Monday, April 23, 2018

Landing Page Optimization: How Aetna’s HealthSpire startup generated 638% more leads for its call center

This case study was originally published on MarketingSherpa on April 11, 2018.

Denis Mrkva, General Manager, HealthSpire, recently visited MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingSherpa), and we had the opportunity to interview him about an interesting landing page experiment that was in progress at the time. Denis also shared what happened after the landing page — namely, how he staffs and runs a call center that truly provides value to customers.

Test Your Knowledge

Before you read or watch the full case study, it’s important to get in the right frame of mind. Which landing page do you think will perform better? And why? Think about that, then continue on to the case study to better understand your own assumptions and learn what the data showed. Perhaps you’ll discover a new paradigm to take your marketing to the next level.

 

 

Here, we offer an abbreviated 5-minute version of the video interview. Or you can watch the full 21-minute version. But if you prefer to read instead of watch, you can read the full transcript of the conversation below the article. Jump to full transcript.

SHORT 5-MINUTE VIDEO:

FULL 21-MINUTE VIDEO:

 

CUSTOMER

HealthSpire is a subsidiary of Aetna, a $63 billion managed health care company founded in 1853. HealthSpire serves Americans 65 and over with Medicare, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement insurance plans. It also offers ancillary products for dental, vision, cancer, heart attack and stroke.

HealthSpire also serves two other groups with its marketing — individuals who have yet to turn 65 but are beginning to research Medicare products and children or caregivers of people who are or will soon be eligible for Medicare.

CHALLENGE

About 18 months ago, HealthSpire created a landing page to get potential customers to learn more about Medicare through a phone or chat conversation and, ultimately, register for Medicare plans.

Creative Sample #1: Original landing page

HealthSpire 1

“Our hypothesis was that we want to have something that’s short and not confusing. What we were afraid of was that more information will create more confusion, resulting in a negative outcome. So we decided to go with a first control version, simple, just outlining products we have without going in depth. And giving them a chance to contact us via phone, schedule a call or chat with us,” said Denis Mrkva, General Manager, HealthSpire.

However, a few months after launching the page, Mrkva’s team realized that it wasn’t working.

“And then, I was fortunate to be referenced to MECLABS [Institute] and Flint [McGlaughlin] by my manager. And when we started talking to MECLABS, the lights went on. A light bulb went on.” — Denis Mrkva 

“I realized that this discipline that MECLABS has in actually understanding the relevant content, understanding the audience that we want to service, understanding the products, is the way to go,” Mrkva said.

“So we engaged with MECLABS to create a new set of landing pages that are actually focused on how a consumer would like to interact with us, and especially they’re very targeted [to] consumer segments who may not be that digitally savvy,” he explained.

[Partner with MECLABS Institute to drive growth in your organization]

The team analyzed the current HealthSpire landing page and identified a problem: It had a lack of credibility hurting its primary, process-, and product-level value propositions required to build trust with potential customers and create a perceived value in speaking with a HealthSpire agent.

After all, most customers are not excited about getting on the phone with an agent or a sales rep. They must first understand the value of that conversation to overcome the anxiety of a sales call, in addition to the time and effort they would invest in such a conversation.

CAMPAIGN

Based on that analysis, the team created the following research question:

Will the addition of primary and product-level value, coupled with the emphasis of value on a “Trusted Advisor,” drive additional calls?

And based on that, they created the hypothesis: By providing emphasis on the trusted advisor value rather than overwhelming prospects with the various Medicare products and plans options, we will generate more leads and requests for calls than the control.

From that hypothesis, they designed two treatment landing pages and launched an experiment.

Creative Sample #2: Treatment 1 — long page

HealthSpire 2

Creative Sample #3: Treatment 2 — Short page

HealthSpire 3

RESULTS

Denis visited in the middle of the experiment, and the results we discussed in the video were intermediate results before the experiment closed. The final results also showed that the longer landing page performed better, generating 638% more leads.

HealthSpire 4

Value of longer landing page outweighs its friction

Visitors (valid leads only) who saw the longer page — which included more HealthSpire/agent value copy and imagery — were more likely to call than those who saw the simpler page with less content about the agents and HealthSpire values.

In other words, the additional value presented in the longer page outweighed the additional friction from having a longer page.

Humanizing the brand added appeal and visualizing the agents reduced anxiety

Knowing that they were going to be speaking with a friendly agent may have helped them visualize how the conversation would be and reduced their anxiety.

Creative Sample #4: TeleAgent Tip from winning landing page treatment

“What we found out by working with MECLABS and testing things is that, at the end of the day, what we are asking somebody to do is call us and talk to a person,.”  — Denis Mkrva 

“So having actually the person or the people who the customers will be talking to on the site, and actually having the opportunity to get to know the agents before they call, and provide the content that will actually create a relationship between the customer and the agent on the site even before they call us, are some of the reasons why we believe that Treatment 1 is doing a lot better.”

Creative Sample #5: Q&A with TeleAgent from winning landing page treatment

HealthSpire 6

It all begins with creating real value for the customer

The longer landing page worked because it did a better job of increasing the perceived value of contacting a TeleAgent. However, for this strategy to work, Mrkva first made sure to create real value in interacting with the TeleAgents, that could then be communicated on the landing page.

“Part of that value is the people we employ. If you think about the agents that work for HealthSpire, all of our agents are college graduates,” Mkrva said. “The question became, how can we create a call center culture that becomes a value proposition for the college graduates?”

One way Mrkva’s team creates the value proposition for college graduates is by creating an environment the employees can thrive in. For example, they balance time on the phone with time reflecting on what they learned from previous calls — to help understand the psychology behind conversations they previously had and optimize future conversations. Understanding the people they’re talking to, not just the products they’re selling and a script they’re reading.

“It is perhaps the hardest sale you can make.What you’re trying to do is, in real time without looking at the person, persuade the person that if you have the right product for them and their needs, this is the right thing to do and to make a decision that will be very impactful on their well-being and financial health of their household budget.” — Denis Mrkva

A customer-first marketing approach

Not only is there value for customers who call into HealthSpire because the TeleAgents are well educated, but value also comes from the type of people the company hires and the customer-first philosophy behind the advice these agents offer on the calls.

“What we look for is — and it’s not easy, it’s not easy to evaluate people in an interview — is integrity. You have to do the right thing,” Mrkva said.

“We’re trying to find the right solution for the customer. And if there is no right solution for the customer with us, we will not sell.” — Denis Mrkva 

“Actually, we’ll recommend either stay with what you have, or maybe you should go and call other providers that have a product, because we can help them find the better product. Even though we cannot sell to them, we can tell them there is … company X [that] has this product, so you may want to go to this site,” he said.

This approach helps with employee satisfaction and engagement as well.

“It’s human nature. Our nature is to help somebody. So we need to enable people to be people in the workplace,” Mrkva said. “If you have the right people and if you make them happy and content, our customers will be happy and content.”


Sources

HealthSpire

Related Resources

MECLABS Research Partnerships — Participate in a research project and drive conversion increases

Landing Page Optimization: 57 guides, case studies, examples and experiments to help you increase conversion and sales

Email Marketing: Landing Page Testing Less Popular But More Effective

Landing Page Optimization: How The New York Times Generated A 1,052% Cumulative Conversion Gain

Web Usability: Long Landing Page Nets 220% More Leads Than Above The Fold Call-To-Action

Landing Page Optimization: 262% Increase In Lead Rate

MECLABS Institute Landing Page Optimization online certification course (from the parent research institute of MarketingSherpa)

Call Center Optimization: How The Globe and Mail cut number of calls in half while increasing sales per hour

Call-to-Action Optimization: 132% increase in clickthrough from changing four simple words

Full Transcript of Video Interview

Daniel Burstein: In our marketing, we have a lot of assumptions about what we think will work. We have that golden gut. One of those assumptions is, long form doesn’t work. People want short, they want quick. They want quippy. Well, that’s why you’ve got to test and experiment and see what works. And we’re going to look at an experiment today that challenges that model.

    Hi, I’m Daniel Burstein. I’m the Senior Director of Content at Marketing and MECLABS Institute. And I’m joined by Denis Mrkva, the General Manager of HealthSpire, a subsidiary of Aetna. Thanks for joining us, Denis.

Denis Mkrva:     Thank you for having me.

Daniel:     So, here we’re going to look at an experiment that your team ran with MECLABS Institute. So let’s just start, pull it up on the screen, and we’ve got the control and Treatment 1 and Treatment 2. Let’s just start by telling us about HealthSpire briefly. Who are they? How does HealthSpire serve a customer?

Denis:     Well, HealthSpire is an Aetna subsidiary. And as such, we offer a portfolio of Medicare products for the seniors in the country that are eligible to purchase Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, as well as ancillary products such as dental and vision, cancer, heart attack and stroke. Really we’re trying to protect as much as we can and enable people to have that protection holistically for their health.

Daniel:     Okay. And so when we look at this landing page, what was the goal of the landing page?

Denis:     Well, the goal of the landing page, if you look at the first, the control version, that’s when HealthSpire started a year and a half ago. And as you said, we all want things to be shorter, cleaner and to the point. Unfortunately, when you deal with very complex products in an industry such as healthcare, it is not that easy to do.

    However, a year and a half ago when we started HealthSpire, the assumption was, or hypothesis was, that we want to have something that’s short and not confusing. What we were afraid of was that more information would create more confusion, more friction, hence, resulting in a negative outcome. So we decided to go with a first control version, simple, just outlining products we have without going in depth. And giving them a chance to contact us via phone, schedule a call or chat with us.

Daniel:     Let’s take a look at it. So what were you trying to do with these two treatments?

Denis:     Okay, then a few months after starting up that page, we realized it’s not working. We realized something is going on. And then I was fortunate to be referenced to MECLABS and Flint by my manager. And when we started talking to MECLABS, the lights went on. A light bulb went on. I realized that this discipline that MECLABS has in actually understanding the relevant content, understanding the audience that we want to service, understanding the products, is the way to go.

    So we engaged with MECLABS to create a new set of landing pages that are actually focused on how a consumer would like to interact with us and especially {inaudible} very targeted consumer segments who may not be that digitally savvy.  And so we started working on a few different prototypes.

    Again, we wanted to have something that has a bit more information, it’s more informative, but give two different looks and feels. One would be with a lot more information, in depth. Another one with less information, that would really service almost as a passthrough to people who have already done their research. And then we launched.

Daniel:     Yeah. So now you can see, if you’re watching too, look at the short versus the long. And think about that for a second. I think most people would assume, you can see how much longer that page is, short is going to work better. It’s quick, everything is right there, people don’t want to read through things that are long. Let’s take a quick look at the results.

    So now let me mention these results. They’re pretty astounding. We’re still in the middle of this experiment. Denis just happens to be joining us at our headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida, here. So that’s why we’re discussing it now. The results aren’t complete yet. But look at those early numbers. That’s pretty astounding of how well the long form is doing.

Denis:     It’s doing great, actually. And what we found out by working with MECLABS and testing things is that, at the end of the day, what we are asking somebody to do is call us and talk to a person. So having actually the person or the people that the customers will be talking to on the site, and actually having the opportunity to get to know the agents before they call, and providing the content that will actually create a relationship between the customer and the agent on the site even before they call us, are some of the reasons why we believe that Treatment 1 is doing a lot better.

Daniel:     I think what you’re doing there is a process level value proposition. Right?

Denis:     Yes.

Daniel:     You’re not trying to sell all of HealthSpire, all of your entire product. All you’re trying to do is get someone to make a call. And that could be a reason why the long form works better because who among us is like, “Yes, I want to get on a call with someone to sell me. That’s what I want to do. Let me grab that phone number right now.” No. You have to sell them on the value of the call, right?

Denis:     Yes. And the part of that value is the people we employ. If you think about the agents that work for HealthSpire, all of our agents are college graduates. We believe that since the product itself and the industry is actually very complex compared to some other industries I worked in, such as consumer finance or the P&C insurance industry — it is heavily regulated, it has a diverse set of products and plans, and to actually understand that, we do want to employ people who have cognitive skills. And I think a certificate of having cognitive skills in the country is having a college degree.

    So we wanted to really try to figure out how do we — and I ran analytics for some time in my previous career where we had always an opportunity to hire people with a high level of education — the question became, “How can we create a call center culture that becomes a value proposition for the college graduates who just spent maybe $40,000 or $50,000 on their education, and now we’re asking them to be on the phone?” It wouldn’t be appealing to me at all.

    And then also, inform our customers that in order for us to service them, it has to start with our employees first, how we train them, how we treat them, how we work with them, how we develop them. And that connection that’s being done on the digital landing page or the longer version is showing results. It’s working.

Daniel:     If we take a look deeper into the results of conversions, we see there’s also more conversions for the longer page. It’s clear, you’re not just getting more people, you’re getting probably better leads. But also, what you’re doing on the call center side is working.

    So let me ask you about that because we recently did a case study with The Globe and Mail, a large Canadian newspaper, and they have a call center there. And what they were telling me is, the real challenge is, (you probably have a bigger challenge than this) is there is such high turnover in call centers that they don’t really get people who understand the product enough. Right? So what they had to do is create this messaging guide and really give them all the information necessary to even someone who’s only there a short time to understand the product.

    It’s interesting what you talk about. You have even a bigger challenge. Understanding a newspaper is one thing. Understanding a complex product that you probably yourself don’t use because you’re not a senior citizen, is more difficult. So what are some of your tactics to, one, reduce turnover and create a working environment that’s amenable, and two, to educate them so they can help educate their customers and really understand the product?

Denis:     Well, that’s interesting because let’s suppose that we are running a basketball team. That’s our business, and as a coach and general manager, we show up for a game and we realize that our players don’t know how to play the game. Whose fault is that? It’s the coach and the manager’s. So the very first thing that we realized is that in order for people to do their jobs, we not only need to find the right talent and onboard that, but we need to continuously work on coaching them day in and day out.

    And through the process, the hardest part is how do you find a balance between them doing their job and having enough time to develop them into effective employees. But not only at a professional level, how do you help them personally develop themselves and get them ready for some other jobs within the company or outside the company? So very quickly we realized it all comes down to culture and environment.

    What I mean by that is that, see, when we ask somebody to be on the phone 9 or 10 hours, it’s humanly impossible to be focused on talking to customer after customer without having the ability to actually take some time off and reflect on, “What was I talking about in the last call that made me do well versus now?”

    Then we need to enable them to start learning about the fact that talking on the phone with somebody is perhaps the hardest sale you can make, and it has a lot to do with the psychology of people rather than just learning the product. Because what you’re trying to do is, in real time without looking at the person, persuade the person that if you have the right product for them and their needs with that, this is the right thing to do and to make a decision that will be very impactful on their well-being and financial health of their household budget.

    Now to do that you also need to take out product knowledge, you need to start helping them to understand the importance of listening, importance of being able to lead people in the conversation through certain decision-making that you have to do on their behalf. So very quickly we realized it’s not only about knowing the product and having a script that you can read, it’s about exploring behind, what’s behind a sale. On the phone, it has to do with the psychology of people and ability of people to adjust their approach to the customer given the differences they have listened to on the phone.

Daniel:     It sounds like empathy.

Denis:    It is.

Daniel:    Is that something that you look for when you’re hiring? Empathy?

Denis:     What we look for is — and it’s not easy, it’s not easy to evaluate people in an interview — is integrity. You have to do the right thing. And what are we doing here? We’re trying to find the right solution for the customer. And if there is no right solution for the customer with us, we will not sell. 

    Actually, we’ll recommend. Either stay with us or maybe you should go and call other providers that have a product — because we can help them find the better product. Even though we cannot sell to them, we can tell them, “Company X has this product, so you may want to go to this site.”

Daniel:     So that’s very interesting. I don’t want to lose that point because I assume you’re investing significant amounts to just get these calls, to begin with, on the landing page. And each call is valuable to you. So you’re saying that you train your call center employees when you don’t have the right product for them, to find the right product for them, wherever it’s from, to point them in another direction.

Denis:     Indeed.

Daniel:     That’s outstanding.

Denis:     That’s I think, if you think about HealthSpire, as I said, is a subsidiary of Aetna. Aetna has been in existence for more than 160 years. And if you take a look at our competition, perhaps the one that’s the second oldest one is most likely a hundred years younger than us. There’s a reason why Aetna survived all those decades or century and a half, more than a century and a half, and that’s the ability not only to anticipate change that is coming but actually to be around people who believe that our job is, our fiduciary responsibility is, to make money for our shareholders and to maximize that. But the way, how we achieve that is the right way. And when you put these two together I think you maximize both. You maximize the financial performance of the company and you maximize an employee satisfaction engagement that then allows you to sustain the business model.

Daniel:     It’s more fulfilling to employees to really serve the customer even when they’re not selling their own product, it sounds like.

Denis:     It’s human nature. I’d be surprised if you, maybe not every one of us, but if you take us in general, our nature is to help somebody. Would you agree?

Daniel:     Totally.

Denis:     So we need to enable people to be people in the workplace.

Daniel:     Let me ask you about that because enabling people to be people in the workplace, that could be a challenging call center. So I wonder how you monitor individual performance. Because a lot of what you’re talking about would go against the metrics we see in a lot of other call centers. It’s about the amount of calls they can make in a day or getting off the phone quickly, some of these things. It almost seems like a factory production. So how do you monitor individual performance and allow people to be people in a call center?

Denis:     It’s interesting you said that because before taking this position about 18 months ago, I never ran a business, a startup. I was in the area of analytics my entire career. It’s a function of support which you contribute, but it’s really not directly responsible for the performance of the business. And when I started learning about this, when I started my job, I reached out to people to see how other people do that. It’s new to me.

    I started thinking about things such as average handling time, minimizing average handling time. And I was thinking, and I realized, “No, I want to maximize the average handling time, given the maximum productivity.” In other words, we don’t monitor average handling time. With our agents, we have goals, what we need to sell, and then we have a very strict process on how we sell.

    That process ensures that we stay in compliance with the federal as well as state regulations because some products are regulated by the federal government, some by state. The process in which we ensure that going from introducing yourself to sale is not two minutes because in two minutes you cannot understand consumer needs. And even if they call you with a specific, preconceived notion of what they want to buy, we still want you to understand their needs because given how complex the industry is, many people actually need more education.

    So it’s easy to us. We employ people to sell but do it in a way that we want it to be done, which is actually serving that customer. And that’s what we monitor. We monitor productivity and quality. How many calls you took, how much time spent, if you sold two policies today and that’s your goal, you’re going to go home. You go home. 

    You have to allow people, give people goals, enable them with the support they have and make sure that you hire people who are accountable. And accountability comes down to making sure that one does his or her job. Part of that is not how long we talk on the phone, how many calls. It’s actually how you’re doing the right thing and how we’re meeting our goals.

Daniel:     And it sounds like diverging from the script when it’s necessary?

Denis:     Yeah, because the script guides you through the framework of sales. What I mean by that is, often if you call somebody to buy insurance products, most likely they sell only one product. And when you sell only one product, you don’t want to know the consumer needs. Because if the needs tell you they need product B, which you don’t sell, guess what? You don’t have to sell. So you’re pitching the product you have.

    Now we have every product that’s out there. So a script allows them to systematically go through the process. And that’s important because most of our people that work for HealthSpire, including myself, we don’t have sales experience. And after a while, you see that the agents start not only memorizing, it becomes very natural for them, but we still let them be them. 

    Their personalities have to come to the phone. The way they assess the situations come to the phone. It cannot be a robot talking on the other end of the phone and reading word for word, which in some cases you have to do when you get to the certain regulated things. But in the process of assessing the needs, selling, we want them to be themselves.

Daniel:     Yeah, if you want people to be robots you could just use AI at this point, right? You bring that humanity and their personality into it, sounds like?

Denis:     You have to because the difference between buying a retail item, piece of clothing, and buying insurance is different. We’re talking about, what I would say, is this emotional purchase, “I like this jacket. I want this jacket. Do I have enough money? That’s the only thing I need to know. Do I like it? Do I have enough money? Then I’m going to buy it.”

    Health insurance is a rational decision. And in that rational decision given the complexity, it’s good to have another human being thinking with you through what the implications are, what my options are. “How do I choose between these options?” And even though I do believe in numbers and technology, I don’t think AI can get us that at this point in time. Even then, you’ll still need to have some human aspect in the process.

Daniel:     Absolutely. Let me ask you lastly. You mentioned Aetna is a 160-year-old company. HealthSpire is a startup within that company.

Denis:     Yes.

Daniel:     So what have you learned from that from maybe learning the best from an established enterprise company and learning the best from startup culture?

Denis:     If you think about Aetna and HealthSpire, its relationship between Aetna investing in HealthSpire and taking a risk to invest in a different business model that doesn’t exist today. Well, at least doesn’t exist at the large scale. So what I learned is that as in any startup it really takes a few things. 

    The first becomes, “Are there people who are willing to invest, that have a vision of where they want to go?” I was lucky enough to be part of the company that has senior leadership who realized that the market is changing, the consumer demographics are changing, the profile of people that we employ is changing. So we need to learn this. And secondly, a person that wants that job has to have a vision that’s aligned with the overall vision of people that are willing to invest. You have to have a certain level of courage to try things that are not tried before.

    And most importantly, you have to surround yourself with people who have similar traits. People who are curious. People who are not afraid of challenges. People who are willing to sacrifice their time when the time comes to make things work. And most importantly, people understand that the success of their organization is not in having the products or the processes; It’s actually having the people on the team. If you have the right people and if you make them happy and content, our customers will be happy and content.

Daniel:  Excellent. All right. Well, thank you very much, Denis.

Denis:      You’re very, very welcome.

Daniel:  Thank you for sharing this test, and I hope you enjoyed this experiment and learning a little more about call center optimization.



Landing Page Optimization: How Aetna’s HealthSpire startup generated 638% more leads for its call center was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Finding a Happy Medium: Should You Use Medium for Your company's Content?

You’ve likely read an article on Medium before, even if you didn’t notice the boxed “M” hanging out in the corner of your screen. The platform houses tons of popular content created by both its users and publications alike. A place for thoughtful, long-form, niche and technical content, it's not surprising that everyone from CEOs to freelance journalists posts there regularly. Increasingly, businesses and publications have been using this platform for their content distribution. With all that in mind, is Medium the right way for your business to reach new readers?

What is Medium?

Thirty million users visit the content platform Medium.com each month. Founded by Ev Williams (the former CEO of Twitter), the platform-CMS-community hybrid has made a lot of changes in how it operates alongside both publishers and marketers. An increasing number of businesses are using Medium for their company blogs, and many publishers are starting to host and distribute their entire content library through it. Like any platform, there are pros and cons for its utilization in a business's digital marketing efforts. By examining the capabilities and options businesses have in Medium through an organic search marketing perspective, I hope to provide a deeper insight into if you should utilize Medium to improve your company's digital content community.

Medium as a CMS

Managing your content on Medium is extremely simple. There aren't a ton of different editing options, but it is all you need to publish written digital content effectively. Medium is a CMS without a million different plugins and add-ons, making the publishing experience fast and easy. Unlike WordPress, which has an endless amount of design themes to choose from, Medium allows for very limited on-page visual customization. This is certainly a con for larger sites, as it limits your use of visual branding elements that make your company unique.

Medium allows for Google Analytics integration to its sites, but it also has a limited amount of built-in measurement for your posts both individually and as a group in its CMS. It uses three metrics: Views, Reads and Recommends.

A graph showing the standard Medium analytics view.

‘Views’ refer to the number of users that clicked on an article. ‘Reads’ is the number of people who actually read the article; which, as far as we can tell, is calculated using the amount of time a user spends on the page and the estimated read time that is shown at the top of each article. ‘Recommends’ is the Medium equivalent of a share on its platform. The emphasis that the analytics metrics put on the time users spend on the page suggests that the Medium algorithm favors posts that people read an entire article. This is one of the reasons the platform works so well for long-form, informative and academic content.  

Medium as a Content Platform

Certainly one of the most appealing parts of utilizing Medium is its large network of engaged users. The company reported a 300% increase in users since last year and has continued to grow. Many large publishers and companies use Medium including sweetgreen, General Electric and Signal v Noise (BaseCamp’s Blog).

Medium’s user-base is very focused on getting high-quality content that is not watered down. This is shown through Medium’s pivot in its business model earlier this year where it no longer offered advertising services for publishers. Their business model relies on putting more of an emphasis on content. So, if you’re a publishing site that gets most (if not all) of its revenue from banner ads, Medium may not be a wise choice for your business.

Recently, Medium has shifted its business model to open up a membership program where readers pay a monthly fee for access to extra features (like audio versions of popular posts) and can “clap” for posts they really enjoy and send the writers a portion of their monthly membership fee for compensation to the writer. There haven’t been any studies done yet to indicate that this has slowed the growth or the engagement on the platform, as the monthly fee is also required to access all of the content on the platform.

Despite that, Medium is an excellent platform for emerging publishers or startups’ blogs for this reason. Users actually read the content. The Medium team puts a heavy focus on the amount of time spent reading each post, and measures time reading meticulously, taking pauses and sidescroller movement into account. In 2016 its users spent an average 4.5 million hours per month reading on the platform. Its users can also subscribe to blogs, authors, tags or categories of posts that they like in their custom feeds. The essentially built-in audience that Medium provides to its publishers is a great platform for your site to jump off from. It helps to build your users in a quicker and easier way.

Case Study: TheRinger.com

TheRinger.com was one of the first large publishing sites that began using Medium for their initial content distribution strategy. The Ringer is a product of the Bill Simmons’ podcast network and already has an audience following from its previous incarnation (Grantland). In this interview by Recode, Simmons expands on his media projects’ relationship with the Medium platform. He explains that initially, they utilized Medium as a way for them to maintain a website without spending most of their funds on development projects. This is another way small or startup companies can utilize medium as both a content network and a platform.

Update: As of June 14th, 2017 The Ringer as migrated off of the Medium platform and now partners with Vox Media. In the case of this article, it makes sense to use The Ringer as an example of a company that grew with Medium and then outgrew the platform and easily transitioned to a new one after ending its relationship.

Custom domains vs. Medium-generated domains

Later, in the above-mentioned podcast interview, Simmons goes on to explain that even now that they can no longer sell banner ads on the site (they are funded entirely by podcast ads anyways), that they will stay on the platform a little bit longer. However, they intend to build their own site eventually. This shows that many new websites that are looking to eventually ‘outgrow’ Medium, should opt to use a custom domain rather than a Medium generated domain (like, www.medium.com/site-name). Although depending on a platform to both hold and distribute all of your content is considered risky, generally. It is possible to move your content off of Medium, and this would be much easier if you utilize a custom domain rather than Medium’s.

The Ringer having migrated off of the platform has experienced minimal issues with the transition.

On the other hand, if you plan on staying inside of the Medium platform, for much smaller companies and blogs, it could also be an advantage to utilize Medium’s high domain authority (92), to help boost your traffic in organic search results rather than switching to your own domain and starting from zero.

What if you already have a website?

All of the suggestions I’ve made so far about the utilization of Medium in your digital marketing efforts have been centered around newer sites. However, there are a few ways to get your content seen on its network if you already have a site that has a regular audience and a domain.

  1. You can republish your content on Medium. Medium allows you to canonicalize content you post onto the Medium network to your own website. This makes it so you get neither a duplicate content penalty or get outranked by your Medium posts in the SERP. Just, make sure that you are canonicalizing back to your site’s original post. You can import a story here. Baremetrics, an analytics tool, recently published a post revealing that they actually had a larger audience outside of the medium platform and as a result have largely removed their content from Medium as they have more success with their website off of the platform. However, in the post they do note that they republish content after its initial publish date by 2 weeks and use the import tool to canonicalize to their own site.
  2. You can also migrate your site to the platform fairly easily. However, do not do this unless you are sure that its limited CMS and user-base is right for you. If you create a lot of long form informative content and have limited development help or need, migrating your site to Medium is an option to consider.

Medium and Technical SEO

When I first started examining Medium from an SEO perspective, I was alarmed by the amount of URLs associated with each page. Both author and post pages use around eight URLs similar to, “https://theringer.com/@michaelweinreb?source=---------1”.  However, all of these extra URLs are for tracking purposes and are properly canonicalized, so there should not be duplicate content issues as a result.

Medium also has an interesting sitemap strategy. All of Medium’s sitemaps are auto-generated, as many platforms are. What makes Medium’s different is it generates a different sitemap section of the index sorted by date (see image below):

Generating sitemaps by date is very effective for timely content. So, if your site has a lot of content that is centered around news or trending topics, Medium’s sitemap sorting strategy should have a positive impact on your search visibility.

These dated sitemaps may also have a correlation with the priority many Medium sites seem to get when it comes to timely content in the SERPs, making them a sound strategy for news sites.

Takeaways

While using Medium for your blog (or your site) might not be the right choice in every situation, there are many ways that this platform can help you to grow an audience more quickly or begin a content heavy site with minimal development startup. This platform is ideal for small startup businesses’ blogs and publishing sites just starting to grow an audience.

Like most platforms, it’s a risk to put all of your content into a separate companies hands, and given how much Medium has changed already, this is certainly something to keep in mind when choosing to serve your blog on it. It has a very engaged audience of readers, and if your content resonates with its community, it can really help get your content out there. Medium is a great place for long-form, educational and intellectual content, so if your blog or website fits into those genres, Medium is certainly a platform to consider.


Finding a Happy Medium: Should You Use Medium for Your company's Content? was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Friday, April 20, 2018

Elements of a Viral Social Media Campaign

Elements-of-a-Viral-Social-Media-Campaign

Social media has become the world’s most popular digital platforms over the past few years. With billions of registered users in all platforms combined, this has helped create an interconnected world in which communication, interaction, and promotion has now become much more efficient and accessible.

The rise of social media platforms not only changed the way people communicate, but it also helped various companies and their brands to find new ways to communicate with their audience as well. With digital marketing becoming the new standard in promoting businesses, the use of social media has been a game-changer, as it can help obscure brands become household names in a short period of time.

The increase in popularity of these brands is a result of viral social media campaigns. Becoming “viral” on the internet means that a topic or brand is popular over a certain period of time, being mentioned on multiple websites and social media platforms. Creating a social media campaign that can get viral takes a lot of effort and the right timing, along with key elements that make it all work. With that in mind, here are the crucial elements of a viral social media campaign.

The Right Platform

Getting viral on social media begins by promoting your content on the right platform. Currently, the most popular social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It is best to know which platform your audience prefers to use regularly and picking the right one would help boost traffic and interactions by a huge amount. For example, when it comes to news and major announcements, Twitter is the best platform to use. As evidenced by this Tweet from Disney announcing an upcoming movie.

Viral Tweet

The right platform makes a big difference, as it would be a starting point in which your content would gain traffic and be shared to other platforms.

Knowing Your Audience

When it comes to any social media marketing strategy, audience targeting will always be the key, as it would help you identify and narrow down their preferences and interests. Various brands and products ensure that they cater to the right audience to be able to achieve the best impression. One example of a successful social media campaign is the Know Your Lemons campaign, which aimed to inform and educate women around the world about breast cancer.

Know Your Lemons

For this case, the target demographic is clear and well-defined, which allowed the campaign to become successful and reach multiple countries across the world. When it comes to establishing campaigns, it is best to know what the audience wants and needs before taking further steps.

Have a Purpose

Things become viral on the internet for many different reasons. Whether it be a fun and creative Super Bowl commercial:

Alexa Super Bowl Commercial

Or a hilarious tweet that people can relate to:

Memes

The most viral social media campaigns have at least one of these two ingredients: entertaining or informative. An entertaining social media campaign always gets people talking about it for a long time. However, if you are a company that wants to sell through viral marketing, taking the informative approach is the best way to go. These kinds of campaigns make full use of images such as infographics and video marketing to become viral.

A fine example of an infographic that is informative and sells is Home Depot’s “Color Theory”, which informs the audience about how different colors mix and work together, which in turn advertises their paint products.

Color theory

As you can see, infographics not only help sell a product to their audience but also provide useful information that makes it something that is beyond entertaining. Once again, creating helpful content is a great way to sell and promote your brand, and eventually, go viral.

Evoke Emotion

One of the best ways to gain audience interest using social media campaigns is by evoking emotions that they can relate to. Some of the most successful social media campaigns evoke happy and positive emotions, like Norway’s #SheepWithAView campaign, which promoted tourism in the country through the use of sheep that guide people to some wonderful destinations. This is an example of a lighthearted social media campaign done right.

Norway Tourism

An example of a more serious social media campaign is WWF’s #EndangeredEmoji, which promotes awareness of the world’s most endangered species.

WWF Endangered

Emotions help sell the product and keep the audience invested, which prompts them to share it with people they know through social media.

Timing Matters

One of the best ways content can get viral on the internet is by posting and sharing it at the right time. For brands, this can mean many different things. Some viral campaigns take advantage of certain events, like sporting events, where a bulk of viral marketing has happened in the past few years.

Share A Coke

Brands can also take advantage of seasons like Christmas to promote their products, which helps increase your chances of going viral.

Samsung Holiday Ad

As you can see, timing counts, and taking a “Strike while the iron is hot” approach will pay dividends for your social media campaign.

Key Takeaway

Social media campaigns are some of the best ways to sell and promote products and advocacies to today’s audience, which is why getting viral is crucial to make it successful. By having these aforementioned elements, you are bound to have a social media campaign that would help bring success to your brand.

If you have questions about Social Media Marketing or SEO in general, leave a comment below and let’s talk.


Elements of a Viral Social Media Campaign was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Adding Content Before Subscription Checkout Increases Product Revenue 38%

Adding content to a process that leads to revenue for a company seems like a bad idea — particularly when that process is already five steps long. But for iReach (at the time, a division of PRNewswire) the decision to add content led to a 31% increase in conversion and a 38% increase in product revenue.

The Control Checkout Process

Here’s the control entry page:


Click on images to enlarge

 

Here’s an example of the following five cart pages in the control process:

In the data, it appeared that many people were exiting the process due to confusion and a lack of information. After studying customer service inquiries, it was clear that there were many questions potential customers had that were not being answered in the process.

The Treatment Checkout Process

Here’s the treatment entry page:

Below the call-to-action are links to additional content about the product for specific customer segments. Each piece of content was designed to answer further questions the PRN team hypothesized most customers were asking about the product in their minds.

These changes along with a clear product selection page (below) generated a significant result.

 

The Results

By adding steps in the process — particularly product information and a clear product matrix, iReach generated a 31% increase in conversion and 38% more revenue from its subscription/ecommerce offering

You Might Also Like

Call Center Optimization: How A Nonprofit Increased Donation Rate 29% With Call Center Testing

How A Nonprofit Leveraged A Value Proposition Workshop To See A 136% Increase In Conversions

How One Ecommerce Company Generated a 34% Increase by Simply Being Factual About its Product

 


Adding Content Before Subscription Checkout Increases Product Revenue 38% was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Common CRO Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

There are so many intricacies to Conversion Rate Optimization and UX testing, it’s easy to feel like you’re on information overload. There are tons of metrics you can compare, various reports you can dive into, a plethora of ways to form hypotheses and implement tests, several platforms for testing to choose from, and the list goes on.

There are some great comprehensive posts out there to help you master these intricacies. A few of my favorites are:

  1. This master guide to CRO from ConversionXL which addresses every phase of the process from preliminary research to analyzing AB test results. For when you’re getting started with CRO work.
  2. This framework from Moz to CRO. It breaks the process down into steps that are easy to follow and asks and answers questions that follow along with each step. Use for diving deeper into CRO.
  3. And Neil Patel's guide to CRO which breaks down CRO on a more conceptual level. Use to fill in the knowledge gaps and answer questions you have along the way.
  4. Craig Sullivan’s 1 hour CRO guide is also very comprehensive. Use if you’re trying to get some quick research done.

There’s a lot to digest in those posts, so I wanted to give you some common mistakes and tricky issues with CRO that you might overlook if it is your first time going through the process.

To Refresh Your Memory

The very basic steps of a CRO process include:

  1. Exploratory heuristic analysis: going through the site as if you were a user and see where it does/doesn’t meet expectations as you move through the funnel. Explore where users might get caught up in navigating the site.
  2. Examination of Multi Channel Funnel reports, Landing Page, and Goal Reports in Google Analytics. Determine what pages, events, or users would be most valuable to track. Also get some basic benchmarks so that you have something to compare post-testing stats to later.
  3. Set up tracking (if you don’t have it already) on key pages. Track important KPIs, CTAs, element visibility, etc. using something like Hotjar, GTM, GA goals, etc.
  4. Generate hypotheses from gathered data and get approval. Prioritize these hypotheses based on ease of implementation, projected impact, return on investment.
  5. Generate test ideas based on hypotheses.
  6. Implement tests using Optimizely, VWO, Google Optimize, etc.
  7. Wait until tests generate statistically significant results. However, depending on the page and the levels of traffic or conversions that it gets, you may have to give it some more time.
  8. Reevaluate tests if unsuccessful or implement test changes at scale.

Among these steps (which are already a summary) there are dozens of minute details that are very easy to overlook or skip altogether. The rest of this post will cover common CRO mistakes that a beginner might make:

  1. You don’t have tracking set up properly
  2. You run tests at inopportune times of the year
  3. The sample size for your test is inadequate
  4. You aren’t running your test long enough
  5. Statistics confuses you
  6. You treat all traffic the same
  7. Your process is unorganized

1. You don’t have tracking set up correctly

Having tracking correctly set up is crucial. Not only should you have heatmap and user session tracking set up on the pages you are planning to analyze, but you should have micro-conversion tracking set up via Google Tag Manager. Setting up tracking in GTM for clicks and user engagement, like scroll depth and element visibility, will provide valuable data on how users are interacting with elements and CTAs on your pages. This is immensely helpful when determining which pages to analyze and while forming hypotheses and test ideas for these pages.

One very valuable trigger in GTM is the element visibility trigger, which can assist in collecting information on whether or not an element is visible on a page, and thus if a user is likely to engage with it or if a user can engage with it at all. The trigger gives you a more meaningful indication of scroll depth based on tracking elements as opposed to percentage scrolled. This post for getting it set up is very helpful.

If you don't have GTM event tracking set up at all, it’s pretty simple, and these guides can help: here’s a simple how-to to set it up, or this video.

2. You don’t pay attention to the calendar when launching a test

Seasonality is not a myth. It can truly inform decision making during preliminary research through to the A/B testing stage. Without taking seasonality into account, you run the risk of achieving invalid or inaccurate results.  For example, running a test at a known low point in your sales cycle, or during the end of December may not be the wisest idea for most companies.

Why? Timing is crucial because:

  1. If you run a test at a lull in traffic, the longer a test is going to need to run to reach significance.
  2. You want the test to be performed on the most qualified traffic possible. Running a test at an off (or really on) time of the season may not demonstrate an accurate representation of your typical traffic.
  3. Traffic typically fluctuates during the week quite a bit, meaning you should probably start and end your test on the same day of the week for the most accurate results.
  4. Similarly, user intent around the holiday season, or at different points of the year may not be indicative of the most qualified traffic. The data that results could be less than useful for determining whether or not your test could be successful at scale (a hard enough task to accomplish with good data).

3. Your sample size for testing isn’t big enough

Having a large enough sample size to quantify your test results is crucial. Without an appropriate sample size, you may never get results or the results you get might not be meaningful. Luckily, there are tools to help determine proper sample size:

It is also helpful to be conscious of the level of traffic your test pages receive. Low traffic pages may be difficult to test on because it could take a long time to reach statistical significance, particularly if there are few conversions on these pages. Basing the impact of a test on a small number of conversions and traffic may not indicate how a test would perform if pushed at scale. For sites or pages with low traffic, you might need to think about making a big change(s) in your test variation(s) instead of smaller changes in order to see the needle move. From there, you can always adjust tests and reevaluate.

4. You’re not running the test for long enough

This point tends to correlate with the point above on sample size. It’s likely that you will not have to do a lot of the work here because many platforms have built-in features for calculating and demonstrating results to the tester. However, it is really important to understand how statistical significance works, even at a basic level, to make sense of A/B testing and your results.

Every A/B testing post you’ll find will say to run your test until it reaches statistical significance. But what does that mean exactly? In (very) short, statistical significance explains how confident you can be that you are choosing the right result between two or more variations. This can be confusing if you’re less mathematically inclined, but the next section of this post lists resources to basic statistics primers specifically for CRO.

Generally speaking, running your test until (or even slightly after) it reaches significance is a decent rule of thumb. Even if you obtain “significance” very shortly after you begin your test, it is wise to keep the test running to account for users who may convert several days after their initial visit. Also, it is important to consider accounting for different business cycles (at least 1-2), because, as stated previously, traffic fluctuates at different points of the week, month, quarter, etc.

I also like these articles: this one for explaining how long to run a test and this for explaining the factors that play into in determining statistical validity.

5. You’re Making Some Basic Statistical Errors

There are a lot of resources out there for testing methodology and for learning statistics basics that matter for CRO. One of the most important fundamentals is understanding statistical significance.

See:

6. You treat all traffic the same

If you run an A/B test on a page and the variation performed poorly, it is possible to paint a very different picture when you look at the results broken down by a different segment of traffic. For example, if you look at the breakdown between desktop and mobile test results, it could prove that a test generates extremely significant results on mobile, but is a bust on desktop. This is because what works on desktop may not work on mobile, and vice versa. Here’s an illustrative example of how mobile vs. desktop test result data could be misleading:

In the example above, the change in conversion rate between the control and variant effectively cancel each other out. In this example, there would clearly be a missed opportunity here on mobile if we were to view only the combined results instead of breaking them down by device.

It is important to be conscious of this concept of segmenting results not only for analyzing test results, but for the initial research and hypothesizing that goes into ideating for tests as well. Distinguishing between different types of traffic (e.g. mobile vs. desktop, new vs. returning users, or traffic source) to form segments of your users can help to differentiate and find patterns in the type of people who convert. Doing this can better inform the way you create hypotheses and tests. In turn, you may end up with far more meaningful results.

7. Your testing process is a little less than organized

A lot can get lost in the shuffle here. So staying on top of managing a list of your prioritized hypotheses and test ideas, currently running tests, failed tests, and successful tests that will be iterated upon is important.

For example, it’s easy enough to keep track of results in a spreadsheet like this:

Recording all hypotheses in one place with the reasoning behind them and data to back them will save you time and energy down the line, especially when communicating with clients/stakeholders.

There are other platforms designed to specifically to manage CRO pursuits. Effective Experiments is a comprehensive project management tool that holds everything from ideas to test results. This is great for managing and sharing tests in one place that multiple people can access and review. (AKA great for sharing with stakeholders or team members who are not directly involved in the CRO process themselves).


Common CRO Mistakes & How to Avoid Them was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Cloohawk Twitter Assistant Review

Cloohawk Twitter Assistant Review

Twitter has grown into one of the most popular social media platforms since its launch back in 2006. Currently, the platform has over 1 billion registered users, which makes it one of the best platforms that help increase your audience and grow your brand. When it comes to growing your brand through Twitter, having the right tools would help boost that growth much faster.

One of these social media engagement tools is Cloohawk, which is a social media engagement tool that aims to monitor your social media accounts, identify the best strategies, and organize tasks that help in audience growth. With these features, this could be the social media tool that you have been looking for. This is one of the newer tools available and will look to see more improvements, like support for social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Before we get into the review, we would like you to try out Cloohawk for yourself by availing for a 14-day free trial by signing up and clicking here.

Signing Up

Signing up for Cloohawk is very simple, as you only need to sign-in your Twitter account.

Cloohawk Twitter Login

After logging in, the next step is to add your Twitter account to the list of accounts that you would be managing. Applying to the Plus Plan allows you to add a maximum of 6 accounts, which can be more than enough for your brand’s social media accounts.

Add Account

After adding your account, the next step is to add the topics that your audience talks about. It is best to use more specific terms to ensure that you would be able to reach your intended audience. You can input as many topics as you want, as long as they fit your audience preference, and gives you more ways to connect with them.

Cloohawk Interest

The next step allows you to input topics that you would like to be excluded. This increases your focus on relevant content and narrows down the topics that you would like to track.

Cloohawk Remove Topics

The fourth step is perhaps one of the most important features of Cloohawk, as it allows you to tack the accounts of your competitors. This will help Cloohawk assess different strategies that can help you keep your head high amongst the competition.

Cloohawk Competitors

The final step is adding the location of your target audience, this can help provide you a more focused group of people to engage with. You can input up to three locations, and you have the option to target a worldwide audience as well.

Cloohawk Locations

Managing Your Account

After finishing all of the steps when adding your account, Cloohawk will be analyzing your account, and devise tasks that would help you engage with your audience and grow your influence. These tasks can include posting tweets about the latest news stories, following accounts that your audience follows, retweeting relevant content, and even liking tweets.

Cloohawk Tasks

This makes managing your Twitter account much more efficient, as it helps you share and post content much quicker with less hassle than having to go through different accounts and tweets manually. The ability to narrow down relevant content and accounts. The best part about this tool is that you can manage multiple accounts smoothly, without having to log in and out constantly.

Let us try accomplishing a simple task using Cloohawk.

Cloohawk Retweet Task

One of the tasks that were assigned to the account is retweeting relevant content. You will be provided a number of relevant tweets that you can retweet. After picking one, all you have to do is to add a comment and retweet away. You have the option of choosing when to retweet, as you can retweet it immediately, or allow Cloohawk to post it at a time where the potential of gaining traffic is high.

You can monitor and track the number of tasks that you have been doing by taking a look at the Performance Report. This helps you view the amount of activity that you have been doing with your account.

Cloohawk Performance

Lastly, you can adjust and customize the tasks by adding a certain set of rules. This will help create more focused and specified tasks that will improve your tweet engagement.

Cloohawk RulesCloohawk Rules 2

Verdict

With a user-friendly interface and the ability to seamlessly switch to different accounts, Cloohawk is definitely a quality tool that is worth the investment. Our team uses social media management tools to handle the accounts of our clients, and Cloohawk is a welcome addition to our toolbox, as it gives us another tool that makes the process much easier.

Key Takeaway

When it comes to efficient and quality social media management tools, Cloohawk is one of the best choices available. Its simplicity and reliability allows you to operate smoothly with little to no issues, and help boost your audience engagement further than before.

If you have questions about SEO or SMM, leave a comment below and let’s talk.


Cloohawk Twitter Assistant Review was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing