Exhale @ Work: Demand Generation

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There’s no shortage of customers out there, and even more so in the digitally connected global village we call home. You can literally sell to the world. That’s the good news.

But (there’s always a ‘but’), it comes with a cost: increased competition. You can sell to the world, but so can everyone else. You’re now competing with businesses across town and on the other side of the planet. That’s a lot of choice.

The most successful among us – no matter the product, service, or industry – have found a way (or team with a marketing guide) to reach out and stand out in a crowded sphere. It goes beyond simple marketing. They utilize every tool at their disposal, in innovative combinations, and they provide more than just features to their prospects. They understand customer psychology. They recognize the core emotions that drive us. They take steps to create impressive demand generation for whatever it is they’re offering…and the first step is to get the attention of your prospect.


Hey! Over Here!

But how do we do that? The world – both on and offline – is saturated with businesses trying to get your attention, convince you of their virtues, and make the sale. We’ve become jaded and suspicious at first glance, because there’s just so much out there promising to “rock our world” and “change our lives”.

Features don’t get our attention. Benefits don’t make sales. They’re important, sure, but only after your prospect has decided to purchase, when they need to justify that decision.

It’s emotion and connection that get the attention now. So you need to have to cultivate both, front and center.


Make ‘Em Laugh

Marketing and customer psychology studies have proven the connection between emotion and our buying decisions. We respond to products and services emotionally, and then logically. You need to make an emotional connection if you want to stand out. And while that can be either positive (love, benevolence, excitement, humor, joy) or negative (fear, greed, vanity, anger, jealousy, envy), it’s the high-arousal positive emotions that we respond to strongest and most meaningfully.

To put it another way: make your prospects excited and make them laugh, and you’re really on to something.


A Quick Example with ccScan

There’s more than one way to do that, of course. Exhale Marketing is currently working with ccScan to create lead and demand generation for their direct-to-cloud scanning software. A traditional campaign would include direct mail, email, and possibly a few paid ads on strategically selected platforms. It would highlight the features and benefits of the program, and ideally point out a few ways that it can improve the work lives of its target market.

Nothing wrong with any of that. But just that is going to fall short of spectacular in the modern age.

Instead, Exhale is focused on the positive emotional connection. The campaign includes both humor – original weekly comics about office life and paperwork (see sample below) – and excitement – a weekly draw and $500 grand prize. To enter, prospects need only download a free 30-day trial of the software. This is something they may have done anyway because of the many benefits it provides, but by framing it with two of the high arousal and positive emotions, it’ll foster even more impressive demand generation.

The product is excellent all by itself, but by including humor and excitement in the presentation, it becomes more appealing, more desirable, and more tempting to try right now, at this moment.

It gets them to your door.

Not sure how to do this for your business? Let’s chat about what Exhale can do for you, from content creation to social management, from original illustrations to stunning graphics, from marketing strategy to execution. At Exhale, we can get them to your door.


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ExhaleMarketingExhale @ Work: Demand Generation

Form Fatigue

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Man sleeping at countryHow long can you hold someone’s attention online? Whatever you’re thinking, cut it in half, and half again. You’re probably still on the high end of the spectrum, but you’re getting closer. Websites and landing pages need to be understood in less than a second. If it’s not immediately clear and appealing, the modern online browser is already on to the next site (thanks StumbleUpon!).

But let’s assume your page does catch and hold their attention. If it’s a typical landing page, you’re trying to collect information that could lead to a sale. And you do that via an online form or survey.

The modern tech-savvy online shopper is all about instant gratification. Fast. Now. Immediately. Their average attention span is eight (8!) seconds (according to statistics verified by the Associated Press). That’s not a lot of time, so you’d better be selective about what you include. If you’ve done everything right up to this point, you have them poised and ready to submit their information.

Now’s not the time to mess it up with a long and overly complicated form.



Form Fatigue

Form fatigue can loosely describe the tendency of modern internet surfers to get tired, frustrated, irritated, and fed up with drawn-out submission forms. If it takes too long, or asks unnecessary questions, you’re going to lose them. They’ll bounce from your site without finishing and submitting their details. Poof! They’re gone.

Deciding what information to ask for might be subjective, but common sense should prevail. Keep it short, crisp, and only collect the crucial details. If you’re trying to grow your email list, would you ask visitors to submit their home address? If you’re collecting information about online shopping habits, would you ask them to list the brick & mortar stores they frequent?

Say it with me: No. No, you would not.

The less you ask for, the more likely you are to get it. It’s really that simple.


The Numbers Don’t Lie

Eye-tracking software allows researchers to get detailed statistics about our internet reading habits, and the findings are very illuminating. The more words you include, the less people read them. According to “Not Quite the Average: An Empirical Study of Web Use”, subjects read only 28% of the words on a typical (550+ words) web page, while that number leaps to 49% on pages with 111 words or less.

The takeaway? Include and ask for only what you need. Limit the amount of words to the absolute essentials.


Long Pages vs Multiple Pages

When collecting information via forms and surveys, it’s not just the number of questions that can negatively influence your success rate.

You have two choices when it comes to either: you can have one long page with many questions and input fields (requiring people to scroll down as they complete it), or you can have multiple pages with only a few questions or input fields on each one (requiring people to manually click to the next page as they complete it). But which is better?

Well, the data isn’t as conclusive or plentiful as that relating to the number of words. However, we do know that slow loading times (the amount of time required for a page to appear) can increase your bounce rate. A one-second delay between pages can lead to 11% fewer page visits (according to the Tabb Group).

Beyond that, observational evidence suggests that people are wary of forms and surveys spread over multiple pages. They have no frame of reference for how long it is, nor can they see for themselves how much further they have to go to finish it. Form fatigue may creep in, and not realizing how near they are to the end, they give up and leave the site.

The Takeaway? It’s generally better to have a long page so visitors can see exactly how much they have left to do (keeping in mind the commandment to ONLY collect the crucial information). Or, if you’re dead-set on using multiple pages, make sure the load time is short, and clearly indicate somewhere along the top of each page how far they’ve come, and how much is left to do.

Form fatigue is real, and it can make or break your campaign. Fight it by keeping everything short, to the point, and if possible, on a single page.

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ExhaleMarketingForm Fatigue

Recipe for Crafting High Impact Landing Pages

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Marketing Landing Page RecipeLast week, we examined a few common scenarios that demand a landing page. From PPC advertising to lead capture, a landing page lifts your conversion rate and engages your customers, past, present, and future. Without them, you’re shooting in the dark and hoping for the best, rather than setting yourself up to succeed.

While the advantages and necessity of a landing page should be pretty clear, the actual construction still leaves many people scratching their head. How do you make one? What elements should be included?

The first thing you need to remember is that the average internet-user takes mere seconds to evaluate your page. Truthfully, he or she takes less than one second. Rather than frighten you, that should be your guiding principle.


What is the Blink Test?

The Blink Test refers to the fact that most people decide within less than one second whether to stay or leave your page. Quite literally, in the blink of an eye. Does your landing page make it crystal clear why they are there, and how to move forward? If it does, you’ve passed the Blink Test.

A landing page should have one clear, simple goal and call-to-action. No more. No less. It should immediately demonstrate that they are in the right place. If they clicked on your PPC campaign for waterproof socks, that’s what they should see.

So, how do you quickly (remember…less than one second) show them that?


Crafting High Impact Landing Pages – The Critical Elements

1) Your Headline
Your headline should be straightforward and attention-grabbing, appearing at the top of the page, and expressed as a single statement or question. Avoid the urge to simply put the name of your product or service. Instead, a great landing page headline should include the core benefit for them. How will it make their life better? Easier? More fulfilling?

A strong sub-headline, appearing directly underneath, can add to the effect with a supporting statement or evidence.

2) Visual Components
The overall design of your page should adhere to a few proven strategies. First and foremost, keep it simple. You don’t want your page crowded with unnecessary images. Any image or graphic appearing on the page should relate to your topic or end goal. In fact, utilizing blank space is a fantastic technique for highlighting your key benefits or call-to-action. Surround them with white-space so they stand out. If you’re using pictures of people, try and have them looking at your headline or call-to-action. This is a directional cue, and it instantly has anyone visiting your page looking where you want them to look.

Lines (such as pathways and roads) and arrows also create directional cues. Place them to visually guide your visitors.

Your colour choice is also meaningful. You don’t want to give someone a headache because of colour overload. Select carefully. There’s an entire field of study dedicated to colour and how each can affect us. Do some research. Choose wisely. And be aware of the power of contrast. A single, carefully chosen colour scheme throughout is your best bet, and it allows you to then select a contrasting colour for your call-to-action. With it, you can really make your form or submit button pop off the screen.

Finally, be conscious of framing (also called encapsulation). This can be as simple as a box, or literal frame, around your most important details (likely your form and button), or more complex via use of images and graphics that funnel our view. Either way, it’s a mental highlighter.

3) One Clear Goal and CTA
A landing page must have one simple goal. Usually, that’s either the collection of visitor details (name, email address, phone number) or to get someone to click-through to the next page. Don’t overwhelm with unnecessary information. One goal. Provide a few core benefits as to why they should do what you’re asking them to do.

If you want them to click-through, clearly explain how that will benefit them with a few concise bullet-points and a button. Your button text should remind them why they should click it (Save on Waterproof Socks, for example) instead of just saying SUBMIT or NEXT. Be specific.

Likewise, if you’re collecting visitor details via a form, it should be simple, prominently displayed, and easy to fill in. Don’t waste anyone’s time collecting details you don’t need. Name and email address if you’re building an email list. Physical mailing address if you plan on sending out a mailer. Collect only what you need to achieve your goals. And remember to use your visual design to highlight and promote your call-to-action.

4) Trust Indicators
Let’s be honest. Most people have grown wary of giving out their details online. Too much email spam. Too many companies unscrupulously selling user details to other companies.

Your landing page should demonstrate exactly how you are different. You’re asking someone to trust you, so show them why they should. Link to your privacy policy. Include testimonials from happy, satisfied customers (but don’t overdo it…1-3 is perfect, and include pictures). Evidence of sharing and social following is another great asset. It quickly demonstrates that others trust and admire what you’re doing. Eliminate reluctance to provide their details by building trust with them.

5) Resistance is Futile
Okay, this last one might be a little melodramatic. You want your landing page to have one clear call-to-action, and you want to ensure that your visitors follow-through with it. It’s not about being pushy or manipulative, but it is about recognizing certain behaviours and anticipating reluctance.

A landing page is designed specifically to reach your goal. It should standalone and be separate from the rest of your website. Visitors get there by clicking through from your PPC ad, or email campaign, or banner. It’s simple, clear, and straightforward. You provide the benefits to them, and you demonstrate why they should trust you. You make it abundantly clear for them how to move forward by either clicking to the next page in the funnel, or submitting their details. There should be no other option. Don’t include your usual navigation menu across the top of the page, giving them the choice to click to another section of your website before completing the call-to-action. A landing page should have one way off of it… by completing whatever goal you created for that particular campaign. After completing that, they should be taken to a thank you page, or post-conversion page that explains the next step. You’re in control.


Crafting high-impact landing pages shouldn’t be rocket science. Follow the strategies that work. If you’re still feeling uncertain, contact us and let’s chat about your marketing and how we can help.



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ExhaleMarketingRecipe for Crafting High Impact Landing Pages

When to Use a Landing Page

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Man QuestionsWe’ve been receiving a lot of questions from clients on landing pages.
What are they?
When would you need to use one?
And how to ensure it’s optimized?

This has inspired our 3 part landing page series.  In week 1 we’ll focus on when to using a landing page, followed by the key elements that make-up a high converting page in week 2 and ending with an article on split testing.


What is a landing page?
A landing page is not simply any page on your website upon which a person can “land” or arrive. Nor can your home page replace a specifically built landing page.

A landing page is a web page that has been custom designed as part of a campaign and around a specific goal. It is often also termed a “lead capture page”, “click-through page” “lander” or “gate page”. I’m sure we’ve missed a few terms, if you have others you’d like to share – be sure to use our comments section!

How landing pages boost your campaign results.
Let’s say your ad states that your company has the best landscaping in Phoenix. I’m in the market for a landscaper, click your ad, and end up on your generic homepage. OK. Um, now what? There’s no obvious next step for me.

A better option is a landing page created especially for that ad campaign, one that lays out your most popular packages, and has a quick form to collect visitor details and follow-up.

(Check out one of our Exhale’s landing pages: http://web.zeuterin.com/findavet/)

When to use a landing page?
From PPC, product specific promotions, offers based on segments of your clients (e.g. those who have downloaded a trial but never purchased), lead capturing to add-on sales, landing pages can be used in every aspect of your inbound marketing.

A well-crafted landing page will dramatically lift your results, while making the path to purchasing more clear for your customers.

4 marketing campaigns that need a landing page.

If you’re using any of the following four strategies, a missing landing page probably means you’re also missing out on sales.

PPC Advertising
Imagine that you see an ad for waterproof socks. You click on the ad and land on a page that is the storefront for a clothing shop. “Where are the waterproof socks you wonder?” A little lost, like the average busy individual, you probably spend no more than 30 seconds looking for something that represents the reason you clicked, before you give up and bounce from the page (bounce = leave.)

Now, imagine if you had clicked on that ad, and to your glee, a new page opened with a wide array of waterproof socks, easy to see pricing, a clear description and a quick purchase option. 5 minutes later, you’d have yourself a few new pairs of socks and that business would be a little bit richer.

Using a proper landing page also lifts your Quality Score with google. As your score goes up, the cost of your ad goes down.

Lead Capture
Every business that wants to grow, needs a great lead capture strategy. Depending on your particular business this can be achieved via several routes (email, PPC, banner) yet one consistent and critical element necessary to lead capturing is a clean and easy to understand landing page.

The best lead capture pages present an easy to complete form (the minimum fields) along with an incentive (see our next section on White Papers and E-books). You may also wish to have a few benefits of what your business brings specific to the target audience you are engaging, but watch you don’t go overboard. This is a version of your website in miniature.

White Papers, E-book or Other Resources
Giving away an e-book, white paper or other resourceschalk full of useful and free information is one of the best methods to collect data and generate leads. Entire companies have been created around this so called freemium model.

A landing page allows you to give away this valued resource in exchange for contact information (name, email, phone). Many companies will use this to gain new leads, re-engage lapsed customers or even build word of mouth. Having a great library of resources to use in campaigns in conjunction with an optimized landing page opens the doors to a multitude of customer engagement options.

Tip – Make them excited about the offer and ensure it is ridiculously easy for them to give their details and get the gift. Plus, it shouldn’t end there, a follow-up drip campaign should be constructed to nurture that relationship.

Featured Promotion
Free Webinar! Add-on Product Savings! Promotion for Returning Customers! Whatever the promotion, one of the best ways to ensure you don’t have clients wandering off course when they go to “learn more” or “purchase” is by using a landing page. This will funnel clients to a page highlighting the features of the promo, specific benefits and make it really easy for them to complete the transaction.

Why landing pages work.

To a marketer, campaigns consist of multiple layers, components and (with the amazing world of automated marketing) moving parts. However, to your customer, it is a roadmap – your first touchpoint being the beginning of the journey inviting them to continue forward.

It’s up to you (or us, if you are one of our clients) to ensure that this story is timely, engaging and relevant enough to keep that customer moving along that map. Plus, that map must be clear – the next steps obvious to your consumer.

Landing pages play an integral role in this customer journey, acting as a marker along the map, keeping your customers moving in the right direction – primed for purchase. Great landing pages will directly affect your conversion rates. Watch next week for our topic on Recipe for Creating a High Impact Landing Page. Can’t wait until then? Contact us and let’s chat about your marketing and how we can help.

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ExhaleMarketingWhen to Use a Landing Page

Why You Need a Social Media Listening Strategy

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Shh! Do you hear that? It’s the sound of millions of people talking about you and your brand online. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

And the best part? It’s okay for you to listen. In fact, it’s highly encouraged. Crucial.

There are hundreds of social media platforms online, not to mention the millions of blogs, forums, and discussion boards. We live in a time where anyone anywhere can express their opinion and release it to the world at any time, with a potential reach of hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people.

Scary, eh? The trick is using that potential to your advantage. Dealing with the negative, and acknowledging the positive. Connecting and engaging. Social media listening refers to monitoring and listening to the real conversations people are having online about your company and brand. It’s socially acceptable eavesdropping. And used properly, it’s a tremendously powerful tool.



Direct Line of Communication with Customers and Prospects

Social media is remarkable. Marketing and sales departments from as little as 15 years ago would kill for the opportunities most of us today take for granted, a direct and free channel for speaking with millions of existing and potential customers. Consider this:

  • Roughly 75% of internet users are active on at least one social media platform
  • Each age group of consumer has a social media usage percentage of at LEAST 43% and as high as 89%
  • Facebook has 1.15 BILLION active users, and almost 50% of Americans list it as a major influencer when they make a purchasing decision
  • Twitter ranks second with 550 million registered accounts, followed by Google+ with nearly 360 million users.

What does it all mean? Social media is dominating communications, and what people say on it matters. You’d better be paying attention. They say there is no stronger publicity than word-of-mouth. Imagine being able to lean in and listen to your clients talking about you at a restaurant, or gathering together tens of thousands of customers to discuss your latest product launch. It’s a focus group for the 21st century, to the nth degree. What if you could acknowledge each positive review, or address complaints almost instantly?

You can.



What Not To Do

But, and this is important, you have to be careful. You have to be active. And you have to be real. Social listening means just that – you listen. You monitor. You need to be aware of what exactly people are saying about you on at least the major platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) if you want to harness the awesome power.

The pitfalls are found in treating all dialogue the same or taking too long to respond. Social media, and the world as a whole, wants instant gratification. Instant recognition. Instant response. It’s possible, you just need to have the mechanics in place to do it. Setting up social media profiles and then not paying attention to them is a slap in the face. And potentially dangerous. Completely automating your social media platforms – for both posting and responding – is equally bad. Consider the following missteps:

  • A street artist posted a complaint to Twitter after being chased away from his sidewalk art in front of the Bank of America. His complaint, as well as the hundreds of comments and retweets, were met with a canned auto-response from the bank that said “We’d be happy to review your account with you to discuss any concerns.” The company looked ridiculous and robotic.
  • American Airlines recently auto-replied to an angry customer complaint with “Thanks for the support! We look forward to a bright future as the #newAmerican.” Opportunity missed.
  • The British grocery chain Tesco suffered a mistimed auto-tweet when it posted “It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay! See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets” in the midst of a horse meat scandal.
  • JP Morgan asked for followers to post questions for an executive in their #AskJPM campaign. Thousands responded…but not the way they had hoped. Questions included “Can I have my house back?” and “Is it easier to purchase a congressional representative or senator?” Perhaps JP Morgan has an image problem? Thankfully, the Twitter account was being monitored, but the damage was already done.

Instead of set it and forget it automation, you need a healthy mix of strategic automation and real engagement. It’s never a good idea to create a “one size fits all” response to every online mention. A real live person should monitor social media channels using any of the countless tools for the job, including:

These services can be set up to report or alert every time someone mentions your company name, brand, or keywords. Then you have the opportunity to handle it in a quick, professional, and human way. According to Social Habit, 42% of people expect a response to a complaint posted on social media within 60 minutes. 7 days per week. Fail that, and you’ve made the situation at least slightly (if not much) worse.



What to Do

Proper monitoring of channels allows you to respond to opportunities and address issues. Customers want to be thanked, or at least acknowledged, when they post something positive. A quick “hey thanks” goes a long way. Likewise, acknowledging a customer complaint, even if you can’t do anything about it right away (or ever) is a proven method to diffuse the situation. It’s all about connection and engagement.

Reach out regarding complaints that involve you but are not your fault, like Taylor Guitars. They addressed a customer whose guitar had been damaged by an airline. They offered their sympathies and suggestions for certified locations to get it fixed. And more importantly, they impressed that one customer – and everyone else who saw the exchange – by responding to something that involved them only indirectly. That’s an example of fantastic monitoring and brand awareness. You can bet they gained new clients and fostered loyalty through their response.

Virtually every department – from sales to marketing, from customer service to R&D – can benefit from social listening:

  • Identify and solve problems.
  • Identify customer discontent with a service or product
  • Respond to complaints
  • Acknowledge customer loyalty and praise
  • Promote and ask for feedback (but selectively, and be prepared for negative reviews)
  • Engage and communicate with real people in real time

And social listening need not be only for your brand. You can listen and monitor your direct competition, too. What are people saying about them? You can replicate (but not copy) their successes, and avoid their hiccoughs. It’s like being allowed to sit in on their board meeting or focus group for their next big product. Follow them. Monitor them. And actively use the data.

Social media can be a god-send. The data and opportunity it provides are unparalleled. But you need to remember the golden rules:

  • Be quick
  • Be real
  • Be honest
  • Be human

Address things as they occur. Use Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to actively engage and connect with your customers and fans. Respond as a human, not a machine, to both positive and negative comments. Monitor the major social media platforms for any mention of your name or brand. And don’t be afraid to have a little fun, like Bodyform’s tongue-in-cheek response (from the CEO, no less) to a post on their Facebook page. You’re only human, after all.

Social listening makes you a fly on the wall in millions of homes and dozens of countries. It’s an almost magical ability to eavesdrop on customers, competition, and the market in a way that past businesses could only wish for. Everyone is sharing their opinion, and ranting, and praising, and complaining with the understanding that you may be listening. In fact, they want you to.

Don’t let them down.

Not sure where to begin? Connect with us, and let’s chat about how we can help.

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ExhaleMarketingWhy You Need a Social Media Listening Strategy