A/B Testing vs Multiple Variant Testing: And the Winner Is…?

During the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Mahe Drysdale rowed 2,000 meters (1.24 miles) in just 6 minutes and 41 seconds.

However, despite his impressive performance, the world record-holder nearly lost the race.

Drysdale Rows to Nail-Biting Single Sculls Win in Rio 2016 Olympics

In one of the closest finishes in Olympic history, Drysdale won by mere millimeters.

In contrast, Great Britain’s Men’s Eight team rowed the same distance in just 5 minutes and 29 seconds-over 70 seconds faster than Drysdale’s time!

What’s more, the Brits won by more than a half second.

gbr-mens-8-rowing-win

That might not seem like a huge margin, but in the Olympics, a half second is a big deal.

So, why was Britain’s team so much faster than Drysdale?

The answer is simple: they had more oars in the water.

Now, at this point, you might be thinking, This is all well and good, Jake, but what does rowing have to do with online marketing?

Well, it turns out that conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a lot like rowing.

The more oars you have in the water, the faster you’ll make it to your goal and the more likely you are to beat out the competition.

The Secret is Testing Multiple Variants

Over the years, CRO seems to have become synonymous with A/B testing in the minds of many marketers.

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this. A/B testing is a form of conversion rate optimization. You have a page and you want it to perform better, so you change something and see if it improves your results.

But here’s the thing, A/B testing isn’t the only way to do CRO.

It might not roll off the tongue as nicely as “A/B testing”, but if you’ve got enough traffic, A/B/C/D/etc testing can allow you to produce meaningful results much more quickly.

For example, Optimizely recently studied and reported on the factors that defined the world’s best testing companies.

Guess what the 4 biggest factors were?

  1. Testing the things that drive the most revenue
  2. Testing every change
  3. Testing to solve real problems
  4. Testing multiple variants simultaneously

Does #4 surprise you?

Apparently, the most effective CRO doesn’t come from A/B testing-it comes from testing multiple variants.

Essentially, A/B testing is like the Mahe Drysdale of CRO. It works and it can even deliver amazing results.

But, it’s only two oars in the water-there’s no way it can compete with an 8-man team.

To put this in more concrete terms, according to Optimizely, just 14% of A/B tests significantly improve conversion rates. On the other hand, tests with 4 variants improve conversion rates 27% of the time.

So, if you test 4 variants, you are 90% more likely to improve your conversion rate than if you just ran an A/B test. However, 65% of CRO tests are-you guessed it-A/B tests!

Why Testing Multiple Variants Works Better

Basically, there are two reasons why multiple variant testing outperforms A/B testing: 1) it’s faster and 2) it allows you to test more variants under the same testing conditions.

Multiple Variant Testing is Faster

Sure, you can test the same things with a series of A/B tests as you can with a multiple variant test-it just takes a lot longer.

When you run an A/B test, you can really only learn one thing from your test. Your variant will either perform better, the same or worse than your original.

And that’s it, that’s all you can learn.

Now, if you’re smart about your A/B testing strategy, your results can teach you a lot about your audience and make your future tests smarter, but you’re still only learning one thing from each test.

On the other hand, with multiple variant testing, you can try out several ideas at the same time. That means you can simultaneously test multiple hypotheses.

So, instead of just learning that a hero shot with a smiling woman outperforms a shot of a grumpy man, you can also see if a grumpy woman image drives more results than the grumpy man pic or if a happy man outshines them all.

Or, you can try multiple combinations, like a new headline or CTA in combination with either the smiling woman or the grumpy man.

Running all of these tests simultaneously will allow you to optimize your page or site much more quickly than you could with a long series of A/B tests.

Plus, running a test with multiple variants will greatly improve the odds that a single test will deliver at least one positive result, allowing you to start getting more from your website sooner.

Multiple Variant Testing is More Reliable

Another problem with successive A/B tests stems from the fact that the world changes over time.

For example, if you are in eCommerce and run your first A/B test during October and your second test during November, how do you know if your results aren’t being skewed by Black Friday?

Even if your business isn’t seasonal, things like differences in your competitors marketing strategies, political change or a variety of other variables can make it difficult to directly compare the results of A/B tests.

As a result, sometimes it can be hard to know if a particular A/B testing variant succeeded (or failed) because of factors outside of your control or even knowledge. The more tests you run, the murkier your results may become.

However, with a multiple variant test, you are testing all of your variants under the same conditions. That makes it easy to compare apples-to-apples and draw valid, reliable conclusions from your tests.

What Does Testing Multiple Variants Look Like in Real Life?

To show you just how testing multiple variants can improve your CRO results, let me share an experience we recently had with one of our clients.

The client wanted to get site traffic to their “Find Your Local Chapter” page, so we decided to add a “Find Your Local Chapter” link to the client’s footer. That way, the link would be seen by as many people as possible.

Makes sense, right?

So, we put together something that looked like this:

testing-multiple-footer-variants-v1

At first, we figured we would just put the link in the footer and run a test to see if the link made a difference.

But then, we started wondering if there was a way to make the link even more noticeable. After all, getting traffic to this page was a big deal to the client, so it made sense to emphasize the link.

With that in mind, we added color to the link:

testing-multiple-footer-variants-v2

Now, this idea seemed logical, but at Disruptive, we believe in testing, not gut instinct, so we figured, “Hey, we’ve got enough traffic to test 3 variants, let’s take this even further!”

The problem was, the client’s site was a designer’s dream-modern and seamlessly designed. To be honest, we had a bit of trouble selling them on the idea that creating a page element that interrupted their seamless flow was worth testing.

But, eventually, we convinced them to try the following:

testing-multiple-footer-variants-v3

It was very different from anything the client had tried on the page before, but we decided to run with the idea and include it in our test.

A few weeks and 110,000 visitors later, we had our winner:

testing-multiple-footer-variants-results

Not surprisingly, adding the “Find Your Local Chapter” link increased page visits by over 60% for every variant-that’s an awesome win, right?

But here’s the thing. With our original, strict A/B test, we would only have discovered that adding the link increased traffic by 63%.

On the other hand, by including a couple of extra variants, we were able with the same test to discover that-contrary to the client’s belief-the more our link “interrupted” the site experience, the more traffic it drove to the chapter page.

Sure, we might have reached the same conclusion with several more tests, but we achieved these results much more quickly and reliably than we would have with an A/B testing series.

Should You Test Multiple Variants?

When it comes to testing multiple variants, there’s only one real reason not to use it: your boat is too small.

rowing-fail

Think about it: if the entire British Eight Man team had tried to cram onto Mahe Drysdale’s boat, they never would have made any forward progress.

The same idea applies to CRO.

As great as multiple variant testing is, if you don’t have enough traffic, a test could take months or years to complete.

In fact, in true multivariate testing-where you test to see how a large number of subtle changes interact to generate your conversion rate-you want at least 100,000 unique visitors per month (for more information on multivariate testing, check out this great article).

On the other hand, you need far less traffic to simultaneously test multiple page variants.

To see how long a multiple variant test will take on your site, try out this VWO has a free sample size and test duration calculator from VWO. If the time frame makes sense for your business, go for it!

Conclusion

Whether it’s Olympic rowing or CRO, the more oars you have in the water, the better your results will be.

Although it may be tempting to limit CRO to A/B testing, testing multiple variants will allow you to improve your conversion rates more quickly and reliably than you could with a series of A/B tests.

You’ve heard my two cents, now it’s your turn.

Have you tried multiple variant testing? What was your experience like? Did any of the data in this article surprise you?

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

What is Data Quality and How Do You Measure It for Best Results?

We’ve talked a lot about data quality in the past – including the cost of bad data. But despite a basic understanding of data quality, many people still don’t quite grasp what exactly is meant by “quality”.

For example, is there a way to measure that quality, and if so, how do you do it? In this article, we’ll be looking to answer those questions and much more. But first…

Dispelling Data Quality Myths

decision-makersThe foundation for ensuring data quality starts when basic requirements are created

One of the biggest myths about data quality is that it has to be completely error-free. With websites and other campaigns collecting so much data, getting zero errors is next to impossible. Instead, the data only needs to conform to the standards that have been set for it. In order to determine what “quality” is, we first need to know three things:

  1. Who creates the requirements
  2. How are the requirements created, and
  3. What degree of latitude do we have in terms of meeting those requirements

Many businesses have a singular “data steward” who understands and sets these requirements, as well as being the person who determines the tolerance levels for errors. If there is no data steward, IT often plays the role in making sure those in charge of the data understand any shortcomings that may affect it.

You Can Have It Good, Fast or Cheap – Pick Two

mcdonalds-junk-food

Everything from collecting the data to making it fit the company’s needs open it up to potential errors. Having data that’s 100% complete and 100% accurate is not only prohibitively expensive, but time consuming and barely nudging the ROI needle.

With so much data coming in, decisions have to be made and quickly. That’s why data quality is very much a delicate balancing act – juggling and judging accuracy and completeness. If it sounds like a tall order to fill, you’ll be glad to know that there is a method to the madness, and the first step is data profiling.

What is Data Profiling?

data-quality

Data profiling involves looking at all the information in your database to determine if it is accurate and/or complete, and what to do with entries that are not. It’s fairly straightforward to, for instance, import a database of products that your company manufactures and make sure all the information is exact, but it’s a different story when you’re importing details about competitor’s products or other related details.

With data profiling, you’re also looking at how accurate the data is. If you’ve launched on 7/1/16, does the system record that as 1916 or 2016? It’s possible that you may even uncover duplicates and other issues in combing through the information you’ve obtained. Profiling the data in this way gives us a starting point – a springboard to jump from in making sure the information we’re using is of the best possible quality.

Determining Data Quality

So now that we have a starting point from which to determine if our information is complete and accurate, the next question becomes – what do we do when we find errors or issues? Typically, you can do one of four things:

  • Accept the Error – If it falls within an acceptable standard (i.e. Main Street instead of Main St) you can decide to accept it and move on to the next entry.
  • Reject the Error – Sometimes, particularly with data imports, the information is so severely damaged or incorrect that it would be better to simply delete the entry altogether than try to correct it.
  • Correct the Error – Misspellings of customer names are a common error that can easily be corrected. If there are variations on a name, you can set one as the “Master” and keep the data consolidated and correct across all the databases.
  • Create a Default Value – If you don’t know the value, it can be better to have something there (unknown or n/a) than nothing at all.

Integrating the Data

When you have the same data across different databases, the opportunity is ripe for errors and duplicates. The first step toward successful integration is seeing where the data is and then combining that data in a way that’s consistent. Here it can be extremely worthwhile to invest in proven data quality and accuracy tools to help coordinate and sync information across databases.

Your Data Quality Checklist

clean-data

Finally, because you’re dealing with so much data across so many different areas, it’s helpful to have a checklist to determine that you’re working with the highest quality of data possible. DAMA UK has created an excellent guide on “data dimensions” that can be used to better get the full picture on how data quality is decided.

Their data quality dimensions include:

Completeness – a percentage of data that includes one or more values. It’s important that critical data (such as customer names, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.) be completed first since completeness doesn’t impact non-critical data that much.

Uniqueness – When measured against other data sets, there is only one entry of its kind.

Timeliness – How much of an impact does date and time have on the data? This could be previous sales, product launches or any information that is relied on over a period of time to be accurate.

Validity – Does the data conform to the respective standards set for it?

Accuracy – How well does the data reflect the real-world person or thing that is identified by it?

Consistency – How well does the data align with a preconceived pattern? Birth dates share a common consistency issue, since in the U.S., the standard is MM/DD/YYYY, whereas in Europe and other areas, the usage of DD/MM/YYYY is standard.

The Big Picture on Data Quality

As you can see, there’s no “one size fits all” approach to maintaining accuracy and completeness on every type of data for every business. And with big data’s appetite for information growing more and more every day, it is becoming more important than ever to tackle data quality issues head-on. Although it can seem overwhelming, it’s worth enlisting data hygiene tools to let computers do what they do best – crunch numbers.

The most important step you can take is simply getting started. The data is always going to grow as more prospects come on board and new markets are discovered, so there’s never going to be a “best time” to tackle data quality issues. Taking the time now to map out what data quality means to your company or organization can create a ripple-effect of improved customer service, a better customer experience, a higher conversion rate and longer customer retention – and those are the kinds of returns on investment that any business will wholeheartedly embrace!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

What Makes B2B Content Remarkable for Buyers?

It’s no secret. Everyone knows the biggest problem B2B content marketing faces today. Well, actually several give B2B marketers fits.

Which one am I talking about?

Making B2B content engage and actually drive more leads. How bleak does the situation look?

Not good. Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report surveyed 3,714 B2B marketers from around the globe. The report defines “effective” as “accomplishing your overall objectives.” CMI asked B2B marketers to rate themselves. Shockingly, just 30% of B2B marketers rate themselves as “effective”. And that was down 21.05% from 38% in 2014.

And Heinz Marketing quotes IDG Connect as saying “86% of buyers say content is neither useful, relevant, nor aligned with needs of people in the buying decision.” That makes B2B buyers information-rich and knowledge-poor.

The natural question to ask then becomes, “If marketers’ typical approach to B2B content doesn’t work, what does?”

I’ve been on a personal quest to find out over the past several months. Let me explain some of the top elements of lead-generating B2B content.

Show Your Buyer Why They Need to Change Their Behavior

CEB Group research published at Harvard Business Review shows exactly what buyers want. They feel they must learn something new about their business and have a compelling reason to change their present behavior.

This explains why you can craft useful, interesting, and in-depth information, yet still not generate the leads you want. You have to make more of the right content based on your knowledge of your buyer and their industry and problems.

SaleCycle actually had the stomach to admit on Econsultancy that 80% of its B2B content failed.

They were creating lots of content, but most of it wasn’t about topics that interested their prospects. Content that taught prospects facts, stats, and best practices about sales worked. Client stories worked too. However, their content about careers and company culture, though useful, absolutely bombed by comparison.

So, SaleCycle learned that lots of in-depth content doesn’t necessarily work. But they found what did through their analytics.

Include Emotion in Your B2B Content

You hear it all the time: B2B buyers are intelligent, sophisticated people. They only need the facts. True with some aspects of marketing (especially white papers).

But remember, they’re human beings and have emotions too.

What does research say about emotions in the B2B buying process? They play a far larger role than you think. Check it out:

B2B buyers make highly emotional decisions. (Image Source)

In fact, Kapost goes so far as to claim emotions matter more to buyers than logic and reason.

Are they completely outlandish in their claim?

Joint research among CEB Marketing Leadership Council, Motista, and Google also found:

“Not only did the B2B brands drive more emotional connections than B2C brands, but they weren’t even close. Of the hundreds of B2C brands that Motista has studied, most have emotional connections with between 10% and 40% of consumers. Meanwhile, of the nine B2B brands we studied, seven surpassed the 50% mark. On average, B2B customers are significantly more emotionally connected to their vendors and service providers than consumers.”

Why would this be?

Think about it, well, logically. With many purchases, B2B buyers find themselves in an intensely emotional situation.

They spend a lot of money on their purchases. At least several other people get in on the decision, so they want to look good. Make a bad decision, and they’ll lose an abundance of credibility and respect, and possibly their job. They want to go with the safe option, the one practically guaranteed to give them good results.

Consumers, on the other hand, generally make small purchases that don’t put a big dent in their budget. If the purchase doesn’t work out, they get angry, and often can get their money back. A few family members might be upset too.

But, it’s just a little money. And they have plenty of competing choices to choose from. So for many consumer purchases, it’s not a big deal to make a bad decision.

Possibly the greatest example of emotional marketing in B2B is IBM’s famous slogan from the 1980s:

“No one ever got fired for buying IBM.”

Why did it work so well? With so much at stake for B2B buyers when buying computer hardware back then, they wanted to make a safe decision. No one wanted to lose their job, or a lot of respect, for going with an unknown competitor.

So, the slogan appealed powerfully to buyers’ desire for safety, security, and predictability. Like Apple today, IBM was the dominant tech company of the 1980s.

And of Course…B2B Buyers Use Logic Too

While buyers use more emotion in their decision than consumers, they also have to line up all the facts. But most B2B content doesn’t give them what they want in this respect either:

“66% of technology buyers feel that digital content needs to be more aligned with organizational objectives and relevant to the decision making process.” – IDG Connect survey

How do you do this? It’s a simple process, but it isn’t easy. Skilled marketers learn the questions B2B buyers ask throughout the sales cycle. They answer those questions with content.

Does that sound anything like what your sales team does? If they’re good at what they do, your sales team should already know these questions and answers. So, it’s just a matter of having a productive conversation with sales.

But, not all marketing and sales teams have positive relationships. If you don’t have access to this data, you have a number of tactics you can use to get it:

  • Ask sales if you can silently observe a few of their phone calls
  • Talk with customers you recently acquired because you know they love you now (you could offer a reward to the customer that’s chosen)
  • Check out B2B software review websites like G2 Crowd
  • Watch your competitors’ content, and especially the pieces that get the most social shares
  • Review your own analytics as you gather data, focusing in particular on how many buyers took your desired next step, which could be done easily with the Kissmetrics funnel report
  • Find and follow industry websites and thought leaders and watch the hot topics
  • Follow your buyers on Twitter and LinkedIn to see what they talk about
  • Do a Twitter advanced search using some of the keywords your buyer might use, and see what questions come up
  • Search and follow the most relevant topics to your buyer on Quora

In my opinion, talking to sales, listening to their conversations, or talking directly with customers gives you the fastest and most useful results. When that’s not possible, you’ll have to research multiple sources online and construct the sales cycle from scratch.

The Amount of Trust Buyers Give Your Content Depends on Its Source

How your buyer comes into contact with your content directly affects the amount of trust they give it. If they stumble across a blog post or get the exact same content from your sales team, they place a far different level of trust in it.

Look at how much buyers trust content, depending on the source it comes from:

trusted-information-sourcesB2B buyers still trust recommendations from their peers more than anything else. (Image Source)

So if you pay any attention, you probably hear non-stop about “influencer marketing.” According to these stats, since buyers trust peer, colleagues, and independent content most, influencer marketing is a worthwhile approach.

It’s not just another fad destined to go away. For what it’s worth, B2B buyers’ minds have worked this way for decades. Count on getting your content into their peers’ hands as a valuable marketing tactic for many years to come.

Buyers, Including Millennials, Want Their Content in a Certain Format

You may have heard about 2016 being “the year of video marketing.” Snapchat, Instagram, and even Pinterest also get touted as the next biggest channels for B2B marketers. Periscope even gets some attention.

The real question: should you even spend any of your time working on channel strategies?

According to research from The Economist, no. Both veteran and young professionals still prefer plain ol’ text:

professionals-prefer-text-articlesMost business professionals still prefer text content over any other format. (Image Source)

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any video in your B2B marketing strategy. I’m not saying that.

But, if you drive yourself mad because you don’t have a podcast, webinar, video, infographic or whatever, relax. B2B buyers don’t need anything fancy schmancy.

Just give them new and compelling information that gives them the business case for change.

Each Content Type Has an Ideal Place in Your Sales Cycle

You have such a massive mix of content to choose from. Blog posts, white papers, case studies, newsletters, videos, infographics…

What should you create, and where should you target it in the buy cycle? Eccolo Media surveyed B2B buyers firsthand to find out. And here’s what they found:

content-types-in-sales-cycleWhere the most common types of content work best in the sales cycle. (Image Source)

Basically, content works well before the sales cycle even begins, and best during the early and middle sales cycle.

To gather the data, Eccolo Media surveyed more than 100 B2B marketers. 33% were influencers while 67% were decision makers ranging in age from 20 to over 60, and holding positions from manager to vice president at all sizes of companies.

And they also give some interesting data you don’t see on the above chart: 80% of survey respondents thought it was “important” or “very important” to get content on an ongoing basis after their purchase.

Eccolo Media found B2B buyers want these types of content post-purchase:

  • 36% want “thought leadership” content
  • 30% would like technical support and updates
  • 25% love new product info
  • 9% find customer stories useful

Define What Content Marketing Success Looks Like

To find out what buyers want, you have to define what success means to you. Once you know that, then you can determine whether you’ve given buyers what they want (or not).

Now, all kinds of debate exists as to how you know you’ve succeeded. Some say MQLs. Others SQLs. Others look at follower counts, likes, and shares.

And then you even hear about brand new metrics like “return visitor rate (RVR).” Which should you trust?

I personally like two indicators:

  1. The number of buyers who take the next step (whatever that is) you ask for in your content gives you a good indicator of what you will see in your final conversion goal (MQLs, SQLs, sales, revenue)
  2. Looking at the correlation between increases in your key metrics and changes in your revenue or profit. For example, when you see an increase in prospects who try a demo following a white paper, you notice a jump in revenue too.

And I like these because it’s so difficult to get B2B buyers to take the “next step,” regardless of what that is. B2B marketing expert Ardath Albee looks at that action as a sign of commitment, which is hard to get from B2B buyers.

Address the Fear of Loss

Should you focus on benefits or fear?

Many B2B marketers today would say you should sell benefits. And it’s not wrong to sprinkle benefits throughout your content marketing.

However, if you want action, you should focus on avoiding pain. Legendary marketer Dan Kennedy says:

“When you understand that people are more likely to act to avoid pain than to get gain, you’ll understand how incredibly powerful this first formula is.”

With this quote, he speaks in relation to his PAS (problem-agitate-solve) marketing formula. If you click the link above, you can learn about the formula in great detail.

The gist is:

  1. Start your copy with the prospect’s problem
  2. Agitate the problem by describing all the emotions they feel
  3. Talk about the solution you have for them

You’ll see more action when you focus on fear of loss instead of only highlighting benefits in your copy and content.

Sales Should Actively Reach Out to Prospects with Case Studies

You’ve heard the stat: 60% – 70% of B2B content just sits around, collecting digital dust. How do you make a cohesive, usable system that produces qualified leads with that?

Well, you can start with case studies. Because out of all content types, 84% of 319 execs surveyed at companies with $1 billion or more in revenues say they would respond positively when vendors initially reach out with sales emails that include case studies (more than any other content type).

You can see the full data below:

exec-response-sales-outreach-content-typeWhat execs trust most when your sales team reaches out to them with content. (Image Source)

With case studies, the closer the focus customer’s success story matches your prospect’s situation, the higher the response rate.

Don’t have case studies matching the prospects you want to attract? Time to write some. Your sales team knows many customers that succeeded. Offer your sales team $1,000 for the customer that you end up profiling. You’ll get more suggestions than you need.

Now You Can Stop Wasting Your Time and Do More of What Works

Over the next few years, I think we’ll see more B2B content marketers finding success. Everyone rushed to join the craze so fast, thinking content would be a quick fix to all their marketing ailments.

But now, with reality becoming clear, many will have to evaluate what works, and what doesn’t. And with this research in hand, you can stop wasting time and money and beat your competitors to high-ROI prospects.

About the Author: Dan Stelter, “The B2B Lead Gen Guy,” crafts persuasive content that makes attracting qualified leads effortless for B2B service, software, and tech companies. Learn how you can avoid 7 humiliating B2B content mistakes that frustrate buyers when you download your free special report.

How Any Small Business Can Compete with the Big Boys Using SEO and Social Media

big small

I get it.

I understand how brutal it can be-trying to market your small business in a world of billion-dollar businesses and multi-million dollar marketing budgets.

You have a limited budget, limited time, limited knowledge, and a limited arsenal of tactics that you can afford to implement.

But the big brands? They can do anything they want, hire as many people as they want, and unleash any tactic they want.

Today’s small businesses are forced to compete in an increasingly saturated marketplace.

The competition is fierce, and it has become incredibly difficult to rise above the noise.

Combine this with the massive disparity between a small business’s marketing budget and a much larger enterprise’s seemingly infinite resources, and it’s obvious that the cards are stacked against small businesses.

In fact, finding new customers is one of the top concerns of small business owners, and 66% claim this is the biggest issue they face.

How can small businesses tip the scales in their favor and go head to head with mega juggernauts?

It all boils down to two specific marketing strategies: SEO and social media.

When done correctly, these strategies can help any small business compete with the big boys.

I’ve been able to help small businesses do exactly that-upset the sumo-wrestler-size businesses in their niche.

It’s part of the glory of digital marketing. Anyone can compete. Anyone can succeed.

Even the little guy.

You just have to know how.

Leveling the playing field

The beautiful thing about these two mediums-SEO and social media-is that they are impartial. They show no favoritism.

Google doesn’t care what business is offering which product. It’s just looking to provide users with the best and most relevant results.

The same goes for social media.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a brand new startup bootstrapping its marketing or a well established company that’s been around for years.

You can still achieve significant exposure as long as you understand the process and how to reach your demographic effectively.

While it is true that there will be inherent difficulty outranking a behemoth like Amazon or Walmart on search engines and you’re unlikely to gain the same size of a social media following as a corporate titan, the right know-how definitely makes it possible for small businesses to gain traction.

It’s a matter of implementing the right techniques and having an understanding of the processes that are working at the moment.

Small businesses benefit the most from social media

A 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report came up with some interesting findings in terms of who benefited the most from social media.

According to their findings, 90% of respondents agreed social media was important to their businesses.

The interesting thing is that 67% of self-employed individuals and 66% of small business owners were more likely to strongly agree with this statement.

image05

In terms of the specific advantages, 88% of respondents said the top benefit was increased exposure for their businesses.

Second, at 72%, was increased traffic/subscribers.

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With roughly two-thirds of all small business owners claiming social media was important to their businesses, it’s clear that a well run campaign can have a significant impact.

You also have to take into account the possibility for going viral and seeing massive growth in an extremely short period of time.

If you really understand your audience and know how to connect with them on social media, you can not only gain exposure but also earn your audience’s loyalty and bring repeat business.

So in theory, a no-name startup can experience wide scale exposure overnight and get a flood of traffic along with off the chart sales.

Killing it at SEO

There’s no denying that search engines have forever changed the way we find information and the way businesses approach marketing.

To put some perspective on things, “Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.”

image00

Wow! That’s a lot.

But let’s be honest. Small businesses stand little to no chance of outranking colossal companies for broad search terms.

But when small businesses use smart tactics like long-tail keyword phrases, they have a realistic chance to outrank the big boys.

Here’s a very simple example.

I entered the keywords “razor blade” on Google-a very broad search term.

As you might expect, the top results were dominated by Amazon:

image07

Then I entered a more specific and much narrower search term, “best double edged razor blades.”

Here are the results:

image01

As you can see, much smaller companies are getting the top results, and Amazon is the very last entry on the first page.

Of course, the more specific, long-tail, keywords won’t get as many searches as the broad ones. But they can still generate a lot of quality organic traffic.

This allows small SEO-savvy businesses to consistently bring in a stream of leads that are ready to buy.

My hyper-simplistic example by no means demonstrates the full potential of SEO for small businesses. It simply proves that small businesses can in fact compete with their much larger counterparts.

Ideal for small marketing budgets

What’s the primary advantage large companies have over small ones? Money.

Of course, they have a plethora of other advantages like more brand equity, a formal marketing department, an HR department, etc.

But when you break it all down, big businesses can easily have hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars to funnel into their marketing campaigns each year.

On the other hand, small startups may be on a shoestring budget, and $50,000 annually may seem like a lot.

Fortunately, legitimate SEO and social media campaigns can be run without a lot of financial backing.

This is especially true when you do everything in-house.

Rather than hiring a high priced marketing agency, small businesses can cut back on their costs significantly by having staff members run their campaigns.

Instead of a financial investment, a time investment can bring about legitimate results.

The point I’m trying to make here is that SEO and social media are both cost-effective marketing channels and can be very affordable if you’re willing to put in the time.

In fact, “those who spend at least six hours per week are almost twice as likely to see leads generated as those who spend five or fewer hours.”

image04

While small companies probably won’t have the budget for expensive mediums like TV commercials or paying big-named influencers like Taylor Swift to promote their products, they can almost always afford SEO and social media.

And when they really know what they’re doing and stay up-to-date on cutting-edge techniques, there’s absolutely no reason why they can’t compete with the big boys.

How can I thrive on SEO and social media?

I’ll be totally upfront with you.

Seldom can you just launch an SEO or social media campaign and get instant results.

And quite frankly, it’s not as easy as it looks.

On paper, it might seem like you simply perform some rudimentary keyword research or post a cool article on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Then presto, an influx of traffic floods your site, and your product flies off the shelf.

But that’s just not how it works.

To truly reap the benefits of these marketing strategies, you need to develop an in-depth understanding of the process, go through trial and error, and have plenty of patience.

You also need to stay in the know of what’s going on and continually make adjustments as new trends unfold.

But nonetheless, you definitely can thrive as long as you “get it” and persevere.

The good thing is, there is an abundance of free resources online that will teach you everything you need to know.

Sites like Moz, HubSpot, Quick Sprout, Social Media Examiner, and Search Engine Journal are just a few that can guide your efforts.

So, let’s briefly examine some specific ways you can position your small business to compete with large competitors.

Effective SEO strategies

For starters, it pays to be niche-centric with your approach.

Ideally, your business will cater to a fairly narrow target audience.

Rather than trying to be everything to everyone, you’re usually better off focusing on a smaller demographic and being the company that’s best capable of meeting their unique needs.

This mainly revolves around using long-tail keywords rather than trying to rank for broad terms.

Let’s go back to my example about “razor blades” and “best double edged razor blades.”

While the former keyword phrase would be extremely difficult to rank for, the latter is a realistic possibility.

In fact, small businesses were able to rank for it and bring in a reasonable amount of traffic and leads.

It’s also important that you pursue link-building opportunities.

According to Moz, domain-level link features, such as quality of links, trust, domain-level PageRank, etc., were the number one influencing factor on Google algorithm in 2015.

image06

You can accelerate your SEO campaign exponentially by reaching out to and building relationships with influencers and top publications. If you’re able to get links from reputable sites, this can be the catalyst for a spike in your search rankings.

Some other strategies include:

  • Creating valuable content that’s based around user intent (e.g., answering common questions and addressing customer pain points)
  • Performing on-site optimization (e.g., incorporating keywords into your URL, headers, meta description, etc.)
  • Optimizing your site for mobile

Potent social media strategies

I love social media because it gives small businesses the opportunity to convey their identities and build highly personalized relationships with their audiences.

You can showcase your swagger and let consumers know why your company is worth doing business with.

It may sound a little cheesy, but I think the most important part of finding success on social media is to be yourself.

I, for example, am building my strategy with the specific goal of reaching MY customers and not worrying about the masses.

This coincides with Seth Godin’s concept of building a tribe (a community) around your brand.

Like the old saying goes, “Try to please everyone, and you’ll end up pleasing no one.”

Dollar Shave Club is a great example of a brand that embraces being itself.

Their off-kilter, slightly smart-ass marketing messages are unforgettable and definitely appeal to a certain segment of the population.

Saying things like, “Our blades are f**king great” is ballsy. But it’s hard to deny that this attitude has been a key contributor to their success.

image02

Another integral element of a well run social media campaign is to be constantly engaging your audience.

Whether it’s retweeting epic content relevant to your niche, responding to comments on your Facebook page, inviting others to connect on LinkedIn, or asking questions to ignite digital discussions, it’s important that you’re interacting.

In other words, be on the offense.

The great thing about social is that it can actually be used as an outlet for handling certain aspects of customer service.

People love giving their feedback via social channels, which gives you an opportunity to strengthen relationships and quickly fix escalating situations when the feedback happens to be negative.

It’s also essential that you’re using the right networks.

Each social network has its own demographic and appeals to a different segment of the population. You want to make sure you’re spending your time on the networks your core audience is using.

For example, if your target audience is primarily female, Pinterest would be one of your best bets because 81% of Pinterest users are female.

Some other strategies include the following:

  • Use a consistent tone and style to strengthen your brand identity
  • Be authentic
  • Provide genuinely useful and valuable content
  • Use plenty of images (people respond favorably to visuals)
  • Maintain a consistent presence (e.g., don’t go MIA for months on end)
  • Curate content as well as create your own
  • Use analytics to measure your results and make the necessary adjustments
  • Consider using tools like HootSuite and Buffer to automate some aspects of your marketing (e.g., scheduling posts ahead of time)

Conclusion

In my opinion, the current day and age is the most exciting ever for small business owners.

While in the past, smaller enterprises almost always had to play second fiddle to huge companies and “pick up the marketing scraps,” these days, it’s totally possible for them to compete and even thrive.

Even if you just recently launched a startup and have to watch every penny, you can still get ahead and create massive exposure for your brand.

By getting on board with SEO and social media and understanding the nuts and bolts of these mediums, you can gain traction in your industry and drive quality leads to your site.

Can you think of any other marketing strategies that level the playing field between small and large businesses?

Omni-Channel Marketing: A New Approach to Keyword Research

For many marketers, performing keyword research is a pretty standard procedure. What has primarily changed over time are the tools used to source key search queries and determine the quality and intent behind those keywords.

While the approach to research remains largely the same, the landscape in which consumers search and move toward a purchase has changed. The path from search to purchase is no longer as linear as it once was and consumers generally don’t follow clear paths anymore. Your approaches to keyword research and deployment of marketing content need to adjust for this omni-channel era.

In this article, I’ll define what this new path looks like, how you can adjust your strategy to be more visible to your ideal customers, and how targeted keyword research and optimization can lead to a dramatic improvement in engagement and retention.

What is Omni-Channel?

onmi-channel-graphicCustomers are now engaging brands across multiple channels at the same time. (Image Source)

Up to this point, there have been a few different channel strategies for businesses, mainly offline businesses, but they’re applicable to online retailers as well:

  1. Multi-Channel – This is a common channel strategy in which a business uses more than one form of media for advertising. For example: a car dealership may have a Facebook page and also send out direct mailers. Those are multiple media channels for outreach and engagement.
  2. Online to Offline – This channel strategy consists of online media outlets driving traffic specifically to an offline, brick and mortar business.
  3. Cross-Channel – This channel strategy involves an experience that starts in one channel and is then carried over into another. A few good examples of this would be locating a product in a print catalog and ordering it online, or searching for a restaurant online and clicking the phone number to call in an order that will be completed via carry-out.

So what about omni-channel? This strategy involves using multiple visible channels which support one another in a single merged experience with the customer or prospect. The lines between channels blur as the brand and the customer engage across multiple mediums.

For example: A customer pulls up your website to research an item while they’re in your brick and mortar store. They search for other information online, which leads them to a blog post you wrote to address a specific pain point. A rep emails the customer some info on the product and they later order the product on your website or through your Facebook store integration.

It’s important to understand the omni-channel approach because it has transformed the way customers shop nowadays. 75% of shoppers who find helpful information alongside local retail info are more likely to visit those businesses. Likewise, over 70% of smartphone users research while shopping to help them make more informed decisions.

Search Intent Across Multiple Channels

Search isn’t the same creature it used to be. Today, search overlaps a variety of other channels as the results fill up with social media pages, local listings, videos, images, location-specific data, and more.

While many marketers take a blanket approach to keyword research, many of those channels have their own search variations. Marketers mistakenly think the research they apply to search optimization also applies to social media and other channels.

The truth is that the user’s search experience varies greatly based on the platform and intent. Not only do you have behavioral differences across the channels (short queries on Twitter vs. multi-keyword queries on Facebook or YouTube), but there are also big differences in a standard search query vs. a conversational search in social media.

consumers-search-for-local-informationSearch habits change throughout the purchasing process. (Image Source)

When researching keywords for the optimization of those individual channels, it’s important to consider user intent for each channel, as well as the user’s position in the buying cycle and whether or not they’re searching for local information.

Keyword Research for Omni-Channel

When you’re conducting keyword research for organic search and content optimization, you’re typically trying to determine the search volume and relevancy of keywords. For paid advertising, you’ll also want to gauge how competitive a term is.

Conducting keyword research for social and other channels as part of an omni-channel strategy is a bit more involved. When I perform research for omni-channel efforts, I have a lot of points to look at including:

  • Popular and trending topics across various social channels
  • Search and query frequency on a given channel
  • The market interest for products and services
  • The demand for specific search queries or conversational searches
  • User intent; the “why” behind their searches
  • Specific points of engagement around important keywords

Here’s how you can perform this research on a few popular social channels:

Facebook Keyword Research

facebook-roasted-coffee-keyword-researchUse Facebook’s search function to research key phrases for your audience.

Consumers often turn to social channels like Facebook to see what other people are saying about a product, topic, trend, or brand. Keyword research on Facebook can provide a lot of insight when you’re mapping out your optimization and marketing strategy:

  • The frequency of public topics around a keyword
  • What kind of content is most-often shared and discussed
  • How discussions change based on location
  • How well the results align with the search intent
  • Trending topics and hashtags
  • Other keyword trends to expand your research

From an omni-channel perspective, think about how your potential customers might be using Facebook to find information about your brand and your products or services. Build your keyword list and start researching with the Facebook search function.

This will help you refine and locate more keywords, and from there, you can optimize your profile and plan the use of specific keywords within targeted public posts and content shares.

Twitter Keyword Research

twitter-advanced-search-screenshot-september-2016Twitter’s advanced search can show you the keywords your audience is using most frequently.

Keyword research on Twitter is similar to Facebook. I recommend using the Advanced Search feature.

This gives you more opportunities to narrow your targeting by date, location, and broad or exact match phrasing. The goal on Twitter is the same as on Facebook: you’re looking for topic and keyword frequency, post and discussion intent, trending and relevant hashtags, and any opportunities to expand keywords.

Considering the brevity of Twitter posts, you’re less likely to see long tail search phrases being used. Instead, your audience is more likely to use shorter, topical words to find discussions, brand names, and product names.

Like Facebook, this presents the opportunity to take the most relevant keywords you discover and work them into your posting strategy in order to get relevant content in front of the consumer.

YouTube Keyword Research

google-adwords-display-plannerCombine YouTube searches with the Display Planner tool to research popular search queries.

YouTube used to have its own keyword tool, but that was shuttered in 2015 as Google favored the use of Adwords Display Planner. This makes keyword research a little more complex for YouTube than other social channels, but it also provides a lot more data. If you use the AdWords Planner for any other type of keyword research, then you should be familiar with the process.

Log in to Google AdWords and select the Display Planner under “Tools.” From there, you can enter any search phrases you think your customers would be interested in and AdWords will display individual targeting ideas along with impressions and some basic demographics.

Enter the keywords you develop into YouTube’s search and examine the types of content that show up in the top results. You’ll be able to piece together opportunities to create new content for those search phrases as well as optimize any existing videos you have to improve their visibility with the new search phrases.

Just remember to make sure that you’re always matching the search intent of the user.

Omni-Channel Marketing Thrives on Content

buzzsumo-pro-content-researchBuzzSumo uncovers the most engaging content around a keyword or topic.

Omni-channel marketing doesn’t target customers who are set on a purchase and are ready to place their order or head into the store. This kind of keyword research and optimization is meant to attract and educate the customers who are actively engaging you through multiple channels and researching information to help them make a purchase decision.

For that reason, I always try to produce and position content that is most beneficial and relevant to the keywords I discovered during the research phase.

To ensure that I’m consistently providing the best content, one tool I like to use is BuzzSumo. While the research process is predominantly manual for digging into topics and discussions on social, BuzzSumo automates things as you search for content.

Plug in your keywords or relevant search queries, and BuzzSumo will display content to match – specifically the content that has received the most shares and engagement. You can use those results to craft your own content or curate those posts and share them publicly using targeted keywords across various channels.

This way, no matter where your prospective customers are in the sales funnel – either online or in your store – they’ll find your content and your high-value content shares, regardless of the channel in which they search.

Conclusion

Focused keyword research across multiple channels allows you to leverage public content to keep it in front of your audience, increasing the likelihood that they’ll find you when they research purchasing options.

More importantly, optimizing your content with keywords across multiple channels will capture the attention of the user. If a prospective customer finds your content through means other than search, then the relevant keywords will stand out and encourage them to start engaging you through multiple channels as they enter your funnel.

Keyword research isn’t just for organic search anymore. Use this information to improve your omni-channel visibility, attract new customers, and keep your current prospects engaged through to the conversion.

What’s your take on omni-channel marketing and the optimization of social channels? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

About the Author: Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s largest and most recognized brands to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online, their Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

How to Persuade SaaS Customers When They Hate All Your Pricing Options

Your pricing options suck.

At least that’s what some of your consumers think.

They like your products. But the pricing packages aren’t meeting their expectations.

Customers may enjoy one feature, but it isn’t included in a specific package. Or maybe they admire the pricing but prefer different benefits.

“Pricing is a moving target and found should view it as an ongoing product discovery process. Pricing should be re-evaluated regularly,” says Tomasz Tunguz, a venture capitalist at Redpoint Ventures.

So, what do you do when customers like your product but not your pricing? Check out the four strategies below.

1. Determine Your Most Valuable Benefits

Experts believe “30% of the thousands of pricing decisions companies make every year fail to deliver the best price.” Business managers don’t always match the right price to the right services.

What your team deems valuable isn’t important. You want to know what buyers love about your products.

That’s where data can help. Gather data to identify which benefits your customers enjoy the most.

Monitor customer feedback, product usage, and user behavior. Discover which benefits make your product worth buying.

Once you find the desired benefits, talk about them from the customer’s perspective. Speak their language.

Peep Laja, the founder of ConversionXL, writes:

“Your value proposition needs to be in the language of the customer. It should join the conversation that is already going on in the customer’s mind. In order to do that you need to know the language your customers use to describe your offering and how they benefit from it.”

Here’s an example from Intercom. The team highlights product features in simple, short sentences. It communicates what the platform can do and how it’s beneficial to the customer.

intercom-acquire-pricing-page

Sell consumers on what they like most. Continue to emphasize your SaaS product solutions.

2. Educate Consumers About Undesirable Features

Research shows that “75% of B2B buyers rely more on content to research and make B2B purchasing decisions.”

Content gives your consumers the opportunity to learn about your products. And the information can be easily shared with a team of decision-makers.

Brigg Patten, a business and tech writer, says, “Educating your customer is a vital part of the sales process for any business, and is important in relationship building. Customers have more confidence that your solution is the best for their particular needs when you take the time to ensure they are well-educated.”

Therefore, when customers dislike certain pricing options due to product features, it’s time to educate them about the possibilities.

Show consumers how particular features can benefit their businesses. Give them real-life examples that their team can relate to.

For instance, if your SaaS sells subscription billing software, demonstrate why multiple payment methods matter. Produce content showing how their customers want options to pay by credit card, ACH, and PayPal.

When educating your customers, decide how you will convey the message. The medium is just as important as the message itself.

Collect data on which method your consumers prefer. You can send a simple email survey asking for their preferences.

Content formats range from eBooks to webinars to blog posts. Select the one that works for a majority of your users. Your team also may consider doing more than one option.

Below is an example from Asana. Did you know you could create editorial calendars on the platform? The team shows you how through on-demand guides.

asana-editorial-calendar

Some customers don’t dislike your features. They just don’t see the benefits. Educate your consumers.

3. Seriously Go Above & Beyond Expectations

Humans love routine. Some drink coffee at the same time each day. Sit at the same desk. And even watch the same TV shows every week.

It becomes a habit. Those patterns mold us to not expect anything new. It’s not that we don’t want to experience something different. We just don’t look for it.

To shake your customers out of the SaaS buying routine, go beyond their expectations. Give customers something extra for choosing a specific pricing option.

“People like bonuses. They help build positive emotions around your brand. They make customers feel happy and appreciated. As a result, the customers will strongly connect these positive emotions to your brand and the chances are you won’t be forgotten,” writes Damian Winkowski, former new business developer at PayLane.

For instance, if all your competitors are offering extra storage space for new customers, then provide your buyers with extra storage space and one-month of unlimited access to a customer success manager.

It’s all about doing things differently to grab your audience’s attention. Customers aren’t excited by the same-old sales tactics. They desire a little extra in order for you to secure their business.

SignupLab, a sales CRM and customer success dashboard, rewards people who found them on Product Hunt. They offer interested buyers a 30% discount on their first subscription period.

So, if any consumers really liked their product but hated the pricing options, this discount may convince them to at least give SignupLab a chance.

signup-lab-pay-for-converted-customers

Add a bonus benefit to your pricing packages. It will give your consumers another reason to choose you over the competition.

4. Emphasize Value With Social Proof

Psychology plays an integral role in sales.

Analysts have found that people buy based on emotions. Consumers purchase because their sad, happy, or even upset.

Moreover, purchases may involve not only internal perceptions but also external pressures. This means we buy items due to our environment.

This is helpful information for your sales team. You can show customers how other clients are benefitting from particular pricing packages.

Social proof makes pricing options irrelevant for some buyers. Because if they see top brands using your services, consumers will feel the need to be part of the pack no matter the circumstances.

So, offer social proof to your customers. Let them hear stories from your most successful clients.

“We tend to imagine ourselves in other people’s shoes when we read or hear a story. This is why stories are so persuasive and often more trustworthy than statistics or general trends. Individual examples stick with us because we can relate to them,” states Ed Hallen, co-founder of Klaviyo.

To build trust, SumoMe includes their client logos on its pricing page. These images solidify that many satisfied customers look beyond pricing packages.

sumome-social-proof

Studies also reveal that “70% of consumers say they look at product reviews before making a purchase.” Plus, product reviews are 12x more trusted than product descriptions.

Solicit honest feedback from your customers. And then post those comments on your website. Those reviews will persuade prospective buyers and display your brand’s transparency.

Consumers aren’t completely pleased with your pricing options. Use social proof to convert them.

Upgrade Your Pricing Options

Customers want your product. But your pricing options aren’t meeting their expectations.

Offer the most valuable benefits in your product packages. Educate customers about features they don’t initially like. And boost your product’s worth by adding verifiable social proof.

Persuade your customers. Upgrade your pricing options.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

How to Persuade SaaS Customers When They Hate All Your Pricing Options

Your pricing options suck.

At least that’s what some of your consumers think.

They like your products. But the pricing packages aren’t meeting their expectations.

Customers may enjoy one feature, but it isn’t included in a specific package. Or maybe they admire the pricing but prefer different benefits.

“Pricing is a moving target and found should view it as an ongoing product discovery process. Pricing should be re-evaluated regularly,” says Tomasz Tunguz, a venture capitalist at Redpoint Ventures.

So, what do you do when customers like your product but not your pricing? Check out the four strategies below.

1. Determine Your Most Valuable Benefits

Experts believe “30% of the thousands of pricing decisions companies make every year fail to deliver the best price.” Business managers don’t always match the right price to the right services.

What your team deems valuable isn’t important. You want to know what buyers love about your products.

That’s where data can help. Gather data to identify which benefits your customers enjoy the most.

Monitor customer feedback, product usage, and user behavior. Discover which benefits make your product worth buying.

Once you find the desired benefits, talk about them from the customer’s perspective. Speak their language.

Peep Laja, the founder of ConversionXL, writes:

“Your value proposition needs to be in the language of the customer. It should join the conversation that is already going on in the customer’s mind. In order to do that you need to know the language your customers use to describe your offering and how they benefit from it.”

Here’s an example from Intercom. The team highlights product features in simple, short sentences. It communicates what the platform can do and how it’s beneficial to the customer.

intercom-acquire-pricing-page

Sell consumers on what they like most. Continue to emphasize your SaaS product solutions.

2. Educate Consumers About Undesirable Features

Research shows that “75% of B2B buyers rely more on content to research and make B2B purchasing decisions.”

Content gives your consumers the opportunity to learn about your products. And the information can be easily shared with a team of decision-makers.

Brigg Patten, a business and tech writer, says, “Educating your customer is a vital part of the sales process for any business, and is important in relationship building. Customers have more confidence that your solution is the best for their particular needs when you take the time to ensure they are well-educated.”

Therefore, when customers dislike certain pricing options due to product features, it’s time to educate them about the possibilities.

Show consumers how particular features can benefit their businesses. Give them real-life examples that their team can relate to.

For instance, if your SaaS sells subscription billing software, demonstrate why multiple payment methods matter. Produce content showing how their customers want options to pay by credit card, ACH, and PayPal.

When educating your customers, decide how you will convey the message. The medium is just as important as the message itself.

Collect data on which method your consumers prefer. You can send a simple email survey asking for their preferences.

Content formats range from eBooks to webinars to blog posts. Select the one that works for a majority of your users. Your team also may consider doing more than one option.

Below is an example from Asana. Did you know you could create editorial calendars on the platform? The team shows you how through on-demand guides.

asana-editorial-calendar

Some customers don’t dislike your features. They just don’t see the benefits. Educate your consumers.

3. Seriously Go Above & Beyond Expectations

Humans love routine. Some drink coffee at the same time each day. Sit at the same desk. And even watch the same TV shows every week.

It becomes a habit. Those patterns mold us to not expect anything new. It’s not that we don’t want to experience something different. We just don’t look for it.

To shake your customers out of the SaaS buying routine, go beyond their expectations. Give customers something extra for choosing a specific pricing option.

“People like bonuses. They help build positive emotions around your brand. They make customers feel happy and appreciated. As a result, the customers will strongly connect these positive emotions to your brand and the chances are you won’t be forgotten,” writes Damian Winkowski, former new business developer at PayLane.

For instance, if all your competitors are offering extra storage space for new customers, then provide your buyers with extra storage space and one-month of unlimited access to a customer success manager.

It’s all about doing things differently to grab your audience’s attention. Customers aren’t excited by the same-old sales tactics. They desire a little extra in order for you to secure their business.

SignupLab, a sales CRM and customer success dashboard, rewards people who found them on Product Hunt. They offer interested buyers a 30% discount on their first subscription period.

So, if any consumers really liked their product but hated the pricing options, this discount may convince them to at least give SignupLab a chance.

signup-lab-pay-for-converted-customers

Add a bonus benefit to your pricing packages. It will give your consumers another reason to choose you over the competition.

4. Emphasize Value With Social Proof

Psychology plays an integral role in sales.

Analysts have found that people buy based on emotions. Consumers purchase because their sad, happy, or even upset.

Moreover, purchases may involve not only internal perceptions but also external pressures. This means we buy items due to our environment.

This is helpful information for your sales team. You can show customers how other clients are benefitting from particular pricing packages.

Social proof makes pricing options irrelevant for some buyers. Because if they see top brands using your services, consumers will feel the need to be part of the pack no matter the circumstances.

So, offer social proof to your customers. Let them hear stories from your most successful clients.

“We tend to imagine ourselves in other people’s shoes when we read or hear a story. This is why stories are so persuasive and often more trustworthy than statistics or general trends. Individual examples stick with us because we can relate to them,” states Ed Hallen, co-founder of Klaviyo.

To build trust, SumoMe includes their client logos on its pricing page. These images solidify that many satisfied customers look beyond pricing packages.

sumome-social-proof

Studies also reveal that “70% of consumers say they look at product reviews before making a purchase.” Plus, product reviews are 12x more trusted than product descriptions.

Solicit honest feedback from your customers. And then post those comments on your website. Those reviews will persuade prospective buyers and display your brand’s transparency.

Consumers aren’t completely pleased with your pricing options. Use social proof to convert them.

Upgrade Your Pricing Options

Customers want your product. But your pricing options aren’t meeting their expectations.

Offer the most valuable benefits in your product packages. Educate customers about features they don’t initially like. And boost your product’s worth by adding verifiable social proof.

Persuade your customers. Upgrade your pricing options.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.