Really

Russian Embassy just responded to U.S. sanctions with a meme. Really.

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After President Barack Obama announced sanctions against Russia Thursday in retaliation for tampering with the U.S. presidential election, the Russian Embassy in London shot back.

In a tweet Thursday afternoon, the embassy’s UK Twitter account (which is verified as the official account) posted a photo of a duckling with the word “Lame” over it, in a blatant reference to Obama as he nears the end of his “lame duck” period in office after almost eight years as president.

President Obama expels 35 🇷🇺 diplomats in Cold War deja vu. As everybody, incl 🇺🇸 people, will be glad to see the last of this hapless Admpic.twitter.com/mleqA16H8D

— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) December 29, 2016 Read more…

More about Obama Administration, Obama, Cyberattacks, Sanctions, and Russia


Social Media

How Serious Is Snapchat’s Power, Really?

Editor’s Note: This post is one of Convince & Convert’s Top 10 Posts of 2016.

How Serious Is Snapchat's Power, Really?

Image via Unsplash

Listen to this blog post as a podcast:

JB SnapChat finalMy good friends at Edison Research handled the data gathering for my new book, Hug Your Haters, and we discovered that customer service is being massively disrupted.

Now the Edison team is back with a new edition of their annual Infinite Dial research (they partner with Triton on it) and they’ve found another disruptive force: Snapchat.

To read all of the Infinite Dial findings (I very much recommend you do so) go here. The report is bursting with fascinating statistics, and not just about Snapchat, but also about podcasts, streaming, online radio, and beyond.

There’s been a LOT of chatter recently among the social media cognoscenti about the emergence of Snapchat, but many people have wisely taken these entreaties with a grain of salt. Some of these “influencers” tend to hype up each new social platform, build an audience base due to first-mover advantage, and then shift to the next platform. This is the social technology version of a Jordan Belfort pump and dump scheme.

But if you had some doubts, I can now tell you FOR CERTAIN that the Snapchat movement is very, very real. The statistics nestled in The Infinite Dial are remarkable and prove a simple truth:

Snapchat is the second most powerful social platform in the United States.

Here’s why that’s so: the 5 Snapchat statistics from Edison’s Infinite Dial that prove the power of Snapchat.

1. More People Know Snapchat Than Know Pinterest or Linkedin

Given that it’s been around for a lot shorter time, it’s amazing that more Americans are familiar with Snapchat than with Pinterest or Linkedin (not to mention Tumblr, Vine, et al).

In the past 12 months, awareness of Snapchat among Americans 12 and older grew from 60% to 71%.

2. Snapchat’s User Base Is Larger Than Twitter, Pinterest, or Linkedin

Think about that. For a looooong time we’ve put Facebook and Twitter in the same sentence. Now, Twitter isn’t even in the same paragraph, replaced in the top tier by Instagram (also owned by Facebook), and Snapchat.

Snapchat Statistics - Bigger than Twitter

3. Snapchat Has Grown Four Times as Quickly as Twitter Did

The narrative that Twitter’s growth has stalled has been an albatross on its stock price for some time now, and the struggle is real.

In the 2013 Infinite Dial study, 15% of Americans said they used Twitter. By 2016 21% of the country claimed Twitter usage. Between 2015 and 2016, Snapchat went from 17% to 23%. That’s an incredibly steep curve and now that Snapchat is breaking into more mainstream audiences, I predict it to approach 30% by next year.

4. Snapchat Is the Number-Two Social Network in the U.S.

Ranked by which social network they use most often, Snapchat is now in second position across the entire United States, with 8% of Americans citing Snapchat as the place they visit most. Instagram is third at 7%. Both are far, far behind Facebook, a place that 61% of social media using Americans say is their favorite.

Note that last year, Snapchat was tied for FIFTH in this preference list.

This is a particularly noteworthy Snapchat statistics because it demonstrates that rising awareness is leading to increased trial, and increased trial is leading to robust stickiness. All very positive indicators for future growth.

snapchat statistics 2

5. Young Americans Love Snapchat

This doesn’t come as a surprise, but seeing the actual data brings this point home.

Facebook (including Messenger) remains the most popular social platform among Americans 12-24 years old, with 32% saying they use Facebook most.

Snapchat is second with 26%, far outpacing Instagram at 17%.

This is a big move in just one year, as the previous edition of The Infinite Dial showed Facebook at 43%, Instagram in second place at 18%, and Snapchat at 15%.

Essentially what has happened is that in 12 months, 10% of the entire nation’s population of social media using 12-24 year-olds moved from Facebook to Snapchat as their platform of choice. Wow!

Snapchat’s growth makes it a force to be reckoned with in a way that has few precedents (other than Facebook and Instagram, perhaps).

Please do grab the entire Infinite Dial study. I’ve just given you a tiny taste with these 2016 Snapchat statistics. There’s a lot more you’ll enjoy.


Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting

Do You Really Need to Test Your Site to Improve Your Conversion Rate?

Talk to almost any online marketer and you’d think that they held a PhD in psychology. At the drop of a hat, they can tell you all about what button colors, typeface, contrast, spacing, line of sight, hero shots, etc you should use to subconsciously drive a website visitor to convert.

But do marketers really have these incredible mind powers? Do they wield the awesome power of psychology to control the rest of the world?

Testing the Testers

Recently, Chris Dayley, my head of CRO, ran a little experiment at the SearchLove conference in Chicago. Chris wanted to see how well marketers could use their understanding of psychology, marketing best practice or even gut instinct to predict which landing page design would produce the best conversion rates.

So, he presented an example A/B test from a real client of ours. There were four page variants and one of them had generated a 146% increase in leads. The room of marketers was given a link to a survey where they could examine each variant and submit their guesses as to which page had been the winner.

Take a look for yourself. Which one would you have picked as the winner?

testing-the-testers

Here’s how the marketers voted:

  • Original: 0%
  • V1:32%
  • V2: 42%
  • V3: 26%

Now, only one of the variants actually produced 146% more conversions, so—if we assume that V2 actually was the winning variant—at least 58% of these marketers were wrong.

But that wasn’t the real trick of the survey.

While the marketers were guessing which page had won in Chris’s A/B test, he was actually running an A/B test on them!

Only half of the surveys showed the page variants in the order seen above. The other half saw a scrambled version with the original and V3 switched like this:

testing-the-testers-2

Here’s where things got a little crazy. In the second group of marketers, no one voted for the “original” page—even though that page received 26% of the votes in the first group!

Even more intriguingly, V2 received the most votes in both groups:

testing-the-testers-results

But here’s the thing, V2 wasn’t actually the top-performing page—V3 (the “Control” in group 2) was. That meant the actual champion only got 13% of the popular vote!

The question is, why? How did the vaunted best practices and gut instincts of so many marketers fail them? To answer that, let’s take a step back from marketing psychology and take a look at the psychology of marketers:

Newer is Better

The most obvious thing highlighted by Chris’s experiment was that all the marketers assumed that the highest performing page variant couldn’t be the original. In both groups, the variant labeled “original” didn’t receive a single vote…even when it was the actual winner.

Now, there’s a dangerous assumption at play here. Everyone who puts an A/B test together would like to believe that he or she is going to shake things up and make them better. But can you assume that newer is better?

Null Hypotheses

In scientific testing, there’s a concept called the “null hypothesis.” The null hypothesis states that whatever you change in an experiment won’t affect the results. So, if you change the button color from blue to red, your null hypothesis is that conversions won’t change at all (the effect will be “null”).

In a good study, you’re supposed to act as though the null hypothesis is true until the evidence proves this can’t be the case (kind of an “innocent until proven guilty” sort of thinking). Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen very often.

Selective Perception

Instead of assuming that a change won’t affect conversion rates, most marketers tend to focus on other hypotheses like, “if I change the button color, the conversion rate will go up.”

As a result, many marketers fall into the selective perception (only acknowledging one possibility) trap and assume that new and different will always be better. Clearly, that was the case with this group of marketers.

This is part of the reason why testing is so important. If you just assume that your new idea will perform better and make changes without testing, you could end up hurting your site performance without realizing it!

I Already Know What Works!

So in Chris’s experiment, maybe people didn’t choose the right variant because it was the “original” in one of the groups and they were biased against the null hypothesis.

But why did so many vote for V2?

It’s hard to be sure without tracking them all down and asking them, but chances are that V2 was just the closest representation of their mental image of what a successful page should look like.

Now, having a sense for what a successful page looks like isn’t a bad thing, but if it keeps you from testing, that’s when your marketing skills can get you into trouble.

Appeal to Authority

There are plenty of sources out there that will tell you how a high converting site “ought to look”, but just because something’s “best practice” doesn’t guarantee that it will work on your customers.

A blog post (even this one) or a study by an authority figure should not be the end-all-be-all for your marketing decisions. As helpful and well informed as an expert’s advice might be, it’s still no substitute for doing your own testing.

For example, the most famous example of misplaced trust in authority occurred in 1923, when world-famous zoologist Theophilus Painter incorrectly stated that the human genome had 24 pairs of chromosomes.

Now, future studies quickly revealed that humans have 23 pairs of, but Theophilus was so famous that these scientists threw out their results, assuming they must have been wrong. Textbooks were even printed with pictures of 23 chromosomes, captioned with the number 24!

This went on for over two decades before somebody finally decided that “Theophilus said so” was not a good enough reason to ignore cold hard facts.

Now, I’m not trying to rag on authority figures or studies. They can be extremely valuable sources of information and a great way to come up with testing ideas. However, if you are so focused on marketing “best practice” that you aren’t testing to see how those ideas play out on your own pages, you’re headed for trouble.

In the case of the marketers at Chris’s presentation, many of them may have voted for V2 because they felt like it met the criteria of a “best practice” page. However, “best practice” doesn’t always mean “best results.”

False Consensus Effect

Of course, just because you can’t rely on best practice doesn’t mean that you should just rely on your own know-how instead. In fact, the most dangerous authority figure that you can rely on is yourself.

The problem is, it can be easy to assume that “if the site looks good to me then it must look good to my customers,” when—in reality—customers and marketers are typically more different than alike.

After all, most of your customers have no idea what a landing page is, much less what makes a good one. A marketer might say that his or her site design caused a conversion, but I’ve never had a customer tell me “I converted because of your excellent hero shot.”

Psychologists call the tendency to assume that others think the same as we do the “false consensus effect.” The word “false” in the name ought to give you an idea of how accurate this assumption is.

For example, to many of the marketers at Chris’s speech, V2 may have seemed like the page that would get them to convert. That’s great, but our client wasn’t targeting SearchLove attendees. Their target audience was different and, as a result, converted better on a different page.

Again, this is why testing is so important. Without testing, it’s easy to assume that a page that fits best practice or your own personal preferences will be a slam-dunk with your audience. Sure, that could turn out to be the case, but it’s much more likely that your ideal page design will be just as unique and unpredictable as your audience.

I’ve Got a Feeling…

So, if we don’t know how other people think and we can’t necessarily trust what other people tell us will work best, why do so many marketers think they “know” what’s going to work?

Believe it or not, this is actually a very normal part of being a human. It is surprisingly easy to believe that you have cracked the code on how life works and that you have evidence to prove it.

For example, let’s say you have a theory—“Redheaded people have bad tempers”—originally taught to you in the second grade by a competent authority (Billy on the playground). For the rest of your life, every time you see a redhead lose it, you remember this theory and think, See? That proves it! Billy was right!

But Billy never told you the null hypothesis: “Redheaded people behave the same as everyone else.” So, when you see a levelheaded ginger you think nothing of it and soon forget about it all together. Over the years, you amass a lot of memories of angry carrot-tops, but can’t think of any calm ones, so you decide that your theory must indeed be true.

Psychologists call this behavior “confirmation bias”—the tendency to only pay attention to information that confirms our preexisting opinions.

Unfortunately, confirmation bias is probably where most “marketer’s intuition” comes from.

If you only pay attention to the data that backs up your “gut instinct,” you’ll wind up feeling right all the time. This might be great for self-esteem, but it’s not a real great approach to site design or marketing in general.

You might think you have a great “sense” for what your audience responds to, but if you haven’t tested those instincts, odds are that you’re subject to at least a little confirmation bias.

Conclusion: Stick to the Data

Can you just shortcut the whole testing process and “go with your gut?” Not really…at least, not if you want real results from your online marketing.

On the other hand, if you’re willing to put aside your biases and take a datadriven approach to site optimization, you’ll be in a good position to make a real impact for your business.

So, before you gather your marketing team in a dark room, hold hands, burn incense, and try to “channel” the customer, try putting your hands on some real data and give yourself a reality check.

Did you guess the winning page variant? How good are your marketing instincts? Do you have any examples of when biases held back the potential of a website?

About the Author: Jacob Baadsgaard is the CEO and fearless leader of Disruptive Advertising, an online marketing agency dedicated to using PPC advertising and website optimization to drive sales. His face is as big as his heart and he loves to help businesses achieve their online potential. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

Are Your Leads Really Prospects for Sales?

Stat of the Month

Content marketing is not really the new kid on the block anymore. It’s something nearly all marketers claim to practice. Even though there are still some that are creating content for content’s sake, the marketers who are successful are the ones who approach it with a strategy.

This is no different than any other kind of marketing. You need to know what you are trying to achieve, how you are going to accomplish that, and how you are going to measure a successful outcome. That’s a pretty succinct way to thing about marketing strategy. You can certainly add more detail, but at the highest level, it works.

So what do all those strategic content marketers want to accomplish? In a recent survey by Ascend2, 58 percent of content marketers indicated that they want to increase lead generation.

Are Your Leads Really Prospects for Sales?

Sounds reasonable. Marketers, especially those of the B2B variety, have always focused on generating leads for their sales counterparts. There’s no reason to think that would change with content marketing—and I would argue that it has gotten easier.

How Content Marketing Transformed Lead Generation

Grab your time machine, and let’s take a trip back to Ye Olde Marketing Shoppe. Think of the days before most marketing had gone digital. Anyone remember reader reply cards? This was lead generation in a trade magazine, and it let buyers express their interest in products and services. It was top-of-funnel activity driven by advertising.

We’ve all collected leads at trade shows, and we still do. But this is focused on buyers who have a specific need in mind. They are “in market,” as they say, for what you are selling. This makes it easy to connect with them, but this is small pool of prospects.

Welcome, content marketing. Marketers now have the ability to talk to prospects before they are in market for a solution. Whether you focus on blog posts, ebooks, white papers, or videos as your primary means of content, if you are providing value and helping prospects solve their business problems, you can start building a relationship with them.

Content makes the connection, and content builds the relationship. (highlight to tweet) As Ascend2’s survey results indicate, marketers are thinking about this in the right way by wanting to increase lead generation. They can now get in front of prospects that they could not market to before, with a variety of content distribution methods. It may be a combination of search, social, or paid versions of both that can surface your content in front of the right prospects. Even if they are not ready to buy today, they likely will be someday. This is a very different audience than the digital tire-kickers who arrive at your website.

But lead generation is more than just getting prospects to fill out a form. You may call them leads, but are they really? They might just be someone who is interested in the content but is not a fit for your products or services. A true lead is someone who can be passed to sales as a likely buyer. Lead scoring is one way to qualify these form-fillers, but it starts with creating the right content.

Nurture Your Leads With Content

Different firms use different terms to describe contacts that are added to their marketing database, and it can be based on how much information has been gathered about them. Someone can go from a suspect to a prospect to a lead as they interact more with a company’s content and express more intent about their preferences. This should not be accidental, but deliberate. It’s called lead nurturing.

There are lots of ways to think about how content moves a prospect through the buying process, but consider having a narrative overlay. What story are you trying to tell the prospects as they move closer to becoming a real lead for sales? The more you understand your prospect, the better this narrative fits.

Instead of viewing this as another marketing cliché, put yourself in the buyer’s place. You want to know about a company you will do business with. You want them to know what they are talking about and have a good reputation in the industry. You don’t want them to be pushy. You want to learn from them. You don’t mind keeping in touch, but you want to control the relationship and reach out when you are ready to consider buying.

If you can create content that does that, then you are well on your way to real lead generation, not just form completion.

Get more content like this, plus the very BEST marketing education, totally free. Get our Definitive email newsletter.

Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting

21 Free For Commercial Use Resource Websites You’ll Really Love

Diving deep into the realms of design requires true passion, inspiration and a strong skill base. Yet, there is another factor which plays a leading role in the battle between time efficiency and quality work. The designers’ resource base has become one of the main determinants for their success. Premade designs aid for a swift job completion without depriving the end product of its main qualities. So, what type of free content can designers take advantage of while surfing through the web?

Graphic & Web Design Resources – Free vs. Premium

Freebies can be generally divided in three categories: design elements, mockups & templates and textures & photography.

All of them form a wide selection of resource website which provide either free or paid templates for designers to download and use in their work. Each file comes with a copyright registration and gives users different rights of use. Locating the copyright notice is usually a struggle and you may often choose to pay large fees to download checked premium templates and guarantee yourself no legal issues. After all, dealing with content theft can be a real bummer. But, isn’t there an easier way to get free design resources without worrying about copyrights?

Across the web, you can find a handful of design treasuries which go beyond the convenience of the Creative Commons Search. We at SpyreStudios know how time-consuming it is to hunt for quality resources. That’s why we did our best to ease your quest and boiled our assortment down to the 21 most useful resource sites out there. They skip the nuisance of chasing down file owners and sending out request e-mails for specific use and derivation. Allow me to present you…

The 21 Best Graphics Freebie Websites You Can Find on The Web

This design freebies resource collection is comprised by the top twenty-one websites offering design elements which are free for commercial use. It is a compressed version of a three-year research and delivers some of the most valuable resource websites.

GraphicsBurger

GraphicsBurger

This collection is cut down to the highest quality design resources online. It offers a wide selection of mockups, UI kits, icons, text effects, backgrounds and many more. The GraphicsBurger website is a reliable resource for any designer who wants to enjoy pixel-perfect design content from a free, checked source.

 

FlyerHeroes

FlyerHeroes

The freebie section of FlyerHeroes is conveniently hidden in the website menu, yet, it can be easily found via the web search engines. It provides a large variety of flyer templates. The PSDs present a complex mix of images, flyers and typography, which gently interlace to create the perfect design for event posters, web banners and all sorts of print work.

Free Goodies For Designers

Free Goodies For Designers

This little gem is a Blogspot-based resource box for all things web and graphics design. It presents original content with quirky style featuring creative icon sets, lovely seamless backgrounds, gorgeous custom fonts and what not, pushing it up to the list of some of the most unique resource sites in its category.

 

Designer Candies

DesignerCandies

The one and only stop for original freebies and 3D rendered images which you’ll simply fall in love with. If you want to add crisp, raw realism to your designs while maintaining a sleek, color-rich look, you better head to Adam’s amazing resource hub right away.

Okilla

This user interface treasure box offers all a web designer needs to get his prototype up and running. From landing page and app pre-made designs to HTML and Java templates, Okilla is in the bookmarks of every creative UI designer.

Qeaql

Despite its unusual name, this website is a brilliant example of top-notch content hidden in the debris of an otherwise premium collection. Just type free in the search box and enjoy a tour through some of the most beautiful design elements and photos that can be found online.

Arsenal

GoMedia’s Arsenal has put years of work in a sleek goodies pack which can surprise you with many useful files.

MediaLoot

The lovely team of MediaLoot offers a huge resource base of free goodies along with its premium products, which you’d be crazy to overrun.

InkyDeals

Another design resource hub offers time-limited deals with some of their best-selling goodies. Check them frequently to not miss a thing.

DealsFuel

The freebies section of DealsFuel offers a large database of deals on otherwise premium files and a larger base than Inky Deals which is worth checking out.

Old Desing Shop

This website is a vintage image treasury curated by Julie, a lover of traditions, scrapbooks and design. Her publications showcase beautiful examples of public domain images coming straight from her vintage library.

RetroVectors

Talking about vintage, it’s hard not to mention Retro Vectors. If you’re on a hunt for a 60’s style image, victorian ornaments or even old-style landscapes, you can check out the site’s resources which are all conveniently converted into vector files for easy resizing and use.

PixelScrapper

A scrapbook turned into a design resource platform which will answer your wildest hopes for unconventional image elements with a vintage look.

Fribbble

Remember when you spent hours hunting down free templates and fonts on your favorite design websites? Fribbble solves that in a beautiful way. Imagine Dribbble for freebies and you’ll get a hint of what this website is all about.

Psddd

Just like Fribbble, this website’s content revolves around free files found on Dribbble. It features an automated system for fetching freebies on Dribbble tagged with psddd. It has a massive following and can be a nice alternative to searching through the portfolio giant for the next Helvetica or a new and crispy icon set.

AlienValley

Describing themselves as a heaven for all creative people, AlienValley’s team offers a beautiful collection of free design resources from all category types.

WeGraphics

The ultimate design toolbox for the hipster designer in you. You can find watercolor templates, hand-drawn logos and a lot more inside.

ZippyPixels

It presents some of the coolest print mockups around along with a pretty collection of additional freebies at your disposal.

FreeGraphicsDesign

Labeled as the designer’s best friend, this nifty collection of print mockups and design templates will help you present your work in an elegant way.

CSSAuthor

This is the template and mockup resource hub you’ve been waiting for. Head on to the freebies section and start building your next UI project with the site’s amazing selection.

Lost & Taken

The largest database of free textures you can find on the web. Despite recently undergoing an update, the site offers a massive amount of sharp textures, free for every designer to enjoy.

The post 21 Free For Commercial Use Resource Websites You’ll Really Love appeared first on SpyreStudios.


SpyreStudios

We only care about you if it’s really about us

I Love MeWe recently bought an ad for a client and the ad rep suggested we make a big deal out of the fact that our client has been in business for 130 years. I politely told her that we definitely were not going to do that.

Instead, we were going to talk about something their readers and our prospects might actually care about.

My conversation with her is what prompted this blog post. We’ve all seen the ads or sales that are somehow tied to a businesses 25th anniversary or the “we’ve been in business for a century” sale announcements.

The reality is – no one cares. While that may be a laudable accomplishment – to have hung in there that long, from your consumer’s point of view – it’s fluff or a gimmick (we’ve been around for 50 years so everything is 50% off!).

Is a business going to offer me a better product after they’ve been around for 100 years? Was the stuff they sold in their ninety-fifth year just junk? Of course not. Is someone who just turned 60 a better advisor than when she was 59? Nope.

You make that the focus of your ad or your sale when you don’t have anything better to say. And if you can’t come up with something more customer-centric than that to say – you’re lucky to still be in business.

It’s actually a symptom of an age-old marketing problem. Businesses talk about themselves rather than talking about what the customer cares about.

Here’s how to fix two of the most common “it’s all about me” types of marketing statements and make them customer centric and customer valued communications instead.

#1 — We’re old and you should care

All about us: We’re 100 years old. Come enjoy some birthday cake and celebrate with us as we cross the century mark.

All about them: Over the many years we’ve been in business, we’ve learned that our customers value three things. They value incredible customer service (click here to speak live with one of our teammates), fair pricing (click here to read about our fair price every time program) and they want quality they can count on (watch a short video about our factory’s 100% right or 100% wrong policy).

You’re saying the same thing – we’ve been in business long enough to be stable, to have earned our customer’s trust and no one has to worry about you being a fly by night operation. But when you push beyond focusing on yourself, you can outline exactly why your longevity is of value to the prospect that is considering doing business with you.

#2 – The difference is our people (perhaps the most trite sentence uttered in marketing today)

All about us: Our people really care. You’re not just a number to us.

All about them: Hi Mr. McLellan – we see that you’re going to be staying at our hotel XYZ in Big City. We’re glad to have you staying with us and want to make sure we do everything in our power to make your stay an awesome one. As the manager of the hotel, I want you to have my direct line (123-456-7890) and email (manager@BigHotel.com) so you can get a hold of me if there’s anything you need.

Don’t tell me that your people care. Show me. It sounds like hype when you brag about it. It feels remarkable when I experience it for myself. The truth is…most businesses say it but few actually deliver on it. Why not just shut up and show it?

If you’re going to expend the effort to talk to your customers and prospects, stop talking about yourself and talk about what they care about — what’s in it for me.

The post We only care about you if it’s really about us appeared first on Drew's Marketing Minute.


Drew’s Marketing Minute