In growth marketing, signal determines success

Unlike a weak phone signal solely causing a grainy sound, in growth marketing, it can mean the difference between a successful program or a massive cash bleed. As we move toward an increasingly privacy-centric world, it is even more necessary for companies to nail down signal early on.

So what exactly is “signal” in growth marketing? It can carry many different meanings, but holistically speaking, it’s the event data in our arsenal to help guide decisions. When it comes to paid acquisition, it’s vital to optimize and pass back the correct event data to paid channels. This is so that targeting and bidding algorithms have the most enriched data to utilize.

I’ve seen startups spend thousands of dollars inefficiently as a result of not having optimal signal in their paid acquisition campaigns. I’ve also spent millions at companies such as Postmates refining our signal to the best possible state. I’d like every startup to avoid the painful mistake of not having this set up correctly, instead making the most of every important ad dollar.

The selection

When starting out, it may seem obvious to optimize toward a north-star metric such as a purchase. If spend is very minimal, that could mean that the conversion volume will be low across campaigns. On the flip side, if the optimization event is set at a top-of-funnel event such as a landing page view, the signal strength may be very weak. The reason that the strength may be weak is due to passing back a low-intent event as successful to the paid channels. By marking a landing page view as successful, paid channels such as Facebook will continue to find users that are similar to these lower-propensity users that are converting.

Let’s take an example of a health-and-wellness app with a goal of driving memberships to their coaching program. They’re just starting out with exploring paid acquisition and spending $5,000 per week on Facebook. Below is a look at their events in the funnel, weekly volume and cost per event:

Example of a health-and-wellness app and their weekly conversion volume at $5,000 spend. Image Credits: Jonathan Martinez

In the above example, we can see that there’s significant volume for landing page views. As we go down the simplified flow, there is less volume as users drop off the funnel. Almost everyone’s instinct would be to optimize for either the landing page view, because there’s so much data, or the subscription event, because it’s the strongest. I would argue (after extensive testing across multiple ad accounts) that neither of these events would be the correct pick. With landing page views as an optimization event, the users have an egregiously low propensity since the landing page view to subscription conversion rate is 0.61%.

The correct event to optimize for here would either be sign up or trial start because they have sufficient enough volume and are strong signals of a user converting to the north-star metric (subscription). Looking at the conversion rate between sign up and subscription, it’s a much healthier 10.21%, versus the 0.61% from landing page view.

I’m always a huge proponent of testing all events, as there can definitely be big surprises in what may work best for you. When testing events, make sure that there’s a stat-sig baseline that’s being followed to make decisions. Additionally, I think it’s a great practice to test events regularly early on because conversion rates can change as other channel variables are adjusted.

Flow adjustments

In certain cases, the current events that are set up aren’t optimal for paid acquisition campaigns. I’ve seen this happen frequently with startups that have long windows of time between conversion events. Take a startup such as Thumbtack, which provides a marketplace of providers who can help with home repairs. After someone signs up to their app, the user may place a request but not hire someone until a few weeks later. In this case, making flow adjustments could potentially improve the signal and data that you collect from users.

A solution that Thumbtack could implement to gather a stronger signal would be to add another step between the request being placed and hiring someone. This could potentially be a survey with propensity check questions that could ask how soon the user needs help or how important their project is from a 1–10.

Example of in-app survey responses to “How important is your project?” Image Credits: Jonathan Martinez.

After accumulating the data, if there’s a high correlation between survey answers and someone starting their project, we can start to explore optimizing for that event.

In the above example, we see that users who responded with “9” have a 7.66% likelihood to convert. Therefore, this should be the event we optimize for. Artificially adding steps that qualify users in a longer flow can help steer optimization targeting in the right direction.

Enhancing signal

Let’s imagine that you have the most ideal flow that captures large volumes of event signal without much of a delay to your optimization event. That’s still far from perfect. There are myriad solutions that can be implemented to further enhance the signal.

For Facebook specifically, there are connections such as CAPI that can be integrated to pass back data in a more accurate way. CAPI is a method of passing back web events server-to-server rather than relying on cookies and the Facebook pixel. This helps mitigate browsers that block cookies or users who may delete their web history. This is just one example. I won’t run through all the channels, but each has its own solution to help enhance event signal being passed back to it.

iOS 14 signal

This wouldn’t be a column written in 2021 without mention of iOS 14 and the strategies that can be leveraged for this growing user segment. I’ve written another piece about iOS-14-specific tactics, but I’ll cover it here on a broad level. If the north-star metric (i.e., purchase) event can be triggered within 24 hours of the initial app launch, then that’s golden.

This would bring large volumes of high-intent data that would not be at the mercy of the SKAD 24-hour event timer. For most companies, this may sound like a lofty goal, so the target should be to have an event fire within 24 hours that is a high-likelihood indicator of someone completing your north-star metric. Think of which events happen in the flow that lead to someone eventually purchasing. Maybe someone adding a payment method happens within 24 hours and historically has a 90% conversion rate to someone purchasing. An “add payment info” event would be a great conversion event to use in this case. The landscape of iOS 14 is constantly changing but this should apply for the immediate future.

Incrementality and staying ahead

As a rule of thumb, incrementality checks should constantly be performed in growth marketing. It gives an important read on whether advertising dollars are bringing in users that wouldn’t have converted had they not seen an ad.

When comparing optimization events, this rule still applies. Make sure that costs per action aren’t the only metric that’s being used as a measure of success, but instead, use the incremental lift on each conversion event as the ultimate key performance indicator. In this piece, I detail how to run lean incrementality tests without swarms of data scientists.

So how do you stay ahead and continue moving the needle on your growth marketing campaigns? First and foremost, constantly question the events you’re optimizing for. And second, leave no stone unturned.

If you’re using the same optimization event forever, it will be a disservice to your campaign performance potential. By experimenting with flow changes and running tests on new events, you’ll be way ahead of the curve. When iterating on the flow, think about user behavior and events from the user’s perspective. Which flow events, if added, would correlate to a high propensity conversion segment?

#column, #digital-marketing, #facebook, #growth-marketing, #marketing, #online-advertising, #social-media, #startups, #targeted-advertising, #tc, #verified-experts

SmarterTravel sheds HopJump name, begins a new journey with $9.5M round

Travel startups continue to rake in venture capital dollars as more people become comfortable traveling amid the global pandemic. The latest is SmarterTravel, which brought in $9.5 million in Series B funding co-led by Link Ventures and Second Alpha, with existing investors also participating.

In addition to the fundraise, the company, a provider of personalized travel recommendations and targeted travel content, announced its name change from HopJump, which reflects the company’s renewed vision of providing an informative online travel experience, CEO Jordan Staab told TechCrunch.

Jordan Staab, CEO of SmarterTravel. Image Credits: SmarterTravel

SmarterTravel has 7 million email newsletter subscribers and uses proprietary artificial intelligence fixes to give customers travel information and discounts. The company writes articles on every facet of travel to inform customers, especially now with airlines, hotels and countries placing certain restrictions on travel.

“The travel consumer is changing how they absorb information,” Staab said. “The consumer is coming to us instead of visiting 20 websites before they book. Before, you might have combed through reviews, but now you just want an expert to tell you, and that is what we are.”

HopJump was started in 2018 by Staab as a digital marketing agency helping big brands with user acquisition campaigns. As it was building up to an initial public offering, Staab said the company wanted to move into building its own brand and saw an opportunity in travel, which accounts for a big market — 10% of global gross domestic product, he added.

The company went on to provide hotel discount travel prices to consumers but found it to be challenging. There are a lot of nuances and different approaches for offering four-star hotel rooms for two-star prices and bundling tactics, Staab explained.

“We fell in love with uncomplicating the process,” he said. “Consumers just want a good price from a company they trust, and that is what we set out to solve.”

In January 2020, the company launched its first product and had 60 members join in the first few months, but then the global pandemic hit. Suddenly, HopJump went from managing rapid growth to managing how the company might shut down.

Still eager to stay in travel, the company pivoted back to marketing so it could continue examining the travel industry, he said. While the company was figuring out its next move, Staab said folks at SmarterTravel were helpful to them, and when he heard that its parent company, TripAdvisor, was needing to make layoffs, and that division was going to be let go, he decided to purchase that asset along with seven others, including Airfarewatchdog, Family Vacation Critic and Oyster. The deal closed in 2020.

Lisa Dolan, managing director at Link Ventures, said that SmarterTravel’s growth was one of the drivers of her firm’s investment. When no one was traveling due to COVID, the company acquired travel companies and made it through the pandemic while other startups in the space were struggling.

She also cited its strong revenue-generating business on the email side and that it capitalized on the fact that even in the pandemic, people were conducting web searches for car rentals, things to do in certain cities and looking for vacation inspiration.

SmarterTravel is going after a U.S. travel and tourism industry valued at $580.7 billion in 2019. It is also not the only one to gain investor attention recently. For example, just over the past month companies like Thatch raised $3 million for its platform aimed at travel creators, travel tech company Hopper brought in $175 million, Wheel the World grabbed $2 million for its disability-friendly vacation planner and Elude raised $2.1 million to bring spontaneous travel back to a hard-hit industry.

Meanwhile, the funding will drive SmarterTravel’s aim to grow rapidly in terms of getting its name out there, building new travel products and hiring key staff. The company already has 50 people, but needs more, Staab said.

“Travel has had a tough couple of years, but some pockets of it are back, and we are seeing that,” he added. “In a year that should have been a bad year, our growth has been good. We were up eight times in revenue in the past 12 months. We are growing, profitable and have extra funding to lean into the growth. It is not going to be easy growth, but we are well-positioned to understand how to do it.”

 

#advertising-tech, #artificial-intelligence, #digital-marketing, #ecommerce, #funding, #hopjump, #jordan-staab, #link-ventures, #lisa-dolan, #recent-funding, #second-alpha, #smartertravel, #startups, #tc, #tourism, #travel, #travel-industry, #travel-startups, #travel-tech, #tripadvisor

Creative ad tech is on the cusp of a revolution, and VCs should take note

2021 has been a good year to be an ad tech investor. Valuations are surging, Wall Street is happy and exits are frequent and satisfying. It’s the perfect time to double down and invest in an area that has been largely ignored but is poised for major upside in the next few years: Digital creative ad technology.

Think about it. When was the last time we saw a major ad tech funding round that was directed at the actual ads themselves — the messages people actually see everyday? I’d argue that now is the perfect time.

The adtech startups that can figure out how to adapt ads that can interact with the remote control, a synced smartphone or voice commands — maybe even make them shoppable — can theoretically produce a game-changer.

Here are five reasons why VCs should consider ratcheting up their investment into ad tech startups building the next generation of creative tools:

Creative tech is far from being saturated

Consider how much has been spent over the 15 years on digital advertising mechanics such as targeting, serving, measuring and verification. Not to mention the trillions that have gone toward helping brands keep track of customer data and interactions — the marketing clouds, DMPs and CDPs.

Yet you can count the number of creative-centric ad tech companies on one hand. This means there is a lot of room for innovation and early leaders. VideoAmp, which helps brands make ads for various social platforms, pulled in $75 million earlier this year. Given how fast platforms like TikTok and Snap are growing, it won’t be the last.

Digital ad targeting is being squeezed

Ads need to do more work today. Between regulation, cookies going away and Apple locking down data collection, we’ve seen a renewed interest in contextual advertising, including funding for the likes of GumGum, as well as identity resolution firms like InfoSum.

But the digital ad ecosystem can’t get by only using broader data-crunching techniques to replace “retargeting.” The medium is practically crying out for a creative revival that can only be sparked by scalable tech. The recent funding for creative testing startup Marpipe is a start, but more focus is needed on actual tech-driven ideation and automation.

#advertising-tech, #column, #digital-advertising, #digital-marketing, #e-commerce, #ec-column, #ec-marketing-tech, #ecommerce, #machine-learning, #startups, #targeted-advertising, #tc, #venture-capital

Use creative automation software to amp up your brand’s lower-funnel assets

With the holiday season around the corner, growth marketers are gearing up for their busiest time of the year. E-commerce brands are now leaning heavily on social sales and digital advertising, but should also expect an omnichannel shopper — 62% of shoppers plan to purchase both online and in-store this holiday season, according to Celtra.

The marketplace is crowded. Digital marketing requires high volumes of on-brand creative assets, and it is tough to produce them fast enough without compromising on brand equity or storytelling. While marketing channels have exploded in volume, most creative production workflows are the same as they were 50 years ago.

But marketing is a monster that feeds on creative assets, requiring more and more each quarter.

The reality is, any paid impression is also a brand impression and a chance to differentiate in the market. In fact, paid impressions are often the only chance you get to influence some shoppers. That’s why creative — your brand, your design and your message — matters. In growth marketing, traffic, subscriptions, direct-to-consumer channels, testing and, ultimately, revenue all rely on creative to succeed.

Yet, lower-funnel assets are rarely brilliant in branding or even remotely interesting. Teams are limited in meeting global demands across more channels than ever, and the creative they produce is suffering. Brands don’t have the luxury of spending time on design craft and storytelling at scale. Conversely, most creative automation solutions that can assist with efficiency aren’t currently equipped to scale high-quality creative that prioritizes branding and design excellence.

Enterprises are suffering from a creative gap where their content and asset needs are growing fast while team resources and budgets are stagnant or even declining.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic AI bullet to solve the challenge. You can’t just buy creative technology in the hopes that it alone will bridge the gap. You need to rethink workflows and team collaboration. If you’re serious about elevating your growth marketing creative, you need to invest in tools that are built for scale and brand governance at once.

#advertising-tech, #artificial-intelligence, #brand-management, #column, #digital-advertising, #digital-marketing, #ec-column, #ec-ecommerce-and-d2c, #marketing, #marketing-automation, #online-advertising, #tc

Are B2B SaaS marketers getting it wrong?

Which terms come to mind when you think about SaaS?

“Solutions,” “cutting-edge,” “scalable” and “innovative” are just a sample of the overused jargon lurking around every corner of the techverse, with SaaS marketers the world over seemingly singing from the same hymn book.

Sadly for them, new research has proven that such jargon-heavy copy — along with unclear features and benefits — is deterring customers and cutting down conversions. Around 57% of users want to see improvements in the clarity and navigation of websites, suggesting that techspeak and unnecessarily complex UX are turning customers away at the door, according to The SaaS Engine.

That’s not to say SaaS marketers aren’t trying: Seventy percent of those surveyed have been making big adjustments to their websites, and 33% have updated their content. So how and why are they missing the mark?

They say there’s no bigger slave to fashion than someone determined to avoid it, and SaaS marketing is no different. To truly stand out, you need to do thorough competitor analysis.

There are three common blunders that most SaaS marketers make time and again when it comes to clarity and high-converting content:

  1. Not differentiating from competitors.
  2. Not humanizing “tech talk.”
  3. Not tuning their messaging to prospects’ stage of awareness at the appropriate stage of the funnel.

We’re going to unpack what the research suggests and the steps you can take to avoid these common pitfalls.

Blending into the competition

It’s a jungle out there. But while camouflage might be key to surviving in the wild, in the crowded SaaS marketplace, it’s all about standing out. Let’s be honest: How many SaaS homepages have you visited that look the same? How many times have you read about “innovative tech-driven solutions that will revolutionize your workflow”?

The research has found that of those using SaaS at work, 76% are now on more platforms or using existing ones more intensively than last year. And as always, with increased demand comes a boom in competition, so it’s never been more important to stand out. Rather than imitating the same old phrases and copy your competitors are using, it’s time to reach your audience with originality, empathy and striking clarity.

But how do you do that?

#b2b-saas, #column, #customer-experience, #digital-marketing, #ec-column, #ec-how-to, #enterprise, #marketing, #saas, #saas-marketing, #sales, #software-as-a-service, #startups

Apple is changing Mail Privacy Protection and email marketers must prepare

The most critical phase in a marketing team’s mix and overall multichannel strategy happens after you press send on an email campaign: the post-send and performance pillars of email marketing.

During this phase, marketers should gather metrics and data to guide insights impacting future emails and entire marketing campaigns. Email metrics can influence ad messaging and social posts and guide the design, content and product marketing teams. When used strategically, these metrics increase email programs’ ROI while raising marketing channel and workflow efficiency and effectiveness.

As one of the most lucrative channels for reaching target audiences — for every dollar invested in email marketing, brands receive $36 in return — email enables brands to reach their core consumer base: email subscribers.

Just as they adjusted to accommodate the evolution from print to digital, marketers must pivot and accommodate this new disruption to remain competitive — and successful.

They have opted-in to email touch points because they want to hear from the brand. By applying these insights via analytics, marketers optimize marketing spend and messaging to hit business goals.

Email impacts marketing strategy and enables better overall business success. It’s the lifeblood of an effective multichannel campaign. However, Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection — announced earlier this summer with its iOS 15 update — attempts to eliminate metrics and data associated with email.

According to the Litmus Email Client Market Share, in 2020, Apple iPhone, Apple Mail and Apple iPad accounted for nearly half of all email opens. Lacking these insights will create marketing roadblocks for segmented and personalized touch points. Marketers and businesses must prepare by adjusting email strategy and processes before the update occurs.

Companies and consumers have talked about privacy quite a bit lately. Companies fearing breaches, reputation damage and potentially lost revenue want to protect consumer data. Consumer awareness of privacy concerns has grown, too.

In a 2021 survey, over half the respondents expressed more concern about online privacy than in 2020. Consumers expect brands to demonstrate trustworthiness before they willingly share sensitive personal information.

Recognizing an increased desire for better privacy control, Apple revealed new privacy protections in its iOS 15 update, including its Mail Privacy Protection. Apple Mail users may hide their IP addresses, locations and additional data from senders, preventing brands from pulling information like open rates and location. Apple said that “Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user.”

What does this update mean for marketers? The potential disappearance of a critical phase in the marketing mix and multichannel strategy: the post-send and performance pillars of email marketing. No open-rate-specific data — the brand will appear to have a 100% open rate.

#apple, #column, #digital-marketing, #ec-column, #ec-ecommerce-and-d2c, #email-marketing, #online-privacy, #privacy, #tc

Building a growth community in India with Ayush Srivastava of Growth Folks

Indian startups of all sizes are raising record amounts of investment funding this year and getting public exits, as we’ve been covering in recent months. To hear more about the growth behind the numbers we caught up with Ayush Srivastava, a cofounder of growth marketing group Growth Folks (and a growth marketer at Zynga by day).

The organization, which describes itself as “India’s largest community of growth enthusiasts,” began as in-person events for growth marketers across major cities, but made the jump to online networking during the pandemic. From there it began an online speaker series for its 1300-some members, introduced more community networking groups and virtual events, and one-on-one mentoring.

In the interview below, part of our ongoing series profiling growth marketers around the world, he says India’s startup scene has quickly gotten more sophisticated about growth in recent years. Companies are centering high-quality user growth as a shared team goal, not as a side job, and are thinking more creatively about where and how to find users. “I am amazed at how the startups are focusing on tier 2-3 cities here in India. With the pace with which internet access has grown… they are making sure they are solving the problem faced by rural Indians as well. [I] just love the fact that proper solutions are being built in the right manner for the concerned pain point.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

You describe Growth Folks as “India’s largest community of growth enthusiasts,” with more than 1,300 members. What does “growth enthusiast” mean to you, and how does that term define you?

The terms ‘growth’ and ‘growth marketing’ have picked up a lot in the last five years in the Indian startup ecosystem. All of a sudden there are more than a million heads who are interested to be a part of this circle or are already a part of this community. This had a positive impact as more and more people started to look at their growth problems and not only just promoting their business. For us, growth enthusiasts are everyone and anyone who is even a percent excited about how to grow a particular brand/service.

How did the focus and efforts of Growth Folks change during the pandemic for community engagement?

In the pre-COVID era, Growth Folks was heavily functional in the offline space. We used to manage and engage the community online but most of the efforts went in and success used to come from the offline activities that we used to organize. From December 2018 through the end of 2019, we organized more than 80+ offline events in nine cities of India. These events were previously panel discussions, industry talks or seminars followed by networking sessions…

[H]owever, once COVID came into the picture, our operations shifted completely online and I must say the shift was quite smooth but exciting for me.
We started hosting bi-weekly online webinars with industry leaders and tried giving our community folks (and new attendees) a look and feel of the physical event in the form of this virtual gathering so that they feel connected.

Ever since lockdown began, we have done over 25+ events and have had speakers from companies like SEMRush, Baremetrics, Zynga, Indigo Airlines, Adjust, Myntra and many more. Not only this, we started a lot of interesting threads on our Facebook group to get people to engage more. Within the same period, we launched our website to give people an idea about all our services.

We made sure that we are having dedicated networking sessions after the webinars for people to interact with each other. In October 2020, we re-launched the online version of “Brunch Sessions” that we used to have in the pre-COVID times. These brunch sessions helped the fellow community people to come together on a single day and interact and chill with each other virtually. We started producing more online content knowing the fact that this could be a way to have a value add and it worked.

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Growth Folks is multifaceted, offering traditional growth marketing services as well as hosting a “growth hackathon” and community activities. What can a startup expect when working with Growth Folks? How is it different from existing services?

We have been virtually able to connect with so many people and we continue to do so… [W]e started something which is called “growth huddle”. It is a highly curated one-on-one mentorship session with a few of the best talents out there in the growth space. You can book your session and we will take you through the entire process to make sure that the session is right on point and you learn what you want, not what we want.

All of the mentors who were onboarded vary from experience level to expertise and provide the right set of guidance needed for individuals and startups to grow further. We also partnered with startups and companies for various online events to promote them and make sure that the right voice reaches out to the right set of people who matter to them – the Growth Folks. We have collaborated with companies like Adjust, Microsoft, Rocketium, Canva and many more and we have been able to make people learn the right things.

What are startups doing better now than ever before? In India? Around the world?

Companies have started realizing the true importance of having a fully functional growth team and they have started acknowledging their one metric that matters as well. The growth marketers have also started setting up a lot of experiments and have taken a data-driven approach to solving a problem. Now, I see many startups going out of the box and putting in efforts to find new ways of acquisition. They haven’t restricted them to acquiring users via the traditional ways and that’s why you see so many ideas going viral so easily. And all in different ways…

I see so many founders not restricting themselves to hiring just a growth marketer for leading all growth initiatives. Rather, they have spent time understanding the importance of it and have ended up building a full force growth team of marketers, PMs, tech people, designers etc. I feel that is the best way to look at any growth problem statement.

I am amazed at how the startups are focusing on tier 2-3 cities here in India. With the pace with which internet access has grown… they are making sure they are solving the problem faced by rural Indians as well. [I] just love the fact that proper solutions are being built in the right manner for the concerned pain point.

Lastly, companies have started considering the importance of the entire customer experience more seriously than ever before. This is helping brands to grow via communities easily and create a strong brand presence.

#asia, #digital-marketing, #experts, #growth-hacking, #growth-marketing, #india, #startups, #tc, #verified-experts

Audio out-of-home advertising is reinventing personalization

Do you remember the first time you received a personalized ad? Perhaps you discussed a product with a friend, and the next day, an advertisement for that product popped up on social media. It almost makes you think someone’s listening to your conversations, doesn’t it?

Over time, consumers have become increasingly skeptical about ads like these — and for good reason. A 2019 Accenture study found many customers felt brands communicated in a way they felt was too personal — and 71% of those customers worried how the brands had acquired personal information they hadn’t voluntarily shared.

First-, second- and third-party data make it possible to generate hyperpersonalized ads. But these data collection efforts fall short. Consumers find these methods invasive and a breach of trust — and the data collected is often inaccurate. Google’s third-party cookie is going away, and Apple has made recent changes to its Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), but no one has clarified the effect of these changes on advertisers’ or marketers’ abilities to reach and remarket consumers.

Many advertisers have begun leveraging AOOH as a more significant part of their brand and marketing strategy to improve reach, frequency and overall business outcomes.

It’s not so much that customers don’t appreciate ads targeting their interests — the concern lies in the methods marketers use to collect data and how consumers can maintain control over what personal data they choose to share. Interestingly, as consumer demands for personalization have increased, according to the 2021 State of Ad Personalization report, half of marketers have yet to invest in ad personalization.

Personalization and data play a vital role in the success of marketing and advertising campaigns today. Brands and their marketing departments must think outside the box and use a more targeted medium not predicated on invading privacy but designed, nevertheless, to provide a unique, personalized experience for in-store shoppers: audio out-of-home (AOOH) technology.

AOOH technology does not request the use of personal data to work effectively. Instead, it focuses on the in-store customer experience. AOOH broadcasts premium music and programmatic advertisements to enrich customer experiences and reach shoppers directly at the point of sale, influencing buying decisions and positively impacting sales.

The current generation of personalization and data collection

In the marketing world, personalization has many nuances. Ultimately, marketers see its goal as providing a unique experience to every individual based on personal preferences and data. The current generation of personalization in marketing is not about collecting cookies or third-party data, merchandising or guesswork.

Today’s personalization focuses instead on delivering the right content, the right offer, the right channel and, most importantly, the right sequence of events generating value exchange between the brand and the consumer.

Although consumers don’t trust superpersonalized ads, they still expect brands to offer a personalized experience. Ninety-one percent of consumers polled in another Accenture study indicated a willingness to shop brands with some form of personalization.

On the other hand, personalization in audio advertising has seen significant growth over the past 15 years, as reflected by a willingness by brands to invest in this medium. A recent report predicts an astonishing 84% growth in digital audio ad revenue for 2025 compared to 2019.

#advertising-tech, #column, #data-driven-marketing, #digital-marketing, #ec-column, #marketing, #online-advertising, #out-of-home-advertising, #personalization, #social-media, #targeted-advertising, #tc

Former Snap employees raise $9M for Trust, emerging from beta to level marketing playing field

Trust wants to give smaller businesses the same advantages that large enterprises have when marketing on digital and social media platforms. It came out of beta with $9 million in seed funding from Lerer Hippeau, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Upfront Ventures and Upper90.

The Los Angeles-based company was started in 2019 by a group of five Snap alums working in various roles within Snap’s revenue product strategy business. They were building tools for businesses to fund success with digital marketing, but kept hearing from customers about the advantage big advertisers had over smaller ones — the ability to receive good payment terms, credit lines, as well as data and advice.

Aiming to flip the script on that, the group created Trust, which is a card and business community to help digital businesses navigate the ever-changing pricing models to market online, receive the same incentives larger advertisers get and make the best decision of where their marketing dollars will reach the furthest.

Trust dashboard

Trust does this in a few ways: Its card, built in partnership with Stripe, enables businesses to increase their buying power by up to 20 times and have 45 days to make payments on their marketing investments, CEO James Borow told TechCrunch. Then as part of its community, companies share knowledge of marketing buys and data insights typically reserved for larger advertisers. Users even receive news via their dashboard around their specific marketing strategy, he added.

“The ad platforms are a wall of gardens, and most people don’t know what is going on inside, so our customers work together to see what is going on,” Borow said.

The growth of e-commerce is pushing more digital marketing investments, providing opportunity for Trust to be a huge business, Borow said. E-commerce sales in the U.S. grew by 39% in the first quarter, while digital advertising spend is forecasted to increase 25% this year to $191 billion. Meanwhile, Google, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter all recently reported rapid growth in their year-over-year advertising revenues, Borow said.

The new funding will go toward increasing the company’s headcount.

“We have active customers on the platform, so we wanted to ramp up hiring as soon as we went into general release,” he added. “We are leaving beta with 25 businesses and a few hundred on our waitlist.”

That list will soon grow. In addition to the funding round, Trust announced a strategic partnership with social shopping e-commerce platform Verishop. The company’s 3,500 merchants will receive priority access to the Trust card and community, Borow said.

Andrea Hippeau, partner at Lerer Hippeau, said she knew Borow from being an investor in his previous advertising company Shift, which was acquired by Brand Networks in 2015.

When Borow contacted Lerer about Trust, Hippeau said this was the kind of offering that would be applicable to the firm’s portfolio, which has many direct-to-consumer brands, and knew marketing was a huge pain point for them.

“Digital marketing is important to all brands, but it is also a black box that you put marketing dollars into, but don’t know what you get,” she said. “We hear this across our portfolio — they spend a lot of money on ad platforms, yet are treated like mom-and-pop companies in terms of credit. When in reality Casper is outspending other companies by five times. Trust understands how important marketing dollars are and gives them terms that are financially better.”

 

#advertising-tech, #andrea-hippeau, #brand-networks, #business, #digital-advertising, #digital-marketing, #enterprise, #facebook, #funding, #google, #james-borow, #lerer-hippeau, #lightspeed-venture-partners, #marketing, #online-advertising, #recent-funding, #small-business, #startups, #stripe, #tc, #trust, #upfront-ventures, #upper90

How to hire and structure a growth team

Everyone at an organization should own growth, right? Turns out when everyone owns something, no one does. As a result, growth teams can cause an enormous amount of friction in an organization when introduced.

Growth teams are twice as likely to appear among businesses growing their ARR by 100% or more annually. What’s more, they also seem to be more common after product-market fit has been achieved — usually after a company has reached about $5 million to $10 million in revenue.

Graph of the prevalence of growth teams in companies, by ARR

Image Credits: OpenView Partners

I’m not here to sell you on why you need a growth team, but I will point out that product-led businesses with a growth team see dramatic results — double the median free-to-paid conversion rate.

Free-to-paid conversions in companies with growth teams are higher

Image Credits: OpenView Partners

How do you hire an early growth leader?

According to responses from product benchmarks surveys, growth teams have transitioned dramatically from reporting to marketing and sales to reporting directly to the CEO.

Some of the early writing on growth teams says that they can be structured individually as their own standalone team or as a SWAT model, where experts from various other departments in the organization converge on a regular cadence to solve for growth.

Graph showing more growth teams now report to CEOs than marketing, sales or product

Image Credits: OpenView Partners

My experience, and the data I’ve collected from business-user focused software companies, has led me to the conclusion that growth teams in business software should not be structured as “SWAT” teams, with cross-functional leadership coming together to think critically about growth problems facing the business. I find that if problems don’t have a real owner, they’re not going to get solved. Growth issues are no different and are often deprioritized unless it’s someone’s job to think about them.

Becoming product-led isn’t something that happens overnight, and hiring someone will not be a silver bullet for your software.

I put early growth hires into a few simple buckets. You’ve got:

Product-minded growth experts: These folks are all about optimizing the user experience, reducing friction and expanding usage. They’re usually pretty analytical and might have product, data or MarketingOps backgrounds.

#brand-management, #column, #digital-marketing, #ec-column, #ec-how-to, #growth-hacking, #growth-marketing, #growth-tactics, #hiring, #hiring-for-growth, #marketing, #neologisms, #personnel, #product-management, #startup-hiring, #startups, #user-experience

Demand Curve: Questions you need to answer in your paid search ads

Around 15% of website traffic comes through paid search ads. But to turn passive searchers into active shoppers, your ads should answer their question and entice them to click.

We’ve tested thousands of paid search ads at Demand Curve and through our agency Bell Curve. This post breaks down 14 questions your paid search ads should answer to ensure you’re only paying for the highest-intent shoppers.

Question 1: “What’s in it for me?”

An important distinction between paid search and organic search is that paid ads are an interruption. Users of search engines are simply looking for an answer to their question. The people who see your ads don’t owe you anything. Just because you’re paying to have your ad show up first doesn’t mean they’re going to pay attention to it.

To generate genuine interest in your paid ads, reframe your offer as a favor.

You can do this in two ways:

  • Describe the features of your product as the solution to your customers’ problem.
  • Emphasize the outcome your customer seeks.

For example, reframing free delivery as an extra convenience makes the offer that much more attractive.

Use ad extensions by listing additional benefits in the description of the page. For example, including “customized plans” in the pricing extension page signals to your customer that they’ll have control over the cost. This will help to attract the curiosity of even the most cost-conscious buyers.

To capture genuine interest in your paid ads, re-frame your offer as a favor.

Image Credits: Demand Curve

Question 2: “Why should I buy now?”

Approximately 80% of e-commerce shopping carts are abandoned, mostly because shoppers don’t feel any urgency to complete the transaction. Online shoppers aren’t in any rush, as the internet is open 24/7 and inventory feels unlimited.

Use ad copy that bridges the gap between their problem and your solution. The easiest way to create that curiosity bridge is by asking a question.

To answer the question, “Why should I buy now?”, you’re going to have to create an incentive to get them to take action now.

#ad, #advertising-tech, #column, #digital-marketing, #ec-column, #ec-ecommerce-and-d2c, #ec-how-to, #ecommerce, #marketing, #online-advertising, #online-shopping, #search-ads, #search-advertising, #search-engine, #search-engine-optimization, #search-engines, #startups, #targeted-advertising, #tc

Unmuted founder Max van den Ingh on success beyond the metrics

There is no authoritative playbook for marketing these days. Every company must find its own voice, and as it grows and evolves, its marketing needs to evolve as well.

Relying on proven tactics and measurable metrics isn’t enough — today, the most effective marketers constantly study and learn from innovative approaches while exploring new avenues.

This is where Unmuted comes in. A growth marketing agency based in Amsterdam, this company focuses on LinkedIn marketing, content marketing, marketing automation and email marketing. Before starting Unmuted, Max van den Ingh was head of growth and product at MisterGreen, an electric vehicle leasing company, and he also served as head of growth marketing at ShopPop, a chat-based marketing platform.

Van den Ingh, who also serves as a guest lecturer at Nyenrode Business University, was recommended to TechCrunch through the TechCrunch Experts project. We’re currently on the lookout for top-tier growth marketers that you can recommend to other startups. If you know of one, let us know by filling out this quick survey.

Van den Ingh spoke with us about his “modern” approach to marketing, setting realistic goals, how startups had to shift during the pandemic and more.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

You call Unmuted a “modern” growth marketing agency. What do you do that makes your approach to marketing modern?

The way we help our clients is fundamentally different from how most traditional marketing agencies operate. At Unmuted, our clients don’t come to us to have their ideas executed; they come to us for our process. In a way, we’ve productized a growth marketing process that generates ideas for our clients. They find immense value in that process.

Depending on the customer’s team size and resources, we either guide them during execution or execute autonomously and report back. This process-based service model is, in our opinion, the only way to grow a business in a sustainable way.

“The way we help our clients is fundamentally different from how most traditional marketing agencies operate. “

In a practical sense, this is what that process boils down to: We take all that we’ve learned from fast-growing companies and apply these principles to our clients’ businesses. Typically we focus on what we call “innovative companies” — whether that’s because they have a SaaS offering or they’re an innovator within a traditional industry doesn’t really matter. The process we’ve designed works for B2B startups, scaleups and SMBs. That last category can benefit greatly from the way we work.

Our role, then, is threefold: We come up with strategies that we carry out by experimenting with several proven marketing tactics based on our extensive in-house knowledge and experience. This relieves our clients’ marketing teams of potentially stifling tunnel vision.

Our growth program typically unfolds in three stages as well, which we call the Foundation, Acceleration and Transformation stages. In the Foundation stage, we set up the fundamentals based on an extensive audit of the client’s business, and start out with our initial experiments. In the Acceleration stage, we scale the experiments that have shown promising early results. Finally, in the Transformation stage, we teach our clients how to continue growing their business themselves. If necessary, we stick around in a consulting role.

Your work at MisterGreen helped it grow about 10x. How much can a client expect to grow when working with you? How do you help clients set realistic goals?

Setting goals is always a challenge, especially when it comes to marketing. Why should you aim for a certain number? Why not aim higher, or lower, for that matter? At Unmuted, when we start working with a new client, we perform a series of exercises together. This helps us get a clear picture of where the client is now and where they could be when we’ve optimized marketing.

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Next, instead of fixed numbers, like a specific amount of new customers in a given period, we focus on growth levers, like month-over-month growth in certain conversion or activation areas. Focusing on growth levers makes our work more actionable.

We then construct a framework as part of our growth program that also allows room for certain beliefs a company has. I feel this “belief system” is truly essential to any growth marketing strategy. If you don’t allow room for gut feeling activities and only focus on data-driven projects, you will end up only working on things you can measure. We believe that growth marketing will become more effective when you also invest time and effort in channels and spaces you can’t necessarily measure.

When people talk about your solution on WhatsApp or during podcast episodes, that’s amazing and will effectively influence revenue, but sometimes there’s just no way to track these activities.

Finally, we don’t make any guarantees when it comes to growth results. That’s not how it works. We’ll always aim to maximize results as part of the process. Diligent focus on continuous improvement and optimization comes first. Results will automatically follow afterward.

For instance, we recently helped a B2B SaaS platform increase demo requests by 350%. But this wasn’t the goal at all. The process we were following was focused on optimizing every aspect of the demo request journey, from acquiring visitors to optimizing the demo page and more. Every experiment we ran increased the demo request metric to some extent. After six months, you start seeing these compounded results.

You were also the head of growth at ShopPop. How did that experience shape the way you help your clients?

Working for a fast-growing B2B SaaS company with a self-serve product taught me quite a few things. For starters, the importance of getting a really clear understanding of what sustainable growth looks like. Especially in growth marketing, there are a lot of things you can do to gain short-term results. But this doesn’t necessarily help, because you might be acquiring customers that you lose in the long run.

For example, running aggressive advertising campaigns in the early stages to acquire new users in sectors that you know won’t benefit considerably from your product. This type of superficial growth will come back in the form of churn sooner rather than later, and simply isn’t sustainable.

At Unmuted, when we start working with a new client, we put a lot of time and effort into understanding their best type of customers, what their problems are, and why that’s the case. Only then do we start looking at how to solve those problems with our client’s products or services.

You’re a guest lecturer at Nyenrode Business University and do speaking engagements as well. What do you hope people take away from your talks?

When I stand in front of a crowd during a speaking engagement, I always share stories about times where I took a pragmatic approach and did things differently. Growth can come in different shapes and forms, and although it often seems simple, it’s never easy. People, and especially management, have to understand that growth takes time and that you need failures to learn.

You need to have conversations to be able to learn and iterate. It’s better to have the wrong type of conversations than not having any at all. Without feedback, there’s no way to grow. And while an eagerness to learn comes naturally to most marketers, this isn’t necessarily the case for your average business person. If I can inspire audiences with my approach to growing by learning, I think that’s a great takeaway.

How have you seen startups change during the pandemic?

A lot of startups have been forced to change their approaches during the pandemic. Some have adapted successfully, while others are now stuck. I experienced it personally when I was still working at ShopPop, where we were focused on the music industry when the pandemic hit.

Music industry clients weren’t buying, for obvious reasons, so we had to pivot somehow. We ended up moving into e-commerce, which was, and still is, booming.

As the pandemic continues, what trends are you seeing in growth marketing?

The biggest trend I’m currently seeing is in the role marketing departments play. These have never been as important as they are now. Digital marketers, especially, are often the ones that come up with new ideas as to how a company can grow online. Nobody will know how the COVID-19 pandemic will play out, but in the meantime, every company is trying to adapt and find new ways to connect with their customers in unique, meaningful ways.

Logically, we’re seeing a surge in demand for online events like webinars and virtual summits. But everybody is doing those. So where can you carve out your own thing that becomes recognizable for your brand? Discovering these new channels and approaches — I think that should be the role of marketing.

How have you seen the startup market develop while working in growth?

The development of the startup market has been most noticeable in how new standards are being set. For example, startups have always been characterized as fast movers, but remote working and the rise of highly collaborative tools have further increased the speed at which startups operate. The whole industry transformed from speedboats into rocket ships. Talent became much more accessible, and through that internal cultures became more diverse and more resilient.

You can always depend on startups adopting new ways of working early on. They need to differentiate in order to survive, and a novel approach can be the one thing that makes them stand out from the crowd.

You have to understand that working at a startup often feels like you’re standing on the edge of a cliff. And that’s also the moment you’re at your most creative. I think this is also how growth marketing as a whole came about. In competitive markets, people have to fight for their right to exist. Marketing is often a way to radically differentiate. When people become really good at that, set new standards and raise the bar, the market develops as a whole.

What do startups continue to get wrong?

It’s been said many times before, but even today, most startups don’t learn quickly and deeply enough. Founders often have an amazing idea and vision of how things will play out. But how much field experience does this person really have? Enough to be able to foresee the future?

Usually, for startups, short-term growth goes well — they get some initial traction from their network, but then the next phase kicks in. Especially when there’s an investment involved, putting more pressure on the commercial side of things, this next phase will mean encountering a lot of hurdles.

When a company doesn’t find a strong enough product-market fit and doesn’t apply what its learned early on, things will get extremely tough. In this phase, a lot of research and experimentation is necessary. If the founding team isn’t up for this and they put their heads in the sand, the startup will deteriorate quickly.

On the other side: What are startups doing better now than ever before?

The best thing a startup can do, and I’m seeing it happen more and more, is investing in community early on. When I was leading growth at MisterGreen, we created a community for the first thousand Tesla Model 3 owners in the Netherlands. Everyone wanted to be a part of this founding tribe, learn from each other, get insights and so on.

This group turned out to be our most effective marketing tool. Word-of-mouth went through the roof. We had all of these people talking about our community at birthday parties, in their office, you name it. This is a great example of investing in marketing you can’t really measure, but which you do strongly believe in.

#content-marketing, #digital-marketing, #email-marketing, #experts, #growth-marketers, #growth-marketing, #marketing, #marketing-strategy, #online-marketing, #social-media-marketing, #startups, #tc, #verified-experts

Sendlane raises $20M to convert shoppers into loyal customers

Sendlane, a San Diego-based multichannel marketing automation platform, announced Thursday it raised $20 million in Series A funding.

Five Elms Capital and others invested in the round to give Sendlane total funding of $23 million since the company was founded in 2018.

Though the company officially started three years ago, co-founder and CEO Jimmy Kim told TechCrunch he began working on the idea back in 2013 with two other co-founders.

They were all email marketers in different lines of business, but had some common ground in that they were all using email tools they didn’t like. The ones they did like came with too big of a price tag for a small business, Kim said. They set out to build their own email marketing automation platform for customers that wanted to do more than email campaigns and newsletters.

When two other companies Kim was involved in exited in 2017, he decided to put both feet into Sendlane to build it into a system that maximized revenue based on insights and integrations.

In late 2018, the company attracted seed funding from Zing Capital and decided in 2019 to pivot into e-commerce. “Based on our personal backgrounds and looking at the customers we worked with, we realized that is what we did best,” Kim said.

Today, more than 1,700 e-commerce companies use Sendlane’s platform to convert more than 100 points of their customers’ data — abandoned carts, which products sell the best and which marketing channel is working — into engaging communications aimed at driving customer loyalty. The company said it can increase revenue for customers between 20% and 40% on average.

The company itself is growing 100% year over year and seeing over $7 million in annual recurring revenue. It currently has 54 employees right now, and Kim expects to be at around 90 by the end of the year and 150 by the end of 2022. Sendlane currently has more than 20 open roles, he said.

That current and potential growth was a driver for Kim to go after the Series A funding. He said Sendlane became profitable last year, which is why it has not raised a lot of money so far. However, as the rapid adoption of e-commerce continues, Kim wants to be ready for the next wave of competition coming in, which he expects in the next year.

He considers companies like ActiveCampaign and Klaviyo to be in line with Sendlane, but says his company’s differentiator is customer service, boasting short wait times and chats that answer questions in less than 15 seconds.

He is also ready to go after the next vision, which is to unify data and insights to create meaningful interactions between customers and retailers.

“We want to start carving out a new space,” Kim added. “We have a ton of new products coming out in the next 12 to 18 months and want to be the single source for customer journey data insights that provides flexibility for your business to grow.”

Two upcoming tools include Audiences, which will unify customer data and provide insights, and an SMS product for two-way communications and enabled campaign-level sending.

 

#activecampaign, #blueprint-equity, #digital-marketing, #ecommerce, #email-marketing, #enterprise, #five-elms-capital, #funding, #jimmy-kim, #klaviyo, #marketing, #marketing-automation, #online-advertising, #product-marketing, #recent-funding, #sendlane, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital, #zing-capital

5 advanced-ish SEO tactics to win in 2021

In nearly every Google algorithm update in recent memory, Google has rewarded old, megatraffic sites, sending their search rankings soaring at the expense of smaller, newer sites. Big sites have increased their search traffic by 28% year over year, according to GrowthBar’s organic search data on the 100 most visited sites.

Why? Large sites such as Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Amazon, Home Depot and Target have something the rest of us don’t — they’ve got years of built-up Google trust signals.

Start with best practices like making incredible content and securing backlinks to your best web pages, but also be willing to think a bit outside the box.

I’d contend that Google favors large sites more than ever before — and it’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. After all, Google exists to deliver the best search experience to users. Bad search results would be a death sentence for their business, since Googlers would flock to alternatives like DuckDuckGo and Bing.

Especially today, where distrust of the media is at an all-time high, Google can’t risk its reputation by surfacing bad search results, so I think their algorithm errs on the side of caution. It’s simply safer for their business to surface household names at the top of the search engine results page, particularly in ultrasensitive your money, your life categories.

John Mueller, Google’s SEO mouthpiece, practically settled the debate that older sites are preferred by the algorithm when he said, ” … freshness is always an interesting one because it’s something that we don’t always use. Because sometimes it makes sense to show people content that has been established (SEJ).”

So, how can you hope to compete if you’re deploying an SEO strategy on one of the billions of smaller sites?

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Of course, you should start with best practices like making incredible content and securing backlinks to your best web pages, but you should also be willing to think a bit outside the box. The cards aren’t in your favor, so you need to be even more strategic than the big guys. This means executing on some cutting-edge hacks to increase your SEO throughput and capitalize on some of the arbitrage still left in organic search. I call these five tactics “advanced-ish,” because none of them are complicated, but all of them are supremely important for search marketers in 2021.

Scaling your time with content generators

Businesses spent over $300 billion on content marketing last year. That’s in part because creating new content is the most straightforward way to draw in organic search traffic. Whether you’ve got a mature site or you’re just starting a WordPress SEO site, content is likely a large part of your SEO strategy.

But to scale content like a startup, you’ll need to devote a lot of time to it and/or manage a fleet of writers. Your time is probably better spent building your product or helping customers than on planning hundreds of blog articles. This is precisely where a content generator tool comes into play.

A whole new era of SEO tools is emerging, and some of these are augmented by OpenAI’s GPT-3 technology, the most advanced artificial intelligence language model. These tools have changed the game for SEOs and content creators by automating parts of the content creation cycle. Several tools utilize SEO signals and combine them with OpenAI to help you create blog outlines that include SEO-optimized titles, word counts, keywords, headlines, intro paragraphs and much more.

#advertising-tech, #column, #digital-marketing, #ec-column, #ec-ecommerce-and-d2c, #ec-how-to, #ec-marketing-tech, #ecommerce, #marketing, #search-engine-optimization, #social-media, #startups, #web-analytics

Demand Curve: How to double conversions on your startup’s homepage

Between our work at Demand Curve and our agency, Bell Curve, we’ve rewritten over 1,000 websites for startups across most industries.

Want to convert twice as many visitors into customers? Follow these copywriting tactics.

Everything “above the fold” must have a purpose

The section of your homepage that’s immediately visible to a visitor before they start scrolling is called “above the fold.” (Think of a print newspaper: Everything above the literal fold in the paper is the most important information.) When a visitor sees the content above the fold, they decide to either keep scrolling or exit your site.

In seconds, they’re trying to figure out what you do and whether you’re a fit for them.

The most common mistake we see startups make? Their “above the fold” is either uninteresting or confusing. This often happens when marketers attempt to squeeze too much content above the fold.

The most common mistake we see startups make? Their “above the fold” is either uninteresting or confusing.

The truth is, most of the information on your website is irrelevant to new visitors. So the area above the fold should be used to explain how you can help new visitors solve a specific problem.

For example, you might see a homepage that promotes the newest technical blog post that the company published. But that’s not useful to a visitor who doesn’t yet understand what you do.

To further confuse the visitor, many companies add an extensive navigation bar to the top of their site. In theory, this allows your visitors to easily access any part of your website. In practice, it leads to decision fatigue and low conversion rates.

Unless the content directly helps answer what you do and whether you’re a good fit for that visitor, it should be removed.

There are three things you can do to improve the conversion rate of your homepage:

  1. Craft a sharp header.
  2. Use a complementary subheader.
  3. Design with intention.

Let’s get into the tactics of these three areas of improvement.

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Write headers that speak to an individual (not a crowd)

Your header is the largest piece of text on your website. In under 10 words (about the longest we’d recommend), your header needs to accomplish three things:

1. Identify how customers get value from your product.

This is your most important value proposition. If you can’t explain how someone gets value from your product in fewer than 10 words, it’ll be a challenge to keep visitors’ attention for much longer.

Here’s how we uncover your key value proposition:

  • What bad alternative do people resort to when they lack your product?
  • How is your product better than the bad alternative?
  • Now turn the last step into an action statement — that’s your value proposition.

Take Airbnb:

  • The bad alternative is being stuck in a sterile hotel without experiencing any real culture.
  • Airbnb’s product is better than the bad alternative because it allows you to stay in a local’s home.
  • So if we turn the second question into an action statement, we’d get a value proposition like: Experience new cities like a local.

Here are some more examples from top startups:

Image Credits: Demand Curve

2. Include an enticing hook that keeps visitors reading.

Telling your visitors what you do is a good start, but now we need to get them excited about your product.

A huge missed opportunity we see a lot of startups make with their website copy? It’s not action oriented. In a world where customers can shop 24/7, there’s very little urgency for your visitors to take action now.

Adding a hook will increase the likelihood that a visitor buys from you on their first visit.

There are two ways we like to write hooks:

  • Offer a bold claim: something highly specific that triggers the thought, “Wow, I didn’t know that was possible.”

Image Credits: Demand Curve

  • Or address common objections: questions or pushback that your visitor is likely already thinking about. Addressing objections right away might seem counterintuitive, but bringing attention to your weaknesses will actually make your visitor trust your brand more. With no direct sales team, your copy is going to need to work hard to answer as many questions as possible.

Here are some value propositions of top startups that incorporate their biggest objections upfront.

Image Credits: Demand Curve

3. Speak directly to your ideal customer persona

To truly make the message in your header grab the attention of your visitor, rewrite your value proposition to speak directly to your customer personas.

To do so, list your top two to three customer personas. Rewrite your headers to address the part of your product they value most. Use their own language, not industry jargon. The best way to learn what your customers love about your product is through one-on-one customer interviews or reading customer success tickets.

Now you’ve got headers that speak directly to your ideal customer persona. You can either A/B test which header leads to a higher conversion rate or create custom landing pages using each header to drive traffic from different sources to specific pages.

For example, if you include a link to your website in a guest blog post, send that audience to the page with the most relevant header.

Here are some examples of writing multiple value propositions for the same startup:

Image Credits: Demand Curve

Use a subheader to explain how your header can be possible

We suggest spending about 50% of your time working on writing the header and 25% of your time on the subheader. Why? Because if your header isn’t interesting, your visitors won’t even bother reading the subheader.

Your subheader should be used to expand on two things:

  1. How does your product work exactly?
  2. Which of your features make our header’s bold claim believable?

You can use your top two to three features to explain how your header is achieved.

For example, let’s say Airbnb’s header is: Experience your getaway vacation like a local. No minimum stays.

To make this statement believable, we need to explain how it’s possible to vacation like a local and how “no minimum stays” is possible.

A subheader could read something like: An online rental marketplace with thousands of short-term rentals in your area.

Do not use industry jargon or technical terms in your subheader or header. Use words that a fifth-grade reader would understand. Use short sentences. Lengthy paragraphs will kill the momentum of your reader.

Here are a few more examples of using the subheader to explain the header:

Image Credits: Demand Curve

Make your homepage feel familiar and function as expected

The last aspect to consider when creating a high-converting homepage is the design. We see a lot of high-tech startups try to use their website to show off their creativity.

From our experience, your website is not the place to try to be original.

A website’s design should rarely be unique. It’s your product that should be unique. Your website is just a familiar medium for communicating your product’s uniqueness.

Functionality

Using familiar buttons and navigation that other websites have popularized will save your visitor the hassle of having to learn how your website works. For example, we’ve come to expect there to be a “home” button in the top left of the page. Attempting to place the same button in the bottom right for the sake of uniqueness will lead to confusion and possibly a lost customer. Stick with what works.

Images

Consider these goals when adding images to your homepage:

  • Remove uncertainty by showing your product in action. GIFs or looping videos are a terrific way of demonstrating how it works without taking up any additional space.

    Image Credits: Judy

  • If you sell physical goods, use images to show off various use cases and close-ups of the material and texture. This will help your visitor assess the quality of the product and further validate that the product is right for them.

Image Credits: Allbirds

Call-to-action buttons

Your call-to-action buttons (CTA) are where you’ll convert a visitor of your webpage into an active shopper. Therefore, your CTAs should be a continuation of the magic that you teased in your header copy.

Make the CTA button copy action focused and tell your visitor what will happen once they click it.

Here are some examples of CTA buttons that feel natural because they continue the narrative that began with the header copy:

Image Credits: Demand Curve

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Can advertising scale in VR?

One of VR’s prospective revenue streams is ad placement. The thought is that its levels of immersion can engender high engagement with various flavors of display ads. Think billboards in a virtual streetscape or sporting venue. Art imitates life, and all that.

This topic reemerged recently in the wake of Facebook’s experimental ads in Blaston VR. As TechCrunch’s Lucas Matney observed, it didn’t go too well. The move triggered a resounding backlash, followed by the game publisher, Resolution Games, backing out of the trial.

This chain of events underscored Facebook’s headwinds in VR ad monetization, which stem from its broader ad issues. In fairness, this was an experimental move to test the VR advertising waters … which Facebook accomplished, though it didn’t get the result it wanted.

VR advertising is a bit of a double-edged sword. It could take several years for VR usage to reach requisite levels for meaningful ad monetization.

Regardless, we’ve taken this opportunity to revisit our ongoing analysis and market sizing of VR advertising in general. The short version: There are pros and cons on both qualitative and quantitative levels.

The pros of VR advertising

VR advertising’s opportunity goes back to factors noted above: potentially high ad engagement given inherent levels of immersion. On that measure, VR exceeds all other media, which can mean higher-quality impressions, brand recall and other common display-ad metrics.

Historical evidence also suggests that VR could follow a path toward ad monetization. VR shows similar patterns to media that were increasingly ad supported as they matured. These include video, social media, mobile apps and games (just ask Unity).

To put some numbers behind that, 75% of apps in the Apple App Store’s first year were paid apps — similar to VR today. That figure declined to 15% in 2014 and hovers around 10% today. Over time, developers learned they could reach scale through free downloads.

Prevalent revenue models today include in-app purchases — especially in mobile gaming — and advertising. The question is whether VR will follow a similar path as developers learn that they can reach scale faster through free apps that employ “back-end monetization” like ad support.

This trend also follows audience dynamics: Early adopters are more likely to pay for content and experiences. But as a given technology or media matures, its transition to mainstream audiences requires different business models with less upfront commitment and friction.

“Today, there are only about 18% of applications in VR stores such as Steam and Oculus that are free,” Admix CEO Samuel Huber said. “This is fine for now because we are still very early in the market and most of these users are early adopters. They are willing to pay for content, just like they were willing to pay for prototype unproven hardware and generally, they have higher purchasing power than the average person.”

Drawbacks of VR advertising

Considering the above advantages, VR advertising is a bit of a double-edged sword (or beat saber). Those advantages are counterbalanced by a few practical disadvantages in the medium’s early stage. Much of this comes down to the requirement for scale.

#advertising-tech, #augmented-reality, #column, #digital-marketing, #ec-column, #ec-gaming, #ec-marketing-tech, #gaming, #marketing, #online-advertising, #virtual-reality

Navigating ad fraud and consumer privacy abuse in programmatic advertising

Programmatic advertising is a $200 billion global marketplace that is rapidly growing and far-reaching, with Connected TV (CTV) serving as its latest accelerant. Unfortunately, however, it’s also a business sector rife with fraud and consumer privacy abuse, particularly in emerging media forms like CTV and mobile.

Global losses to ad fraud exceeded $35 billion last year, a figure expected to rise to $50 billion by 2025, according to the World Federation of Advertisers. Per the WFA, ad fraud is “second only to the drugs trade as a source of income for organized crime,” but there is no one-size-fits-all ad fraud strategy. To capitalize on the promise of video advertising in mobile and CTV, and measure ad efficacy with confidence, business leaders must ensure that they’re reaching customers — not bots — and achieving their business goals while remaining compliant with the latest regulations and laws.

There are a few key steps business leaders can take to guard their reputation and their ad spend:

  • Deploy sophisticated tools to reveal the types of ad fraud attacks to which your ad budgets are falling prey.
  • Analyze your budget with quality versus reach in mind — fraudsters continue to take advantage of advertisers’ historic obsession with reach.
  • Acknowledge that the “Age of Privacy” has arrived; business leaders must remain compliant and protect their brand image in the ad marketplace.

Know the different types of ad fraud in CTV and mobile in-app to better protect your ad spend

It’s important to consider the various ways your ad budgets can be squandered on invalid traffic. Although 78% of U.S. households are now reachable via programmatic CTV advertising, ad fraud rates remain high, at 24% in Q4 2020. Traditional ad fraud attacks, such as spoofing (i.e., pretending to be a different publisher) and fake sites or apps, are being supplanted by more advanced schemes, such as CTV device farms.

Knowing that ad fraud is eating away at your budget is the first step, but business leaders need to understand the different schemes so they can apply the right protection in the right moments.

Looking at reach through a quality lens

Historically, the standard way to measure advertising has been focused on reach. However, reach is now more of a vanity metric if uncoupled from traffic quality.

Striving for reach while ignoring quality creates a prime opportunity for ad fraud. Generating fake traffic to create the illusion of “reach” has become a staple in many ad fraud schemes, with some CTV schemes fabricating up to 650 million bid requests a day per day from bots, per The Drum.

High impression rates that fail to convert into actual sales and pricing anomalies (as compared to a peer group) are compelling harbingers of traffic quality issues.

Because the growing CTV ecosystem commands premium pricing, advertisers may be tempted to seek out deals. However, several leading streaming TV providers, such as XUMO and Philo, have warned advertisers about prices that seem too good to be true, noting that they may be signals of fraudulent activity. Work to identify where traffic is coming from and ask questions when the data looks suspicious.

The ad industry itself is also fighting back by giving tools to business owners meant to stymie ad fraud. There are several industry working groups and watchdog organizations — including the Media Rating Council, Interactive Advertising Bureau and Trustworthy Accountability Group — that accredit certain platforms and suppliers to combat ad fraud. These working groups and organizations also regularly release industry standards and programs designed to address fraudulent activity, such as the Ads.txt initiative meant to help advertisers know they are buying inventory via legitimate third parties. All business owners should utilize certified platforms – along with emerging programs and standards – to stay on top of the latest trends in ad fraud.

Business leaders need to prioritize brand safety and compliance

In addition to navigating the complex world of ad quality, brands must now consider whether the publishers they are working with are brand-safe and compliant with the latest consumer privacy and compliance laws.

Pixalate’s May 2021 estimates show that 22% of Apple App Store apps and 9% of Google Play Store apps that serve programmatic advertisements don’t have a privacy policy. This is significant because there are already documented cases of consumer data being misused as part of ad fraud schemes. And 70% of Google Play Store apps have at least one of what Google calls “dangerous permissions,” an increase of 5% in 2020. Additionally, of apps that serve programmatic ads, 80% of Apple App Store apps and 66% of Google Play Store apps count children aged 12 and under as part of their audience, which brings COPPA compliance risks into the equation as well.

There are a couple of things at play when it comes to brand safety that business leaders and brands should be aware of. The most important is that what is deemed “safe” for a brand is solely based on that brand – there is no golden standard because each brand has a different vision, mission and goals. Brand safety is subjective. However, it’s essential for success.

Ad fraud, brand safety and data compliance continually evolve, and leaders must follow the numbers, stay educated on market changes, and invest in the right partnerships to ensure consumers, not bots, are engaging with the most impactful and effective content.

#ad-fraud, #advertising-tech, #brand-safety, #column, #digital-marketing, #marketing, #online-advertising, #opinion, #privacy, #programmatic-advertising, #startups, #united-states

Demand Curve: 10 lies you’ve been told about marketing

The harsh truth: Some of the advice you read about marketing is incorrect.

While not always intentionally misleading, you’re often absorbing content written by:

  • Marketers without a breadth of experience: People who’ve marketed a single product and have a limited — or biased — view on a channel.
  • Non-practitioners: People who’ve never run experiments, but pass along (sometimes outdated) marketing insights that they’ve read online.

After running thousands of experiments for brands like Microsoft, Segment and Perfect Keto, here are 10 significant lies we’ve realized you’ve been told about marketing (on email marketing, ads and referrals).

1. “Send a welcome email immediately after signup.”

It’s better to avoid sending emails right after people sign up on your site. We’re used to getting generic, unimportant welcome emails every time we sign up for anything online. So most people will reflexively discard your welcome email as spam.

Instead, try delaying your welcome email by 15 to 45 minutes.

The delay removes the subscriber’s mental connection between signup and your email, bypassing the reflex to ignore.

As a result, you’ll likely get more opens and more engagement.

2. “Only highlight your best product reviews.”

For context, reviews are a big deal:

  • 93% of consumers claim product reviews impact purchase decisions.
  • The social proof of having 50+ product reviews increases conversion. Shoppers trust peers more than they trust brands.

But imperfect reviews can generate more sales than five-star ones. How?

When a partially negative review weighs your cons versus your pros, and concludes that the product was worth purchasing anyway, that sounds authentic and honest.

In contrast, strings of flawless five-star reviews don’t signal authenticity. Psychologically, they’re less likely to sink in as positive social proof.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Make sure your post-purchase email flow contains a request for reviews. The more reviews you have, the better.
  • Don’t bury slightly negative reviews. If someone leaves a four-star review and offers a fair (and insignificant) critique, showcase it toward the top of your product page.

3. “You have to send a newsletter every week.”

Most newsletters shouldn’t be sent weekly. This goes against what most creator economy entrepreneurs suggest.

But high cadences force newsletter writers to rush and publish lower-quality information to hit self-imposed deadlines.

Instead, consider only sending when you truly have value to add. At a minimum, consider setting a more reasonable cadence like once or twice a month so that you’ll have enough time and content to consistently hit a high-quality bar.

#column, #digital-marketing, #ec-column, #email-marketing, #growth-marketing, #market-research, #marketing, #online-advertising, #referral-marketing, #social-media

Repeat raises $6 million Series A for its service that makes reordering favorite products easier

Subscriptions have become a popular way to pay for digital services, like Netflix or Spotify, but they haven’t yet taken off as a means of reordering your everyday items or other household essentials. Retailers, including Amazon, have tried shifting consumers to a subscription model for these sorts of purchases — even by offering discounts. Still, consumers have largely balked at the idea of forced reordering on a fixed schedule. A startup called Repeat believes it may have figured out a better solution. Instead of trying to lock consumers into subscriptions, Repeat analyzes consumer purchase behavior to nudge customers when it’s time to reorder. It then provides them with a personalized shopping cart to make the reordering experience fast and painless.

This service is now being used by 67 companies in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) market, including brands like By Humankind (personal care), Jot (coffee), Vegamour (haircare), Youth to the People (skincare), Osea (skincare), hydrant (rapid hydration packets), Twice (toothpaste), lemon perfect (flavored water), and many others.

Today, Repeat is announcing its $6 million Series A, led by Battery Ventures. Seed investors Mucker Capital and Harlem Capital also invested in the round. With the round’s close, Battery’s general partner Neeraj Agrawal, whose background is in enterprise software-as-a-service businesses, is joining Repeat’s board.

Repeat co-founders Sarah Wissel (L) and Kim Stiefel (R)

The idea to tackle e-commerce’s replenishment problem came about after Repeat’s co-founders Kim Stiefel and Sarah Wissel tried launching their own direct-to-consumer apparel brand, UNDR, focused on refreshing the basics — like socks, tees, and underwear. Having spend their careers in the marketing and ad tech world, they believed they would be able to put their experience to work to grow their new business.

After launching a quarterly subscription for t-shirts, the founders soon discovered not only how hard it was to get a brand-new brand off the ground, but also how getting customers to commit to ongoing purchases was even harder. From their customer feedback, the founders learned that most consumers actually don’t like the experience of reordering household items. Customers told them it doesn’t always make sense to reorder products on a fixed schedule.

Unlike Netflix, where you’re paying for the rights to access a broad catalog on an ongoing basis, there are times when you’ll use your household products more quickly or more slowly. That means you’ll sometimes end up receiving items too soon when you’ve ordered them on subscription. That’s not ideal; nor is it very eco-friendly. Other times, you may run out before your scheduled delivery is due to arrive. That’s also a problem.

“We should have known that,” admits Stiefel, now Repeat’s CEO, after hearing that customers didn’t like subscriptions. “We asked ourselves if we actually subscribe to any products, and it turns out, the answer was ‘no.’” 

The founders decided to scrap their subscription in favor of a new idea. Instead of forcing consumers to subscribe on a schedule, they would “nudge” customers to reorder during what they determined would would be the perfect window, based on past order history.

Image Credits: Repeat

After experimenting with personalized reminders for their own brand for a year, Stiefel and Wissel decided to pivot their startup so they could offer this service to any e-commerce CPG company.

Today, any brand that sells a replenishable or consumable product can use Repeat to turn their one-time buyer into a repeat customer. To do so, Repeat uses a combination of logic, where it analyzes all the company’s a la carte purchase behavior to make sense of the general replenishment intervals on a per-SKU basis. It then leverages that logic to nudge customers when it’s time to reorder by sending an email or text with a link to what Repeat calls its “replenishment cart.” The customer can choose to snooze the reminder or they can click through to checkout.

This replenishment cart is a special shopping cart that’s personalized to the individual customer and pre-filled with the product or products they’re due to repurchase, as well as other suggestions. But unlike a typical checkout experience, the customer can adjust the merchandise the cart contains — for example, by opting for a different flavor or scent for their product, or opting for a larger size, among other things.

As the customer continues to interact with Repeat’s reminders and cart, the service gets smarter about understanding that customer’s unique reordering intervals, so its nudges also get smarter. In time, Repeat envisions offering a universal cart where customers can reorder from across their favorite CPG brands in one place.

Image Credits: Repeat

“There’s a lot of logic that goes into making that cart experience work as well as it does,” notes Stiefel. “For example, the cart converts at around 25 percent on average. Some brands are seeing 40, or 45 percent conversion on that cart, and we see that people check out oftentimes in less than 15 seconds on that cart. And I think that’s really the underlying magic — that, in combination with the logic, is the underlying magic of Repeat,” she adds.

There is, of course, the challenge of getting its nudges exactly right. If Repeat hits up customers at the wrong time, it could be perceived as an annoyance and customers might opt out of the notifications.

Repeat currently generates revenue through a monthly SaaS (software-as-a-subscription) fee, and as a percentage of the revenue its cart drives. For brands that drive less than 2,000 a la carte, non-subscription orders per month, Repeat would charge $99 per month plus 5% of the revenue it drives. And for brands that are driving more than 10,000 a la carte, non-subscriptions orders per month, Repeat charges $499 per month, plus 5% of the revenue it drives. The company isn’t disclosing its own revenue figures, however.

L.A.-based Repeat says it plans to use the new funds to hire across all roles, including in engineering, product, sales, marketing and growth. The startup began the year with just 3 employees, but hopes to be at around 15 to 20 by the end of the year by expanding its team that’s distributed across the U.S.

The company will also use the capital to work on scaling the business. For example, it recently launched QR codes that allow anyone to be redirected to a Repeat cart — even first-time shoppers who discover a brand through a friend, and scan the product to order one of their own.

Over time, Repeat believes it can change the way CPG subscriptions work.

“The problem with subscription today is that it’s fixed, and time-based and rigid, and not rooted in any kind of real consumption cadence,” says Stiefel.

“Because Repeat focuses on that all a carte reordering experience, and because we’re looking at repeat behavior across individual product SKUs, we actually know a tremendous amount about consumption behavior across every category of CPG. I think what you’ll see from us in the future is being able to leverage that data to offer more flexible dynamic subscription experiences,” she says.

#battery-ventures, #brand, #business-models, #cpg, #digital-marketing, #e-commerce, #ecommerce, #funding, #marketing, #neeraj-agrawal, #online-shopping, #recent-funding, #shopping, #startups, #tc

Demand Curve: 7 ad types that increase click-through rates

We’ve spent millions of dollars running ads for brands like Outschool, Imperfect Produce and Microsoft. At Demand Curve, we’ve worked with over 500 startups, meticulously documenting growth tactics for all growth channels. This post also incorporates what we’ve learned from our agency, Bell Curve.

Here are seven ad types that have proven to increase click-through rates (CTR), with examples of each. Clone them to test in your own social ad campaigns.

Address common complaints and questions directly in your ads, as they will help eliminate objections upfront and encourage clicking to learn more.

Customer reactions

If you’re selling a consumer product, it’s likely that some of your customers have posted product reviews, unboxings or recommendation videos on their social media accounts. You can use your customers’ user-generated videos in your social ads — with permission.

Search through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for posts that mention your product. Reach out to the customer and ask them if you can use their content in an ad campaign, and subsequently, compile the most positive reactions into a video ad.

This works well because dramatic faces are attention magnets. Make sure the thumbnail photo shows a strong emotional image. People will click because they can’t help but want to see what provoked the emotion. User-generated reaction videos also highlight your products’ “Moment of Wow.” If users care enough about your product to make a positive reaction video, their energy is contagious. Your ad audience will connect your product with a strong positive emotion.

Customer reactions make for great ads

Customer reactions make for great ads. Image Credits: Demand Curve

You versus the competition

Comparison ads anchor your product against something your audience already knows. This works well for both ads and the landing page your ad will lead to when clicked on. Try positioning your strongest value proposition — the most valuable promise you’re making to your customer — against your generic competitors.

#advertising, #column, #digital-marketing, #ec-column, #ec-how-to, #ecommerce, #facebook, #growth-marketing, #marketing, #online-advertising, #startups, #targeted-advertising, #user-generated-content

Google tightens UK policy on financial ads after watchdog pressure over scams

The UK’s more expansive, post-Brexit role in digital regulation continues to be felt today via a policy change by Google which has announced that it will, in the near future, only run ads for financial products and services when the advertiser in question has been verified by the financial watchdog, the FCA.

The Google Ads Financial Products and Services policy will be updated from August 30, per Google, which specifies that it will start enforcing the new policy from September 6 — meaning that purveyors of online financial scams who’ve been relying on its ad network to net their next victim still have more than two months to harvest unsuspecting clicks before the party is over (well, in the UK, anyway).

Google’s decision to allow only regulator authorized financial entities to run ads for financial products & services follows warnings from the Financial Conduct Authority that it may take legal action if Google continued to accept unscreened financial ads, as the Guardian reported earlier.

The FCA told a parliamentary committee this month that it’s able to contemplate taking such action as a result of no longer being bound by European Union rules on financial adverts, which do not extend to online platforms, per the newspaper’s report.

Until gaining the power to go after Google itself, the FCA appears to have been trying to combat the scourge of online financial fraud by paying Google large amounts of UK taxpayer money to fight scams with anti-scam warnings.

According to the Register, the FCA paid Google more than £600,000 (~$830k) in 2020 and 2021 to run ‘anti-scam’ ads — with the regulator essentially engaged in a bidding war with scammers to pour enough money into Google’s coffers so that regulator warnings about financial scams might appear higher than the scams themselves.

The full-facepalm situation was presumably highly lucrative for Google. But the threat of legal action appears to have triggered a policy rethink.

Writing in its blog post, Ronan Harris, a VP and MD for Google UK & Ireland, said: “Financial services advertisers will be required to demonstrate that they are authorised by the UK Financial Conduct Authority or qualify for one of the limited exemptions described in the UK Financial Services verification page.”

“This new update builds on significant work in partnership with the FCA over the last 18 months to help tackle this issue,” he added. “Today’s announcement reflects significant progress in delivering a safer experience for users, publishers and advertisers. While we understand that this policy update will impact a range of advertisers in the financial services space, our utmost priority is to keep users safe on our platforms — particularly in an area so disproportionately targeted by fraudsters.”

The company’s blog also claims that it has pledged $5M in advertising credits to support financial fraud public awareness campaigns in the UK. So not $5M in actual money then.

Per the Register, Google did offer to refund the FCA’s anti-scam ad spend — but, again, with advertising credits.

The UK parliament’s Treasury Committee was keen to know whether the tech giant would be refunding the spend in cash. But the FCA’s director of enforcement and market insight, Mark Steward, was unable to confirm what it would do, according to the Register’s report of the committee hearing.

We’ve reached out to the FCA for comment on Google’s policy change, and with questions about the refund situation, and will update this report with any response.

In recent years the financial watchdog has also been concerned about financial scam ads running on social media platforms.

Back in 2018, legal action by a well-known UK consumer advice personality, Martin Lewis — who filed a defamation suit against Facebook — led the social media giant to add a ‘report scam ad’ button in the market as of July 2019.

However research by consumer group, Which?, earlier this year, suggested that neither Facebook nor Google had entirely purged financial scam ads — even when they’d been reported.

Per the BBC, Which?’s survey found that Google had failed to remove around a third (34%) of the scam adverts reported to it vs Facebook failing to remove well over a fifth (26%).

It’s almost like the incentives for online ad giants to act against lucrative online scam ads simply aren’t pressing enough…

More recently, Lewis has been pushing for scam ads to be included in the scope of the UK’s Online Safety Bill.

The sweeping piece of digital regulation aims to tackle a plethora of so-called ‘online harms’ by focusing on regulating user generated content. However Lewis makes the point that a scammer merely needs to pay an ad platform to promote their fraudulent content for it to escape the scope of the planned rules, telling the Good Morning Britain TV program today that the situation is “ludicrous” and “needs to change”.

It’s certainly a confusing carve-out, as we reported at the time the bill was presented. Nor is it the only confusing component of the planned legislation. However on the financial fraud point the government may believe the FCA has the necessary powers to tackle the problem.

We’ve contacted the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport for comment.

#ad-network, #advertising-tech, #digital-marketing, #enterprise, #european-union, #facebook, #fca, #financial-conduct-authority, #financial-scams, #google, #google-ads, #martin-lewis, #online-advertising, #online-harms, #online-platforms, #online-safety, #policy, #tc, #uk-parliament, #united-kingdom

Demand Curve: Email marketing tactics that convert subscribers into customers

Email has the highest return on investment of any other marketing channel. On average, email earns you $40 for every $1 spent. And the best part is that email is an owned channel, which means you can reach your subscriber directly instead of relying on social media algorithms to surface your content.

At Demand Curve, we’ve worked with over 500 startups, meticulously documenting growth tactics for all growth channels. We also incorporate what we’ve learned from our agency, Bell Curve, which works with Outschool, Imperfect Produce and Microsoft to name a few.

To understand how to use email marketing effectively, we interviewed email marketers at this year’s fastest-growing startups. This post covers the most profitable tactics they use that capture 80% of the value using 20% of the effort.

If people don’t open it, nothing else matters

The subject line of your email is the most important, yet most marketers neglect it until after crafting the body of the email.

The subject line of your email is the most important, yet most marketers neglect it until after crafting the body of the email.

Increase the open-rate of your subject lines by making them self-evident. You don’t want people guessing why you want them to pay attention to your email. If the subject line is unclear or vague, your subscribers will ignore it.

One trick is to write like you speak. Try using subject lines that use informal language and contractions (it’s, they’re, you’ll). Not only will this save character count, it will also make your copy more friendly and quick to read.

Subject lines should be relevant to your subaudiences. Marketers generate 760% more revenue from segmented email campaigns than from untargeted emails.

A good subject line will increase the chances of your email being read

A good subject line will increase the chances of your email being read. Image Credits: Demand Curve

If you’re collecting emails from multiple areas on your website, chances are the context will be slightly different for each. For example, people who subscribe after reading an article on ketogenic diets should receive emails that further educate them on keto and seeds products relevant to that lifestyle. Sending them information and product recommendations for vegetarians would not be relevant and could lead to them unsubscribing.

To ensure you’re sending relevant emails to the right audiences, segment your audience using tags and filters within your email marketing platform. Each platform will do this slightly differently, but all modern platforms should allow you to do this. When crafting your email subject line, ask yourself: “Would this email make sense to receive for this segment of subscriber?”

Your subject lines should be short and concise. About 46% of all emails are opened on mobile devices, which means the subject line must be short enough to fit on a smaller screen while getting your point across. Fifty characters is approximately the maximum length a subject line can be before it gets cut off on a mobile screen.

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Keeping your subject lines short also makes them easier to scan when your subscriber is looking through their inbox. Including emojis in your subject line can cut down your character count and emulates how friends send text messages to each other. Including emojis in your subject lines will make your email feel less corporate and more friendly.

Designing emails that get read

Once your subscriber opens your email, there are three outcomes that can follow: read, skim or bounce.

Subscribers that read your emails are the most valuable, because they will consume the full contents of your email. Skimmers will only read the headlines and look at the images you include. Subscribers who bounce will open your email, but if nothing catches their attention right away, they will simply delete or close your email.

You’re going to want to design your emails to minimize the number of bouncers, satisfy readers and provide enough high-level information that skimmers still understand your message.

To minimize the number of bounces, choose an email design that catches the eye and is relevant to your brand. Take the Casper email below for example. The starry night background and moon illustration is directly relevant to the mattresses they sell. Visually branded email designs will help elevate your brand perception.

Design your emails to appeal to all kinds of readers

Design your emails to appeal to all kinds of readers. Image Credits: Demand Curve

To optimize for skimmers, write action-focused headlines. Use designs that draw the eye of your reader to key elements. As you can see in the Headspace example, the image of the rising sun pushes your gaze upward to the headline and the call-to-action button. Skimmers should be able to understand the context of the entire email and take action without needing to read the body.

To convert more readers, fulfill the expectation set by the subject line. Readers will be looking for any promises or hints you gave them in your subject line. Be sure to deliver on this promise in the body. Do so in an aggressively concise way — just because they’re reading doesn’t mean they don’t value their time.

Call to actions that convert

The goal of your body copy is to drive people to your call-to-action button (CTA). Your CTA is crucial, because it’s how you convert an email subscriber into a paying customer. To increase the conversion of your CTA, make a valuable promise in your body copy and headers that’s only delivered through your CTA.

Good CTA copy typically begins with a verb that teases what the reader will encounter next:

  • Get your free sample.
  • Redeem discount now.
  • Browse the full inventory.

Low-converting CTA copy is vague or nonactive:

  • Learn more.
  • See inventory.
  • Download.

Your email should only have one CTA. Any more and your conversion will decrease due to unnecessary decision-making. Ensure that the page on your site that your CTA leads to fulfills the promise you made in your body and CTA button.

Recap

Once the focus of the subject line is clear and the desired outcome is chosen, everything else should be crafted to carry the reader step by step through the email, eventually taking them to the desired action.

It’s a good idea to work backward from the desired outcome you want the reader to perform. If the desired outcome is for them to click on a CTA button, frame your subject line, headers and body copy as a valuable promise that can only be achieved by clicking the button.

Consider the experience of your email through the eyes of all three types of subscribers: readers, skimmers and bouncers. Use visual and written prompts that make the purpose of your email clear to all three categories. Failing to do so could lead to unsubscribes and lost revenue.

Email has the highest return on investment than any other marketing channel because you have a captive audience who has opted-in to you communicating with them. Email can drive six times more conversions that a Twitter post and is 40 times more likely to get noticed than a Facebook post.

#advertising-tech, #column, #digital-marketing, #ecommerce, #email-marketing, #growth-marketing, #marketing, #marketing-tactics, #marketing-tech, #startups, #tc

3 data strategies for selling to developers

Yes, developers are a tough crowd. They hate being sold to, and it’s pretty easy for traditional marketing campaigns to fall flat with them because they’d much rather get a recommendation from a colleague. Failed campaign after failed campaign has led many software company executives to throw up their hands and declare all sales and marketing to be pointless.

And that’s just wrong. Selling to developers isn’t impossible — it’s just difficult. I cover why it’s difficult and offer examples of exceptional developer-focused marketing in my new playbook. Part of selling to developers involves balancing two things: building out a strong organic marketing function and targeting your audience with the right message at the right time throughout their buyer journey.

Selling to developers isn’t impossible — it’s just difficult.

Easier said than done, right?

Yep. I see it all the time. Part of what’s blocking marketers from widening the top of the funnel (driving more developers to sign up for their free tools) for their developer-focused businesses is ensuring they have the right data and measurement capabilities in place to understand how much impact their activities have on the business.

That’s mostly because these marketers, community managers and developer relations experts have the most luck with organic marketing. In this industry, organic marketing is one of the most challenging to measure.

Organic marketing means investing in channels like referrals, organic search, organic social (community) and direct traffic to your website (brand). New users from paid marketing, banner ads, events or sales reps (the most measurable channels) don’t count as organic. We measure the fruits of these efforts with a new metric called Natural Rate of Growth.

In a digital, multi-touch-point world, it’s getting more challenging to measure which users hear about your brand from which channels. That’s why tools like Orbit, Tribe and Mighty have gained traction so quickly.

That’s all good, and it’ll be a huge boon for community managers in time, but these tools still don’t solve some of the core data strategy issues I see developer-focused software companies fighting. These quick tips should help your team align around what needs to be done and what’s just a “nice to have” so that selling to developers feels less like a battle.

 

  1. Treat data like a product where a core end user is the go-to-market side of the team.
  2. Map your customer’s journey from discovery to expansion and track it religiously.
  3. Don’t overthink it.

Treat data like a product

#column, #developer, #digital-marketing, #ec-cloud-and-enterprise-infrastructure, #ec-column, #ec-marketing-tech, #go-to-market, #marketing, #product-marketing, #saas, #targeted-advertising, #tc

5 companies doing growth marketing right

What do all companies, regardless of industry, say they want? Growth. Lighting-fast, continuous growth. The good news is you can quickly learn which growth marketing strategies work by studying other companies’ success and adapting it to your own business.

Most technophiles remember Dropbox’s referral program — the one that helped it grow 3,900% in 15 months. Its philosophy was simple: reward customers with free storage space for referring other customers. In 2008, it was an absolute revelation. A golden ticket.

Tell a story with your business’ proprietary data. You’re the only one with this information, and that makes it valuable.

In 2021, you’d be hard-pressed to find a company without a formal referral program. It’s a standard growth marketing trick. If you study other companies’ tactics, you’re going to be able to shortcut growth — it’s as simple as that.

The race to grow faster is more pressing than ever before. When you consider the speed with which venture capital funds need to return dollars to their investors and that consumer acquisition costs have increased by 55% over the last three years, forward-thinking entrepreneurs and growth marketers simply must make time to study their competition, learn best practices and apply them to their own business growth.

Of course, you should still run your own experiments, but it’s just more capital-efficient to emulate than to trial-and-error from scratch. Here are five companies with growth strategies worth emulating — including the most important lessons you can begin applying to your business today.


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1. Doing SEO right: Flo

SEO is going to spend this summer shaking in its boots. Google began rolling out a two-week core algorithm update on June 2, and it’s unleashing a page experience update through August. These updates usually come with significant volatility that makes organic Google rankings jump all over the place.

However, one clear winner of the 2021 SEO footrace is Flo, a women’s ovulation calendar, period tracker and pregnancy app. According to GrowthBar, a SEO tool I co-founded, Flo’s organic traffic has soared 192% over the past two months and it ranks on page one for some staggeringly competitive women’s health keywords.

If SEO is a strategy you’re pursuing, there are two key growth lessons to take away from Flo’s recent success.

1. Authority matters now more than ever. Healthcare websites fall into a category of sensitive sites that Google classifies as Your Money, Your Life (YMYL). Because of oodles of fake news and suspect web content, Google has rightfully raised its bar for expertise and factuality. Go to any one of Flo’s more than 1,000 blog posts (yes, content is still king) and you’ll see that nearly all of them are reviewed by gynecologists, primary care physicians or some other type of women’s health expert. Its site also has pages devoted to its writers and medical reviewers, content guidelines and peer-review specifications. Flo takes its information seriously. From the 2020 election to QAnon to vaccination side effects, Google is on high alert. Whatever your niche, you need to establish credibility to win Google searches.

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