Episode 148 | Online Marketing Trends with Special Guest Clay Collins

Show Notes


[00:00] Rob: In this episode of Startups for the Rest of Us, we are going to be talking about online marketing trends with startup founder Clay Collins. This is Startups for the Rest of Us: Episode 148.

[00:09] Music

[00:16] Welcome to Startups for the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products, whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Rob.

[00:24] Mike: And I’m Mike.

[000:25] Rob: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What’s the word this week sir?

[00:30] Mike: I had a great weekend. I spoke at Behavior Con down in Stamford Connecticut. It was a really great conference. There were about 150 people there and they had a bunch of different researchers who came up. They had people who ran different online communities and sold information products and Hiten Shah was there Derek Halpern. I’m sure a bunch of our audiences has heard of those people. But there were a lot of people there who I’ve never heard of before but they had some really good speakers and some really good information to share. So it’s a lot of fun.

[00:56] Rob: That sounds cool. Was that mostly like a marketing conference? Is that the idea? Like to learn marketing techniques?

[01:02] Mike: Not really. It was actually more or less the study of how people buy things and why people buy things. Some of the different speakers did, was they would analyze behaviors that people were performing and then kind of backtrack a little bit, try to figure out why it is they were performing those actions. And then what sort of tweaks could they do or what things could they toggle to get people to do different things to modify or change the behavior that the people were doing.

[01:30] And naturally this really falls underneath the marketing umbrella because as a marketer you’re really trying to influence people’s behaviors to try and get them to buy things but you also want to be able to present them in a way that makes sense to people that is going to make them feel good about whatever that purchase is.

[01:45] Rob: Very cool. Sounds like fun. Well, last week when you were going to Stamford Connecticut, I was doing the Drip prelaunch. So we basically emailed about 12% of the Drip launch list. It was a lot of fun, a lot of work. Derrick and I came in the day the email went out. We were sitting here as it went out and of course nothing happens because nothing happens right when it goes out. But then the following day and the next several days, that’s when all the onboard and the support request come in.

[02:13] So overall, the conversion rate from the email went well. It went better than I expected so I’m happy with that. We tested out all the basic functions of getting people signed up in an automated fashion. So instead of me creating their account, they’re actually entering credit card, signing up through a form and then we also have steps, I call them on boarding steps but it’s just steps for them to get setup and start to get value from the app.

[02:38] We just broke the 100 registered user mark. So that includes paid customers and trial users. Obviously the majority of those are trial users at this point because we have a 21 day trial so more in a few weeks. But as I said in a tweet a couple of weeks ago starting line. Now the real work begins.

[02:53] Mike: That’s awesome. And you still got a huge list to go back to for the rest of the launch right?

[02:58] Rob: Yeah. And that was the idea is I’m taking it slower than maybe if we had our backs to the wall or we’re running out of funding or really need to get out for some specific deadline, it’s a little bit of a luxury to be able to do that because we already saw some things that didn’t go as well as I would like. I’m going to tweak some copy on the landing page some copy in an email that I realized. We had a tiny little numbers mistake on one thing that we tweaked. We’re writing some extra features that people have said that they’re going to cancel because of that.

[03:28] So if we can hone that and kind of move the app up just one more level and really remove the friction then my hope is that once we email this couple thousand personal list that it will be an even better conversion rate. It’s just kind of one more layer, one more iteration before really going live.

[03:45] Mike: That’s really cool. Today I pushed out some code in the vein of getting things done and moving things forward. I pushed out some codes live today that will help address some of the problems that I heard back from people who could blame that when they got results back from Audit Shark they just didn’t know how to fix things that were there.

[04:01] There’s still a fair amount of work to do but what we’ve got so far is we’ve started putting in the remediation info so the people know what needs to be fixed and how to fix it. And then that is being now displayed on the results that people are looking at after the audits run, it pulls back all the results and it will show them right in the UI. It will show them exactly how to fix the things that need to be fixed. And the next step will be to put some sort of a report there that they can actually click on and get a downloaded PDF or something along those lines to make it easier.

[04:32] Because right now it’s just available when you hover the things but I really want to make it so that they can download it and take a look at those things and either hand it off to someone and say hey can you do this or can you do that?

[04:41] Rob: Very nice. You know, I ran across a site. It was actually referred to me by a friend of mine, was in the most recent YC batch. He actually has an interesting startup. It’s a crowd funding commercial real estate site. It’s called realcrowd.com so if you’re an accredited investor and you just want to put in a small amount of money say $10,000 and own part of an office building in San Francisco, it’s a really interesting idea and I’ve been in there looking at what they have to offer.

[05:07] But he referred me to this site called onemonthrails.com it’s a YC company. It’s designed to teach you just enough rails to be able to build like super stripped down prototype of something. So it’s designed for people who are not developers to learn just enough to build kind of a product that maybe they could then use to either recruit a developer or to get some funding so that they could hire a developer that kind of stuff.

[05:30] Now you and I were talking offline and one of the rails is $49 and there’s 5 to 10 hours of training in it, of video training. I see this as that very first step. If you just want to figure out – if you even want to kind of experiment this because the cost is so low. But then that next step after it I think would be Tealeaf Academy. They teach you rails but they take it to another level. They teach you how to build the right production code where you could actually – I think they have a full four month curriculum that you could do one month at a time and pay for them. It’s a little more expensive but it’s a lot more rigorous and there’s a lot more to it.

[06:04] So if you’re out there, you’re non technical and you’re like I just want to learn enough code to kind of tool around, I would consider looking at onemonthrails.com and then if it really drives with you and you want to keep going and get a little better I would recommend Tealeaf Academy. They’re actually a MicroConf sponsor last year. I just want to throw that out because we get that question so often from people who don’t know how to code, should I learn to code and how would I do it?

[06:24] Mike: So have you seen the Chromecast devices that Google quietly started selling a few weeks ago?

[06:30] Rob: Indeed. I bought one the day it came out and it came a couple weeks ago.

[06:35] Mike: what do you think of it?

[06:36] Rob: I like it. I have watched – I’ve never had a way to watch YouTube videos on TV because I have a Roku and they don’t have a YouTube app for Roku. So that’s been really neat to be able to just pull out my phone and basically sling YouTube videos up to the screen but it would be the ideal travel device because it’s as big as a thumb drive and that’s all you need, is a Wi-Fi and a thumb drive.

[06:58] We have a small little apartment that we go to near the coast and for that it works really well. I just plug it in the back of the TV and it can play Netflix and YouTube natively without really much interaction.

[07:10] Mike: I was a little disappointed. I wasn’t terribly impressed by it.

714 Rob: How are you using it?

[07:15] Mike: Initially I was just trying to get the thing working and the instructions just didn’t really seem to make sense. I got it installed and up and running on my Wi-Fi and then I’m like okay, now what do I do with it? I was in the chrome browser trying to add it as a device. It wouldn’t let me and it turns out it’s not a supported device. You can’t add it to chrome browser. I’m like are you kidding seriously? And it turns out it really isn’t. You have to be using it from some sort of a mobile device. It doesn’t work from your chrome browser like a desktop.

[07:45] Rob: No, it works from my Macbook air. I mean it’s not a desktop. It’s a laptop.

[07:48] Mike: That’s the problem. Because you’ve got Wi-Fi on there. Because I don’t have Wi-Fi on this even though it’s all connected in the same network, I couldn’t do anything.

[07:54] Rob: I see. It’s only over Wi-Fi. Yeah, that actually makes sense. Dude, who plugs in anymore? I haven’t plugged in to a cable for years except for when we do the podcast.

[08:05] Mike: What was really odd to me was I was able to do this like its walked me through the process of setting it up and I was able to kind of initialize it through my desktop browser and then it just stopped. It wouldn’t work after that. I got everything setup and then like I was trying to send stuff to it through the browser and it says you can’t install the Netflix app because you don’t have any devices. I’m like I just set it up. What the heck’s going on?

[08:30] Rob: It sounds like you had a weird news case to be honest.

[08:32] Mike: Maybe. Could be right but it seemed really awkward to me that there was nothing anywhere that said you need to set this up on Wi-Fi.

[08:41] Rob: Right. For me it was seamless because I was on Wi-Fi and I’ve had the setup process, it worked for me so it was just easy enough. I thought they did a good job with it. And then I was able to frankly – I watched a bunch of movie trailers because that’s what on YouTube that I’m going to be interested in.

[08:55] Mike: You can’t get it on like a hotel Wi-Fi because they have the pop-ups and stuff. I’ve been able to get my Kindle on a hotel Wi-Fi before because I think there’s something in the routers that recognizes when a device can access those types of things and when it can’t. And like the Kindle just logged in and it just kind of bypasses those things even though all the other devices that I have, it’ll pop up like my iPhone, laptop and stuff. They popup and say hey please enter such and such and log in but I’ve had my Kindle and put it on the hotel network before and it didn’t even ask.

[09:28] Rob: That’s weird because I brought my Roku to many hotels and I’ve never been able to get it on. You have to buy a device – basically it’s a small travel router that you get that travel router onto your laptop and then you use that Mac and the rest to hook into your Roku. It’s like a pole production that I never went to but I found that’s the only way to do it. I wonder if the Kindle has some kind of work around or fancy logic to be able to do that.

[09:50] Mike: It might just be that it says it’s a Kindle and doesn’t have a browser when it connects to the Wi-Fi and maybe there are certain ones that are able to insert and ones can’t.

[10:00] Rob: So we got a pretty cool email this week from Jordan Sherer. He said I’m a Micropreneur academy member and recently full time boot strapper. I wanted to drop you a note today and let you know where the Micropreneur academy has taken me the over the past six months. I’ve been bootstrapping small software products on the side since 2007. It’s been a lot of fun and was the perfect avenue for me to explore things outside of my day job. And of course learn a bit about building products that solve problems and marketing to customers that need a solution.

[10:24] My main desktop app had done well over the years and I was finally able to pull the record and jump out on my own. This is where your podcast and the Micropreneur academy came in and I finally took the leap back in February. Thanks for all your support (even though it wasn’t directed directly to me). After February I tried to figure out where I wanted to take my business. After evaluating a couple of ideas I finally hit a sweet spot with a landing page describing my perfect Google reader replacement called Minimal Reader and that’s mnmlrdr.com.

[10:59] My offering resonated with a lot of people. I had thousands of people sign up and say that they would for my offering. This was definitely encouraging so I pursued development and brought it to life. The product has been complete since June and been an early access since July and I’m finally launching publicly this week. Just wanted to say I really appreciate what you’ve done with startups for the rest of us, Micropreneur academy and MicroConf. It’s been encouraging and a big help in pursuing my dream of growing a software academy.

[11:24] I actually bought a lifetime membership. He has a limited number of lifetime membership to minimal reader. Because I haven’t been widely into RSS for a few years so when Google reader shutdown I wasn’t really disappointed. But I have realized I do want to keep tabs on a few blogs still. They’re kind of these key blogs. What I like about minimal reader is it is super minimal. It’s just black on a white background. It’s got enough features to make it work but there’s not a lot of design to it and it’s responsive. So I log in using the exact same log in through a browser both on my phone and my laptop.

[11:55] I don’t know how long he’s going to have that. It’s like $99 for a lifetime and then he’s going to do a few of those to raise some money to get started and then shut that down. And after that its $36 a year that he’s asking for.

[12:05] Mike: that’s really cool. Great job Jordan.

[12:07] Rob: Yeah. Thanks for writing in and letting us know. And I’ve actually already added Jordan to our success stories page that you added to the website. I think we have a handful of folks on there. This is basically people who’ve listened to the podcast and or attended MicroConf and or have been in the academy and have quit their jobs. I guess we only have four right now but I can list another probably 20 off the top of my head so maybe I’ll email those people and start getting permission and expanding the success stories page.

[12:33] Mike: yeah definitely. That’s would be great.

[12:35] Music

[12:38] Rob: Today we’re going to be talking about online marketing trends and tactics with a guest named Clay Collins and Clay has his own podcast. It’s how I heard about him. It’s called The Marketing Show. And he was gracious enough to spend a half hour with us really diving into several different tactics that he’s learned. I love his unique insight that he has into conversions landing page because he runs a company that’s essentially a Saas business that is a landing page provider.

[13:05] And so he has access to a lot of data that the rest of us don’t have. So we really wanted to bring him n the show and both enlighten us and the audience on online marketing trends for 2013 and 2014.

[13:12] Music

[13:18] So I’d like to welcome clay Collins. He is the founder of Lead Bright which is a software company that makes web applications to help you grow your audience. Their flagship product is lead pages. It’s a Saas app and it’s the easiest way to create landing pages online. I first heard about Clay from his podcast. It’s called The Marketing Show. And in my opinion its one of the most underrated marketing podcast I know of. It’s super tactical. Is it your co-founder clay that you’re on there with?

[13:44] Clay: It’s actually just one of the people that we work with here internally. His name is Andy. Super sharp guy, runs a number of different business. We’ve decided to do a show together.

[13:54] Rob: awesome, yes. So they have just kind of open conversations about online conversion and Clay is just steeped in the world of landing pages, email marketing. I think he comes out of info marketing background and he’s in software now so he has a lot of skills that a lot of software people don’t. It’s a real pleasure to welcome you on the show today clay.

[14:12] Clay: Rob and Mike, it’s great to be here.

[14:15] Rob: Awesome. So what we’re going to do today, we’re going to be talking about some online marketing trends. What I’ve done is I’ve gone through a number of Clay’s older episodes from probably the past 4 to 6 months. And I had notes in my notebook of things they have talked about. It’s a real kind of poignant lessons and some interesting tactical things.

[14:33] So I’m going to throw out a topic. I’m sure you’ll remember talking about it already and then probably ask some questions around that and Mike and I will just bat it around. The first thing is you made a statement you said design is the new copywriting. Basically indicated in an episode you said that design is more important today than it has been in the past for conversions. Tell us a little bit more about how you’re seeing that and what that means to us.

[14:57] Clay: Yeah. So there used to be this phrase in direct sales marketing and people would say if its ugly as hell, it will probably sell. And what they meant then was that you really didn’t need to focus on design, that if you focus sort of the bulk of your efforts on copy writing and making sure that you really nailed the messaging and nailed the hooks and the bullet points and hypnotic NLP wizardry what not that that is what was going to drive conversions for you.

[15:26] I think for a long time that was actually true until we started developing sort of as an online culture the sense of what looks scummy and what didn’t. And then at that point, design kind of took over. I don’t know exactly when that happened. So I was listening to guy I know, this acquaintance Vishen Lakhiani who runs a publishing company called Mind Valley and he was telling me about an experiment that he did. He went out and hired a top flight copy writer. I believe he paid around $25,000 to have a sales letter created from scratch so you have that person rewrite their sales page.

[16:05] And then he took his existing sales page and he had a top flight designer redesign that page. And what he found was that the top flight $25,000 copywriter showed no notable improvement when they split test sort of the old version versus the new version. So he spent a lot of money, didn’t get an improvement. However, when he took his sort of in-house minimally trained copywriter that I guess started out as an intern and rose through the ranks and had hat page redesigned by a top flight designer, conversions went up about 30% on the sales page.

[16:40] I started thinking about that and what was going on. It was around that time that we in our own company hired a designer, a full time in house designer and we just found him on 99 Designs. It’s a best way to interview a designer and anyone who’s bidding for a job on 99 Designs just like necessarily looking for work. Like why would you subject yourself to the whole process of 99 Designs if you weren’t somewhat willing to put yourself out there in order to get some work.

[17:06] We got a designer and we started just systematically going through all the pages in our business and redesigning them changing no code, doing nothing else. And we had just a huge growth in our business as a result of this and a huge lift in our conversions. What was funny is that the designer, I had to communicate almost nothing to them other than here are four other pages that I think look good. Can you make ours kind of look like those?

[17:33] So I did that and I had hired copywriters in the past and it just took a whole lot of just going back and forth with them about the way things are communicated and the subtleties of language. I just came to this conclusion that is far cheaper, far easier and just far more effective to grow your business by focusing on design rather than conversion and good designers now on this global market place are just like incredibly easy to find relative to copywriters and relative to developers.

[18:02] Mike: Do you think a part of that is just that there’s a – I guess I’ll say a minimum barrier to doing the copy versus design where it’s very easy to look at design and this design looks just positively scamming versus this other one which looked really sharp and professional. And when you get into copywriting it’s very difficult to differentiate between somebody who came in and has a lot of education and has a lot of background in doing copy versus your Joe off the street because at the end of the day English words are English words. But there’s a huge difference that’s very visual between a good designer and a bad designer.

[18:40] Clay: Yeah. I think that you can almost immediately tell almost in a deep gut level whether or not someone is a good designer. With copy, a lot of times you can’t tell until you get the split test data back. So even being able to iterate and judge the fruits of someone’s work it’s very difficult with copy and a lot of times, even the best copywriters don’t create a notable result even though they’re charging quite a lot. It takes a lot more domain expertise to nail the copywriting and certainly it takes a lot of training in order to be a developer.

[19:19] But a designer can be a designer for a whole number of industries and it doesn’t necessarily require domain expertise for them to create lift in conversions. They simply need to make it look better. I’m not undermining what designers do. I’m doing quite the opposite. I’m emphasizing it. So yeah, I think what you’re saying is spot on.

[19:36] Rob: I’m curious about the redesigns you mentioned that you hired the designer and had him do and saw some increase in conversions. Were those on the landing pages that you have or was that inside your app itself?

[19:50] Clay: It’s actually both. One of the things we found both with copywriting and with design is that good marketing is often merely a matter of highlighting the things that are most important to highlight. And one of the things that copywriters do is they’ll make sure that things that are bold are bold and things that should stand out are in some cases annoyingly highlighted and bold and underlined and italicized.

[20:18] So what you’re doing with the design is you’re merely highlighting things that are advantageous for you as a business to highlight. And so for example inside of our apps, we highlight things that differentiate us. We highlight things that are advantageous for us to highlight. For example with lead pages we handle, we make it very easy for someone to deliver a lead magnet.

[20:42] So someone opts in and we will deliver that lead magnet. Someone doesn’t have to go in and create a new form and then create a new list then upload the file and then create a new auto responder for that list. Like you just uploaded to lead pages and we just handled delivering it and you can send everyone to your central house list and we’ll handout the bribe. And when you do that or the lead magnet and when you do that at the very bottom of the email, it says digital asset delivery provided by lead pages like at the very, very bottom.

[21:08] So whenever anyone uses that, we kind of get a mini little – there’s not a link or anything but we get a little mention there at the bottom of the email. So it’s advantageous for other people to use our digital asset delivery service. So we do do things like highlight that feature not only because it saves people a whole lot of time but also because it helps us out quite a bit as a business. That’s only something that we’ve recently started doing.

[21:34] Originally what we were doing was – sort if it’s all in our landing pages and it was simple things like I’ll just give you some topics. A call to action should be above the fold. They should be visible without you having to scroll down. That’s a big one. The color of call to action buttons should be yellow. We’ve tested a whole bunch of different colors. When you have an opt-in box or some sort of action you want people to be taking, those just do much better like time and time again when the call to action is on the right side of the page as opposed to the left side of the page, just some basic things like that.

[22:09] We also experimented with hiding the opt-in box and only showing it when someone clicks on a button and then a pop-up shows. So there’s a lot of design things that we did that I just created some style guidelines around and rather than having to explain some complicated series of messaging and branding metaphors and instructions, I really reduced it to use two separate opt-in boxes. Use this color for calls to action. Have things on the right side instead of the left side if you do need to put the call to action on side versus another.

[22:42] It was super easy to communicate these things to a designer and getting the same level of effectiveness out of a set of rules. That would be so much more difficult to do that with copy.

[22:52] Rob: Thanks for dropping that awesome tactical knowledge there.

[22:55] Mike: I have a question about the color thing that you were just mentioning having yellow call to action buttons. Is that specifically related to your site because of the color scheme you used or did you test it against a variety of backgrounds and find that in general yellow works better than say orange or blue or whatever.

[23:11] Clay: So it is a mixture of yellow and orange and it works better provided that it’s not ugly. So if it clearly conflicts with everything then it doesn’t work because it doesn’t look good. But provided that it does work with the color scheme in some way, that it doesn’t out right conflict with the color scheme, we found that yellow works better than red, than blue, than green. In some cases these changes are 2% to 3%. In other cases it’s more like 15% to 20%. But we have found this as a consistent result.

[23:44] Mike: I was kind of curious because I’ve seen a lot of call to actions which are either yellow or orange and I just wasn’t sure whether that was an across the board rule or whether it really depended a little bit more on the color scheme that you’re already using.

[23:58] Rob: What else is interesting is you look at Amazon.com and you look at their add to cart button and that’s always been some type of orange. They’ve changed the shape of it now but it’s still like a yellowish orange. And even their wish list, add to wish list button is a lighter – it’s almost grey but it’s yellow in some places. I haven’t even thought about this because I never did split test button colors on Hit Tail but all of our buttons there are an orange. It does fit on the color scheme. It’s a blue and orange color scheme but that’s something good for me to take home.

[24:28] Clay: Yeah. I think there are findings like this that are really more stable than others. For example, for a long time, the best opt-in lead magnet was like free reports or white paper something like that. So everyone was giving those away. And then at some point when online video was big and sort of the average person could produce a decent video, people realized that if they gave away some sort of video course or series of videos or a video lesson that actually people would be much more likely to opt-in for that. So then everyone was giving away videos and that was working better than free reports.

[25:07] And then someone found out that if you just write something on a piece of paper by hand like a flow chart or some kind of diagram and scanned it and it just looked kind of jenky and handwritten that actually would work the best because it was a pattern interrupt. It was different than what most people were seeing so it’s unique.

[25:25] In marketing, there’s times when there’s like arms races when people are just jumping from thing to thing and everyone becomes immune to the new thing until someone figures out something else that’s different that works and everyone jumps on that bandwagon. And so far, the button color thing seems like it’s not one of those bandwagon things that it’s actually a stable consistent finding that isn’t a subject to marketing fads.

[25:50] Rob: Awesome. That actually leads us really well into the next topic we’re going to talk about which I’ve titled opt-in rewards that work and this is again from another podcast episode you talk about. Talk to us a little bit about what used to work and what isn’t going to work moving forward and then maybe trends you see of what is actually working better from now in the future?

[26:09] Clay: It seems to be – we look at a whole bunch of different landing pages and opt-in bribes and things like that and we’re fortunate with lead pages that we can actually see platform level data. So we can for example with lead pages test button colors across the entire platform and run like across platform split test. We haven’t been able to do this with lead magnets justly yet because it’s kind of hard to figure out how to run this test but it’s something that we want to do.

[26:36] But individually and certainly in our business, we found a shift in what works. When it comes to lead magnets, people are wanting tools and resource lists and things that require very little amount of effort but get a maximum amount of result. So things like spreadsheets where you can plug-in something and get something out of it that’s useful. If I ran a cooking site, I would want to give away a list of recipes right? Because you don’t have to read a lot. You don’t have to process a lot of content. You don’t have to synthesize much. There’s just sort of a list of things on a page and you look at them and you make the recipe, follow the instructions.

[27:18] What’s working really well right now are resource lists. So lists of resources you need to get results in your specific area. I sort of realized this when I was looking at the best selling issues of magazines like back packer magazine and golf digest and photography magazine and reliably with these magazines the best selling issues of these magazines are the gear guides right?

[27:43] So the guides where they’re telling you the top golf clubs to get if its golf magazine to hit a long drive or the best cameras to get or the lenses to get and the tripods to get. People love this stuff. It’s because as humans we have this belief that if we only have the tools the pros had then we would get the same results that the pros have. And in a lot of cases that’s actually true. So what we found really works is just a page or two listing the top resources that a new person or someone approaching a topic should acquire to help them get results as quickly as possible.

[28:19] So life if you’re at a yoga website, you might want to list for a man and a woman what shorts should you buy, what shirt, what yoga mat to get. If you don’t have access to a local yoga studio sort of what DVD set to start with? Because this is really just what people want. They don’t want to have to figure out all this stuff and if you just give someone a list of resources that give them a reliable proven starting point and it’s based on your research and your expertise, that kind of thing can get an insane opt-in rate compared to some like 50 page long eBook that someone has to pour over and carve out time to read.

[28:56] So generally things where people can consume a very small amount of information and get a fairly significant result but software lead magnets do incredibly well. I remember back in the day when I was blogging quite a bit, I remember writing a series of 1500 word blog post where I would painstakingly make some point that I thought was so important. I would get a whole lot of comments but I wouldn’t get a lot of people opting in.

[29:27] Once I spent an entire month writing an eBook and I spent three weeks once making an entire video course showing people how to do something and yet a WordPress plug in that one of our developers made over a weekend blew all of those away in terms of list growth and the number of opt-ins we got because people just value tools. People are sick of long winded eBooks. They’re sick of 15 minute long talking head videos and they just want something that’s going to give them immediate value and isn’t going to require a whole bunch of their time.

[30:02] Mike: That sounds a lot like giving people the information versus giving them the actual tools to do something. Obviously if you give them the information they can do it themselves but if you give them the tools to do it then not only are they a lot more likely to do it but its going to take them a lot less time and effort to do it. So it seems like those things would be much more valuable to them and would therefore convert a lot better.

[30:24] Clay: I think you hit the nail on the head. I think done for you just really out performs do it yourself and I think that’s part of the reason why developers are in such high demands right now is because we are craving as a society tools that automate the information we’ve been given about how to do things. So whenever you can automate an instruction set, that just has a much higher value than just giving someone the instruction set. I think you’re absolutely right.

[30:55]Rob: The next one is email on mobile devices. You mentioned in an episode that over 1/3 of emails are opened on mobile devices. I looked it up today and Litmos is saying of their emails that it’s about 44% so it’s growing. Its going to overtake the majority of emails certainly within a year or two are going to be opened on mobile devices meaning tablets and mobile phones.

[31:17] What are the implications of that for those of us who have been basically been doing email marketing and know how to do it, I’ve been doing it for years. We’re used to larger screens and used to the same basic strategies. What do we have to do differently for mobile devices?

[31:32] Clay: Yeah. A few things. I think the first is you have some big huge complicated template, don’t. If you want some sort of graphical branding or HTML branding on your emails, kind of have something thin and minimalistic and that’s at the top and that sort of establishes whatever you want to establish by having a graphical email in the first place but make that sort of limited because its affecting your screen real estate so that’s one thing.

[31:58] The second thing is that just like you want calls to action to be above the fold, make sure the calls to action in your emails are above the fold that they are clearly visible without anyone having to scroll down on a mobile device. Right? Usually you want to get the click without someone having to move through the email. They should be able to do that without reading a whole lot of information.

[32:22] So don’t have huge overly graphic email templates that you use to send out your newsletter. Make sure the call to action is above the fold. Those are sort of the two rules of thumb and make sure that when someone does click on the link that they are sent to a landing page if you’re looking to get an email address or get someone to take some kind of action, make sure you are sending them to mobile responsive landing pages and that those landing pages don’t require them to input a lot of data.

[32:49] So if someone’s coming from a mobile device, maybe you shouldn’t ask for a first name last name phone number address, email address, location, zip code, nobody’s going to fill that out from their mobile device. Maybe just ask for an email address and then you can follow-up over time by asking for more information or you can move that to a phone call. Maybe just ask for their phone number but I would encourage you to not ask for more than one piece of information when someone’s coming to a landing page from a mobile device.

[33:20] Rob: Awesome. This is especially relevant. My newest product is called Drip and it’s at getdrip.com and we’re launching next month and one thing we really focused on is putting together a single template. We don’t even offer fancy templates at this point. We may never offer them because this is focused on email marketing, not email newsletters. And so it’s good to hear you say that. I’ve always despised that fixed width newsletter templates that have the fancy border around them and now I’m on my iPhone, my finger is over the delete button when those things get there because you try to resize them and the text stretches and it doesn’t wrap right and so it looks really goofy on a small screen.

[34:00] Mike: One of the things you brought up was about having things up above the fold. I’m just curios what your thoughts are on how much that applies to mobile devices and also to desktops general. I was just at a conference called Behavior Con this past week. And one of the researchers who had presented essentially said that at this point, having things above or below the fold doesn’t matter nearly as much because people are doing things on their mobile devices and when they’re browsing web pages they basically expect to have to scroll up and down.

[34:29] So they’re much more comfortable and much more sued to scrolling up and down. I was just curious what your thoughts were and what you have kind of seen out in the field.

[34:38] Clay: Yeah. I think there are a lot of opinions out there. I can tell you that our data has consistently shown that generally speaking and there are huge diversions on this. The more work you require of someone to do something, the less likely they are to do it. Unless you’re being very intentional about requiring more work and its sort of a strategic component of your marketing. We found that when you’re in the context of a trust relationship that you have with someone on your email list, you’ve built up a relationship with them.

[35:09] So given that they’re sort of a context of trust, you are an effective copywriter so you know how to communicate the value of what you’re providing in a very short period of time if you have the links above the fold you’re going to do better. It may or may not be true that people expect to do more scrolling. I think that’s probably true. I don’t think it’s accurate to say that it doesn’t make a different what so ever whether or not the links are above the fold. Certainly in our experience it does make a difference.

[35:36] Rob: Yeah that’s been my experience as well. That could be changing. I guess Mike was saying that the person at Behavior Con was saying that now that mobile is around, people are so used to scrolling but in the past as I was testing it, to me it’s a rule of thumb at this point until I see data otherwise I’m going to have a hard time moving my calls to action below the fold.

[35:54] Clay: We’ll often times do both. So we’ll have a call to action at the very top sort of below the headline and the core messaging and sometimes we’ll have a bunch of bullet points and we’ll have a call to action at the bottom. It’s not really in my opinion one or the other often you can do both. I think generally speaking most businesses have a variety of personas on their website.

[36:17] There’s been this debate like should I give away a free course or an eBook, something like that or a webinar opt-in and we’re like do all of them. Address the variety of psychological profiles that could end up on your website and do various things. I think it’s the same with calls to action. I think it’s the same with the emails. Have a call to action at the top of the email and have one at the bottom so when they’ve scrolled to the bottom and they can no longer see the top that they don’t have to scroll to the top again to hit the link.

[36:46] So I think when in doubt, put more calls to action in your marketing pieces provided that it isn’t overkill and it doesn’t become obnoxious and so in your face that it actually repels people.

[36:57] Rob: Alright. Good advice. Clay, well we’re getting close to wrapping up here. I have 4 or 5 more topics in the outline. If people want to hear about those, these are things like whether you should ask for first name in your opt-in forms. I’m betting a YouTube URL in an email and why that’s a really good way to get a lot of YouTube views as well as a definition of a never ending sales funnel. If people want to find out about those, that they can subscribe to the marketing field podcast and I’d say go back 6 to 12 months and listen through those and you’ll hear all about that stuff.

[37:27] We only have time to tackle one more thing and that is a two step opt-in process. I have never heard of this. You mentioned that you’ve been doing it. Tell us what it is and why it’s working so much better than traditional one step opt-in?

[37:40] Clay: Yes. So I have this realization and I have these hypotheses that when people go to a website or to a landing page for example, they’re making a determination about whether or not it’s a giving page or a taking page. And when all they see is front and center is an opt-in box and they probably never been to that site before, they’re probably going to assume this is a taking page. So how can we change that?

[38:08]And one thing that I tested that ended up working incredible well is taking that opt-in box and only displaying it after someone clicks on the call to action button. So let’s say you’re doing a webinar. Rather than having the webinar opt-in box right there front center on the registration page, have a button that says sign me up for the webinar and when people click on that button you immediately show a popup that allows people to opt-in.

[38:40] I was at a farmer’s market the other day and someone was selling t-shirts at the farmers market. They didn’t have my size. I wore a medium. I went up to the guy and I said hey do you have the shirt in a medium and he immediately reached below the table and handed me a medium shirt. And I was a little shocked at how quickly he did it but because he gave it to me immediately when I asked for it, I ended up buying somehow. It was almost like this hypnotic response. It’s kind of the same way with a two step opt-in form.

[39:10] It creates a yes ladder. If you say yes to clicking on the button that says sign me up for this event, then the probability that you’ll say yes to opting-in as soon as the opt-in box appears is much greater. If you can get someone to commit at a low level of commitment by clicking on that button, the likelihood that you’ll commit at a greater level by opting in when that opt-in box appears as a popup is much greater.

[39:36] Usually when you’re on a landing page, you have to fill out the forms and then you click the submit button. But what if you added an additional step of having someone click a button that triggered a popup that allowed someone to opt-in right? It just puts a really easy step before a more complex step or a more sort of difficult and I guess emotionally taxing step.

[40:00] So there’s a variety of reasons why this works. Another reason why this works is that when you click on a button that says register me for this event and a pop up appears where you can actually fill out a form and opt-in, it really brings the decision to a head. Usually when you’re just looking at a landing page, you can browse the content on the page. You can look at different things and you might leave the page or click on a header link and leave that page.

[40:27] But when you click on a button that says register me for this event and a popup appears with two or three fields that you fill out and then submit, you have to make a decision one way or another about whether or not you’re going to opt-in. you have to make a decision. You can’t just ignore that all together. And by getting a much greater percentage of people who visit a landing page, to make a decision one way or another about whether or not they’re going to opt-in you get a lot more opt-ins.

[40:58] If everyone in the entire world had to make a decision about whether or not they were going to opt-in to your landing page, you would have the world’s biggest email list. But because most people don’t make a decision one way or another when they end up on a landing page, you lose a lot of people. So there’s a variety of reasons why this works we found with our pages we’ve gotten huge bumps in opt-in rates just by adding two step opt-in processes. And sort of the average that we’ve seen is about a 30% relative increase in conversion rate by taking one step opt-in processes and making them two step opt-in processes.

[41:33] Rob: So let’s say someone has a Saas app or a website selling software of some kind. We’ve encouraged them on this show is they should have email opt-ins on their blog and sometimes on their homepage and all that kind of stuff. For a software company, more of a Saas business, what kinds of upfront question or upfront thing would they put on that button? Or what would they be asking to get that first step of the opt-in.

[42:00] Clay: So you’re asking what would be the text on the call to action button.

[42:04] Rob: Yes.

[42:05] Clay: So if you’re doing webinar and I encourage everyone who’s in the Saas business to be doing webinars to drive sales. It could just be like quicker to secure my spot. But if you’re offering a white paper, the best text we ever have found is just the phrase download now. It used to be the winner of all these split tests was the phrase free instant access. There was something about the phrase about combining the word free and instant and access and yielded the highest opt-in rate for a white paper whatever you’re giving away provided that its downloadable.

[42:41] But recently we personally found a doubling of the opt-in rate by changing the words free instant access to download now for white papers and such. It all depends on what you’re giving away. I prefer things that are downloadable because we have this psychological need as humans to possess stuff. If it’s in the cloud and it’s not on our hard drive, we’re not possessing it.

[43:04] If you can give something away that someone can just have tucked in a folder somewhere like even if they never opened it in the rest of their lives, the fact that they can download something and put it on their hard drive to keep and to hold and to hoard or whatever they’re going to do with it, that’s just really powerful. So if you can put the phrase download now on a button, please put that on a button. That’s just working incredibly well.

[43:27] Rob: Yeah when you said there’s throw phrases, free instant access to me sounds just so overplayed now. I feel like I saw that on buttons for years and download now absolutely, I would be much more likely to click on that. That’s awesome. Thank you.

[43:40] To be honest Clay, this has been a real pleasure. You’ve brought a lot of very actionable – that’s what I like about the stuff I’ve heard from you is its super tactical. It’s very focused and some people could say these are like little things, little tweaks you could make but I think they’re big tweaks. These are the things that really once you get a business going, can really take you up those double digit conversion rate increase type things. So I really want to thank you for your time. Mike and I, we know you’re busy running your company Lead Bright. How would folks get in touch with you?

[44:10] Clay: I would encourage people to go to blog.leadpages.net and about once a week we give away a tested and proven landing page template that folks can download and add to their website and do whatever they want with. All of these templates that we give away are ones that we’ve tested internally. We’ve used on multiple client and customer site and that we’ve sort of proven to work.

[44:36] So we provide kind of a free downloadable lead magnet to people on a weekly basis via our blogs. So that’s a good place to find the latest of what we’re doing in terms of our conversion lab. So that’s probably the best way to find me.

[44:51] Rob: Awesome. Very cool. Well thanks again Clay for coming on and yeah, I guess we’ll be chatting with you soon.

[44:58] Clay: Absolutely. Thanks Rob. Thanks Mike.

[45:59] Music

[45:03] Mike: If you have question for us, you can call it in to our voice mail number at 1-888-801-9690 or email it to us at questions@startupsfortherestofus.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by MoOt used under Creative Commons. You can subscribe to us in iTunes by searching for startups or via RSS at startupsfortherestofus.com where you’ll also find a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time.

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6 Responses to “Episode 148 | Online Marketing Trends with Special Guest Clay Collins”

  1. Thanks for the opportunity to be on the show! I really appreciate it Mike and Rob!

    Warm regards,

  2. Thanks Mike and Rob for bringing on Clay for this podcast. Very clear actionable steps to take away from an experienced guy like him:

    Opt in button should be yellow in color (as long as it is not ugly). Yellowish orange can also work.
    It should be on the right side as opposed to on the left side.

    What’s working right now: instead of giving information, give away best tools to use or a resource list

    Saas appguys.. hold webinars

    Replace “Free Instant Access” links to Download Now

    And the best one:
    Have a two step opt in process

  3. You rarely have guest but when you do, wow! I really like the actionable information.

    Visited the site and found more value in some of the templates and that’s always valuable to a non marketing guy.


  4. Trivia note: MAC addresses are allotted to manufacturers in blocks and network security appliances use those in making policy decisions about which devices get what levels of access and if they require authentication or not. It’s possible that the Chromecast will get similar treatment to the Kindle over time, but we’ll have to at least wait for major network security vendors to update.

    So, it’s the network appliance acting as gatekeeper based on a policy and nothing that the Kindle is doing.


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