How Data Helps Influence Reluctant Buyers

Yes, maybe, or no.

For reluctant buyers, they aren’t quite certain whether your product works for them. The consumer isn’t sure if the product’s features will actually help them.

Tackling this segment of buyers is an issue facing most SaaS companies. The competition and the demand for the new best thing makes consumers apprehensive about purchasing.

“Ever since SaaS products emerged on the scene, they seem like they are constantly being replaced with something shinier and newer. Buyers hesitate to upgrade because they worry the new solution will be obsolete within a few years. Switching solutions is a significant hassle for many companies,” states Krishna Shastry, CEO and co-founder at Lander.

It’s time to give your audience that extra nudge to buy your SaaS product. Check out these five data-driven strategies below.

1. Customize the Product Demo Experience

Show, don’t tell is the underlying principle of engaging potential customers to learn more about your products. It’s not enough to just list your features and benefits on your website.

Purchasing a SaaS product is a big deal for most buyers. If they’re the end user, your product will solve their immediate needs, and if they’re purchasing software for their business, your product is supposed to help their company operate more efficiently.

To ease reluctant buyers worries, you need to give them an inside look of how your product moves them forward in their endeavors. You can start by asking them specific questions before the product demo.

How will they use your product? What do they hope to gain from the software? Who are the stakeholders involved in this purchase?

You also may want to analyze the most used featured by your top customers. That way, you can show reluctant buyers how others derive benefit from your product. It may offer clarity to the buyer’s particular situation.

One gripe amongst reluctant buyers is how they sign up for product demos. It’s important to dedicate a page for people to request demos. In the image below, sales engagement platform Outreach uses persuasive copy, along with a prominent call-to-action button to entice consumers.

Image Source

Before your next product demo, ask buyers questions to customize the experience. A unique presentation will pique their interest and may lead to a new sale.

2. Segment Buyers to Email Exclusive Offers

As a consumer, you’ve probably asked for something extra with a purchase. Maybe it was extra pickles on your burger or an extra discount on a pair of designer jeans.

Well, while your SaaS product may be better than a gourmet sandwich, the same thought process about getting something extra may exist for your customers. Your buyers may expect a bonus to come along with your product no matter what.

However, exclusive offers aren’t created for every single buyer. You only want to deliver VIP treatment to a select group of reluctant buyers.

These individuals have expressed a strong interest in your product and just need one additional reason to say yes. It’s possible to tease these reluctant buyers with exclusive bonuses to get them to the shopping cart sooner.

Email is an effective tool for communicating this type of message. With built-in tracking capabilities, email service providers can tell you who opened your emails, what links they clicked on in a message, and the time they read the message.

And no more sending generic emails to your entire mailing list. Based on your buyer’s behaviors, you can use email segmentation to send tailored messages to different target audiences.

For instance, your data may reveal that reluctant buyers who participate in a product demo and request two content upgrades are more likely to buy with a bonus. Your team then can deliver a customized message with a bonus straight to their inboxes.

Let your consumers’ actions determine your bonus system. Then, you can execute your plan to capture those lingering sales.

3. Simplify the Checkout Experience

SaaS companies get so bogged down with improving their products that they forget to polish their websites. You’ve probably experienced a few buggy sites from your own experiences. If you get confused for longer than a minute, you quickly exit the brand’s website.

On top of that, consumers hate wasting time looking for your prices. And if your prices are too complicated to understand, they won’t continue with the process.

The reluctant buyer already has concerns; therefore, the checkout process shouldn’t scare them away. Below is an example of a pricing page from LiveChat. It’s easy to read and gives pertinent details about each plan to diminish uncertainty.

livechat pricing 2017

By observing your site behavior, you can identify the friction points causing buyers to bounce. Do they leave after viewing your pricing page? Or do they exit when it’s time to enter a credit card?

“Understanding [your customers’] big issues like discomfort with technology or over-reliance on legacy solutions is important, but it’s also important to understand the day-to-day barriers to a sale,” writes Ashley Minogue, marketing strategist at OpenView Venture Partners.

Your buyers are reluctant for a reason. Find out if the issue is your checkout experience.

4. Monitor Online Communities

Community engagement is a key part of selling in today’s economy. Consumers like talking about their experiences—bad and good—with their peers.

Online communities give customers the space to praise how they used a product and to offer advice on how the SaaS company can improve. There are also online groups dedicated to helping people learn the basics of a product.

For the reluctant buyers, these communities offer invaluable content. In their eyes, they get to hear the truth. And for proactive SaaS companies, it’s a chance to persuade potential buyers.

For example, with a Facebook group, your team can track post and comment activity to learn what customers enjoy about a feature or the different uses of how your product helps people. Plus, as the admin for an online community, you can guide the conversation of your consumers.

That social listening data prepares your team for sales objections from reluctant buyers. If someone hates that you offer no phone support, you can point to how current customers get more value from your email support.

You want to give reluctant buyers peace of mind. Show them a thriving online community that supports your product and brand.

5. Select the Best Customer Testimonials

Social proof is an irreplaceable asset for persuading SaaS users to purchase products. Influencers and peers can convince consumers to decide between competing brands.

So it’s natural for reluctant buyers to seek out customer testimonials before they make a purchasing decision. Radha Sarma, marketing director at Luit Infotech, offers her insight:

“Referral programs and customer stories are incredibly effective for selling SaaS software. Reluctant buyers are more likely to go straight to your existing customers and ask for their feedback or refer to testimonials and reviews on your website, because they rely on that a lot.”

To get the most from your customer stories, it’s best to analyze your data to find the testimonials with the highest traffic. You want to learn what makes consumers gravitate to one story more than another. Is it the particular customer? Were the results phenomenal?

From that information, you can produce similar case studies based on the reluctant buyer’s circumstances. You want to purchasers to imagine themselves as the next success story.

And of course, you want to continue to post these testimonials in easy-to-find areas on your site. Datanyze offers a quick format of their case studies for buyers to read.

What do reluctant buyers want to achieve? Aim to gather case studies displaying the many facets of your product solution.

Harnessing Data to Influence

Nurturing reluctant buyers requires strategic effort from your team. SaaS companies can use their data to influence consumers to purchase.

Your team can personalize the product demo experience for your audience. When necessary, simplify the checkout process by eliminating friction. And don’t forget to use customer testimonials that fit the potential consumer’s current situation.

Shake off your buyer’s hesitation. Let data influence your next sale.

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


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

How to Create Your First Kissmetrics Campaign

With the launch of Campaigns this month, we have given our users incredible flexibility to create any automated, behavioral emails they can imagine. If you already have sophisticated behavioral email programs up and running, then…good news…you don’t have to read any further.

However, if you are just getting started with your behavioral messaging programs, this post should really help. The goal is to highlight some basic email campaigns that will serve as good starting points for your behavioral programs.

How to Organize Your Behavioral Email Campaigns

A good way to frame your potential email campaigns is by using your business’s growth funnel.

If this represents the major steps of your growth funnel, you should plan to have behavioral email campaigns for each of these steps – the goals of each being to try to get people to the next step. Eventually, you will have multiple campaigns for each step in the funnel (because you are likely breaking down each step into more granular elements), but as a start – this serves as a very good framework.

And that’s just how we’ll organize the suggestions in this post. See below for sample campaigns – and specific emails – for each step in this growth funnel.

Specific Campaigns

Acquisition campaigns

aquisition-campaign-email-icon

These are emails built to turn hot prospects into actual customers. Obviously, you can’t email people for whom you haven’t captured an email address – so for these campaigns, you will be targeting those prospects who have become engaged enough to provide you with an email – whether that be by signing up for your newsletter, downloading an ebook, or signing up for a free trial of your product.

Once you capture that email address, you can start driving those prospects toward purchase. Here is an example of a specific message you can send in this phase:

Email: Need help deciding? email
This email is designed for people that have shown a high-level of interest in your marketing site and seem on the verge of making a decision.

Video of setting up these rules: http://recordit.co/NdroOgLpna

Activation campaigns

activation-email-campaign-icon

Once a user signs up and begins to use your product, they enter an “activation” phase. The goal of any email that you send during this phase is to guide them through initial setup and usage. Many times, you will be trying to get a user from signup to “first value.” For example, Facebook is famous for trying to get users to invite 7 friends in 10 days because that is what they know will lead to activation and long-term engagement.

Some people might call emails during this phase ‘onboarding emails’ – which is fine. We prefer to tie the messages to a goal of activation, but either is fine. Typically these emails will come in a series (or a ‘drip’) based on (a) when a user signs up; and (b) what activities they have – or have NOT – completed. An example, 3-email, drip might look something like this:

Email: Welcome email
This email is sent upon a new user signing up. The goal is to introduce the user to your product and/or help them take their first step toward activation. This is a very important email – not only does this email help to get your users close to becoming active with your product, but it also introduces them to your brand. In many cases, this will be the first time your users will have received an email from your company.

Video of setting up these rules: http://recordit.co/LwmAZFAd6f

Email: Follow-up 1a – after user successfully takes next step in activation
If your Welcome email is successful and your users take the next step in your activation process (this could be by creating a profile, adding a friend, connecting data – or whatever is the important next step for your product), you will likely want to send an email to get them to the next step.

Video of setting up these rules: https://cl.ly/0W1v35151z3b

Email: Follow-up 1b – to users who did NOT successfully take next step
For those new signups that DON’T make it to the next step, it is important to give them a reminder – a little nudge – to get them beyond a simple signup.

GIF of setting up these rules: https://cl.ly/3x0C3Q2e1q41

Of course, these activation drip campaigns can (and should) be much longer than this example. The length and nature of your activation campaigns will be dependent on your product and the specific steps your users will need to take in order to become “activated.”

Ongoing engagement campaigns

ongoing-engagement-campigns-icon.jpg

Once you have activated users, the next challenge is to keep them fully engaged so that they stick around for a long, long time. Ongoing engagement emails go beyond just simple activation messages and work to get your users engaged with all your important features.

A typical email for ongoing engagement would be a feature release announcement.

For any feature announcement, you shouldn’t settle for just one email. You should always schedule follow-up messages – both for users who have tried the feature and for those who haven’t. You could even have a third group of users who just kicked the tires – (i.e. – those users who only used the feature once).

Video of setting up rules: http://recordit.co/RfuqITX9Ih

Video of setting up rules: http://recordit.co/1xLaRcUZfW

Ongoing engagement email campaigns will be your main channel for communicating with your existing customer base. Doing this effectively – using actual product usage to target them in a relevant way – is essential for driving continued loyalty and engagement.

Re-engagement campaigns

re-enagement-email-campaign

Yes, it’s true. Every software product has inactive users. It’s just a reality.

Which makes re-engagement campaigns an essential part of any messaging program. The goal of re-engagement campaigns is to – you guessed it – re-engage customers who have potentially lost interest and become inactive with your product.

There are many different approaches for re-engagement campaigns. Some companies use these emails as a last-ditch effort to try to show an inactive user the value of their product; others use discounts or other offers to entice people back; others try to get inactive users on the phone with a sales or customer success rep; and others accept the loss and use a re-engagement email as a way to gather feedback from an inactive user (in a somewhat subtle way to try to…re-engage them).

You should choose an approach that works best with your product, but whatever you do, don’t ignore re-engagement emails. It’s very important that you leave customers – even those ‘on their way out’ – with a positive experience. Their reasons for leaving may have nothing to do with your product. Yes, there is a small chance they will be back – but there is a significant chance that they will talk to future potential customers of your product.

Spend time building out good re-engagement campaigns. Your immediate conversion rate will be low, but they will pay off in the long run.

An example re-engagement email:

Reward emails

Reward emails are an oft overlooked, but highly effective emails. Unlike win-back emails that target users when they are inactive, reward emails target users when they ARE active. In fact, they are designed to reward users based on their activity. Reward emails are meant to make the recipient feel good about their activity. They should generate a shot of dopamine, generating positive feelings toward your brand.

Reward emails can be triggered based on specific activity, like using a feature for the first time; or based on time, like an anniversary. When used effectively, reward campaigns can be some of the most engaging programs you will run. We highly recommend building some reward campaigns into your engagement plans.

Next Steps

We hope this post has helped offer some ideas for starting points for your engagement email programs. The next step is simply to start building…and start shipping. All the emails described here are completely possible with Kissmetrics Campaigns. You can find more details on building your first campaign in this help doc, but it should be very straightforward.

Go forth and engage!

About the Author: Derek Skaletsky is the Head of Product and Services at Kissmetrics.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

Are You Being Difficult? How the “Hidden Work” in Your Onboarding Emails Kills New User Engagement (And What You Should Do About It)

Have you ever tried to take apart a high-end file cabinet?

We’re talking about the kind built with such thoughtful design that it makes a room look like the “after” shot on an HG-TV home makeover show…instead of the dingy unfinished basement “before” shot.

If you have, you know that taking apart a cabinet like this one is no easy feat.
You have to pull out the drawers, crawl inside, and poke and prod all afternoon.

After 3 hours of guessing, you might give up. Or you might press on until you finally crack the code on how it’s built–and then marvel at its brilliance.

You either walk away defeated. Or you finish your project and exclaim that the designer behind it is actually a genius.

What does high-end furniture have to do with your SaaS app?

You may have built the best, most genius, most user-friendly app that completely blows all of the other apps out of the water.

But if you hide your app’s brilliant usability behind opaque instructions, you might lose your new users before they even have a chance to get started.

How do you bring your app into the light? You need to get rid of the “hidden work” in your onboarding emails.

Hidden work is the work you unintentionally create for your new users when you send them onboarding emails that don’t give enough information for readers to do what you’re asking them to do.

Onboarding emails that eliminate hidden work are the difference between new users giving up on your app–and declaring that it’s actually genius.

If you’re already sending triggered emails to free trial users based on who they are and how they use your app, great. If you want anyone to actually stick with you, your onboarding emails need to clear a path from your new users’ inbox to the task you’re asking them to accomplish. Any resistance you add decreases the likelihood your new users will engage with your app both now–and every time you ask them to do something in the future.

According to a study published by Nobuhiro Hagura, Patrick Haggard, and Jörn Diedrichsen out of University College London, we decide whether we’re going to do something based on whether the task at hand seems easy AND based on whether we’ve faced resistance when we’ve performed similar tasks in the past.

“…we demonstrate that the motor cost involved in responding to a visual classification task is integrated into the perceptual decision process. Our everyday perceptual decisions seem to be solely based on the incoming sensory input. They may be, however, influenced by the preceding history of physical cost of responding to such input. The cost of our own actions, learned through the life-long experience of interacting with the environment, may partly define how we make perceptual decisions of our surroundings.

What does this mean for you?

It means that if the first few interactions new users have with your app feel like work, you’re risking two unwanted outcomes:

  1. Your user decides to do nothing today.
  2. The next time they see your name in their inbox, they might already be programmed to think that your app = work, and so they decide to do nothing again.

Eliminating Hidden Work: The 3 Questions Your Onboarding Emails Need to Answer for Your Readers

No matter what you do, you can’t reduce the amount of new user work to zero–nor should you.

In fact, Nir Eyal’s research on habit formation suggests that the work customers invest upfront in learning to use a new tool increases the likelihood that using it will become a habit over time. When we invest our time or other resources in something, we value it more and are therefore less likely to walk away from it. Behavioral psychologists and economists call this “the endowment effect“.

That’s why your goal isn’t to eliminate all work from learning to use a new app. Instead, you need to make sure you’re eliminating the hidden work that you create when you don’t give your readers the ability and motivation to act. According to BJ Fogg’s Behavioral Model, ability and motivation are 2 of the 3 ingredients your new user needs to complete a task. The third is a trigger.

Your email tool sends the trigger. Your email copy provides the ability and motivation.

To make sure you have all 3 ingredients in your onboarding strategy, your email copy needs to answer these 3 questions for your new users.

Question #1: “Where do I do this?”

Imagine you’re lost in the middle of the woods. You meet a fellow hiker and ask where the closest shelter is. He replies, “Oh you just go find the trail and follow it. It’s simple!”

Only you don’t know whether you should head north or west. You don’t know if it’s a 10 minute walk or a 2 day trek.

If you’re stuck in the woods, you keep going because….you’re lost in the woods! But if you’re learning a new app, you might give up. You might try a competitor’s tool instead. You might decide that learning the app is more work than the problem the app solves.

Your new users can and will give up when things get difficult. That’s why you need to provide a crystal clear path forward for your new user to complete the task at hand. You can do this by joining the conversation happening in their head.

Your reader is asking, “Where do I do this?”

Your onboarding emails need to say, “Go here to do this.”

This means actually linking to the in-app page where users can do the thing you’re asking them to do.

Unfortunately, onboarding emails frequently fall short of this goal. Take a look at this email:

I’ve drawn red outlines around all of the places where this email asks its readers to do something without showing them where to do it.

This email asks its readers to do at least 8 things in at least 3 places (it’s hard to tell for sure), but there is not a single link or screenshot to make it easy for readers to do anything at all. When you force a reader to figure out where to go next, you create work. When you create work, you create enough resistance for users to give up and do nothing.

The Fix: Point your reader to their next click

When I began but didn’t finish the signup process for a free trial of Privy, I got this email.

Instead of telling me all the different things that I’ll be able to do with Privy, this email is focused exclusively on getting me to complete the setup process–and it shows me exactly where to click in this email to make that happen.

The button is clearly labeled and centrally positioned. If I’m unsure how to install Privy code on my site, I can click the link that matches my platform and get more instructions.

Not only does this email show me where to go next but it also gives me support links easily marked so I know which one is right for me.

Question #2: “How do I do this?”

The new Customer Engagement Automation tool (CEA) from Kissmetrics gives you the analytics to help you figure out what people are doing and whether they might need help–but analytics alone don’t close sales. It’s up to you to combine analytics with copywriting to send emails that make it easy for readers to do what you’re asking them to do.

When I signed up for a job posting app, I got an email with the subject line: “Would you like to post a job on [platform name redacted]?” Unfortunately, I opened it and saw that there were no instructions on how to actually post a job.

This email pulls a bait and switch. The subject line asks if I want to post a job, but the body copy doesn’t show me how.

Sure, it might be helpful to show me how to write job descriptions, but writing job descriptions and posting job descriptions are not the same thing.

Maybe one day I might need help making my post public instead of a draft, but that’s not the messaging I need to hear before I’ve actually posed the job description.

Since I still haven’t posted a job I need someone to show me how to do that first.

The Answer: Provide all of the info on HOW to complete tasks in the email (or one clear click away)

One of my all-time favorite examples is this email from video hosting and analytics company Wistia.

It’s a powerful tool, but you can’t do anything with it until you upload your first video. Fittingly, this onboarding email doesn’t say, “Hey, having trouble getting the analytics on your videos?” before I’ve uploaded my first video.

Instead, it says: Here is step 1. Just do step 1. Here’s a link to do it, here’s a video that will show you how to do it, and here are some links for support if you need it.

This email asks me to do just one thing, shows me how, and gives me ways to get help if I can’t get it done on my own.

Just how powerful is eliminating the hidden work of figuring out how to do something? This email and the other 7 in its sequence (authored by the team behind Copyhackers and Airstory) generated a 350% lift in paid conversions for Wistia.

Question #3: “Why should I bother?”

Someone at book club last week brought up webinars. The conversation went like this:

Friend 1: I had to do this webinar for work.

Friend 2: Uuuuugh webinars. I hate them so much.

Friend 3: Oh I love webinars! I love chatting in the margins. I love the buzz.

You can offer training through webinars, help articles, live demos, on-demand demos, or support videos. But whatever support medium you choose, you’re guaranteed to choose a medium that feels like “work” to some of your new users.

If your new user isn’t signing in because they don’t know how to use your app and the only support you offer them is with webinar invitations, then you’re asking them to do work–and increasing the likelihood they’ll bail.

Additionally, scheduled training forces your reader to consult a calendar in order to learn from you–and context-switching gives them a chance to decide not to come back.

You might have really great stuff in your webinars! But if you don’t explain what’s in it for your reader, it feels like work. And if it feels like all work and no gain, your best prospects won’t do it.

The Fix: Focus on the outcome, not the delivery

The truth is that a webinar is a big commitment and you won’t keep everyone. 60, 30, or even 20 minutes is a lot of time to give up. But even small amounts of time and seemingly small asks can be just as inconvenient to your readers without the right context.

Anne commented on another Kissmetrics copywriting post and she’s right: even simple CTAs sound like work.

To overcome the objections that your readers will inevitably have to taking you up on your offer of support or the small task you ask them to do, your email copy shouldn’t position the medium or the task you’re asking users to complete as the benefit.

Instead, you should answer one of the biggest questions on your readers’ minds:

“So what?”

You want your readers to attend a webinar? So what? What’s in it for them?

You want your new users to start a project? Why should they bother?

Your support channels are like your app’s features: your customers care way less about them than you do. They’re much more interested in the benefits of your app and your support. If you want your prospects to respond to your webinar invitation or to do anything else in your app, stress benefits, not features.

How? Focus on the outcomes your readers can expect as a result of taking you up on your invitation.

Here’s an example from Sumo that positions a webinar as a must-attend event:

This email has everything: 1. Specific results someone got in a specific period of time. 2. Growth techniques I won’t find anywhere else (which means if I don’t show up, I won’t get them). 3. Specifics about what I’m going to get from this webinar. 4. Urgency and scarcity.

In this email, the value is the information on how to grow your business–the webinar is merely the delivery mechanism.

Why Eliminating “Work Words” Isn’t Enough

I’ll be honest: I planned on writing this post to be all about “work words” as a follow-up piece to an earlier Kissmetrics post that kicked off this discussion. I thought it would be a great idea to have a list of “work words” for product marketers to avoid in their CTAs.

I wondered whether the word “workflow” right in the middle of the CTA might make Zapier–which is mind-blowingly easy to use–seem more complicated than it is.

Sean Kennedy (of Zapier and Really Good Emails) also wondered whether the word “Build” could also suggest that there may be “some assembly required” in getting your first Zaps set up.

But it wasn’t long after I started researching and writing this article that I realized a piece on “work words” in CTAs wouldn’t be enough. So much of the “hidden work” in SaaS apps happens before the CTA–which mean that’s where the biggest opportunities to improve engagement are hiding.

While you can and should use language in your CTAs that doesn’t suggest work, that’s only a starting point.

To keep your new users engaged, your onboarding email copy must answer your reader’s questions about where, how, and why they should do what you’re asking them to do.

About the Author: Alli Blum helps SaaS apps build messages that get customers. Want to make sure your emails don’t create hidden work for your prospects? Click to get her copywriting checklist for high-converting SaaS onboarding emails.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

5 Customer Activation Emails to Add to Your Funnel

If you’re familiar with the world of digital marketing – you’ve probably come across the term “marketing funnels.” And no, they have nothing to do with plastic instruments you would use in the kitchen or the smoking chimneys found on steamboats.

Instead, a marketing funnel describes the journey a person takes from initially visiting your website to becoming a paying customer. With a clearly defined funnel, you can optimize each lead’s journey to maximize the chances that they’ll eventually become paying customers.

Check out this marketing funnel diagram, courtesy of TrackMaven:

Image Source

In order to execute an effective marketing funnel, you have to increase the number of cold leads entering your funnel and decrease the number of leads who exit your funnel without converting.

Since leads can exit your funnel at any stage, it’s important that you keep them engaged at all times and constantly moving towards the end of the funnel. One of the best ways to do this is with customer activation emails.

Depending on which stage of the funnel your lead is in, I recommend sending activation emails with one of five purposes:

  • Initial Indoctrination – Help leads to get familiar with your brand.
  • Engagement – Encourage leads to take small actions and build familiarity.
  • Conversion – Encourage leads to make a purchase and become customers.
  • Reengagement – Reacquaint dormant customers with your brand.
  • Advocacy – Encourage customers to refer their friends to your company.

Here’s how to put these different activation emails into practice:

1. Initial Indoctrination

This type of email needs to educate new leads about your brand. Allow them to get familiar with the ethos of your brand and try to convey the value you consistently provide to your customers with your products and services.

Since between 30-50% of leads that enter a marketing funnel are qualified but not ready to buy, this is not the time to discuss specific product offerings or try to get a sale. Simply treat this phase as an opportunity to build trust and establish a relationship with each lead.

Marketer and entrepreneur Melyssa Griffin sends out an excellent initial indoctrination email as soon as you subscribe to her mailing list.

She conveys elements of her personality, such as her penchant for green smoothies and dance parties, and also makes it clear what types of people will benefit from her newsletter. Her informal tone of writing is incredibly endearing and allows new leads to warm to her immediately.

She also states that she can’t help people who: “Aren’t willing to put in a little work to make their dreams a reality. My strategies don’t work unless you do.”

In other words, she makes it clear that she isn’t selling a magic pill – and her advice requires real action in order to be successful. This immediately builds integrity, compared with marketers who promise the moon and then fail to deliver.

2. Engagement

Once a lead is somewhat familiar with your brand and your messages stand out from the multitude of emails in their inbox, you can move to the engagement phase. This entails strengthening the relationship with your lead by sending them contextually relevant, high-value content.

You aren’t going for the sale just yet, but you’re warming the lead to your products and services. Many marketers offer case studies, free webinars and other pieces of informative content during this phase in order to build rapport.

Entrepreneur and social media expert, Kim Garst, demonstrates exactly how to promote a free webinar via email:

The title of the webinar clearly conveys what information will be imparted, social proof is leveraged by mentioning the number of people already signed up, and urgent language encourages leads to sign up immediately instead of procrastinate.

3. Conversion

Once a lead has engaged with your brand (perhaps by reading a few blog posts or attending a free online webinar) and has learned about the value of your products and services, you can begin encouraging these leads to make a purchase.

At this stage, start discussing the ways in which your products and services can benefit the lead. Buying is an emotional – rather than a rational process – which is why it helps to discuss the benefits of your products rather than its objective features.

If you can get your leads to start visualizing how their life will be enhanced after purchasing from you, this is an excellent starting point.

In my experience, promoting discounts via email is an excellent way to create scarcity and encourage leads to purchase immediately.

Try including compelling imagery in your conversion emails. In the following image by Lucky Vitamin, notice how “50% Off” and “Shop Now” really stand out from the rest of the image, due to a careful choice of colors, placement and font size.

Immediately beneath this image, Lucky Vitamin provides contextually valuable content for its readers with an article about hair washing. Adjacent to it is an article about hair coloring, which simultaneously promotes another product.

By delivering informative content mixed with product promotions, you can encourage sales while also growing trust for your brand.

4. Re-Engagement

Think of the re-engagement phase as a second engagement phase. The principle of providing value through useful content still applies, except now, you’re targeting customers instead of leads.

Since you already have a purchase history for each customer, segmenting your re-engagement emails according to each customer’s interests is a great way to make your emails feel more personal.

In a 2013 study by Experian, personalized promotional emails had 29% higher unique open rates and 41% more unique click-through rates.

If a customer has purchased a particular type of product, send them re-engagement messages pertaining to that.

Sports betting sites, such as BetVictor, are notorious for sending personalized bonuses to players who haven’t wagered in a while. For instance, players who primarily bet on mixed martial arts fights receive different email bonuses than those who bet on soccer.

By sending personalized offers to segmented audiences, you dramatically improve your chances of re-engaging previous customers.

In a study by Campaign Monitor, marketers noted a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns.

Pinkberry, a restaurant franchise that specializes in frozen desserts, sends its customers free gifts if they’ve been absent for a while. Because the offers have time restrictions (in this case, 7 days), a sense of urgency is created that leads to higher purchases.

5. Advocacy

Finally, when a person makes multiple purchases and develops an emotional connection with a brand, they have the potential to transform from a customer to a brand advocate.

It’s essential to single out these people, based on their customer history, and send them personalized emails encouraging them to tell their friends about your brand.

Because you’re specifically targeting people who have a history of positive interactions with your brand, they’re far more likely to be receptive.

Judging by this advocacy email by tanning salon franchise, Tanning Shop, the brand has a very clear buyer profile (young, predominantly female, takes pride in their physical appearance, enjoys travel, wants to look good on the beach).

People like this usually have friends who match the same buyer profile, making incentivized referral emails a no-brainer in this situation.

How to Build Your Email Funnel

Now that you know the types of customer activation emails you should be sending, you can move onto building out your funnel.

If you’ve never done any sophisticated email marketing before, this phase can sound like a technical nightmare, but it’s much easier than you would expect. Most email marketing platforms are simple to use, even if you have no prior experience.

First, it’s important to choose the right platform based on your specific requirements.

With Kissmetrics Campaigns, it’s easy to create behavior based, automated emails for every step of your funnel. Campaigns is also tightly integrated with Analyze, which is extremely helpful for measuring the impact of your campaigns and analyzing user behavior.

 

Next, you’ll need a killer lead magnet and an email opt-in form conveniently located on your site. Try placing your form in a feature box or directly beneath each blog post for excellent visibility (split test your form’s placement for best results).

Once you’re ready to begin marketing, input the content for each automated email in your sequence and determine when each email will be sent. I recommend sending the indoctrination email straightaway, and your engagement email the day after.

With the Kissmetrics Funnel Report, you can see where exactly people are dropping out of your funnel. If people are clicking through to your landing page but aren’t converting, you might want to set this as a trigger that sends a personalized email the next day reminding them of what they’re missing out on.

Once your form and email funnel sequence are properly integrated, you’re ready to start collecting leads.

With an automated email funnel, scaling your marketing (and business) becomes much easier.

Can you think of any other email strategies for keeping people engaged with your marketing funnel? Please let me know in the comments below.

About the Author: Aaron Agius, CEO of worldwide digital agency Louder Online is, according to Forbes, among the world’s leading digital marketers. Working with clients such as Salesforce, Coca-Cola, IBM, Intel, and scores of stellar brands, Aaron is a Growth Marketer – a fusion between search, content, social, and PR. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or on the Louder Online blog.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

How to Run a Cohort Analysis in Google Analytics

Traffic and page views are nice.

But they’re limited. In a few ways.

Site wide traffic looks nice on a blog post or meeting with your HiPPOs. But it’s not actionable. And it doesn’t tell you what’s going on beneath the surface.

For example, you have no idea if those users are returning. If they’re subscribin’ or buyin’. Or how they compare to peeps from a year ago.

In order to find out that detailed info that ultimately moves the needle, you need to dig a little deeper. And you need to be able to view these basic metrics through a more detailed lens that includes segment information.

Google Analytics cohort analysis tool can help. Here’s what it is, why it’s important, and how you can run your first cohort analysis report today.

What is a Cohort Analysis?

analytics-charts-orange-background

A cohort is “an ancient Roman military unit, comprising six centuries, equal to one tenth of a legion.”

Wait. That’s not right. Is it?

Ohhhh. It’s the second one.

cohort-definition-google

My bad. A cohort is simply a grouping; a subset of people brought together because of a similarity or shared value.

Think of a retail store. You have a cohort of customers who bought in the last week. And another that bought this same exact week, but last year.

A cohort analysis, then, is the number crunching. It’s the sleuthing to determine if the customers from this week are worth more or less than the ones from a year ago.

Things change over time. Maybe the products are different. Maybe you switched manufacturer’s and the quality is different. Or maybe you’re using a new layout in your retail store that affects how people ‘flow’ through it.

busy-shopping-mall

Those changes, while seemingly small, can have a big impact on the bottom line. There’s a ton of psychology behind where the eggs are in grocery store (and where they’re hiding the booze).

So analyzing trends and patterns from customers based on when they shopped (i.e. acquisition date) can provide a lot more meaningful feedback on what changes resulted in different results (and why).

Here’s why that’s important (beyond just finding out where the booze is).

Why Cohort Analyses are Better than Standard Metrics

Google Analytics provides a wealth of data.

It’s perfect for finding certain things at a glance. Like aggregate, surface level data. That’s not a knock; it’s one of the best tools to see simple site wide metrics like top visits from certain sources, or dive a little deeper on how individual pages or pieces of content are performing.

google-analytics-pageviews-metrics-codeless

But as with the retail store example earlier, websites change. A LOT.

Each time you redesign it, come out with a new product, update your service offering, and a host of other random reasons.

When those changes happen, it’s important to put these metrics in context. Comparing traffic or Time on Site of a particular blog post from now vs. a year ago might not be super relevant if it’s undergone a tremendous visual change in the meantime.

Cohorts can help. It’s like layering on a filter to add context to data you’re looking at. Viewing those details, by segments, now should produce more accurate findings. (And not just a vanity sepia filter to hide your bald spots. Just me?)

For example, let’s take a look at how tablet and mobile traffic compares to our site’s average over the course of a day.

pageview-data-comparing-mobile-traffic-google-analytics

Pretty interesting right?

Check out that massive Time on Site difference!

time-on-age-difference

This information is interesting… but not sure helpful or actionable by itself.

So let’s add a cohort. Let’s look at the number of first time visitors who’ve left our site today, and see how many of those come back the next day.

cohort-analysis-each-day-after-acquisiton-date

Now we can dive deeper into how many of those people are coming back to our site (within X number of days of their first visit).

This brings us closer to Activation, Retention, and all those other Pirate Metrics to obsess over.

Zooming out, you can see these changes both numerically and visually.

How about the plain English version?

First, the graph depicts the percent of returning visits over a (default) seven day range.

cohort-analysis-setup-google-analytics

The colorful, blue comparative table below the graph is where things start to heat up. (Literally.)

The table shows you what percentage of people came back to your site within seven days of their initial visit.

The second column from the left, Day 0, reflects the day on the left-hand column under all users:

day-0-cohort-analysis

The next column, Day 1, represents the first day after this group of people visited your website on May 9th.

That means 2.86% of people who visited your website for the first time ever on May 9th returned the next day. Day 2 would be what percent of those visited again on Day 2, etc.

Each date under All Users starts a brand new cohort. So May 9th is one. May 10th another. And so on. And each has their own pattern of returning users.

According to the tiny sample size in this example, the oldest cohort, May 9th, has seen a majority of first-time visitors come back to the site.

Make sense? Kinda, sorta?

Well if that wasn’t nerdy enough for you, it’s about to get a whole lot more geeky.

How to Use Google Analytics Cohort Analysis Tool

Let’s do a step-by-step walkthrough to see how you can start using Google Analytics’ cohort analysis tool.

Pull up Google Analytics, click the Audience drop down in the left-hand sidebar, and look for Cohort Analysis:

cohort-analysis-google-analytics

Here’s how the Google Analytics cohort analysis report will look like at a glance:

google-analytics-cohort-analysis-layout

  • Report settings and metrics are all the way at the top
  • In the middle is a giant graph (that’s kinda useful, but more for the visual peeps out there)
  • While the final table at the bottom shows the results by cohort and date.

Here’s what that graph in the middle is showing:

day-1-2-3-acquisiiton-cohort

We selected Acquisition Date for our specific cohort type, so that’s how the information is sorted in this graph. Day 0 is your acquisition date. While Day 1 is one day after, Day 3 is three days after, etc.

You can adjust these different cohort factors up at the top:

cohort-analysis-main-page

Here are the main factors you can analyze:

  • Cohort Type: Restricted to Acquisition Date
  • Cohort Size:  Sort by day, week or month
  • Metrics by category:
    • Per user:
      • Goal completions per user
      • Pageviews per user
      • Revenue per user
      • Session duration per user
      • Sessions per user
      • Transactions per user
    • Retention:
      • User retention
    • Total
      • Goal completions
      • Pageviews
      • Revenue
      • Session duration
      • Sessions
      • Transactions
      • Users

You can access all of these in the cohort analysis drop down menus:

cohort-analysis-metric-dropdown

Here you can select to run an analysis of a group of users sorted by day, week, or month (or whatever other variable you want).

For example, if you want to know how many pageviews each user had (metric), sorted in groups by day (cohort size) for the last 7 days (date range), you simply enter the following into the drop down menu:

cohort-analysis-setup-google-analytics

Then, I am presented with the following graph:

So, what we see here is:

  • The May 9th cohort of users had 1.5 pageviews per user
  • That same May 9th cohort also had an average of 0.03 pageviews per user the next day (Day 1).

Now, let’s jump back to our original chart, showing the following data.

cohort-analysis-low-engagement

You may be asking: “How the heck do I use this information?”

“What do I do (ha – you almost said doodoo) with the fact that only a tiny percent of first time visitors are returning the next day (or the one after that)?”

day-0-1-2-users-cohort

“Why did 2.86% of the cohort visit again the next day with the may 9th sample, but then a big drop off for the May 10th cohort?”

Let’s find out.

Fortunately, Google Analytics allows you to break down these reports even further. So you’re not stuck in the proverbial analytics dark.

Notice at the top, we can add different segments to break down our report further:

add-segment-google-analytics-cohort

Now let’s go back to analyzing the Mobile and Tablet segment:

Select it, and you can now see a comparison from your original data set (all cohort users segment) vs. the Mobile and Tablet traffic:

So, this data is showing us the cohorts of people sorted by date, who visited our site the next day after visiting for the first time, sorted by mobile and tablet. (Or, the very definition of a boring example.)

But check out that leap in return visits from the May 11th mobile cohort!

Obviously our conclusions in this case are limited because it’s a tiny sample of a too-limited date range. However, hopefully you can see the potential here.

If that’s not enough, you can also sort by just mobile, or even traffic sources like Organic Search, Direct, and more. (If you’re masochist.)

For example, here’s what Organic Search visitors look like:

comparing-cohort-analysis-google-analytics

Hmmm. Interesting. Organic Search visitors from the May 11th cohort are returning more frequently than average.

Was there a new blog post that day that’s bringing them back?

Dunno. But you get the idea.

Conclusion

Cohort analyses allow you to view data by segments of people.

Businesses of all shapes and sizes and flavors can use them to determine what changes (if any) resulted in better overall performance.

Google Analytics cohort analysis tool can help you put otherwise generic, aggregate website data under the microscope.

In all of about five minutes, you can quickly compare how different cohorts compare with others. And then cross reference that information with your own actions or marketing decisions may have played a role.

They allow you to zero-in not only on who is your most profitable customers, but why (or what) influenced them to become your most profitable customers.

And how you can do more (or less) of the same to scale results accordingly.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

5 Kissmetrics Populations E-Commerce Marketers Can’t Live Without

A few weeks ago we released Populations, a tool to help marketing & product teams track key groups of people across their growth cycle. And just last week, our CEO Brian Kelly announced the new phase of Kissmetrics – Customer Engagement Automation (CEA).

CEA combines our powerful behavioral analytics with engagement tools to boost acquisition and user engagement in key areas of the funnel. It’s a great choice for SaaS and e-commerce teams.

Here’s five Populations e-commerce marketers can set up to monitor key parts of the buyer journey.

1. First-Time Buyers

A first time buyer is a fresh chance to gain a new repeat purchaser. The more of these coming in, the more you can convert to repeat purchasers for life. Hence, the better your business will be.

Here’s a hypothetical Population that’s tracking first time buyers.

first-time-buyers-ecommerce-population

This is looking at the first time buyers you’ve had in the last month. If this were your data, you’d want to keep this Population increasing – especially if you can maintain the 30%+ when compared to 90 days ago.

You can contact each person in this Population by scrolling down and clicking this button:

view-people-in-population

Click that and you’ll get a list of email addresses (or however you identify people). You can also use these people in a Campaign and send an email to incentivize them to repurchase:

configure-your-trigger-campaigns

You can then target these people with an email offering a coupon, free shipping, new product announcement, etc. Call the campaign a success when they Purchase:

first-time-buyers-kissmetrics-campaign

We’ve created this video if you’d like to learn more about our Campaigns feature:

2. One & Done Buyers

This is one Population you’ll want to continually reduce in size.

You can set up a Population to basically say, “show me all the people that purchased at least 6 months ago and have not purchased since.”

Here’s an example for that Population:

one-and-done-buyers-kissmetrics-population

If this was your data, you’d have to compare it to the total number of purchasers you’ve had. If, for example, you’ve had 50,000 customers purchase over the lifetime of the company, you know this is really good data because only a small percentage don’t come back to purchase. On the other hand, if you’ve only had 500 total purchasers, you’d know you were in trouble with getting customers to come back and repurchase.

3. Big Spenders

Your big spenders are those that are the most valuable. They spend more than all your other customers. Obviously, you’ll want to retain these customers and know if you’re getting more or fewer of them.

To get some use out of this Population, you’ll first need to have some context. You’ll need to know your average purchase value and ideally the average amount of times people purchase during a specific time period.

Let’s say most people spend $ 30 on every purchase and purchase twice every 3 months.

To find your big spenders, you’ll have to have a Kissmetrics property that records purchase amount. Once you have that, you can create a population like this:

create-a-new-population-purchase-amount

Let’s view that Population:

big-spenders-kissmetrics-population

You’re up 3 customers from 90 days ago, so we can’t complain much. If we’re also up 23% in orders compared to 90 days ago, we know we’re doing really well.

From here, we can do the same thing we did with our first time buyers. We’ll create a Campaign and incentivize these big spenders to keep coming back to us. Get enough of these big spenders coming back, and we’ll increase our overall lifetime value per customer.

4. Monthly Repeat Buyers

Repeat buyers are the lifeblood of an e-commerce company. No store can survive long solely on first-time buyers. Like SaaS companies, retaining as many customers as possible is crucial.

monthly-repeat-buyers-kissmetrics-population

This shows us that it has held steady, and increased about 2% compared to 90 days ago.

5. Browsers

These are the lurkers, your comparison shoppers, and the ones who overthink every purchasing decision. They visit your site routinely but never seem to pull the trigger to purchasing.

You can set a Population to say “find me all the people that have visited at least 10 times the past 30 days but have not purchased.”

browser-shoppers-kissmetrics-populations

The number of people in this Population is down slightly from 90 days. This, obviously, means it’s headed in the right direction. You can decrease the number of browsers by having special offers, increasing conversion rates, lowering prices (for those that price shop) or getting more products in stock that those browsers are looking for.

Use Populations to Track People Across the Buyer Journey

Populations makes it easy to see how groups change over time along with the changes in your marketing activities. Identify the weak points and take action with Campaigns – all within Kissmetrics.

If you’re already a Kissmetrics user, sign in today and Populations will be ready for you. If you’re not a user and would like to learn more about Kissmetrics, you can request a demo.

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is the Blog Manager for Kissmetrics.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

Stalling Sessions? Here’s How ‘Visual Cues’ Can Unlock the Floodgates

Websites don’t always work.

You create them with one thing in mind. And then the opposite happens.

People are supposed to click-through. And yet they stall.

The worst part, is that you don’t always know why.

It’s hard to explain to bosses. It’s difficult to justify to clients.

Thankfully, there are a few techniques to look ‘under the hood.’ To voyeuristically view viewers when they least expect it.

In order to figure out what’s broken, why, and how to fix it.

Here’s how you can find out, and then use ‘visual clues’ to help improve it.

Why People Shouldn’t Have to ‘Think’ When on Your Website

50 milliseconds.

That’s all it takes. That’s as long as you’ve got.

The human brain registers what the eyes are seeing within 13 milliseconds. And by 50 they’ve already formed a first impression.

The overwhelming majority of the time – 94% according to one study – first impressions come down to your design.

If it’s good (or not). If it’s easy to navigate (or not). And if it’s easy to find what they’re looking for. Or not.

That’s not a very long window of time. 50 milliseconds is like… fractions of a second, dude! So you’re up against it from the beginning. The odds are stacked against you.

That’s why, in a nutshell, making people think is bad. Simply put: there’s not enough processing time. By that point, the subconscious has already taken over and forced them to click the Back button on their browser.

It makes sense, then, that some of the best UX and conversion principles are contained in a brilliant little book called Don’t Make Me Think.

It’s chock full of brilliant little nuggets of wisdom. Practical, actionable stuff that can make an immediate impact.

Like naming conventions. You know how egotistical ‘professional’ consultants try to get all clever with their website navigation text? Things like: “Our Insights” instead of just “Blog”.

Turns out, not everyone’s privy to your insightfulness. So dropping insight bombs on the primary nav goes undetected. Unnoticed. And therefore, unclicked.

That’s a problem. Because if no one checks out your blog, they won’t see how smart you are. They won’t share those blog posts. So they won’t be indexed. Which means fewer people still will find them. Which translates into fewer leads generated or sales closed.

For example, take a look at this image.

no-clicks-heatmap

First pass it looks fine, right? The reason it looks like someone dimmed the lights is because there’s a heatmap analysis over the web page.

But… don’t heatmaps typically show little ‘hot’ areas on the page where the majority of people are clicking?

Why yes! Yes, they do! And therein lies the problem. There ain’t no hotspots on this image!

That page is for a portfolio section. You know, the page on your site which shows off your past work so that new people like it and reach out to you.

However, if no one is clicking and viewing those pages, no one’s going to be blowing up your email inbox about new services, either.

So that’s where we begin. Accepting our current deficiencies. And setting out to find a solution. Here goes.

Step #1. Start by Identifying What’s NOT Happening (that Should Be)

The previous example is a good place to start. It’s incredibly important. And yet something’s missing.

Specifically, people aren’t clicking on it. So that’s the first step: figure out what’s not happening (but should be) with basic user behavior tools.

Option #1. is something simple and straightforward like CrazyEgg. No frills. Not many bells and whistles. But it gets the job done (as we’ll see in the next section). It’s got your basic heatmaps, scrollmaps, and a few advanced features to see how unique traffic segments interact with pages differently.

HotJar helps you record website behavior as it’s happening. So you can do a lot of the same, basic heat mapping analysis. But instead of viewing data in aggregate, you can zoom in to see what’s happening within an individual session.

hotjar-mouse-movement

Kissmetrics’ Funnel Report lets you see where those ‘conversion roadblocks’ are popping up; preventing people from taking that ‘next step’ required to put money in your pocket.

comparing-funnels-kissmetrics

Last but not least there’s UserTesting. Thankfully another literal brand name that helps you find users to test your website, checkout flow, or app. It even lets you pre-screen people. So the only ones allowed to take your test meet a number of criteria (like men between the ages of 18 – 32 who own an iPhone and graduated from college).

The point? There’s no shortage of tools that will give you feedback on what’s working, and what’s not. Hell – even the free version of Sumo will hook you up with some of these basic features.

Once you’ve got them locked and loaded, take a look to see what’s not happening. The action that you want people to take, but for whatever reason, they aren’t.

For example, a landing page scrollmap should look something like this:

heatmap-long-page

Lots of yellows, oranges, and reds. Lots of heat coming off that thing. It means people are scrolling the entire way down. They’re consuming the information on that page. And they’re sticking around long enough to hit the bottom.

Now contrast that with this one:

heatmap-blue

More than half the page resembles the deep, dark, blue, murky waters of the Pacific. And similar to those uncharted depths, nobody goes to the bottom of this page, either.

Start there. And then start brainstorming.

Step #2. Hypothesize Why People Aren’t Doing What They’re Supposed to Be Doing

Ok. Back to the first example.

A portfolio section on a website. Looks like a ghost town because no one’s checking out the past work.

no-clicks-heatmap

Yup. That’s the one.

People are supposed to be clicking on those two images. They’re supposed to be checking out the work. But they’re not.

Here’s a similarly bad example of clicks happening almost every single other place on this Services page, except where they should be happening.

heatmap-services-page

Ok. Let’s brainstorm.

The first example kinda just looks like stock photos. Good ones. But stock photos nonetheless. It’s not very obvious that people should be clicking in the first place.

And the second? There’s maybe too much stuff. There’s little icons and text all over the place. There’s also no ‘hierarchy’ of information. So people don’t know where to focus or click first.

The table-like design isn’t working. It’s not getting people to click on what they’re supposed to be clicking.

Now let’s compare that with a good example.

A landing page that’s simple in layout, but focused on getting people to interact with one thing and one thing only.

disability-insurance-heatmap

Perfect. The primary button is all lit up.

‘Click distribution’ should back this up. The page elements with the highest percentage of interactions (or clicks) should be those one or two (tops) page features. For example, a button that brings you to a form. Or a link that brings you to another page that’s one step deeper in your online sales funnel.

visible-on-this-page-metrics

Each page then should slowly lead visitors from one step to the next. The previous example brings people to this next page. And the same pattern should repeat: the majority of user behavior is happening on exactly the stuff you want it to.

disability-quote-request-form

Ok, cool.

But what if that’s not happening? How do you correct course before it’s too late?

Step #3. Now Use ‘Visual Cues’ to Tell People What they Should be Doing

‘Visual cues’ are exactly what they sound like. They’re design elements used to direct a viewer’s eyeline. To direct their attention to something specific.

They can be overt, like a big arrow. Or they can be subtle. They can be intentional. Or unintentional mistakes that distract users.

For example, a ConversionXL study found that a person looking away from a form resulted in the shortest visitor time spent looking at the form, too. Instead, they’re looking at the person. They’re looking at what they person’s looking at.

looking-at-camera-form

Image Source

The opposite also proved to be true. For example, an arrow pointing towards a page form resulted in the longest viewer time spent looking at the form.

arrows-pointing-to-form-heatmap

Image Source

They even took this one step further, testing which specific visual cues on a page resulted in the longest time spent looking at the primary page CTA (the form).

average-time-looking-at-form

Image Source

That’s what good design does.

Not win pointless ADDY’s or just look amazing. But spell out how a page should work or function.
‘Visual hierarchies’ are one example. That’s like using a primary H1 Headline on a page, with a subhead underneath, and a smaller button underneath that.

You’re calling people’s attention, through size and page placement, to elements one (headline), two (subhead), and three (the button).

This next oft-repeated example suffers from two primary problems:

  1. No visual hierarchy
  2. Page elements don’t look ‘clickable’

no-clicks-heatmap

That’s one of the biggest problems with flat design. When things are too flat, it doesn’t properly communicate to a viewer what it is (or what they’re supposed to do with it).

HubSpot uses a flat design for it’s Website Grader. But they expertly avoid running into this problem by stretching out the underlined form element and then placing a blinking cursor where you’re supposed to type your website address and email.

hubspot-website-grader

It’s subtle. But it works.

Most of your website visitors like to scan. And they also most likely have several browser tabs open. So they’re distracted. Scanning helps them quickly digest information.

That means your page design needs to be conducive to scanning. Like this previous example:

heatmap-long-page

It’s a long page. But there’s a clear visual hierarchy that’s then split up into different sections. Viewers can easily jump from one section to the next.

Zooming into an individual section, there’s also visual cues on the far right – little device icons – to get people to interact and discover how this service changes on each device.

heatmap-on-website

The end result is that people are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. They’re diving deeper into the information on this page. And they’re discovering how the benefits of this service. (Which will hopefully lead more, happy, informed visitors to become leads and customers.)

Conclusion

Website are never ‘done.’

The deployment isn’t the finish line. But a starting point.

Inevitably, unfortunately, it’s not going to work as intended.

There’s going to be a few pages, or a few transitions, that frustrate visitors to the point of bouncing.

The good news is that you can choose from a variety of user behavior tools to help. Once installed, you’ll be able to analyze what people aren’t doing. And hypothesize why they’re not doing it.

Then you can iterate. Using simple ‘visual cues’ that help people immediately understand what they should be doing on each page.

Without requiring even the slightest mental energy expended.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog