Tag Archive | "studies"

Digital Marketing News: Behavior & Analytics Studies, Facebook’s A/B Testing, & LinkedIn’s Carousel Ads

Perceived Influence Marketing Charts Graph

Perceived Influence Marketing Charts Graph

As Concerns Grow Over Internet Privacy, Most Say Search & Social Have Too Much Power
How Internet users perceive the influence a variety of popular online platforms have over their lives was among the subjects examined in a sizable new joint report by Ipsos, the Internet Society, and the Centre for International Governance Innovation, offering some surprising insight for digital marketers. Marketing Charts

Facebook Experiments with A/B Testing for Page Posts
Facebook has been trying out A/B testing of Facebook Page posts, a feature that if rolled out in earnest could eventually have significant implications for digital marketers. Social Media Today

CMOs Say Digital Marketing Is Most Effective: Nielsen Study
Accurately measuring digital marketing advertising spending’s return on investment remains a challenge, while the overall effectiveness of digital ad spend has grown, according to a fascinating new Nielsen study of chief marketing officers. Broadcasting & Cable

Snapchat Rolls Out Option to ‘Unsend’ Messages, New eCommerce Tools
Snapchat has added several e-commerce tools including an in-app ticket purchase solution, branded augmented-reality games, and has given its users the option to unsend messages. Social Media Today

People Are Changing the Way They Use Social Media
Trust of various social media platforms and how Internet users’ self-censorship has changed since 2013 are among the observations presented in the results of a broad new study conducted by The Atlantic. The Atlantic

Facebook launches tool to let users rate advertisers’ customer service
Facebook has added a feedback tool that lets users rate and review advertisers’ customer service, feedback the company says will help it find and even ban sellers with poor ratings. Marketing Land

2018 June 15 Statistics Image

Google’s about-face on GDPR consent tool is monster win for ad-tech companies
Google reversed its General Data Protection Regulation course recently, allowing publishers to work with an unlimited number of vendors, presenting new opportunities for advertising technology firms. AdAge

LinkedIn rolls out Sponsored Content carousel ads that can include up to 10 customized, swipeable cards
LinkedIn (client) has rolled out a variety of new ad types and more performance metrics for marketers, with its Sponsored Content carousel ads that allow up to 10 custom images. Marketing Land

Report: Facebook is Primary Referrer For Lifestyle Content, Google Search Dominates Rest
What people care about and where they look for relevant answers online are among the marketing-related insights revealed in a recent report from Web analytics firm Parse.ly. Facebook was many users’ go-to source for answers for lifestyle content, while Google was the top source for all other content types. MediaPost

Survey: 87% of mobile marketers see success with location targeting
Location targeting is widely-used and has performed well in the mobile marketing realm, helping increase conversion rates and how well marketers understand their audiences, according to new report data. Marketing Land

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Marketoonist Short-Termism Cartoon

A lighthearted look at marketing short-termism, by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

‘The weird one wins’: MailChimp’s CMO on the company’s off-the-wall advertising — The Drum

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — Why Content Marketing is Good for B2B Companies — Atomic Reach
  • Lee Odden — Top 2018 Influencers That Might Inspire Your Inner Marketer — Whatagraph
  • Lee Odden — Better than Bonuses: 4 Motivators that Matter More than Money — Workfront
  • Anne Leuman — What’s Trending: Marketing GOOOOOAAAALS! — LinkedIn (client)

Thanks for visiting, and please join us next week for a new selection of the latest digital marketing news, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

The post Digital Marketing News: Behavior & Analytics Studies, Facebook’s A/B Testing, & LinkedIn’s Carousel Ads appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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Referral Marketing: 4 case studies

If you’re also looking for ideas and tactics to launch or optimize your own referral programs, here are 4 interesting case studies
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How to Write Marketing Case Studies That Convert

Posted by kerryjones

In my last post, I discussed why your top funnel content shouldn’t be all about your brand. Today I’m making a 180-degree turn and covering the value of content at the opposite end of the spectrum: content that’s directly about your business and offers proof of your effectiveness.

Specifically, I’m talking about case studies.

I’m a big believer in investing in case studies because I’ve seen firsthand what happened once we started doing so at Fractl. Case studies were a huge game changer for our B2B marketing efforts. For one, our case studies portfolio page brings in a lot of traffic – it’s the second most-visited page on our site, aside from our home page. It also brings in a significant volume of organic traffic, being our fourth most-visited page from organic searches. Most importantly, our case studies are highly effective at converting visitors to leads – about half of our leads view at least one of our case studies before contacting us.

Assuming anyone who reads the Moz Blog is performing some type of marketing function, I’m zeroing in on how to write a compelling marketing case study that differentiates your service offering and pulls prospects down the sales funnel. However, what I’m sharing can be used as a framework for creating case studies in any industry.

Get your client on board with a case study

Marketers shy away from creating case studies for a few reasons:

  1. They’re too busy “in the weeds” with deliverables.
  2. They don’t think their results are impressive enough.
  3. They don’t have clients’ permission to create case studies.

While I can’t help you with #1 and #2 (it’s up to you to make the time and to get the results deserving of a case study!), I do have some advice on #3.

In a perfect world, clients would encourage you to share every little detail of your time working together. In reality, most clients expect you to remain tight-lipped about the work you’ve done for them.

cobert-gif.gif

Understandably, this might discourage you from creating any case studies. But it shouldn’t.

With some compromising, chances are your client will be game for a case study. We’ve noticed the following two objections are common regarding case studies.

Client objection 1: “We don’t want to share specific numbers.”

At first it you may think, “Why bother?” if a client tells you this, but don’t let it hold you back. (Truth is, the majority of your clients will probably feel this way).

In this instance, you’ll want your case study to focus on highlighting the strategy and describing projects, while steering away from showing specific numbers regarding short and long-term results. Believe it or not, the solution part of the case study can be just as, or more, compelling than the results. (I’ll get to that shortly.)

And don’t worry, you don’t have to completely leave out the results. One way to get around not sharing actual numbers but still showing results is to use growth percentages.

Specific numbers: “Grew organic traffic from 5,000 to 7,500 visitors per month”

Growth percentage: “Increased organic traffic by 150%”

We do this for most of our case studies at Fractl, and our clients are totally fine with it.

Client objection 2: “We don’t want to reveal our marketing strategy to competitors.”

A fear of giving away too much intel to competitors is especially common in highly competitive niches.

So how do you get around this?

Keep it anonymous. Don’t reveal who the client is and keep it vague about what niche they’re in. This can be as ambiguous as referring to the client as “Client A” or slightly more specific (“our client in the auto industry”). Instead, the case study will focus on the process and results – this is what your prospects care about, anyway.

Gather different perspectives

Unless you were directly working with the client who you are writing the case study about, you will need to conduct a few interviews to get a full picture of the who, what, how, and why of the engagement. At Fractl, our marketing team puts together case studies based on interviews with clients and the internal team who worked on the client’s account.

The client

Arrange an interview with the client, either on a call or via email. If you have multiple contacts within the client’s team, interview the main point of contact who has been the most involved in the engagement.

What to ask:

  • What challenge were you facing that you hired us to help with?
  • Had you previously tried to solve this challenge (working with another vendor, using internal resources, etc.)?
  • What were your goals for the engagement?
  • How did you benefit from the engagement (short-term and long-term results, unexpected wins, etc.)?

You’ll also want to run the case study draft by the client before publishing it, which offers another chance for their feedback.

The project team

Who was responsible for this client’s account? Speak with the team behind the strategy and execution.

What to ask:

  • How was the strategy formed? Were strategic decisions made based on your experience and expertise, competitive research, etc.?
  • What project(s) were launched as part of the strategy? What was the most successful project?
  • Were there any unexpected issues that you overcame?
  • Did you refine the strategy to improve results?
  • How did you and the client work together? Was there a lot of collaboration or was the client more hands-off? (Many prospective clients are curious about what their level of involvement in your process would look like.)
  • What did you learn during the engagement? Any takeaways?

Include the three crucial elements of a case study

There’s more than one way to package case studies, but the most convincing ones all have something in common: great storytelling. To ensure you’re telling a proper narrative, your case study should include the conflict, the resolution, and the happy ending (but not necessarily in this order).

We find a case study is most compelling when you get straight to the point, rather than making someone read the entire case study before seeing the results. To grab readers’ attention, we begin with a quick overview of conflict-resolution-happy ending right in the introduction.

For example, in our Fanatics case study, we summarized the most pertinent details in the first three paragraphs. The rest of the case study focused on the resolution and examples of specific projects.

fanatics-case-study.png

Let’s take a look at what the conflict, resolution, and happy ending of your case study should include.

The Conflict: What goal did the client want to accomplish?

Typically serving as the introduction of the case study, “the conflict” should briefly describe the client’s business, the problem they hired you to work on, and what was keeping them from fixing this problem (ex. lack of internal resources or internal expertise). This helps readers identify with the problem the client faced and empathize with them – which can help them envision coming to you for help with this problem, too.

Here are a few examples of “conflicts” from our case studies:

  • “Movoto engaged Fractl to showcase its authority on local markets by increasing brand recognition, driving traffic to its website, and earning links back to on-site content.”
  • “Alexa came to us looking to increase awareness – not just around the Alexa name but also its resources. Many people had known Alexa as the site-ranking destination; however, Alexa also provides SEO tools that are invaluable to marketers.”
  • “While they already had strong brand recognition within the link building and SEO communities, Buzzstream came to Fractl for help with launching large-scale campaigns that would position them as thought leaders and provide long-term value for their brand.”

The Resolution: How did you solve the conflict?

Case studies are obviously great for showing proof of results you’ve achieved for clients. But perhaps more importantly, case studies give prospective clients a glimpse into your processes and how you approach problems. A great case study paints a picture of what it’s like to work with you.

For this reason, the bulk of your case study should detail the resolution, sharing as much specific information as you and your client are comfortable with; the more you’re able to share, the more you can highlight your strategic thinking and problem solving abilities.

The following snippets from our case studies are examples of details you may want to include as part of your solution section:

What our strategy encompassed:

“Mixing evergreen content and timely content helped usher new and existing audience members to the We Are Fanatics blog in record numbers. We focused on presenting interesting data through evergreen content that appealed to a variety of sports fans as well as content that capitalized on current interest around major sporting events.” – from Fanatics case study

How strategy was decided:

“We began by forming our ideation process around Movoto’s key real estate themes. Buying, selling, or renting a home is an inherently emotional experience, so we turned to our research on viral emotions to figure out how to identify with and engage the audience and Movoto’s prospective clients. Based on this, we decided to build on the high-arousal feelings of curiosity, interest, and trust that would be part of the experience of moving.

We tapped into familiar cultural references and topics that would pique interest in the regions consumers were considering. Comic book characters served us well in this regard, as did combining publicly available data (such as high school graduation rates or IQ averages) with our own original research.” – from Movoto case study

Why strategy was changed based on initial results:

“After analyzing the initial campaigns, we determined the most effective strategy included a combination of the following content types designed to achieve different goals [case study then lists the three types of content and goals]…

This strategy yielded even better results, with some campaigns achieving up to 4 times the amount of featured stories and social engagement that we achieved in earlier campaigns.” – from BuzzStream case study

How our approach was tailored to the client’s niche:

“In general, when our promotions team starts its outreach, they’ll email writers and editors who they think would be a good fit for the content. If the writer or editor responds, they often ask for more information or say they’re going to do a write-up that incorporates our project. From there, the story is up to publishers – they pick and choose which visual assets they want to incorporate in their post, and they shape the narrative.

What we discovered was that, in the marketing niche, publishers preferred to feature other experts’ opinions in the form of guest posts rather than using our assets in a piece they were already working on. We had suspected this (as our Fractl marketing team often contributes guest columns to marketing publications), but we confirmed that guest posts were going to make up the majority of our outreach efforts after performing outreach for Alexa’s campaigns.” – from Alexa case study

Who worked on the project:

Since the interviews you conduct with your internal team will inform the solution section of the case study, you may want to give individuals credit via quotes or anecdotes as a means to humanize the people behind the work. In the example below, one of our case studies featured a Q&A section with one of the project leads.

The Happy Ending: What did your resolution achieve?

Obviously, this is the part where you share your results. As I mentioned previously, we like to feature the results at the beginning of the case study, rather than buried at the end.

In our Superdrug Online Doctor case study, we summarized the overall results our campaigns achieved over 16 months:

But the happy ending isn’t finished here.

A lot of case studies fail to answer an important question: What impact did the results have on the client’s business? Be sure to tie in how the results you achieved had a bottom-line impact.

In the case of Superdrug Online Doctor, the results from our campaigns lead to a 238% increase in organic traffic. This type of outcome has tangible value for the client.

You can also share secondary benefits in addition to the primary goals the client hired you for.

In the case of our client Busbud, who hired us for SEO-oriented goals, we included examples of secondary results.

Busbud saw positive impacts beyond SEO, though, including the following:

  • Increased blog traffic
  • New partnerships as a result of more brands reaching out to work with the site
  • Brand recognition at large industry events
  • An uptick in hiring
  • Featured as a “best practice” case study at an SEO conference

Similarly, in our Fractl brand marketing case study, which focused on lead generation, we listed all of the additional benefits resulting from our strategy.

How to get the most out of your case studies

You’ve published your case study, now what should you do with it?

Build a case study page on your site

Once you’ve created several case studies, I recommend housing them all on the same page. This makes it easy to show off your results in a single snapshot and saves visitors from searching through your blog or clicking on a category tag to find all of your case studies in one place. Make this page easy to find through your site navigation and internal links.

While it probably goes without saying, make sure to optimize this page for search. When we initially created our case study portfolio page, we underestimated its potential to bring in search traffic and assumed it would mostly be accessed from our site navigation. Because of this, we were previously using a generic URL to house our case study portfolio. Since updating the URL from “frac.tl/our-work” to “frac.tl/content-marketing-case-studies,” we’ve jumped from page 2 to the top #1–3 positions for a specific phrase we wanted to rank for (“content marketing case studies”), which attracts highly relevant search traffic.

Use case studies as concrete proof in blog posts and off-site content

Case studies can serve as tangible examples that back up your claims. Did you state that creating original content for six months can double your organic traffic? On its own, this assertion may not be believable to some, but a case study showing these results will make your claim credible.

In a post on the Curata blog, my colleague Andrea Lehr used our BuzzStream case study to back up her assertion that in order to attract links, social shares, and traffic, your off-site content should appeal to an audience beyond your target customer. Showing the results this strategy earned for a client gives a lot more weight to her advice.

On the same note, case studies have high linking potential. Not only do they make a credible citation for your own off-site content, they can also be cited by others writing about your service/product vertical. Making industry publishers aware that you publish case studies by reaching out when you’ve released a new case study can lead to links down the road.

Repurpose your case studies into multiple content formats

Creating a case study takes a lot of time, but fortunately it can be reused again and again in various applications.

Long-form case studies

While a case study featured on your site may only be a few hundred words, creating a more in-depth version is a chance to reveal more details. If you want to get your case study featured on other sites, consider writing a long-form version as a guest post.

Most of the case studies you’ll find on the Moz Blog are extremely detailed:

Video

HubSpot has hundreds of case studieson its site, dozens of which also feature supplemental video case studies, such as the one below for Eyeota.

Don’t feel like you have to create flashy videos with impressive production value, even no-frills videos can work. Within its short case study summaries, PR That Converts embeds videos of clients talking about its service. These videos are simple and short, featuring the client speaking to their webcam for a few minutes.

Speaking engagements

Marketing conferences love case studies. Look on any conference agenda, and you’re sure to notice at least a handful of speaker presentations focused on case studies. If you’re looking to secure more speaking gigs, including case studies in your speaking pitch can give you a leg up over other submissions – after all, your case studies are original data no one else can offer.

My colleague Kelsey Libert centered her MozCon presentation a few years ago around some of our viral campaign case studies.

Sales collateral

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, many of our leads view the case studies on our site right before contacting us about working together. Once that initial contact is made, we don’t stop showing off our case studies.

We keep a running “best of” list of stats from our case studies, which allows us to quickly pull compelling stats to share in written and verbal conversations. Our pitch and proposal decks feature bite-sized versions of our case studies.

Consider how you can incorporate case studies into various touch points throughout your sales process and make sure the case studies you share align with the industry and goals of whoever you’re speaking with.

I’ve shared a few of my favorite ways to repurpose case studies here but there are at least a dozen other applications, from email marketing to webinars to gated content to printed marketing materials. I even link to our case studies page in my email signature.

case study email.png

My last bit of advice: Don’t expect immediate results. Case studies typically pay off over time. The good news is it’s worth the wait, because case studies retain their value – we’re still seeing leads come in and getting links to case studies we created three or more years ago. By extending their lifespan through repurposing, the case studies you create today can remain an essential part of your marketing strategy for years to come.

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Mobile Testing: Case Studies and Findings

Setting up a mobile-only account allows marketers to test the impact of mobile campaigns without a direct impact on the primary account’s performance and metrics.

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E-commerce: 10 case studies to help you excel in content marketing, social media and website optimization

Customers relish in the convenience and ease of online shopping, but those on the other side of the screen know the process isn’t so effortless. Read on for insights from 10 case studies that you can use to aid your e-commerce marketing efforts.
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5 Lessons Learned from 100,000 Usability Studies

Posted by Phil Sharp

It happens all the time.

People get confused, frustrated, and angry while using websites. They sigh, they groan, and sometimes they even shout. I see it happen with my own eyes each and every day.

Over the years at UserTesting.com we’ve literally watched hundreds of thousands of usability studies, which gives us a unique perspective into some of the most common issues that impact users. I’d like to share five of those insights with you.

1) Avoid multi-level navs

The person in the video below is struggling to move her mouse through multiple levels of navigation. Just when she thinks she’s made it to the item she’s looking for, the entire navigation disappears. We see this every day on many different sites and it always frustrates the users.

This person is having a hard time using the site’s navigation.

A fix to consider

One possible alternative to this type of navigation is to take an approach similar to Amazon.com, and have an entire section pop out.


On Amazon.com, the entire section pops out.

This approach makes life much easier for your visitors. Not only does it remove the need for them to delicately maneuver their mouses, but it also lets them see all of their options at once. Plus, it gives you the freedom to add images and other styling to your nav.

For other possible solutions, and a more in-depth look into creating easy-to-use navigation, check out these resources:

2) Your categories might be confusing users

As the video below illustrates, the way we categorize things on our websites might be confusing our visitors. In fact, it’s one of the most common things we see in all of our user tests.

A person looking for a small vacuum for under $ 50.

In this particular study, it took our participant 48 seconds to find the category for a small vacuum. She started her search by looking in “electronics,” then browsed for something called “household,” and finally made her way over to “Home & Garden.”

At this point you’re likely thinking one of two things:

  • Either, “Silly person, it’s obvious that a vacuum would be in the ‘Home & Garden’ section.”
  • Or, “Silly designer, it’s obvious that ‘Home & Garden’ is a confusing category.”

That’s why I need to introduce you to the “Matt-Damon-and-Good-Will-Hunting-Can-Do-No-Wrong” principle.

The principle is simple: it’s not your fault. (Side note: if you don’t understand this reference, then do yourself a favor and watch this video.)

It’s not your fault. It’s not the user’s fault. It’s not the designer’s fault. In fact, it’s nobody’s fault. What’s crystal clear to you might be confusing to me, and no one is to blame for that. It’s just something we have to work with.

So, what do we do about it?

One of the best ways to test out your site categorization is to sit someone down in front of your site and ask them to find a specific item without using internal search. This is simple, fast, powerful, and very painful to watch.

You’re bound to see people struggle to find things that seem obvious to you. When this happens, remember the “Matt-Damon-and-Good-Will-Hunting-Can-Do-No-Wrong” principle, make some changes to your categories, and then test again.

Another way to improve your categories is to use a tool like OptimalSort or TreeJack. OptimalSort is an online card sorting tool that makes it easy to find out how people think your content should be organized. Then, once you think you have everything organized nicely, TreeJack helps you prove that this site structure will work.

3) Internal search is crucial (and frustrating)

There’s a good chance that 10% of your site visitors are using your internal search. When they search for your most popular items, do you know what the results look like?

From all our studies, we’ve found four common types of problems with internal search:

  1. Search results that don’t account for typos, plurals, hyphenations, or other variants
  2. A search box that isn’t long enough
  3. Search results that simply don’t make any sense
  4. Search results that aren’t sorted by priority

To see an example of #4 in action, let’s watch yet another person looking for a vacuum:

When results aren’t sorted by relevance, people are bound to see some weird things.

Because the search results are automatically sorted by “Most Popular,” the first results are for replacement batteries and filtration paper bags! Yikes! Or, as my 10th-grade Spanish teacher would say, “que barbaridad!”

If you do only one thing

If you do only one thing, look at your internal search logs and find the top 10-20 keywords that people are searching for on your site. Search for each of these items yourself to see if you’re happy with the results.

Then, search for your company’s 10 most important products. How do those results look?

Lastly, look for some generic, non-product terms. For example, if you’re an e-commerce store, search for “returns,” “contact,” and “hours.” Looking good?

If you can perfect these searches, and change your search results to automatically sort by relevance, you’re most of the way there!

4) Links should look like links

As obvious as it sounds, there are many times when links actually don’t look like links. And, as you probably guessed, this means users don’t know they can click on them.

In the video below, this person is requesting a link to the “basic uploader” without realizing that “basic uploader” is already a link:

“Okay, that’s frustrating. It would make more sense to me that you’d have a link that I could just click on.”

What does a link look like?

This won’t come as a big surprise, but to make your visitors happy, links should be colored and underlined. And, ideally, there should be different colors for links that have been visited and unvisited.

For more info on the topic, check out this great article from the Nielsen Norman Group, or this post from Moz.

5) Engage your visitors (in other words, don’t be boring)

Sometimes websites are perfectly usable — they have great navigation, clear categories, helpful internal search, and links that look links — but they suffer from a major problem: They’re boring.

Or, put a nicer way, they’re not engaging their visitors. People use the site, and they could easily buy something if they wanted, but they don’t feel a connection to the brand or the product. Frankly, they just don’t care.

In the video below, a person is trying out a mobile app for the first time ever. Listen to the deep sigh she makes and the tone of her voice:



The sound of boredom.

That’s the benefit of watching someone use your website, app or product. You can hear their tone of voice and pick up on things like boredom that you’d miss if you were just looking at standard analytics data.

It’s tempting to always get wrapped up in analytics or usability, but don’t lose sight of engaging your visitors and building your brand.

Tunnel vision

These are only five of the issues that we see pop up often, but really there are countless ways that our websites can be turning off our visitors.

Thanks to the amount of time we spend on our own sites, we’re blind to many of the issues that are confusing or frustrating our users. We have tunnel vision.


This is what we look like. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t this adorable.

That’s why it’s so important for us to get our sites in front of real people with fresh eyes who can give us unbiased feedback. While this feedback is probably going to be painful to hear, it’s going to help us all improve our sites and make the web a better place.

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Mobile Marketing: 5 takeaways from MarketingSherpa case studies

By examining the wealth of knowledge in the MarketingSherpa 2012 Mobile Marketing Benchmark Report, the top mobile tactics marketers are focusing on for the next six months are also the most popular topics for recent MarketingSherpa case studies. Read on for the top 5 takeaways from essential mobile marketing case studies.
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Social Media Marketing: YoCrunch boosts average Facebook post interaction 821% (plus two more case studies)

Tweet The Social Media Club of Dallas monthly meetings always feature a presentation on social media for attendees, and earlier this year, I had the chance to take in SMC Dallas’ case study “showcase.” This event offered up a number of quick-hit social media case studies from a variety of marketers and agencies, and I [...]
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7 Social Psychology Studies to Help You Convert Prospects into Paying Customers

image of brain illustrations

When it comes to converting more prospects into paying customers, it all boils down to how well you understand your buyer’s mind and what they want from your business.

The thing is, your time can’t scale in every circumstance, and there may come a point where you aren’t able to know each and every one of your customers personally. When that’s the case, what’s to be done?

The answer is to turn to rigorously tested research in social psychology.

We’re all different, but in many instances our brains are prone to respond in a very similar manner, and understanding these common elements in the human mind can help you find more ways to ethically move more buyers towards saying “Yes!” to your products or services.

Below you’ll find 7 such studies that will help you understand what makes many of your customers “tick”, and what you can do to create a more effective selling experience.

1. Play the devil’s advocate

Are you familiar with how the term “devil’s advocate” came to exist? It’s actually from an old process the Roman Catholic church used to conduct when canonizing someone into sainthood.

A lawyer of sorts was instructed to be the devil’s advocate for the candidate, taking a skeptical view of their character in an attempt to find holes in their arguments for why they should be considered.

The marketing world has an important lesson to learn from this process.

According to research by social psychologist Charlan Nemeth (and his colleagues), the role of devil’s advocate certainly plays a part in persuasion, but it is not one of creating dissent.

Nemeth concluded that when people are confronted with someone who truly appears to oppose their position (true dissenters), they begin to try and understand their perspective.

Those playing devil’s advocate? They actually increase the effectiveness of the original argument! This is because group members do not take the critiques from the devil’s advocate as seriously, and since the group is now bringing up (and dismissing) possible alternatives or flaws, they are more confident in their original stance.

For marketers, this offers an opportunity: playing devil’s advocate for your own products can actually enhance your persuasive efforts as people see their concerns addressed (and dismissed) before they buy.

The Takeaway: Playing the role of devil’s advocate has been found to increase people’s resolve in their decision making, not hinder it. Be your own devil’s advocate and back up typical objections with solutions for your offerings.

2. Use urgency … the smart way

Creating a sense of urgency in your copy is one of the oldest tricks in the book … and still one of the smartest. To top it off, Cialdini lists “scarcity” as one of the 6 pillars of influence, and it’s easy to see why: great demand leads to great sales.

In spite of this, I have some research that explains how urgency can completely backfire on you and ruin your meticulously written copy.

How can this be? More importantly, how can you prevent it from happening to you?

The research comes to us from a classic study by Howard Leventhal where he analyzed the effects of handing out tetanus brochures to subjects.

Leventhal handed out 2 different pamphlets to participants, both sparing no detail on the horrid effects that the tetanus disease can have on the body.

The difference was that the control group received a version of the pamphlet that had the effects of the disease … and nothing else.

The second group received a similar pamphlet, but theirs had minimal information that indicated where they could schedule an appointment to get vaccinated.

The results?

Those who had the second pamphlet (with the sparse follow-up info) were much more likely to take-action: the rate that they followed through to get vaccinated was vastly superior to the first group. They were also more engaged with the tetanus information they received.

Why?

Even though the follow-up information provided in the second pamphlet wasn’t at all comprehensive, Leventhal concluded that our minds are susceptible to blocking out information that evokes a sense of urgency if there aren’t any instructions regarding what to do next.

Those in the first group were prone to convincing themselves that, “I don’t need to worry about this because it won’t happen to me anyway,” whereas those in the second group had less incentive to feel this way because they had a plan to take action and couldn’t put it aside as easy.

The Takeaway: Urgency can be “blocked” by your customers minds if you don’t give them specific instructions on how to solve the problem that you’ve identified. Don’t give vague instructions, tell your audience exactly what to do when the time comes.

3. Highlight strengths by admitting your shortcomings

Is it ever a good idea to admit to your faults? After all, people don’t really want the “real” you, right?

Research from social psychologist Fiona Lee would assert that it is, and in fact, it may be the best strategic decision to highlight your strengths.

The study she conducted looked at companies who admitted to missteps and examined what effect (if any) these admissions had on stock prices. Lee and her colleagues had experimenters read one of two fictitious company reports (both reports listed reasons why the company had performed “poorly” last year).

The first report placed emphasis on strategic decisions. The second placed emphasis on external events (economic downturn, increased competition, etc.).

So what were the results?

The test subjects viewed the first company far more favorably than the second.

Interestingly, Lee found (after examining hundreds of these types of statements, over 14 real companies) that the companies who admitted to their strategic faults also had higher stock prices the following year.

Her conclusions were that admitting to shortcomings in areas like strategic thinking showcased that a company was still in control, despite their faults. Blaming external forces (even if true) created a sense that the company didn’t have the ability to fix the problem (or were creating excuses).

The Takeaway: Customers still don’t want you to overshare irrelevant details. But admitting to honest errors helps your customers understand that you are in control of the situation and not prone to making excuses.

4. Embrace the power of labels

You might think I’m referring to brand labels, but far from it: I’m telling you to label your customers!

Sounds like bad advice, right?

WRONG!

As it turns, the research has shown us that people like being labeled, and they are more likely to particpate in the “group’s” message if they feel included in it.

The study examined the voting patterns of adults to see if labeling them had any effect on their turnout at the polls.

After being casually questioned about their normal voting patterns, half of the particpants were told that they were much more likely to vote since they had been deemed to be more politically active.

(This wasn’t actually true, these people were selected at random)

The other half of participants weren’t told anything.

Despite this random selection, the group that was told they were “politically active” had a 15% higher turnout than the other group!

Our brain seeks to maintain a sense of consistency (even if it’s artificial), and this is why the foot-in-the-door technique works so well even on prepared minds. We enjoy being consistent so much that if we feel apart of a group by being told that we are, it’s still likely to affect our response.

For instance, smart people are obviously going to be interested in an internet marketing course that’s made for smart people, right? The label is at work to make you realize you’re part of a desirable group.

The Takeaway: Even when given an artificial connection, people tend to take action in order to maintain a consistent image if they are labeled as being apart of a group. Don’t be afraid to label, people like being members of groups that they approve of.

5. Make their brain light up “instantly”

There are few things that our brains love more than immediate stimulation.

As a matter of fact, research has shown that instant gratification is such a powerful force that an ability to control against it is a great indicator of achieving success.

Wow!

In terms of your customers, you’re actually looking to do the opposite: in this case the gratification is about getting instantly rewarded by doing business with you, and your copy should remind customers of this benefit at every turn.

When your customers are on the verge of purchasing a product from you (or about to sign up for your email list), they are heavily influenced by how quickly they can receive their desired outcome.

Several Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) studies, including one on nicotine addiction, have shown that our frontal cortex is highly active when we think about “waiting” for something.

On the other hand, our mid-brain is the one that lights up when we think about receiving something right away (that’s the one we want to fire up!).

Words like “instant”, “immediately”, or even just “fast” are known to flip the switch on that mid-brain activity that makes us so anxious to buy.

Researchers have noted that the key to these words is that they allow us to envision our problem being solved right away; whatever pain point we are seeking to fix by buying becomes more enticing if we know we won’t have to wait very long.

The Takeaway: Our brains love “instant gratification” and light up when thinking about eliminating pain points instantly. Let people know that they will be rewarded quickly and they will be more likely to make the purchase.

6. Know how to sell to your 3 types of buyers

Every business (no matter the industry) is going to have to deal with the 3 types of buyers out there.

All other aspects aside, these 3 groups are defined by the “pain” that they receive when purchasing something. Neuroscientists have defined human spending patterns as a process of “spend ’til it hurts!”, so understanding these different levels of paint points is essential to increasing your sales.

According to the research, all customers are grouped into the following categories:

  1. Tightwads (24%) – people that spend less (on average) before they hit their limit
  2. Unconflicted (61%) – average spenders
  3. Spendthrifts (15%) – people that are able to spend more before they hit their limit

Guess who the hardest group of people to sell to is? Since they take up nearly a quarter of your potential customers, you should learn some of the smart techniques to minimize buying pain for your “tightwad” customers.

Fortunately, the secret boils down to utilizing well-written copy.

According to some remarkable neuroimaging studies, minimizing buying pain for “tightwads” (and everybody else) can be accomplished successfully by incorporating the following strategies…

1. Re-frame the value

If I told you that my product costs $ 1,000 a year, you’d definitely approach with a little hesitation, right?

Right. That’s because $ 1,000 isn’t peanuts.

What if I told you instead that my product costs $ 84 a month? Not bad right? If you got enough utility out of it for your business (or for yourself) every month, it would be a very worthy purchase.

The thing is, that’s the same as $ 1,000 a year!

If you’re offering something that has a recurring cost or that could be broken down into smaller increments, look into how you might be able to incorporate this into your pricing.

2. Reduce pain points through bundling

Neuroeconomics expert George Loewenstein has noted that all customers (but especially conservative spenders) prefer to avoid purchasing multiple accessories if there is an option to complete their purchase in one swoop.

He cites our willingness to upgrade from different car packages, but how difficult it is for the brain to justify each individual upgrade (“Yes, I will pay extra for the navigation… and leather seats… and…”, etc).

Lowenstein would assert that these individual purchases create individual pain points, whereas a bundled purchase creates only one pain point, even if the price is much higher.

3. Sweat the small stuff

We know that “don’t sweat the small stuff” isn’t all that applicable to copywriting, but just how small of a change matters?

In what I’ve named the goofiest bump in a conversion rate that I’ve ever seen, research from Carnegie Mellon University University reveals to us that even a single word can affect conversions.

Researchers changed the description of an overnight shipping charge on a free DVD trial offer from “a $ 5 fee” to “a small $ 5 fee” and increased the response rate among tightwads by 20 percent!

Has the word “small” ever felt so big? With a single added word increasing conversions by that amount, I think it’s safe to say that the devil is definitely in the details.

The Takeaway: No matter what business you’re in, you will always have 3 types of customers. Know how to sell to tightwads, they make up a large base of your potential buyers and you can reduce their buying pain with the right choice of words.

7. Make an enemy

In the business world, meaningful connections are paramount to your success.

That being said, you still need an enemy.

Why? When could this ever be a good thing?

Turns out, it’s a great thing if you’re looking to achieve a cult-like addiction for your brand.

In a hightly controversial study entitled Social categorization and intergroup behaviour, social psychologist Henri Tajifel began his research trying to define just how human beings were able to engage in acts of mass hatred (such as the Holocaust).

His findings were shocking to say the least.

Tajifel found that he could create groups of people that would show loyalty to their in-group and outright discriminate against outsiders … all with the most trivial of distinctions!

In the tests, subjects were asked to choose between two objects or people that they had no relation to (one test had people picking between 2 painters). Despite these trivialities, when it came time to dole out REAL rewards, subjects had a huge bias towards their in-group and avoided handing out rewards to the so-called “other guys.”

Sounds an awful lot like big companies going toe-to-toe, doesn’t it? Like the Mac vs. PC commercials or Miller Lite taking potshots at un-manly light beers.

The thing is, you don’t need a physical enemy, you need to be against a belief or an idea. Copyblogger would assert that real publishers are self-hosted and that well-written content is the centerpiece of the web.

Solidifying your unique selling proposition is as much about deciding who your ideal customer is not as much as it is about defining who they are.

The Takeaway: You’ll never find your brand’s true voice without something to stand against. This doesn’t have to be another brand, but in order to divide your ideal customers into your “camp,” you need to be against some ideal, belief, or perception, the way Apple was against “boring” PC users in their ads.

Bonus Tip: Keep ‘em on their toes

You know that the social construct of reciprocity is a powerful force, but did you know that further research has showed that surprise reciprocity works even better?

Since you’ve made it all the way to the bottom, I’d like to surprise you with a beautiful, free e-book revealing more insightful data on your audience and customers.

All courtesy of the Help Scout team, we hope you enjoy it!

Click here to download it instantly.

Thanks for reading, I’d also love to hear your thoughts, specifically: which of the above studies did you find the most surprising?

See you in the comments!

About the Author: Gregory Ciotti is the marketing guy at Help Scout and the founder of Sparring Mind, where he takes psychology + content marketing and makes them play nice together. Get more interesting customer data by downloading this free e-book.

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