / or people on Earth.

· Worried increase utility bills and looking for a way out? Well, solar energy is the solution. By installing solar panels will not only reduce their utility bills, but is also increasing the value of your property. Although solar panels are little expensive at first, they turn out to be efficient and profitable in the long term. The best part is they do not require much maintenance and saves additional costs as well as being sustainable.

One of the misconceptions about solar panels is that they are expensive and affordable only to the elite class is wrong. Solar panels require an investment of time after which you do not have to invest in regular maintenance. In fact, in most countries, the government provides special tax benefits and other advantages of solar energy. Once installed solar panels, freedom of utility bills is obtained, power outages and enhance the value of their property by being friendly to the environment.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Top 5 Kissmetrics Reports Every SaaS Marketer Needs

Today’s SaaS marketers face many challenges. Their job, of course, is to spread awareness and drive customer acquisition.

On top of these difficult tasks, marketers are always under pressure to improve their numbers and performance. You’ve got a 3% conversion rate? Great, how do you double that in the next month?

Kissmetrics is here to help marketers. Our reports enable marketers to track and analyze their online marketing campaigns. Today’s post describes five Kissmetrics reports every SaaS marketer needs.

These reports will help you track your marketing performance and provide you with guidance on what is holding back your growth.

Signup Funnel – Increase Conversions by Finding Where Visitors Drop Off

If you’re not using a signup funnel, you’re really missing out on very important data.

Every SaaS product has a set of steps visitors need to go through before they can become customers. Here are the typical steps:

  • Visitors need to visit the site
  • They need to sign up for a trial
  • They need to start using the product
  • They need to upgrade to paying once the trial is complete

Visitors can take actions in between the steps (such as visiting pricing page, about page, etc.), but those actions are not necessary to get to the next step.

A Funnel Report helps marketers identify where visitors are dropping off in their funnel. Here’s how a funnel looks:


This shows us that 3% of visitors convert to signing up for a trial. To improve on that, we can do some data digging and try to get more traffic to our site from the channels that deliver the most signups. We can also run some A/B tests to determine which offers and calls-to-action attract the most people to sign up.

2) A/B Test Report – See How an A/B Test Impacts Your Entire Funnel

Kissmetrics has an awesome report called the A/B Test Report. It allows you to run an A/B Test and see how the variants impact your entire funnel. You can still set up your tests in Optimizely, VWO, or whatever tool you prefer. But after you set them up, use Kissmetrics to see how each variant page impacts your funnel.

It’s really easy. All you have to do is pick your conversion event and the experiment.


The conversion event is an action you want your visitor to take. You can pick any part of your funnel, or any part outside your funnel. As long as you’re tracking it, you can test for that outcome.

Want to see if a homepage headline test moved the needle at the bottom line? No problem, just set the bottom-line conversion (for example “Billed”) as your conversion event, and get your answer in less than 10 seconds.

The A/B Test Report can also save you from false positives. You may run a test or a variant that gets more free trial signups, but loses further on down the funnel, where it matters more. If you were not using the A/B Test Report, you would launch a losing variant to all your visitors, and it would actually hurt your business!

3) Cohort Report – Track Acquisition and Retention Performance

A Cohort Report puts people into groups and tracks their behavior over time. This makes it very useful for tracking acquisition and retention. If you’re in SaaS, you need to track login retention with the Kissmetrics Cohort Report. This will help you compare your marketing campaigns and see which campaign or promo had the best effect on retention.

Don’t stop at just sign-up rates and call it a day. Look at how engaged your users are after they sign up. A login retention cohort report can do that for you.

Here’s how it looks in Kissmetrics:


On the left side, we see each marketing channel and the number of people from that channel who have logged in. On the right, we see the retention we get from each marketing channel. The higher the number, the better the retention. The better the retention we get from a specific channel, the more money/effort we should funnel into acquiring customers from that channel.

4) People Search – Find Signed Up But Unengaged Customers

As a marketer, you need to deliver more than signups. You need to deliver customers. Signups are great, but if they don’t use your product, they are no more useful than people who do not sign up. You have no chance of being paid for your product. To help you find these unengaged free trial users, you can use the Kissmetrics People Search.

The People Search lets you find users who share a certain behavior. In our case, we’ll want to find the people who have signed up but not logged in. Here’s how our criteria is set in People Search:


This will show us the people who fit this criteria in the past 7 days. We’ll add more data to our search by requesting when they signed up. We’ll click Search and get our list:


And we get a list of people who have signed up but not logged in.

We need to figure out why these people aren’t using our product. They’ve shown interest by signing up, but they aren’t using it. The best next step is to email each of them a personal email and find out why they haven’t logged in.

You aren’t limited to using login as your engagement metric. As long as you’re tracking an action/event, you can find the people. Here are a few other ideas:

  • People who have signed up, logged in, but not used a feature
  • People who have signed up, logged in, but not taken some key action you want them to take
  • People who have signed up, logged in, and viewed a support article (these people need help)
  • People who have signed up, logged in, and submitted multiple support tickets

Again, as long as you’re tracking an action/event, you can find the people who have, and have not, taken/triggered the action/event.

5) Revenue Report – Know Where Your Most Valuable Customers Are Coming From

The Kissmetrics Revenue Report is just what it sounds like. It reports your revenue, giving you various metrics that can help you build a more efficient marketing operation.

Viewed as a whole, your revenue is just one number, much like your traffic. You can’t get a lot of insight from looking at a number. With the Kissmetrics Revenue Report, you can break up your revenue into groups (called segments) based on anything you wish. If you’re a marketer, you’d segment by marketing channel. Here’s how it looks:


We’re looking at the “first ever” marketing channel. This basically tells Kissmetrics to segment people by their first channel. So if a person first came to your site via an organic search, they’d be put in the Organic segment. If they came from a social site, they’d be put in the Social segment. The None segment is for people who do not meet any criteria for the other channels.

This data shows you how each of your marketing channels are performing. A channel may perform better at acquisition, but if you’re not using the Revenue Report to track how valuable customers from each channel are overall, you’ll be endlessly spending money on a leaky bucket. Your job doesn’t stop at signups.

When you know where your most valuable customers are coming from, you can put more of your effort and money into acquiring users from those channels.

You aren’t limited to segmenting revenue by marketing channels. Here are a few other ideas (which you would need to be tracking):

  • Subscription plan type
  • Referring URL
  • If you’re using UTM’s, Kissmetrics will automatically pick those up, and you can segment revenue by any parameter

Grow Your SaaS Business with Kissmetrics

Analytics is all about measuring performance. When you measure performance, you can work to optimize. That’s what Kissmetrics is all about. We help marketers track and optimize their online marketing. Our Analyze product contains a suite of reports that help marketers track their online marketing performance. Our Engage product helps marketers optimize their online marketing performance.

Ready to start using Kissmetrics? Click the button below to begin your free trial.


You can also view a demo of Kissmetrics or request a personal demo.

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is a Content Writer for Kissmetrics.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Using the “So What?” Test to Transform Your Copy

Take a look at various products and services around the web, and you’ll find one common theme.

They all talk about themselves and what their product does. Few of them talk about what they can do for you. This is a devastating mistake that marketers and copywriters make.

To write effectively, you can apply a simple test to all your copy.

The “So What?” Test

You want customers, right?

Then start telling them what your product does for them!

Stop simply reciting what your product does. For every line of copy you write, ask yourself “So what? What does this do for them?” Let’s use Dropbox as an example:

Dropbox stores your files in the cloud.

So what?

It means you can use Dropbox and retrieve your files from any device. The files don’t have to be stored on the device.

Now put that in a short sentence.

Dropbox keeps your files safe, synced, and easy to share.

Okay, great. Now I understand what it does for me.

What Does Your Product Do for People?

Customers don’t care about your product itself or how hard you work on it. They care about what it does for them.

So what does your product do for customers? What are the benefits, and how do those benefits solve problems?

Let’s take a look at a couple of products.


Check out this copy for Salesforce:


It’s a simple, benefits-focused opening sentence. They don’t write about the product. They write about what it does for people: it helps them sell smarter and faster with the biggest CRM in the world.

They could write this:

Salesforce puts all your leads and sales into one database.

So what?

What does that do for me? I can just use a spreadsheet for that.

Let’s move further on down the page, and you’ll see that it’s all about the prospective customer and what Sales Cloud can do for them:


Sales Cloud handles a lot, so you can take on even more.

The [what the product does], so you can [how this helps you] is a good template for copy. Explain what your product does, and then explain how it helps the customer.

As you can see above, throughout the rest of the page, all the copy is benefits-driven. Even the video isn’t about the product. It supports the top line copy (sell smarter and faster) with a testimonial from a customer.

Let’s take a look at another product, this one in the B2C space.

Sonicare Toothbrush

Toothbrushes are a big market. The majority of people on Earth need one, and they will need to keep repurchasing them until they die. There are a lot of toothbrushes out there from many different companies.

So if you’re responsible for marketing a toothbrush, how do you make yours stand out? Philips Sonicare has done a good job of this. Let’s examine the copy:


People don’t care about a toothbrush. They care about what it can do for them, the effect it can have on not just their teeth, but their overall health and appearance.

In the above three sections of copy, we get concrete numbers on why the Sonicare toothbrush is better than the traditional manual toothbrush. It removes 7x more plaque, improves gum health in 2 weeks, and whitens teeth 2x better than a manual. This is what people care about – healthy, shining teeth. They don’t care about how many bristles are in each brush or how the toothbrush works. They care about what it can do for them.

The remainder of the page discusses some extra features of the toothbrush:


Do you think Philips hired a copywriter to write this? Probably not. There are no clever headlines or fancy writing here. It was likely written by someone on the product marketing team. Does it matter? No.

You don’t need to hire a copywriter in order to put together an effective landing page. Just speak directly and tell the reader what your product can do for them. You’ll be putting yourself in a good position to boost conversions and bring high quality leads to your sales team.

Hat tip to James Currier for providing us with the “So What?” framework.

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is a Content Writer for Kissmetrics.

Video Marketing Without a Goal is Just Moving Pictures [PODCAST]

Don’t just point and shoot: are your video campaigns backed up by data? Image by J. Sawkins via Flickr.

How can you make your marketing videos delightful while still reaching your business goals?

In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, Unbounce’s Dan Levy talks to Jennifer Pepper (Unbounce’s Customer Success Content Strategist) about this tricky task. They dive deep into the importance of a data-driven approach to video marketing campaigns, and share some tried-and-true storytelling methods that’ll give your videos that extra kick.

Listen to the podcast

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Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

In this episode: Stephanie Saretsky chats with Felix Cha, Unbounce’s Videographer. Then, Dan Levy, Unbounce’s Content Strategist, interviews Jennifer Pepper, Unbounce’s Customer Success Content Strategist.

Stephanie: Hey podcast listeners, just a heads up we will be taking a break from the podcast next Wednesday, July 1st, due to holidays in the US and Canada. You can expect another episode to be posted on Wednesday, July 8th. Now, onto the show!

[theme music]

Stephanie: Every video campaign needs to start with a goal. An engaging concept just isn’t enough. For example, when Felix first started at Unbounce on the Customer Success team, one of his first tasks was to make a marketing explainer video for our website. It was a fun video that showcased our office, our awesome customer success team, and Unbounce’s great features. But it never saw the light of day. Here’s why.

Felix: The interesting thing was that it tried to target not just our current customers but also target the new customers, new prospects, as well as actually showcase how friendly we are and how good of a customer support team we have. And because that video had way too many messages, it was trying to say three different things. At the same time, it didn’t take into account who we were trying to target, and then also it didn’t take into account our positioning statement.

It didn’t even get published. So that was a big learning experience because I had spent about two or three months making this video, and it was pretty much done. And it is still sitting there ready to be rolled out. I should have thought of what this video should have been in the first place and then how the messaging should have been crafted instead of kind of going in like, “Oh, I think we need a video on our website and this should be the messaging and we will target these audiences and they’ll love it.”

Stephanie: Because Felix was looking at his video through a Customer Success lens – you know, make everything as delightful as possible – he got a bit carried away with the different messaging and lost sight of the marketing goal. So Felix took this lesson to heart and his next videos for product feature launches had more refined messages and a larger impact.

Felix is now on our creative team so we’re super excited to be able to work with him on more marketing features. But with a new department comes new responsibilities.

Felix: I kind of realized okay, I really gotta start making use of data. As creative people, we kind of tend to not think of data as much; we just think about how it’s gonna look, how is it gonna feel, how is it gonna affect our audience. But I am trying to learn how Unbounce’s marketing actually works and how it’s been doing and where we are going to actually better understand okay, how can videos or anything I make contribute to the campaigns. So that’s like the new challenge. Because I don’t have a marketing background; I’ve been just making videos on my own a lot of the time. And to actually try to learn what marketing is and how we can take data and lessons from those campaigns and bring it back into the creative part of it is – it’s a new challenge but it’s really exciting.

Stephanie: I’m Stephanie Saretsky and this is Call to Action, Unbounce’s podcast about doing marketing better. In this episode, we’re tackling a conundrum that it seems a lot of marketers are facing: getting started on producing cool and delightful video marketing that also achieves tangible business goals. Luckily, we knew just who to talk to.

Jennifer: I’m Jennifer Pepper and I’m the Content Production Manager for the Customer Education team.

Stephanie: Unbounce’s Content Strategist, Dan Levy, spoke with Jen about the importance of data driven video marketing and the different methods of video storytelling that she wrote about in a post for the Unbounce blog: “Don’t Bother Using Video on Your Landing Pages Unless You’re Doing These 5 Things.

Dan: Video marketing, eh?

Jennifer: Oh, yeah.

Dan: What’s the deal with video marketing?

Jennifer: It’s hot, Dan, it’s hot.

Dan: I’ll rephrase that for you. Video is, I feel like, one of these things that we all have the sense we should be using more in our marketing because we know the stats about engagement and that YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. But it’s also kind of expensive and a bit complicated and time consuming. So how do marketers know whether it’s worth investing in video?

Jennifer: Well, it’s definitely a different medium to get right for most brands but experimenting with your audience and your content is the key to getting started. So a lot of people think they want to get in on the video game, but it’s only really worth investing in once you’ve figured out the plan for content creation – so what you’ll create and for who – and have an understanding of how you want your videos to contribute to guiding people along the marketing funnel.

So ideally, you can start with creating one to two to three videos at the top of your funnel. And then after you’ve distributed those videos strategically the best you can, you follow up by reviewing the engagement data for this first set. So you don’t want to create a ton of video series of 18 videos only to find out that they’re not really resonating. So you’ve got to start small but you also have to have the tools in place to start measuring engagement, which, for marketers, that’s gonna be a video marketing platform.

But after a while of creating videos, you kind of want to calculate the overall ROI on the content. And to do this, you’re going to look at whether you’re making more money back than you’re spending on producing the assets in the first place. So take the amount of sales attributed back to video conversions and divide it by the amount of money spent to create the video.

Dan: That’s a really good answer. But let’s take a step back maybe, for a moment.

Jennifer: Sure.

Dan: One of the things that you say in the post is that it’s crucial to define what your goal is before even starting the concept for the video. You actually wrote about a video marketing campaign by the company Vidyard that converted at 33 percent. So could yo tell us about that campaign and how they approached it from the ground up?

Jennifer: Sure. So at Vidyard we were writing articles all the time to get our message out there, like many startups. But when you write about the same story all the time, you start to wonder: okay, how can I scale this message more effectively and is there a content asset that I can make as sales enablement so that we can use this message all the time on a bigger scale?

Dan: Right. Sorry, we should just clarify that you were at Vidyard before Unbounce.

Jennifer: Yeah. So we made a strategic video campaign about the two types of people we were always writing about and for. So the video is about what happens to a marketer who posts videos blindly and hopes that they do well versus a marketer who is super smart about where she distributes her video and is just more strategic.

So we wrote this “once upon a time” type story about Post-and-Pray Pete and Strategic Sue that would speak directly to our audience of B2B marketers who weren’t really sure what to do with their videos. And even though videos don’t always have a strategic purpose these days, we’re a startup and we needed the content we created to help us with lead generation month over month. So we decided the video had to have a bigger purpose for lead viewers to complete more of a meaningful action so that they had to enter our funnel somehow.

So at the end of the video, the narrator tells you that the main character in the story is a real marketer, not just a cartoon, and this call to action prompts the download of a case study about this exact marketer – one of our customers. In other words, the video leads viewers to reach the end of the content to engage with even more content that speaks to the middle of the funnel. Does that make sense?

Dan: Yes. So in this case, the campaign itself was instructional in the sense of distinguishing between the type of marketer who starts the video campaign with a strategy in place versus the one who just sort of thinks if we build it, they will come. But it was also itself a campaign that had a “lead you in” component to it.

Jennifer: Absolutely. So we ended up finding that those who converted were pretty high quality because the video served as a way to qualify their interest. So if we get you to watch a two-minute video and then you download a case study, you’ve gone through two actions and it’s likely that you’re more interested or you’re worth a call or you’re trying to figure out what our business actually does, you know?

Dan: So the goal of the campaign was what, to generate a certain amount of leads or to get people to watch a certain amount of the video?

Jennifer: So basically it was a lead gen campaign so we were trying to get more people in the top of the funnel. So the content is very high touch, I guess. It’s not – you can be almost anybody and get something out of the video but it was targeted toward a B2B marketer; somebody with marketing automation in place and a marketing stack that was pretty sophisticated. So we cast a wide net but then it gets I guess more narrow as you go through the video. And then you realize okay, this is a marketer; you’re either interested or you’re not interested in how she was doing all these great things with video, and then you’re going to download the asset to find out what that person in real life actually did.

Dan: Very cool. So it cast a wide net in terms of the education and awareness part but there was still like a very strict focus on generating qualified leads through the campaign as well.

Jennifer: Yes, absolutely.

Dan: Cool. So like any other part of a marketing campaign, even an email or blog post or a landing page, what sets apart a marketing video from a home movie or something is that it needs to contain some sort of call to action. Do you have any tips on crafting a successful video call to action, or CTA?

Jennifer: Yeah. So you’re gonna want to keep your CTA aligned with the viewer stage in your funnel. So if it’s a top of funnel video, maybe have the CTA lead to a next step in the discovery phase as a prospect. If it’s a mid-funnel video, consider if it’s persuasive enough to prompt a more meaningful action like a trial or a demo at this point. So back to our campaign, it was very top of funnel but then it led to – so it was very discovery phase but then it led to a case study. So you can really gauge that the leads that you take in from that campaign are more qualified because they’re interested in a case study. So you can sort of set up your next step in the funnel. Does that make sense?

Dan: Yeah. No, totally. So maybe can you paint a bit more of a picture of what the CTA was, like what the button said, for example?

Jennifer: Sure. Actually, I’m really embarrassed because on the landing page it said “submit,” which we never say to do. It’s a terrible thing to do.

Dan: In your defense, you weren’t at Unbounce yet so you didn’t know better.

Jennifer: No. Actually, a good example for B2B brands that want an effective CTA, you can look at what Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s content does with their videos. So they’ll create stuff to prompt you on to the next piece of content. So say if they’ve done an ebook, for example. They make a mini video trailer about the content of the ebook to prompt you then to go download it. So the end of the video on YouTube contains an annotated download button, which leads to the ebook landing page where you can get the report. And this is super clever because the ebook’s launch date comes and goes but a video trailer keeps the evergreen content useful to a brand because you can release it over and over and over again on your social channels. But it can live on YouTube because it’s pointing people back to your website.

Dan: Right, and the CTA doesn’t necessarily have to be at the end of the video, right? It could be anywhere depending, I guess, on the tool that you’re using for video?

Jennifer: Absolutely. So some video marketing platforms have a feature built in where you can have a pop-out CTA, for example. So you don’t always have to think end-of-video CTA because there’s no guarantee that someone’s gonna even get to the end. But you can use something like a pop-out CTA so if you’re going to mention a product, maybe it’s a product demo but they’ve seen half the video and maybe they’re convinced. You can have some slide-out on the side that says, “Hey, like already sold? Check out the demo,” or I don’t know, something but they can click and go explore.

Dan: I love the honesty of “Already sold.” It’s like, “Already sold; want to stop watching this video? Just click. Just click already.”

Jennifer: “You done? Good.”

Dan: I want to talk a little bit about storytelling. And I know storytelling has become another one of those buzzwords that’s buzzing around marketing circles over the last few years. But when it comes to video, story really is crucial. How can you use story to drive people toward that call to action?

Jennifer: Yeah. Everyone talks about video stories but the strength of a story is whether it can evoke any emotion. So I’ve found it kind of surprising that it doesn’t even really matter which emotion you pick because they all kind of work. So you can make people feel delighted or you can leave them feeling anxious, but you just want them to feel something as a result of watching your content because this helps prompt the all-important next action.

Dan: Even if it’s terrible.

Jennifer: Oh, yeah. I have an example of that for later, I guess. But you just want them feeling something at the end. Because the classic brand generic video leaves people feeling like, “Okay, I’m done with this.” And then they drop off. But if you’ve done a video right, it should have people thinking, “Okay, what else can I watch from these guys?” Like they seem to know what’s up or they really resonate with your message. But it’s good to be aware of what you want your audience to do. So if you want people to like your brand, you might want them laughing, like with a comedic story angle. But if you want them to resonate with your brand, you might want to evoke feelings of empathy and be really, really transparent and honest.

If you want them to take action, fear or even a light anxiety can be a good motivator. So again, not those positive emotions but you can make them feel kind of like they’re missing out on something. So whether it’s like a new service or a trend, something of value like people hate missing out. So you could also make them feel silly on account of current mistakes. So it doesn’t always have to be a positive emotion. But as long as they’re feeling something in their gut, it’s good.

Dan: Right. So before you set out on that campaign, you’re thinking about what the goal is, but also how do you want this piece to make people feel, which is a really interesting secondary questions, I guess. One of the emotional triggers that you mention on your posts is anxiety, which is I guess one of the – you know – maybe more negative ones. Can you explain how Adobe stirred up anxiety in a video of theirs called “Click, Baby Click”?

Jennifer: So this is a video Adobe did a while ago and it featured the CEO of an encyclopedia company who happens to get data back about a marketing campaign that seems to suggest that people are buying tons and tons of encyclopedias. So you see him stir the plant into heavy production of more of the books and there are massive shipping containers sent out, and it’s pretty epic. But the end of the video shows a baby with an iPad who’s just mindlessly clicking the brand’s ad over and over again like in a banner ad.

Dan: Oh, no.

Jennifer: So the ad ends with a voiceover that asks, “Do you know what your marketing is doing?” And it’s great because the majority of the target audience of marketers has to wonder, well, do I know? Like how do I know? So it’s a terrific campaign and there’s more of that set of ads that they did that are just so good because they just stir up a sort of anxiety. And when they leave you with that, you’re sort of prompted to take an action. You’re prompted to go see a trial of the software – of their analytics software. So I think it’s really smart.

Dan: Yeah, in this case the solution is to put them out of their misery, right? Cool. Let’s talk about metrics for a second. What are some of the ways to measure whether a video marketing campaign is successful? I’m guessing it goes beyond views on YouTube.

Jennifer: For sure. So you can post videos to YouTube but I always say that they have to point back to your site where you have a video marketing platform in place tracking visitors’ engagement on your site where it matters. But you want to look for a video marketing platform that allows you to integrate with marketing automation, in most cases, because this is how you can leverage the data to its fullest.

So in terms of engagement stats, YouTube alone isn’t really enough for marketers at this time because it can only tell you how many people are watching; not who’s watching, where they’re located, and what other videos they’re browsing through on your site. For this info, marketers kind of have to look at video marketing platforms and how video marketing integrates with other key tools that they have in place. But after releasing your first few videos, you’re gonna look at things like how many people are watching total, the percentage of people who click through to watch a video, what percentage of a video do they watch before they drop off, what other videos they’re watching on your properties.

So did one video lead them to another or even to download a resource from you? What was their next step and the amount of content people consumed total on your site? So which video led to another one, and so on and so forth. And you can also A/B test your landing pages to see whether videos are actually helping to persuade more people to convert.

Dan: Right. I keep talking about YouTube because that’s often what comes to mind when you hear online video. But like you said, you really want to host your videos on that dedicated landing page. Beyond A/B testing, what are some reasons for doing that, or is A/B testing the answer and I gave it away?

Jennifer: You’re definitely going to want to test out whether videos help your landing pages because the entire purpose of the landing page is to persuade, and videos happen to be the best way, I think, to convince someone of anything. So they’re inherently persuasive because they usually contain people and faces and we all really like consuming information in that palatable way. Unruly found that enjoyment of a video asset increases purchase intent by 97 percent and brand association by 139 percent. So that’s huge. And Unbounce found with previous research that it can impact conversion by up to 80 percent just having that video on your landing page. But it all depends on whether that asset is actually good.

But one of the best examples of video on a landing page I’ve seen recently is the example on Unbounce’s site: Paper Anniversary by Anna V. It’s so good. There’s this lady, Anna V., who sells paper anniversary jewelry. So she makes jewelry for people’s first wedding anniversaries out of paper. But she has a video at the top of her click-through page so the landing page leads to where you can go see the actual jewelry pieces. But the top of the page contains this video featuring the owner of the company talking about how the first anniversary is so important and why men should consider buying a paper gift, a traditional paper gift – meaning her jewelry – to make it special. But it’s just such a persuasive video and it’s got high production quality, which you don’t always have to have, but that one definitely contributes to a better experience. And yeah, you should check it out; it’s really good.

Dan: I will do that. So it’s interesting. I guess videos help reinforce a landing page in terms of engagement, in terms of making the sale, I guess, and persuading them to click the CTA. While on the other hand, the fact that it’s on a landing page helps the video actually convert, right? Because ideally if it’s a properly designed landing page, especially with when they have only that one thing to do, which is click the CTA either in the video or on the page itself, which hopefully I guess are lined up, right? You don’t want two conflicting CTAs between the page and the video?

Jennifer: Oh, yeah. The video should definitely – if you’re going to include one, it can’t be the video brand generic thing that has nothing to do with the offer on the page. You really, really want the two of them to be highly aligned. So don’t just put your startups explainer video on the landing page; it’s got to be something like – if you’re offering a trial, it’s got to be a video explaining why or who maybe would want a trial. So explain the specific audience for who you’re after and that way it gives viewers a chance to self-qualify.

Dan: So what happens after viewers have clicked that CTA on your video or on the page itself? What’s the next step?

Jennifer: So once people exchange their contact info on a landing page, it’s your job to send them to a confirmation or a thank you page. You can send them a follow up email allowing them to opt into your brand communications, or you could follow up with a call. So something along the lines of, “Hey, I noticed you downloaded our e-book on monkey sweaters. Do you like monkey sweaters? Oh, yeah? What kinds are the best?”

Dan: How do you know I like monkey sweaters?

Jennifer: Exactly. I saw that you watched a video because I was monitoring on my marketing automation system.

Dan: Oh man, marketing.

Jennifer: Crazy, right? But this follow up is based on a resource that they took interest in, and it can really help you determine someone’s needs and how you can help them. So it just helps extend the conversation past after they have followed through with your CTA. But it can be an email, too.

Dan: Yeah, even suggest setting up triggers to send emails like once visitors have watched a certain percentage of a video. So does that include folks who didn’t actually click your CTA?

Jennifer: Yeah, so your best bet is to reach out to folks who have watched at least 50 percent or more of a video is what I lean toward. So you can set up those kinds of triggers in your marketing automation software but you don’t have to wait for those who only click the CTA, basically. So imagine the impact of watching a video on a brand site and then even after you’ve dropped off, you get an email in your inbox seconds later about a particular product you were viewing. That’s exactly what the future of marketing is all about; the right message at the right time and the right context. I think it can be pretty impressive for brands to follow up that way.

Dan: Yeah, and that’s another example of how the video and the landing page reinforce each other because on a page, people click the CTA when they’re ready to click. But here you’re saying video is a way to engage people who might not be ready to click the CTA or might not have gotten there but have shown a certain amount of intent so you could continue to market them maybe in a little bit of a softer way.

Jennifer: Absolutely. That’s where the lead nurturing comes in. Yeah, you can do a great job of that based on the context of what they watched. So if your offer is very specific, you can sort of get an idea for what exactly that customer is interested in.

Dan: Very cool. All right, so what’s the easiest way for marketers to get started with video without investing a huge amount of time and money right off the bat?

Jennifer: Well, to get started, think about the questions that your brand is in the best place to answer. So think about which topics you’re an industry leader in and how you could do how-to video series or even interview questions about this particular topic. So these kinds of how-to videos help your search rankings for the particular query phrases that you answer. And when people turn to YouTube or Google with questions like “What is cloud software?” your cloud software company can show up as the answer that has the video next to it, which is inherently more interesting to click on as a search result.

But you can start with three videos and go from there. So work on getting the distribution just right because that’ll have a huge, huge impact on whether you’re getting the traffic that is actually valuable to you. Work on syndicating the content in articles that you shop out to various sources on the web to get the right traffic going to those videos is a good idea. So if you are talking about – you’re talking to B2B marketers, let’s say, about something very business-specific, you might want to write for Inc.com. Ask the editors, “I want to include this video. Can I embed it with my embed code?” So then your video marketing platform on your site can be tracking the results of who’s watching that somewhere else so you can get an idea of where the traffic is coming from and who that is and stuff like that. But most outlets will let you do that.

Dan: Right, and probably they’ll be more willing to let you do that than to embed like a really obvious product-related CTA right in the article.

Jennifer: Definitely, definitely. It’s definitely got to be something that their audience is interested in. So if you make, say, a video infographic – so say you have a static infographic. Maybe you want to make that into more of an interactive of one through video. And then a lot of companies will want to capitalize on the research that you did so you can syndicate it with their audience. But work on capturing the right audience and the right channels and getting that engagement metric higher and higher. So try and cap off the drop off. You don’t want people dropping off ten seconds into your videos because then they probably weren’t that good to begin with.

So you can adjust and refine based on the metrics that you look at. So if people are dropping off after ten seconds, there’s either something not right about where you put the video and the audience that comes with that spot, or there’s something wrong with your video. So you can rework the content with edits. So you could take out content that your audience is constantly skipping over, for example, and then see how the recut does.

Dan: I like that. These metrics basically force you to – they keep you honest. They force you to make sure that the video is actually good, not just “good enough.”

Jennifer: You can definitely keep iterating and making sure that you’re catering to your audience with video, which I don’t think a lot of people do. They think, “Okay, I made one, it’s not that great, that’s it.” But there’s also nothing wrong about using your webcam or your iPhone to film, either. You just need to consider your audience’s time and you have to get the edit right. So I find like some people think they need a talking head for 30 seconds, you know? But even that, you’ve got to break up with B roll and keep it interesting. You just want to make sure that your content delivers the most value possible.

Dan: I think that’s what it’s all about, right? Delivering as much value possible.

Jennifer: Yup.

Dan: Yup. All right, well, I’m gonna go get myself a monkey sweater so I’ll let you go.

Jennifer: Excellent.

Dan: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat, Jen.

Jennifer: Thank you.

Stephanie: That was Jennifer Pepper. Her title has changed since the time of recording, and she is now Unbounce’s Customer Success Content Strategist. You can find her blog post and this episode’s show notes at Unbounce.com/podcast.

So we’re six months into the production of Call to Action and we’d really love to hear what you think. Do you like the format? What do you think about our guests? And what do you want to hear more of? So if you have a sec, please drop us an email at podcast@unbounce.com.

That’s your call to action. Thanks for listening!

Transcript by GMR Transcription

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Legendary Copywriting Formula 4 U [PODCAST]

This simple formula will help you delight readers and attract qualified customers… every time. Image by J. Pellgen via Flickr.

In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, we explore how to write amazing landing page copy.

First, we tell a story of what happened when we made our “About Us” page copy a little bit too much… about us.

Then, Unbounce’s Dan Levy talks to direct response copywriter Marc Aarons about embarrassing writing habits and an easy-to-remember landing page copywriting formula for making sure you’re simultaneously delighting readers and attracting qualified customers.

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In this episode: Dan Levy, Unbounce’s Content Strategist, interviews direct response copywriter, Marc Aarons.

Dan Levy: Copywriting is kind of a tough thing to talk about because it, on the surface, seems kind of personal and specific to each company and their audience. Can it really be boiled down to a formula?

Marc Aarons: Yes and no. So it’s such a great question because formulas – I like to think of formulas almost like frameworks. They get us started, and they get us very close to the target. But at the end of the day, you’re always going to want to customize your entire sales message, your landing page, your sales page, video sales letters – whichever advertisement you’re actually creating for your audience. You always want to customize it specifically for them. We always start with the audience.

Dan Levy: So tell us about the 4 U Formula. How did that come about, and what are those 4 U’s anyway?

Marc Aarons: The 4 U Formula was actually developed by Michael Masterson, and he is best known as a serial entrepreneur. He is also a direct response copywriter, and he helped grow Agora Inc. – I think their financial division – from somewhere in the single digit millions to a nine-figure company. And he developed a number of techniques and innovative strategies that are now taught through the American Writers and Artists Incorporated, one of them being the 4 U Formula. And the 4 U Formula really breaks down into four questions. Is this useful? Is this unique? Is this urgent? And is it ultra-specific to our audience?

Dan Levy: Right. I want to get a little more specific there. But first, this post is about using the 4 U Formula on your landing pages in particular. And you say to either pick your headline or your subheadline or your benefits, which are usually in the bullet points of your landing page, when going about using this formula on your pages. Is there a particular one that you should start with?

Marc Aarons: So the beautiful thing about writing copy for landing pages is every single direct response copywriter that I’ve spoken to, they start in one of two places. Either they start in the body copy, which here, would be the benefits. Or they start with the headline/subheadline. So it’s either an inside/out or outside/in approach, if you will.

Dan Levy: Okay, so either start with the first thing you see on the page, or start with – well, actually, how about the call to action button? Where does that come in? Because I was going to say that’s sort of what the page is culminating toward, right?

Marc Aarons: Right. You know, the call to action, I would personally leave that to be the very last thing that I actually write because in the writing process, it’s like Anne Lamott says in Bird by Bird, “You have characters in your story. And as you write your story, they’re going to involve because you’re still getting to know your characters.” And writing a landing page or a sales page or even a video sales letter, it’s very much the same. You’re going to be learning a bit more about your audience and the message that you want to convey as you write the first draft, then re-edit the first draft to get to your second and third. And once you’ve got to your third, once you’ve got the final core message to offer the benefits, then the call to action button – and for some copywriters, the headline – is almost like the icing on the cake.

Dan Levy: That’s really interesting. The copywriter Joanna Wiebe talks about starting with your page goal, the call to action button, and working backwards. But here what you’re saying is as the page evolves, sometimes that call to action button might change.

Marc Aarons: Yes, absolutely. It can change. However, we always start with the plan, and the purpose of the plan is not just to stick to the plan, but to allow you to deviate from the plan if a better plan starts to make itself available to you.

Dan Levy: That’s what you were saying before. A formula is a great place to start, but you have to remain flexible.

Marc Aarons: Yes.

Dan Levy: So the goal here is to nail at least three out of those four U’s. But if you don’t, how would you go about revising that copy?

Marc Aarons: This is also a great question because it brings us right back to the heart of every single landing page and sales message: who is our audience? What is it that they want to accomplish? So if we’re going to ask ourselves – say, for example, we want to make a headline more useful. The question that we’re asking is: does this provide value to the visitor? Or, does it imply that there’s going to be value found if they actually click through and opt in or purchase something? So we start with that question, and then we contextualize it for the audience.

Dan Levy: Okay. Before we go into some examples of this, I’d love to hear a little bit more about your writing process. Do you have any specific techniques for getting started writing a landing page, like templates or a spreadsheet filled with notes and ideas?

Marc Aarons: I love this one because my writing process is something that I’ve refined for maybe five plus years now, and it always starts with research, and there are actually three kinds of research. And this is getting, probably, a little bit deeper than we need or –

Dan Levy: No, I love it. Let’s get into the weeds here.

Marc Aarons: Oh, cool, perfect.

Dan Levy: Let’s get nerdy.

Marc Aarons: I totally love this part. So we have three kinds of research. You have customer research, you have product research and you have competitor research. And the purpose of customer research is to understand what it is that your audience finds most valuable. What are their burning pains? What are their hopes, fears and dreams? What are their wants and aspirations?

And from there, we get into product research. We are going to look at our product, or even maybe our service, to then find out, “Okay, what’s the unique selling proposition, what differentiates us from everybody else that’s out there? And how does our product specifically address the wants and the fears and the frustrations that our customers are going through that we uncovered in our customer research?”

The third kind of research is competitive analysis, or competitor research. Then we look at everyone else, maybe even just the top three competitors that are out there, to see what it is that they’re offering, what their unique selling propositions are. Because once we know what else our customers are looking at, then we know how to differentiate ourselves from the competition and everything else that’s out there.

Dan Levy: Right. So once you’ve done all this research, how do you collect that into one place and then go about turning that into great copy?

Marc Aarons: Oh, so that’s also a great question. I like to use just one document to brain dump everything in, and it’s almost like writing the first draft. The research – you want to separate your research process into collecting and then organizing your data. And if you’re doing it for a client, then there’s also the reporting process as well where you’re going to make it legible or understandable for your client. So the first step, you go through the research process, you collect everything, and you put it into those three different sections – the customer, the product research and the competitor research.

Dan Levy: Is that like an Excel spreadsheet or Google doc or something like that?

Marc Aarons: Great question – Google doc. You can use an Excel spreadsheet. However, I actually use a combination of both. I use Google spreadsheets as well as Google Docs. Google spreadsheets, especially, if I’m going to be going through a lot of blogs and blog comments and reviewing a lot of books on Amazon and things like that because that just keeps it neatly in one place. Then I’ll actually go into a Google document to create the narrative because I need to summarize it to about just one to two pages, which allows me to glance at it as I’m actually writing so I don’t get stuck in the writing process.

Dan Levy: Yeah, I feel like we all have these secretly shameful, messy documents where we dump all our ideas, and then we have to go about cleaning that up and putting it into some sort of narrative for our client or just to make some sense out of it.

Marc Aarons: Always. I definitely get messy in my process as well. And then afterwards, to make myself feel like a good human being, I’ll go clean it up.

Dan Levy: Totally. In your post, you take a close look at a landing page by Noah Kagan for an email marketing course that he was involved with. So the page passes the 4 U test, but you suggest that he could actually improve on one of his 4 U’s by adding more urgency. Can you break this one down for us?

Marc Aarons: Yeah, sure thing. He did many things there as well, but for us to up the urgency factor, we could show through social proof how many other people are actually taking this course as well. So if we say something like, “Join 5,000 other sharp marketers,” or whatever the specific number is right now, then that may trigger someone who’s reading it to say, “Oh, wow. Everyone else is doing this, and they’re getting ahead of me, and I don’t want to get left behind. So let me go ahead and opt in right now before all of my other competitors and everybody else gets the jump on this.”

Dan Levy: You also say later in the post, though, that urgency can actually backfire sometimes. How so?

Marc Aarons: Totally. So if you push too hard – and this comes right back to knowing specifically who it is that you’re talking to – because if you push the envelope too hard, it’s almost like the used car salesman who’s trying to get you to buy, buy, buy, buy now. It is like, “Whoa, why are you trying to push this so hard?” Maybe it actually isn’t that good, which totally goes into this whole deeper thing of demand and supply and all that kind of stuff. But if you push the urgency factor too high, it will actually repel the person that you’re trying to target, and it may actually attract the wrong kind of person because if you use too much urgency, then you’re going to be attracting people who act on impulse and who respond to that. And you’ll have to continue to sell to them because that’s the customer that you now have in your sales funnel.

Dan Levy: There’s a carpet store that’s on my corner that’s been going out of business, I think for six or seven years now. So it’s like, “Act fast,” and I think a lot of customers can see through that. But that’s an interesting point, too, about attracting the wrong kind of customer on unqualified leads or customers that are ultimately going to be a drain on your resources – maybe on the customer success side.

Marc Aarons: Absolutely.

Dan Levy: You mentioned a statistic that Brian Clark of Copyblogger and others have written about, which is that 95 percent of the most effective headlines from the early years of magazine advertising were actually eight words or fewer. Eight words aren’t that much, really, but are eight words really enough to be ultra-specific about a complex offer?

Marc Aarons: The answer is, again, yes and no. It depends on the offer so I actually want to give both examples. So in the example where it’s “yes,” then sometimes it’s actually possible to really boil it down and really just get the core benefit or the core driving question down. And speaking of core driving question, that gets a little bit into the “no” part because the real purpose of any headline and subheadline is to just get them to continue reading the copy. That’s it. You just want them to read on. That is the whole purpose. And once they read the first line, the purpose of the first line is to get them to read the second line, and so on and so forth until they get to the call to action. And then finally, the whole purpose of all of that buildup is to then get them to click that button, opt in, or make a purchase.

Dan Levy: Right. To go back to the yes and no thing and your post – with the caveat that of course all of this needs to actually be tested on your landing page. But you say if all else fails, you could seduce them with empathy. Recently, I actually spoke to Andy Crestodina about approaching your content marketing with empathy, but what does empathy mean in regards to copywriting?

Marc Aarons: So this is a great question, and I actually think of BrenĂ© Brown and her Ted talk on empathy, which if everyone hasn’t gotten a chance to look at it, I would highly recommend it. But what she says is empathy is feeling the emotions that someone else is feeling, and it can actually be taught and practiced. And the way that comes into copywriting is the best sales pages of – I was actually recently at a nine figure direct response company just earlier on this weekend, and everybody agreed that as you’re writing the copy, the more you can visualize one single person that you’re writing this letter to is the better the copy comes out. Because that’s exactly what it is – it’s writing a letter. So if you can have empathy for the single person who is the customer avatar of your audience, then you’re headlines get stronger, your subheadlines get stronger, your calls to actions get stronger, and your bullets and benefits also get stronger.

Dan Levy: I have to admit that as a writer myself, sometimes the idea of applying formulas to the writing process feels – I don’t know. I’m not going to say soulless, but in some ways, the opposite of a more human-centered approach. You seem to be suggesting that this kind of framework can actually help you be more empathetic, which is interesting.

Marc Aarons: Yes. It’s so funny because formulas I kind of see as boundaries. They’re almost like the walls of a house. We know that when we walk into a house that we’re safe. We’re home. Those boundaries allow us the freedom to express ourselves within this safe space. So in some ways its structure can provide freedom.

Dan Levy: Yeah, that’s the way it is with any parts of the creative process. When you’re given just a blank page and told, “Free write,” it’s super, super daunting. But when you’re given some sort of boundary, some sort of guideline, then all of a sudden, it kind of opens that creative part of your mind.

Marc Aarons: Absolutely.

Dan Levy: Great. Thank you so much for taking the time.

Marc Aarons: Likewise.

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