But how do you know it will be effective?
While there’s no sure way to know if your campaign will turn heads, there is a way to gauge whether those new aspects of your strategy will be effective.
If you want to know if certain components of your campaign — like that sparkly new logo or the new employee takeover series — is worth the effort, consider conducting a marketing experiment.
Marketing experiments give you a projection of how well marketing methods will perform before you implement them. If you want to know the different types and how you can use them within your organization, keep reading.
What’s a Marketing Experiment?
A marketing experiment is a form of market research. It’s a test organizations run to discover possible marketing avenues that will improve a campaign.
For instance, a marketing team might create and send emails to a small segment of their overall readership to gauge engagement rates, before adding them into a campaign. Additionally, they might A/B test the design of these emails. In this example, the team is creating a hypothesis (that a certain email design will help promote their campaign) and testing the hypothesis in a marketing experiment.
It’s important to note that a marketing experiment isn’t synonymous with a marketing test. Marketing experiments are done for the purpose of discovery, while a test confirms theories.
Ultimately, a marketing experiment can help you ensure your campaign or strategy will be effective. Next, let’s dive into how to conduct a marketing experiment.
How to Conduct a Marketing Experiment
Performing a marketing experiment lets you try out different methods of running a campaign to see which one will perform the best. It involves doing background research, structuring the experiment, and analyzing the results.
Now, let’s go through the five steps necessary to conduct a marketing experiment.
1. Make a hypothesis.
Hypotheses aren’t just related to science projects. When conducting a marketing experiment, the first step is to make a hypothesis you’re curious to test.
Let’s say you want to make a marketing email that will improve engagement rates. A good hypothesis for this might be, “Making an email with emojis in both the subject line and copy will increase our engagement rates by at least 25%.” This is a good hypothesis because you can prove or disprove it, it isn’t subjective, and it has a clear measurement of achievement.
2. Collect research.
After creating your hypothesis, begin to gather research. Doing this will give you background knowledge about experiments that have already been conducted and get an idea of possible outcomes.
Researching your experiment can help you modify your hypothesis if needed. If your hypothesis is, “Making an email with an emojis in the subject line and copy will increase our engagement rates by at least 25%,” and research on trends in your audience on email subject lines show that to be true, you know you have a solid hypothesis. However, if other companies in your industry haven’t seen success from emojis in emails, you might want to reconsider.
3. Choose measurement metrics.
Once you’ve collected the research, you can choose which avenue you will take and what metrics to measure.
For instance, maybe you will run an A/B test. This method will allow you to measure the results of two different emails, and figure out which email performs better with your target audience..
For a marketing email test, consider measuring impressions, reach, conversion rate, or clickthrough rate (CTR). These email metrics can let you know how many people are receiving, opening, and reading your emails, and will help you analyze the results of your hypothesis.
4. Create and execute the experiment.
Now it’s time to create and perform the experiment. If you’re creating an A/B test to prove your hypothesis about emojis in emails, then you’ll want to create two emails — one with a plain text subject line, and an identical email with 1-2 emojis added to the subject line. Try to only make slight variations between emails A and B to ensure accuracy.
When you’re finished designing the experiment, come up with a timeline, and decide how you’ll monitor the results. That way, when conducting the A/B test, you’ll be prepared to swiftly figure out which email performed better.
Finally, choose your recipients and conduct the experiment. Next, you’ll analyze your results.
5. Analyze the results.
Once you’ve run the experiment, collect and analyze the results. Use the metrics you’ve decided upon in the second step and conclude if your hypothesis was correct or not.
The prime indicators for success will be the metrics you chose to focus on.
For instance, for the marketing email example, did engagement numbers appear higher? If the CTR, impressions, and click-to-open rates are at or higher than the 25% goal, the experiment would be considered one where the hypothesis was accepted.
Now that you know how to conduct a marketing experiment, let’s go over a few different ways to run them.
Types of Marketing Experiments
There are many types of marketing experiments you can conduct with your team. These tests will help you determine how aspects of your campaign will perform before you roll out the campaign as a whole.
1. A/B Testing
A/B testing is a popular marketing experiment in which two versions of a webpage, email, or social post are presented to an audience (randomly divided in half). This test determines which version performs better with your audience.
HubSpot’s email tool offers an A/B test feature for Professional and Enterprise users. Alternatively, check out 8 of the Best A/B Testing Tools for 2019 for options of other tools to help you perform A/B tests.
This method is useful because you can better understand the preferences of users who will be using your product.
2. Different CTAs
Experimenting with different CTAs can improve the number of people who engage with your content. For instance, instead of using “Buy now!” to pull customers in, why not try, “Learn more?”
You can also test different colors of CTAs as opposed to copy. Another CTA factor that I’ve been seeing around are ones that are animated.
To learn more about different types of CTAs, check out 8 Types of CTAs You Should Absolutely Try on Your Blog.
For a CTA-related marketing experiment, you’ll want to either use PPC ads or landing pages to insert your CTA . From there, measure relevant metrics based on your hypothesis and design of the button.
3. Animated Ads
As a big purveyor of GIFs in the workplace, animating ads are a great way to catch the attention of potential customers. Animating ads don’t necessarily mean using GIFs — you might also try small videos or ads with multiple cards, which can catch the attention of web browsers.
This Instagram ad from Buffer, above, uses multimedia to make their post pop. If you’re testing out PPC advertising, try diversifying those ads to capture the interest of more audiences. Additionally, you might run different types of copy with your ads to see which language compels your audience to click.
4. Social Media Platforms
Is there a social media site you’re not using? For instance, lifestyle brands might prioritize Twitter and Instagram, but implementing Pinterest opens the door for an untapped audience.
You might consider testing which hashtags or visuals you use on certain social media sites to see how well they perform. The more you use certain social platforms, the more you can iterate based on what your audience is engaging with the most.
5. Experiment Globally
If you post on an Eastern Time Zone (ET) schedule, run an experiment that involves Pacific or Central Time Zones.
You might even use your social media analytics to determine which countries or regions you should focus on — for instance, my Twitter Analytics, below, demonstrates where most of my audience resides. If, alternatively, I saw most of my audience came from India, I might need to alter my social strategy to ensure I catered to India’s Time Zone, as well.
When experimenting with different time zones, consider making content specific to the audience you’re trying to reach. If you’re trying to reach global audiences, why not post something in a few different languages? Alternatively, if you have international offices, you might spotlight different employees from your offices all over the globe.
Ultimately, marketing experiments are a cost-effective way to get a picture of how new content ideas will work in your next campaign, which is critical for ensuring you continue to delight your audience. For more new content ideas, check out our ultimate round-up here.
WordPress vs Wix vs Brandcast: 4 factors to help you choose between them
You’ve put off your website redesign for too long.
You’re losing leads and your brand looks dated and out of touch. It’s time to create a new website that will help you attract leads, close deals, and grow your business.
The question is, however: which website platform should you use?
There are so many website platform options these days that it can be hard to choose which is best for your business.
Different platforms deliver different benefits, so it’s important to understand how your business goals align with the capabilities of your website solution.
Factors to consider when choosing a website platform
There are a lot of ways to measure the success of a website.
If you care most about traffic to your site, you may want to optimize your website’s SEO performance or perhaps you care most about converting visitors into leads and want to optimize your website’s conversion strategy.
You may even just care about elevating your brand and need a beautifully designed website that reflects who your company is.
Whatever the goals of your website are, reaching those goals can be impacted by the website platform you choose.
There are generally four factors to consider when evaluating your website solution:
- Speed of Build Out
Speed of build out
How fast you can launch your new website greatly impacts the return on investment (ROI) it will deliver.
Some websites platforms allow you to launch a new website very quickly while others require lots of development and design hours.
The amount of time and resources you can invest here may vary from company to company, but regardless of individual circumstances, the more hours required to launch a website, the more website costs your project likely accrues, which eats away at future profits your website can deliver.
Understanding the speed capabilities of different website platforms will help you decide which platform is best for your needs.
Scale relates to both the size and complexity of your website as well as the number of websites you want to launch.
Some companies require only simple websites with a few pages, like a home page, an about page, and a contact page.
Others, on the other hand, require complicated site structures with many interconnected pages for multiple brands, regions, products, or services.
The size of your website project should heavily influence which website platform you go with.
There’s also a question of the number of websites you need to launch.
Some companies require only one main dot com; others require many websites for different brands, divisions, or products.
Take AAA, for example. They have offices all over the world, each that needs to maintain their own individual website while maintaining brand standards.
Using multiple website solutions to launch each of those websites becomes a complicated, brand-compliance nightmare.
If producing a lot of websites is a priority for your business, then you’ll want to select a website platform that will easily scale with you.
Websites are online living documents.
They’re meant to change over time, partly because your company’s messages and offerings naturally change over time, and partly to meet internet new conventions, like SEO guidelines or ADA compliance practices.
If making those changes are too difficult, then maintaining your website becomes a challenge.
Depending on how often you need to update the content and design of your website and your skill level, you’ll want a website platform that best fits your needs.
Great design can make all the difference between a website that performs and one that flops.
Your website is often your first touchpoint with your buyers and should reflect both the value you provide as well as the quality of your brand so your design needs to be up to par.
For some companies, like sole proprietorships or other small businesses where there aren’t a lot of resources to spare for the design and maintenance of a website, this can be accomplished with simple, customizable templates.
Other companies require custom layouts, graphics, and interactions. This is especially true for large enterprise with defined brand standards that must communicate a consistent, approved message with their website.
Knowing what level of design you need for your website will help you pick the website platform best suited to make your website stand out.
Now that we know what factors you should be looking at, let’s compare three popular website platforms and see how they stack up
WordPress vs Wix vs Brandcast
We’ll use a simple star rating system. Three stars means the platform exceeds in an area, whereas one star means it’s lacking some features or functionality.
The secret to its success? It’s an open-source platform, meaning that anyone can download its source code and start creating custom websites, either from scratch with custom code or using editable templates.
When it comes to launching something quickly, WordPress is less like a Ferrari and more like a city bus; it’ll get you where you need to go just like it does with lots of other people, but not necessarily quickly.
The reason for this is because WordPress often requires a lot of custom development.
It’s open-source, so while there are a lot of resources to help you build a WordPress site, you (or the developers you hire) may need to start from scratch and build the structure of your site.
You can move a little faster with WordPress when you use its template gallery, but depending on the kinds of elements you want to include in your website, like custom animations and interactions, it’s going to be difficult to fully avoid at least some time spent working in the code, which can slow your launch date.
You can build almost anything on WordPress, from your main dot com to an online publication and even a full eCommerce platform.
Since it’s so adaptable, WordPress is great for building large sites with lots of content, so you never feel limited by what you can do with a single website.
However, if you want to launch lots of websites and are on a budget, WordPress isn’t the ideal solution.
Each site you launch requires additional payment and hosting, which makes scaling challenging if you’re a large brand with the need for multiple domains.
With WordPress, you have complete control over the look and feel of your website, especially if you opt for custom development. This is because WordPress allows you to code your own website from the ground up, to look and respond exactly how you want.
Even if custom-coded, editing WordPress site content is also very straightforward.
Using WordPress’ content management system (CMS), non-technical users can edit copy and images without touching any code.
Image Credit: pagely
This makes updating product pages or publishing blogs more efficient for marketers who may not have a development background.
There is also a large number of customizable templates to choose from on WordPress, so even if you don’t have design resources handy, you can still create a well-designed experience that looks uniquely your own.
There’s a catch though.
A lot of big changes you want to make to the design of your website may require the help of a developer. While simple design changes like font sizes and colors are easy enough, making structural changes to the layout of your website means editing the code of your website.
Because you can edit the code directly, WordPress sites are fully customizable, allowing for stunning designs that fully communicate your brand’s value while captivating visitors.
You’ll still need a developer to bring your web designs onto the page since WordPress doesn’t have its own design studio, but as long as you’re prepared for that, you can make your website look however you want.
It’s less robust than WordPress, but it makes up for that with a simple interface that allows users to rapidly publish websites.
Wix’s builder makes use of a drag-and-drop editor that allows users to quickly build out websites without needing to code.
Image Credit: VisionFriendly
Users select the kinds of elements they want to bring into their website, reposition, and resize the elements, and publish with the click of a button.
With a large template gallery full of beautifully designed websites, Wix is a great option for the small business or eCommerce company that wants to get a website out right now.
If you’re building a large site or multiple sites, Wix isn’t the best solution.
Like WordPress, it charges by the domain, meaning companies must pay separately for each website they launch.
While Wix’s drag-and-drop interface is great for creating smaller sites with a few pages, it isn’t so great for designing large websites with complex structures.
Its top tier plan offers only 35 GB of storage (comparable to the internal memory of the average smartphone), meaning you’ll have to consider other hosting options if you plan to have a lot of content and resources on your website, especially if your hosting your own memory-heavy content like videos..
You don’t need to know how to code to make adjustments to your Wix website. You can edit copy and design straight from the editor, which allows non-developers to create new content and change existing content with just a few clicks.
While its visual interface is great for smaller companies looking to get online fast, Wix isn’t very customizable as a trade-off, limiting the ways that larger companies can represent their brand online.
While Wix allows users to create websites from a blank canvas as well as edit templates, it doesn’t allow for more complex custom designs.
You can create simple interfaces and add custom colors, fonts, and images to your websites, but beyond that, users are pretty limited in the kinds of unique experiences they can create.
For many companies, this is okay; the functional benefits they get from Wix outweigh the limitations on custom design.
Using Wix will allow you to launch a website quickly with minimal customization. If custom design isn’t as important to your brand as being able to control the look and feel of your website, then you’ll love the ease of use Wix offers.
If you need to create a large number of websites, utilizing existing templates and designs, then Wix may not be the best option for you.
Brandcast is an enterprise web design platform that allows users to create custom web experiences entirely in the cloud.
This includes websites as well as other digital touchpoints that map to the buyer journey such as web books, sales proposals, customer relationship portals, and more.
Unlike WordPress and Wix, Brandcast has a visual design studio that allows users to design beautiful, engaging websites from scratch for any device size.
Because of its visual design studio, Brandcast users can build websites fast.
Like Wix, it allows non-developers to quickly drag-and-drop website elements onto a page, but with the added benefit of being able to import designs from Sketch or PhotoShop without losing anything in translation.
In addition, once pages and elements are designed in Brandcast, they can be turned into templates that can be reused and repurposed over and over. The more you use Brandcast, the faster you become.
Don’t have designers? No problem! Brandcast has a gallery of easy to use templates that you can make entirely your own with logos, colors, and custom fonts, allowing you to create a web experience that will engage your buyers and elevate your brand.
For some businesses that just want to get up and running with a website template (many smaller businesses, for instance) will find that Brandcast is a little too complicated for what they need.
It’s great for designing something custom quickly, but for businesses that just want to use a website design already made for them will find Wix and WordPress better suited to their needs.
Brandcast charges one annual fee that allows you to launch an unlimited number of websites.
This makes Brandcast a great option for large companies with multiple brands, divisions, or products that need to launch a lot of different websites all from one platform.
While it’s a great option for larger companies looking to launch a lot of web-based experiences, Brandcast isn’t the best option for smaller companies looking to only launch one website.
With its annual fee and flexible platform, Brandcast is a better solution for companies that want to launch many different web experiences all from one platform.
With Brandcast, you have complete control over the look and feel of your website.
Whether it’s updating copy, adding new pages, swapping images, or changing layouts, you can customize your website down to the pixel without touching a line of code.
Best of all, Brandcast’s studio makes it easy to customize your website for multiple screen sizes, helping you be better optimized for mobile.
Just set the screen size you want to design for and make adjustments to your layout so that your website looks good on any device.
All of this requires that you have access to some kind of design resources, however.
That means it works well for larger companies who have internal designers or regularly hire for such work out-of-house, but smaller companies that want to just get online with templates may find Wix of WordPress a faster solution
If you want to make an impact with the design of your website, then Brandcast is the platform for you.
Its studio editor is modeled after traditional design tools, like Photoshop and Illustrator, allows designers to create jaw-dropping experiences entirely on the cloud, so you can go from design inception straight to execution.
Take back your website
With these factors in mind, you should now have a better understanding of how to proceed with your website redesign.
Choosing a technology partner that best suits your needs will help you create and maintain a website your buyers will love while maximizing the speed, scale, design, and control you need to attract more leads and close more deals online.
‘Tis the Season for Reporting (And a New Mini Guide)
Posted by Roger-MozBot
How is it already reporting season again? Time to generate those dreaded end-of-year SEO reports that take hours to create and mere seconds for your client to skim through and toss to the side. We’ve all been there. But here’s the thing: it’s absolutely necessary! Not only for you and your team to track progress, but to prove value to your clients as well.
Reporting for SEO can feel like a time-black-hole. You have an infinite amount of data that you have to sort through and piece together to tell a story. You know that you saw something, somewhere at some point that proved a strategy worked, but of course, now that you need it you can’t find it and now you’ve been looking for it for an hour and you just want to get back to the SEO part of your job.
What if we told you we could help you create reports that matter to your team and your clients in less time with better output? Today we launched our newest brainchild, the Mini Guide to SEO Reporting, our free guide to help you create the most effective SEO reports for your business.
Okay, so maybe it’s not the MOST mini mini-guide that ever did mini. But in comparison to the Beginner’s Guide to SEO, it’s definitely a munchkin! We like to think it’s chock full of easy-to-read chapters and plenty of actionable-insights, a few of which we’d like to share with you now.
1. More data, more problems
The idea for the mini guide was born after we noticed a trend in SEO reporting — they’re often cobbled together and extremely time intensive. Many SEOs rely on multiple platforms to gather all of the data needed to make recommendations and track progress. So, when they want to report back to their clients, they have to go to all of the different platforms to collect the necessary data. This makes everything ten times more complicated because many of the platforms use differing jargon and have different data exporting processes, and when it comes time to piece it all together, it’s extremely difficult to maintain a consistent tone or a clear story to follow.
That leads us right into the first actionable insight: your reports need to be KonMaried. Well, kind of. In reporting, you can’t quite ask if a data point brings you joy, but you can ask if a data point is meaningful. You need to ask yourself, your team, and most importantly your client which data points are meaningful to your SEO campaign. Once you nail down the must-haves, stick to them! You can always reassess later, but filling up your report with irrelevant data makes it less appealing to the client and easier for them to gloss over. Plus, narrowing down some of the data you have to report on will allow you to spend more time on SEO and less time on reporting.
To get the conversation started with your client, we created a downloadable one sheet with thirty must-ask questions about reporting.
2. The TL;DR report
We know that most people who get their hands on our reports don’t read them front to back, but we want to make sure that they get all of the important insights — that’s where the TLDR, or wins/losses, report comes in.
In the mini guide, we recommend an “at-a-glance” type report that is simply a bullet list of insights like:
- What goals were met
- What goals weren’t meant
- Any discrepancies that need to be considered while reading the rest of the report
- One-sentence explanations of the most important findings for the reporting period
This easy to read format will ensure that all of the information you need to get across, gets across. You can think of this section as a summary or a table of contents. The rest of the report will simply go over the data that backs the claims you make in the TLDR report.
A very important note to be made here is that there will be losses, and you need to be upfront about that with your clients. Don’t fudge the data because that will set you up for an inevitable break in your relationship with the client (maybe bring fudge with the data instead — a client with chocolate is a happy client). It’s much better to be transparent about the strategies that are simply not working or the goals that aren’t being met.
Likewise, if you are having trouble with setting or achieving goals, we also go through a step-by-step process on goal setting for clients. It takes into account everything from the client’s SWOT and competitive analyses to what it means to create a SMART goal.
3. Simplify the complex
Keeping things easy-breezy when reporting is especially tough when it comes to technical SEO. Though technical SEO is extremely important, it can seem rather bland to clients (especially when they are not up to scuff on the terminology). In the mini guide, we go through some of the ways you can simplify and improve the reporting you do on technical SEO.
First things first: you need to make sure your clients know what you’re talking about, so use their language! It may be slightly different for each client, but having this foundation set is critical for keeping clients engaged and eager about the improvements you are making.
Once the foundation is set, we suggest covering what you’ve done and what you’re planning on doing in context of their respective impacts. When listing these action items, be sure to explain the benefits that can be expected. Just because someone understands what a meta description is doesn’t mean they’re going to understand than an optimized meta description can increase click-through rates. Some of the things you do in a reporting period may be expected or something you’re checking off of a list, but other things may be the result of running into an unforeseen issue — be sure to address both! This helps to establish trust and show your client that you’re staying on top of their SEO, even if they aren’t 100% sure what to expect.
Give it a read
That’s it, no more spoilers. To get the rest of the juicy details you’re going to have to read it for yourself!
Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!
7 Request for Approval Emails to Make Client Communication Easier [Templates]
When you’ve got an important email to write, it can seemingly take hours. You write, revise, delete, and agonize over every word, link, and even your email signature.
And if you are selling your staff’s time in the form of the billable hour, this can be a huge waste of resources.
While we’re talking about one-on-one communication, it’s a worthwhile pursuit to create a library of canned email responses or templates that your team can use for specific activities or in response to clients. It ensures that the communication from your team is clear and consistent, makes it easier to respond to requests more quickly, and removes the uncertainty that junior staffers feel when dealing with a difficult situation.
Below you’ll find a starting point for building out your library of email templates that can be customized. Use these to make your client communication more efficient.
Request for Approval Examples
1. Reply to a prospect’s proposal.
2. Respond to a client requesting out-of-scope work.
3. Request project-related approvals from a client.
4. Follow up on a project with a client.
5. Politely push a deadline,
6. Request a testimonial from a client.
7. Request a positive online review or recommendation.
Sending a Great Email
Whenever you send an email, be sure that you’re coming off as professional and polite, even if you have to get a certain job done quickly. Canned responses are great for accomplishing all of those things.
Now that you’ve learned how to draft one, here’s a guide to programming and using them in Gmail.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published July 12, 206 but was updated on Dec. 12, 2019 for comprehensiveness.
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