From signup forms to the perfect subject line, a lot goes into creating a cohesive experience from your website to the inbox. But never fear – the experts are here to help! Join Michael Aagaard (Unbounce) and Jamie Bradley (Emma) as they answer your burning questions about conversion rate optimization, great email marketing, and everything in between.
Jamie: Thank you for joining us today for our live Q&A all about conversion rate, optimization, email, and more. A little bit of housekeeping before we get started. We will send out a recording of today’s presentation so if you need to hop off or you just wanna share this with your friends, we’ve got you covered. You’re also muted throughout so you can scream, shout at the top of your lungs, whatever you wanna do. But if you do wanna ask us questions, go ahead and type those directly into the go-to webinar Q&A area on your control panel and we’ll be scooping those up as we go through.
And we’ve already got some awesome questions from the registration form so very excited there. You can also tweet at us, @emmaemail. We’ll be scooping those up as well and you can also tweet @unbounce, our friends today, and they’ll be excited. We’re hosting so we’ll get your questions there. And so who is Emma? Well, I’ll tell you who I am. I’m Jamie Bradley, I’m a content marketing strategist at Emma and for those of you who don’t know, we’re an email marketing software company based in Nashville, Tennessee and we service organizations of all sizes and we help people get the most from their marketing.
We’ve been around for about 12 years. We work with 50,000 customers from every industry, it doesn’t matter. Bridgetown [SP], Yale University, Mario Batali, you name it. And we are here with Unbounce, Michael from Unbounce who I’ll introduce more directly here in a moment but Unbounce for those of you who might not be familiar, they build, you know, provide software for you to build custom landing pages, to get fast more conversions for any campaign. You can use overlays to increase conversions, all that good stuff. He can probably elaborate and will elaborate more. They’re trusted by over 14,000 brands across the globe from Uberflip, Hootsuite, Thomson Reuters, and more. So, we’re really excited to partner with them today. And Michael, say hello, Michael.
Michael: Hello. Thank you very much for having me.
Jamie: You’re welcome. Michael is Unbounce’s senior conversion rate optimizer which sounds very important. He’s wildly known as one of the most passionate enthusiastic people in the CRO industry. And just from my limited interactions, I can say that is absolutely true. When he’s not analyzing and optimizing conversion experiences at Unbounce, you’re gonna find him on stage somewhere, somewhere on the planet preaching the CRO gospel. He was named the 5th Most Influential CRO Expert in 2015 by Hanapin and strives to make the internet a better place, which I love, by inspiring companies to infuse research and testing into their marketing culture. So, we are honored to have you with us, Michael.
Michael: Thank you very much with that introduction, Jamie.
Jamie: You’re welcome. So, again, we are gonna take your questions but first, we thought that it would be really helpful to just sort of frame up the conversation with a couple of slides. Michael’s gonna go first to kick us off and sort of walk you through just a high-level philosophy that he has about C-R-O or CRO. What do you guys say?
Jamie: Okay. I mean, you know, whatever you wanna do. And yes, so he’s going to walk you through that and then he’s gonna kick it over to me and I’m gonna walk you through just some tips and tricks that we have on the email side. So, if you didn’t have a question maybe that’ll help dream one up for you then we’re gonna let you look at our beautiful faces and kind of walk you through, yeah, take your questions. So, Michael, take it away. [inaudible 00:03:38].
Michael: Thank you very much. I just wanna talk a little bit about overall approach to conversion optimization, landing page optimization, any form of optimization really. Because I think there’s a lot of misunderstandings and I think there’s a lot of kind of, like, hype and fluff around it. So, here’s just a couple of things that I think are important to keep in mind. And when I talk about this stuff I’ve been doing this for about eight years now and I’ve learned everything the hard way, I’ve made every possible mistakes.
So, when I’m talking about this stuff it’s not like I’m trying to say anybody’s stupid or anything. I’m just talking from my own experience. Like, I spent a long time trying to learn this so really what I’m trying to do here is, like, catapult other people’s developments so they don’t have to spend as long time farting around with it as I did. So, one of the good things I think is we have a tendency… Whoops, did you hand over the…
Jamie: I think I did. Let’s see here. Someone’s gonna show you some slides. All right. Try now, Michael. Uh-oh. There you go. Oh, the wonders of technology. Okay, well I’ll just… How about you just tell me when. I’ll just…
Michael: Yeah, next slide, please.
Michael: Excellent. So, there’s a tendency that if you’re, for example, if your assignment is to automatic email, for example, or it could be landing page, it could be [inaudible 00:05:15], whatever. There’s a tendency that I see, and I’m guilty of this myself and I try to not be guilty. There’s a tendency that when you isolate the one thing that we want to optimize and then that becomes the whole world and reality for us. For example, in emails. Like, “Hey, we need to increase our email conversion rates.” “Okay, what should I do?” “Well, check out the email copy. That’s gotta be the problem.” In some cases, that is going to be the problem. However… Could you change slides?
Michael: However, what we have to realize is that, for example, an email is just one part of a much bigger experience. The same with the landing page optimization. The landing page is just part of a bigger puzzle. So, the email there’s always gonna be a lot of stuff before email itself that’s gonna influence the impact that your email is going to have on your conversions and also there’s gonna be a ton of stuff afterwards.
So, here’s an example from e-commerce, right? So, really the whole conversation starts with the inbox. You’re sending something into an inbox, the person has to see that, so that’s the subject line. Then they have to, you know, actually react to the subject line, then they have to open their email, then they have to read the email, then they have to react to the email, then they have to click the CTA to be brought to a landing page. It could be a product review, they have to spend a little time understanding the product review, then they have to click on the product page, then they have to decide they wanna buy it, then they have to put it in the basket, then they have to go from the basket to step one in the checkout, step two, step three.
And finally, when you fight through all that, that is when the conversion is there, right? So, all this stuff has a massive influence. So, when I look at it like this it becomes pretty clear that if you only focus on the email, well, you might be missing out. And perhaps the problem is actually the offer itself or maybe it’s the product page or maybe there’s an error happening in step one in the checkout, right? And if you’re not aware of that you can spend the next 10 years trying to optimize that email copy and just be like really frustrated because “I don’t understand why it doesn’t make any difference.” Because it wasn’t the problem.
One case from a…I used to be a consultant before I joined Unbounce and I was doing a whole website review for a client. They had a SaaS product and what we found out actually was there was a massive drop off when dealing with [inaudible 00:07:37] the confirmation email to confirm their account. It was like, “What?” It was crazy. So, what we found out actually was they used the same email template for all their email communication and in that template is a big fat green login button, so even in the confirmation email that’s the one thing that stands out. But really you had to click a little confirmation link, a text link in the corner.
So, obviously, everybody clicks, you know, login, but then they get an error. And it says, “Hey, you have to set up an account and then you have to verify your email.” And people are like, “Well, I just did.” So, that was a massive, massive, massive problem we uncovered there because we did a [inudible 00:08:14] analysis and found out. So, once you plug those holes, right, you get all that stuff done then you can start doing really interesting stuff. Can you change slides?
Michael: And also another point here is that really every step in the funnel…that’s what I like to think of it as a whole kind of experience, right? Every step in the funnel represents an opportunity for friction or for values, user experience or for confusion. Basically, anything that makes the brain hurt, right? And you might think, “Ah, it’s only three things. There’s only 3 steps out of 10.” But that accumulates, right? Can we change slide?
Now, a lot of small pieces of friction or a lot of tiny pains, you know, it can lead to a massive pain, and that really can become a very frustrating experience. So, really the way I like to think about it is that optimization if we’re thinking strategy here is really about removing all that cognitive friction from the funnels so people can go through it easily and logically. Change slide, please.
So, to that point, every single step of the funnel really primes the next frames that you can expect on the steps. So, it’s really about sending expectations, managing those expectations, and then delivering on them. So, there’s a logical progression all the way through and preferably, so logical that people don’t have to think. They just go, “Da, da, da, da, da, da. Hey, I just bought a product. Awesome.” That’s really what we’re going for.
And so, how to do that? Well, in my experience, research is the most important thing. So, I’d say in my work I spend about 80% of my time doing user research or, you know, a mix of qualitative, quantitative research, right? I’ll start with analytics and try to understand where things are going wrong, what’s going wrong, then I try to in quantitative research I have to understand why [inaudible 00:10:09] all that stuff. So, could you change slide?
There’s two quotes here that I show often because I think really encapsulates some very important points here. This one from Abraham Lincoln. “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I’ll spend the first 4 sharpening the ax.” That’s really what research is about. You know, we’re sharpening the ax, we’re trying to increase our chances of taking down that tree, man. It’s very different than kind of, you know, running around blindfolded in a forest with a dull ax just chopping wildly hoping that you’re gonna hit something. And that’s kind of the optimization that a lot of people are doing. Next slide, please.
This one also. “If I only had one hour to save the world, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and only 5 minutes finding the solution.” I love that Albert Einstein quote, it’s so relevant, again, in optimization because really the bulk of the work is trying to figure out what the hell is the problem. Once you understand that it’s a lot easier to find the solution. I think a lot of people come up to solutions to problems they haven’t identified, just kind of, “Hmm, I think the problem might be this, therefore, the solution could be… Aha.” You can waste a lot of time with that. Okay, enough of that stuff.
So, I’m talking about CRO and I’m talking about real CRO here. There’s a lot of misunderstandings, right? People think, “Oh, just run as many split tests as possible in as little time as possible.” That is not it, right? CRO, one of the reasons I’m fascinated by it is that it’s so complicated. It’s kind of like golf to me, you know, you see all these athletes spend their whole lives, you know, becoming extremely good at other sports and then they go, you know, once they’re retired they play golf and they’re obsessed because it’s so difficult, they can never really become good enough at it. I think it’s the same CRO.
And really, there’s so much you have to understand, right? You have to understand statistics, otherwise, you will never be able to be critical, [inaudible 00:12:02] you’ll never be able to run proper, you know, split tests. You have to understand the scientific method, you have to understand web analytics, you have to have some business sense, otherwise, it’s gonna be an uphill battle. Copyrightwriting, research, UX, designs, psychology, you know, there’s so much more here and that is really what makes up CRO in my experience.
Jamie: Exactly. Well, thank you for letting me advance the slides there. But yeah, exactly. I mean I think to echo a lot of what Michael just said before we hop into the email portion, you know, email doesn’t live in a vacuum but neither does optimizing your conversion rate. There’s always when we’re looking at this visual here there is so much going on that goes into getting someone to take an action ultimately and click. You know, it’s where they’re sitting, you know, are they at their desk, are they on the subway? Is it, you know, rending?
So, we’re gonna sort of zoom in a little more on the email side of it now with a few examples. But I like to kind of cook it off with a stat here because it really excites people. And it’s that the average ROI…and this is and has been for about the past two years. And like Michael, I’ve been working in the email space for about eight years as well. As long as I’ve worked with email marketing, the ROI of email has been stated as more than double that almost of every other digital channel.
So, a lot of people see that and they go, “Whoa, that’s awesome. I’m gonna do email.” However, not all email is created equal. You can’t really see these $38, $40 for every dollar spent conversions or, sorry, ROI if you aren’t following some really basic rules. And so we’re gonna hop into kind of what that looks like. So, first and foremost, you know, we can’t talk about calls to action in an email without backing it way up. The very first CTA in your email, your call to action, the conversion happens at this interaction point and it happens in the inbox.
You know, everyone thinks of email, they think of the links in their email, the buttons in their email. It starts before that and, obviously, Michael just showed you it starts way before that. You know, your landing pages, the forms that you’re using to even get them to part with their email address. But emails specifically for thinking of one campaign when you’re sort of sitting there and sharpening your ax, if you will, before you hit the send button or schedule a mailing, you’ve got to zoom out and think about what is the experience that a person is gonna have when they encounter your mailing.
So, what you’re looking at here on the left is a screenshot from my inbox, and only one of those emails are open. And that is because it is from our VP of Marketing, Cynthia, who is my boss. And the subject line second you will see says, “Important” and it’s a forward and it has the word “business” in it. Done, end of story. That’s gonna get my attention well before any sort of marketing email or anything of that nature. So, the stat that we have here on the right is that actually, the two biggest influencers are not necessarily the subject line. And we’re gonna dig into what that looks like here in a second. But it really is who it’s from.
And so I point this out not to, you know, make you feel defeated but to basically say you are not competing with your competitors in the inbox, you’re competing with Cynthia. You’re competing with my mom, my dad, my Southwest flight confirmation, my Walgreens pharmacy refill. And then you’re competing with, you know, your brand competitors in that space. So, just be mindful that, you know, this view is, you know, taken up by a lot more than just that.
So, when we talk about subject lines that sort of get attention, relevant personal subject lines, every single time. Relevant email, as a result, is always going to get the best results. The ROI email is not some magical given. If you are just shooting anonymous sort of batch and blast email out into the world, I’m gonna open Cynthia’s email and I’m never going to open yours. So, we’re gonna look and sort of dig into what does that actually look like, what does that mean.
So, here’s a really great one, and so when we talk about personalization… And by the way, when you use personalized subject lines, according to some studies those can boost open rates by as much a 22%. And it makes sense, we’ve all gotten them. We get emails that say, “Hey, Jamie, hey Michael.” But personalized, you know, sort of subject line personalization we feel is not always about sort of shoehorning my name into it. That’s one way to do it.
Personalization can really encompass all kinds of things. “Where am I located geographically? What else do you know about me?” You know, that data that Michael was referencing. You have tons of data points and you can personalize this experience in the inbox. So, what I love about this example from Madewell that we’re looking at is that the subject line is, “Because it’ll eventually get cold.” If you look at the email itself it’s just about winter clothes. What this tells me if I could take a wild guess, if I’m the email marketer at Madewell, you had this campaign teed up, somebody designed it, somebody handed it to you, and then you looked and you saw that across the country especially in the south…
In Nashville, it’s the first day today that it’s been more than 60 degrees in about six months. It’s been really weird. You looked and you saw, “Hey, everyone that we’re sending this two from probably Mace in Dickson line down it’s 80 degrees outside.” It is not cold. So, I’d like to think that this person saw that and thought, “You know what? It’s gonna be really hard to sell sweaters if we’re telling people to layer up and they’re wearing shorts.” So, personalization can be just as much about where I am, and it can be a place too that honestly, as a marketer, you have to pivot when maybe you don’t have the control over the content before [crosstalk 00:18:03].
Michael: Can I add something there real quick?
Jamie: Yeah, absolutely.
Michael: I love this because I think it’s a great point. I mean you don’t make something personal just because you put someone’s name in there. I think it kind of makes it less personal because I think a lot of people are savvy to the fact that it wasn’t necessarily Jamie writing you their name in there, it was a piece of software that just inserts the name. So, I think a lot of people are savvy to that, you know, and I think a lot of the novelty of, “Oh, God, it’s my name,” has worn off.
However, I think, for example, for me a very personal subject line would be, like, I’m from Denmark, I live in Vancouver now. It’s expensive to go back home. So, a subject line that would be very, very personal for me would be, “50% off tickets to Denmark.” Bam, I would open them up right away. Or, for example, booking.com sent me one the other day, a very, very personal email I found even though it was [inaudible 00:18:53] engineering and not personal at all, really. They just know my habits. They know I like to go up to Squamish in Pemberton to the mountains. So, they recently just sent me an email in connection to this where it’s like, you know, “Save up to 25% off hotels in Pemberton, only five left,” or something like that. Wow.
Jamie: Yeah, absolutely. No, it’s totally true and there’s other ways to kind of go about that. And I love this one. This email, it’s from Urban Outfitters, it’s their design aesthetic. We won’t harp too much on how the email look but the subject line I thought was brilliant. It was a Cyber Monday email, the subject from last year but it said, “Re:” You know, obviously, it looks like a reply. And it says, “The $50 we owe you…” They probably sent this to everyone in the country.
This jumped out at me immediately because just the tactic, just the formatting and the style of this subject line, you know, it’s sort of a nice little trick. I was like, “Wait a second, who owes me money?” I’m suddenly interested. And so there’s ways. You know, we talked about personalization. Obviously, Michael just gave a lot of great examples and we’re gonna look at a couple of more, too. It can almost sometimes be some tactics that you play with that apply to everybody that sort of make this experience seem like you’re speaking directly to me. So, there’s lots of different ways sticking to that.
Michael: Can I add one more anecdote real quick?
Michael: This was a while ago. I did it quite a while ago but I did it several times. I kinda killed my blog but while I was a very active blogger I obviously had my email listing [inaudible 00:20:33]. And this was actually what I called a hack. I added a “Hell yeah,” and a hyphen before the subject line. I can’t remember now but it was pretty dramatic. It was quite interesting. It just seemed that like [inaudible 00:20:54] “Hell yeah!” [inaudible 00:20:55], “Hey, what’s that?”
Jamie: It was disruptive. Well, I was gonna say there’s a strat to go along with this. ContactMonkey found that…they did a study and the top five subject lines in their study that performed well all had the “Re:” in front of them. Every single one. And this is just one isolated study they did. This is not to say…please don’t do this for every email that you send, but I thought it was really fascinating that they had a huge sample in every single one of them to sort of trick people.
So, this is actually…I took a screenshot this morning of my inbox. I am not an inbox zero person as you can see so just ignore that. These are all emails I actually opened. So, the first one is from Neil. I don’t actually know Neil. When I opened that Neil, it’s a salesperson. But he put, “Emma 2017.” That’s relevant to me. The pre-header text says, “Hi, Jamie.” And this is where I harp on. That text after the subject line. That is vitally important.
More than half of all emails open on mobile devices. Also, this is my browser view in Gmail so the majority of people are using this application to view your emails. Not all of them on their computers but Gmail by default now typically… And you can change your preferences and we can get into that but it will show the pre-header text. So, if you take one thing away from this part, if you leave today in your pre-header text when you send an email, the text after your subject line says, “Having trouble viewing this email?” That is something you can immediately tweak and gain so much real estate in the inbox to get someone’s attention.
With Emma you can actually just type your pre-header text along when you’re typing in your subject line, you can also code that in. There’s lots of ways to go about that. But it’s like an added 34 characters almost that you have at your disposal to personalize or add context or be a little bit wittier and concise with your subject line. Next one. Pottery Barn says, “Thanks! Because you were browsing these items.” So, they’re tracking my browser history, they’re sending me personalized content, and they’re called that out in the subject.
The next one it’s relevant, it’s a webinar. I can tell it’s a transactional email from [inaudible 00:23:13]. It stood out to me there. And the next one is an “Oops” email which is interesting. So, you know those emails that you send when you make a mistake. Be honest, be personal, we’re all humans on the other end. So, they’re just calling that out there. I did not open the original email they sent but I opened the “Oops” email and actually, some people have started using that as a tactic. They’ll sort of send a fake, “Oh, we made a mistake,” email. It’s a little tricky.
The next one’s relevant as well. It’s about the Tennessee wildfires. I live in Tennessee. That is relevant to me because that is something that obviously affects the region that I live in, it’s very sad. And then the last one is from my colleague. I’m not practicing what I preach here. This is literally my view from earlier and as you can see, there is a general theme. And I’m just showing this example. I wanna get to questions and I don’t wanna [inaudible 00:24:13] too many of these points but as I mentioned, more than all, you know, half of all emails open first on a mobile device. I just wanted to kind of show you a really nice example of someone doing that really well.
Patagonia, if you’re not on their list they do excellent email marketing. And what I love about this, this is a couple of different snippets of one email you see on the far right. That’s what it looks like on my phone. It’s mobile optimized. More importantly, though, mobile optimization is not just the template that you’re using. That’s sort of a table stake at this point, you know, making sure that the email’s sort of…the wrapper that’s around the email most companies, Emma included, you know, I know that Unbounce provides mobile optimized landing pages as templates.
The toolset is there for all of us. Some of the choices that you make within that toolset though are all on you. And so what they’re doing, you know, almost 80% of your audience if they do open that email is scanning your email. So, by putting something in that sort of above-the-fold space, in this case, a video, that’s going to get their attention. So, leading with a strong image. They have a focused call to action. They really only have one button. They’re trying to get you to shop this new collection but they make the email long and scrollable. It’s fun to sort of interact with on your phone, but there’s focus to this email. It’s the same items.
The video up there at the top is showing someone living their life snowboarding in these awesome clothes. So, this is just an excellent example of a nice focused one column designed email. And to sort of go back to video for a second. When you include video we talk about increasing clicks. The clickthrough rates on average for emails that feature a video, you know, in a nice easy to interact with format can be two to three times higher than just an email that doesn’t have it. We all know, obviously, you can’t necessarily maybe put a video in all of your emails, but if you have that content, if you have some older content and you want to kind of, you know, bring it back up. Video’s a great way to do that and we can talk more in the Q&A about some ways to execute that if you’d like.
You know, obviously, this is another great example. Mobile optimized, this is from a charity from a nonprofit. Up at the top, “Thank you.” Thank you is always a great thing to see when you open an email. “Thank you for being a part of the story.” This was an email that was automated after you interacted with their virtual reality experience at an event. They have this awesome…these goggles that sort of walk you through the eyes of this girl’s story named Selam. So, when I interacted in person with them, I got this automated amazing relevant email that has this beautiful strong call to action, this big yellow button that says, “Donate Now.” That button is fantastic.
When we talk about mobile devices buttons are going to outperform text links. Notice they don’t even have text links in this email. Buttons are gonna outperform text links almost every single time. And if you think about it if you’re on a phone, not only does this visually stand out, but you can actually interact with a button much easier than you can with a text link. Think about how hard that is when you have to sort of pinch and expand on your phone. So, buttons, I could talk all day about them. Ask me button questions I’ll go wild. But this is an excellent one and it’s a nice contrasting color that pops so your eyes go directly to that.
So, when we talk about those buttons, we talk about calls to action, this is a cautionary tale. And I’m almost done. So, in this example from Toyota. I own a Yaris. They sent an email. Their only personalization is right there at the time I zoomed in on it says, “Jamie, experience the world of Yaris ownership.” This email has absolutely nothing to do with that. They literally just took my data. They know my name, they know what car I bought, they put a picture of it, and that’s it.
The rest of this email is totally unfocused. I’m not really sure what they want me to do. There’s six different calls to action. There are some buttons but it’s like “Watch a video.” “Don’t lose your keys.” “Are you wanting to buy an SUV?” “No, don’t buy the SUV, buy this other car. Wait.” And I’m like, “What? This is way too much.” So, this is actually an example of something called The Paradox of Choice which is when you’re presented with this many options in one place your brain tends to just basically short out, you get anxious, and you usually end up doing nothing because you might click on something but you might not. I mean when there’s not focus, when there’s too many things we do we often abandon ship and click away to something else.
So, I’m happy to report that was last year. They’ve got their act together. So, now what Toyota is doing is that they’re using the data that they have about me to actually serve a really nice relevant experience. The email on the left is a great example of what we’ll call a reengagement email. If you’d like to know more about those ask a question about them. I’d love to talk about them. They perform very, very well. But this reengagement email just saying, “We miss you. Here’s your car. By the way, here’s some coupons, please come use them.”
There are two buttons but they’re both about the same thing. The choice that I have is either get a coupon or schedule your service. Maybe you don’t want a coupon but the choices here are the same choice. They’re taking me probably to the same place generally on the site. The email on the site now they’re talking about, you know, upgrading. This is a date-based triggered email I received. And now they’re trying to see me the Corolla. They’re keeping it focused and they’re much more likely to be successful in both places. And actually, I ended up scheduling a car service, you know, to bring my hunk of junk in before I buy the new one.
So, I’ll leave it here and then we’ll go to webcams so you can see our face. I hope my lipstick isn’t smudged. In this very last example here is just to illustrate that, you know, as Michael said, there’s this whole world out there of information. There’s all this data that you are gathering at tons of different junctures. All the examples I showed really rely on you knowing something about your audience and you can do that whether it’s via an integration with your CRM or, you know, their forms or landing pages or activities, but one of the best ways to do it and one of the best things that I love to remind people, again, is that we have all of this technology at our fingertips but sometimes you’ve just gotta ask.
Sometimes it’s totally fine to just send an email out. And this one’s great from one of our customers that they’re asking, “Hey, you don’t open our stuff. Are you getting bridesmaids emails and you’re actually a groom? Tell us more.” And all you have to do is click one of those buttons and then they gather all the data and then, you know, you go to their website and then hopefully, you buy all the stuff.
So, you know, it’s just to sort of illustrate that, you know, again, we’re all people that are interacting and sometimes it’s just fine. And also emails like this have been proven, even if I don’t interact with this email, I’m actually statistically more likely to interact with your brand later on as a result of receiving an interaction like this. So, you know, if I haven’t been interacting, it’s all right. You can get me back. Okay, so I am going to show our faces here briefly. All right, Michael, you ready to join me?
Jamie: You coming online here? And I’m going to look for questions while we get your camera up here. Here we go. There we go. Okey dokey. So, let’s see, I think we got a lot of good questions there. Hi, Michael.
Jamie: Hi, everybody.
Michael: There’s a note about people having trouble hearing me, is that still the case?
Jamie: Let’s see. Can you guys hear him okay? I can hear you just fine so I apologize if… And we had some people, they work here at Emma that who just gave a thumbs up that they could hear you just fine so if you can’t hear Michael and you can hear me, let us know and we’ll see if we can troubleshoot that. Okay, so we’re just gonna dive right in because we’ve got a lot of questions. And I know we’ve got about 30 minutes left here. So, question… Let’s kick it over to Michael. I’ll have him talking in a minute. How many fields. How many fields is too many fields on a form? Gary wants to know. Is there a magic number?
Michael: No, there isn’t. There definitely isn’t and it really depends on the individual case. I know that’s not the answer that people are hoping for, they’re probably hoping for the magic number.
Jamie: Right, sorry.
Michael: [crosstalk 00:33:23] realistic. So, it really depends on the case. I mean, as a rule of thumb, of course, don’t have more form fields than you have to have but it really depends on the case. One case study that comes to mind I was working for…well, I was a consultant. I was helping a company that did, like, event stuff so really a big lead gen website where they have hundreds of different artists and stuff, bands, magicians, whatever. So, [inaudible 00:33:52] entertainment for a wedding or whatever to get to one of the landing pages then there’s a picture of the band and there’s a form to fill out. So, my analysis shows that my form was one of the big obstacles, right?
So, there’s a lot of information to ask for in there and I think it was nine fields, probably, and I took away three of them. That was all [inaudible 00:34:14] do. Ran the test, solid test, ran it for a month, you know, [inaudible 00:34:19] high significance level [inaudible 00:34:20] and all that stuff. Sample of about 600 conversions, solid numbers, and we reduced the conversion rate by I think 9% or 10% by removing form fields, right?
So, that’s been directed against the whole, you know, just remove stuff. So, after that, I was like, “God, that wasn’t really the intention here and you look like you hid them from the client because you did something random and you can’t explain why it didn’t work so you have to do it…correct that quickly.” So, we’re gonna do research, right, set up a form and start figuring out what to do, what they interact with, what don’t they interact with.
So, on that form, some of the things I found out was like the highest interaction on that form was a drop down you choose what kind of event you’re having, right? So, that was the highest interaction but then some of the lowest interaction points were people simply, you know, were not filling it out was sensitive information like email, phone number, things like that. There was one that also an issue that was actually you had to put down location for where you’re going to have that event. And then the fascinating thing where you saw the biggest form abandonment was in the optional comment field. Like, that doesn’t make any sense.
Michael: Then you start analyzing and figuring out nothing to indicate that it’s an optional comment field. It looks like you have to fill it out but if you insist on one of them and you’re going quickly through it and you’re not really analyzing it looks like you have to fill it out, right? There’s nothing saying that it isn’t mandatory. And also, well, maybe people don’t know where they’re having that event yet so that’s an obstacle, so let’s just make sure that we write that there. “Hey, if you don’t know where it is, that’s fine. It’s not a mandatory field.”
And then on the fields with the sensitive information, I wrote, “Why we’re asking you for your phone number. It’s only in case the system, whatever it is, has to ask your questions and your email is just because we have to be able to get back to you.” So, I made those changes. So, instead of removing any form fields at all, I just rearranged them a little bit and rewrote the field names properly. And that led to an increase of 19%.
So, that was a long story but what I’m saying here is that, again, research really helps you understand, like, “What is the problem here?” The problem here is not too many form fields that some of the people didn’t understand, they were having trouble, issues understanding, “Why they need this information, why do I need to write an essay?” And so on. So, what I’m saying is, of course, there’s a lot of logical sense here, right? So, start with the bare minimum or the other way around. And then as soon as you send a form online, put some form analytics on. There are different ways of doing that. Hotjar, for example, has a very simple way of doing analytics. Basically, then you’re getting information from day one from real users on how they are actually interacting through the form.
Michael: But again, it’s also a question of kind of… In this case, I’ll think of some credibility. If I’m trying to, you know, [inaudible 00:37:12] perhaps some important event. So, maybe it doesn’t seem legit if we’re only asking for [inaudible 00:37:18]. So, when you’re asking for all their detail information it makes you seem more serious. Another thing is also back and forth with friction because another thing is that, you know, often we can set the barrier so low that we’re getting unqualified leads. We had that with Unbounce. Way too many people filling out our enterprise form because, “I get a free demo.” So, we actually increased the friction there, saying, “Talk to a salesperson.” They demanded a lot of information. So, we got a lot less leads but the ones we got were actually the ones we wanted.
Jamie: Better quality. Yeah. No, we see that as well, you know, obviously, all of you registered for the webinar and there are a lot of fields. You know, we found we could ask for just an email address but, you know, when we ask people that are willing to sit with us for an hour for a little bit more information, you know, a lot of you raised your hands and are like, “Follow up with us.”
So, when we do follow-up with you, you know, we can kind of cut out a lot of the guesswork on why you might be interested, what you know. And so it just makes that conversation. It’s not like we’re trying to trick you to give us all your data but it really makes that relationship and those interactions on how we can follow-up with you more relevant and as we noticed, relevant content actually performs better so I think that’s a great point.
Michael: And then there’s, of course, those cases where those form fields just simply don’t make sense, right?
Michael: You don’t need my fax number. You don’t need it!
Jamie: Yeah, I’m not really sure what… Yeah, exactly. I think that’s a great point. You know, don’t ask for what you’re not gonna actually do something with or use. Perfect. So, another question. Let’s see here. Oh my gosh. Oh, here’s a great one from John. “Hey, Jamie. You mentioned video and email. How best do you go about either embedding that and how can you hurdle the blocks that some inboxes have in receiving pictures and video in your email? Thanks.” So, that’s a loaded…not loaded, that’s a big question.
I think first and foremost, our philosophy on video and email if you can picture the Patagonia email that I showed, the video and email aspect of that is really just a picture with a play button layered on top of it. It isn’t actually embedded video in the email. The reason that we don’t typically recommend embedded video in email is because to the second part of your question, you can’t guarantee… Very few of your subscribers and really it’d be a crapshoot to even guess who the subscribers would be, have a setup… It’s too unpredictable to know kind of where they are, what’s going on.
So, embedded video in an email not only is it a little unpredictable as far as, like, rending and things like that, and that’s why you don’t really see it as often. It’s also not necessarily the best practice as far as how I wanna experience your email. You saw my inbox earlier. I’m clicking through, I’m making fast decisions. I might be willing to open up a video in a new browser tab and explore at my leisure or on my phone would it make sense for me. If you just had autoplay embedded video kind of coming at me, it’s not really the best experience. And you’re probably going to really increase the amount of abandonment of that.
You know, so as far as video and email, our rule of thumb is typically either represent that the video exists in the email and take them to a place where a higher value action can go that videos really…and you can probably jump in on sort of what might happen on the page with the video and all the great things that could happen there. The picture of the video is really just to get you somewhere else to do something else and we know that video increases clicks.
To that end though, we shared one example. Another really great way to sort of get that same effect is to have an animated GIF representing playable video. Animated GIFs increase clickthroughs in emails also by an astronomical, you know, sort of… That’s why you’re seeing them all the time. They’re trending because they’re actually working for people. People are like, “What’s that?” When the GIF is less of a gimmick and actually represents something like a video that’s valuable or, you know, some sort of interaction that makes sense, the GIF actually is going to render more consistently for almost every single user.
There’s only a couple of instances of outlook that actually block GIFs and our sort of rule of thumb there is if for some reason there’s some sort of value in the GIF, make sure that’s your first frame. So, if you have like a discount that pops up in the end that you want people to see, the GIF will still load as an image for people. So, GIFs, video, and email, those are really just a way to get people to interact with that mailing so that they can then go and do something else that is of, you know, get them out of the inbox and go take them somewhere that matters. So, what are your thoughts there?
Michael: [inaudible 00:42:17]. I like to keep it simple and I think, you know, again, the funnel mentality, cram everything into that one email. And my personal behavior is yeah, like you said, I mean if I’m at work and I open an email and video starts playing and stuff, that’s just not good. And also just video, in general, is such an insanely complicated field. I mean, you know, there’s so much… It’s not just a question of video or not video, it’s like, “What was the first thumbnail? How long is the video? What are you talking about?”
Jamie: “What was it? Where am I going?”
Michael: Target audience, I know for a fact that there’s a lot of people that just refuse video because they hate it and so on. So, there’s just so many things…
Jamie: You can attest and not use video if that’s you. Your audience, yeah.
Michael: But also there’s very little solid data that I’ve seen anyways because most talks I’ve seen by video people they will more or less open the thing and say, “Okay, does video increase conversion?” “Yes, it does. Take my word for it.” “Fine, now we’ve got that out of the way now let’s talk about how amazing video is.”
Jamie: No, it’s true.
Michael: I have not run [inaudible 00:43:27] where I’ve seen, like, the same results. I’ve seen one where people who viewed the video were like four times as likely to convert. But my hypothesis is that just I think it was just creating a funnel for those who were gonna [inaudible 00:43:40] anyways.
Jamie: Better, more superior.
Michael: It’s very complicated I’d say, but as far as I know, keep it simple.
Jamie: Yeah, well and I was gonna say too you brought up a lot of great points and honestly, my sort of not canned answer but sort of things I will repeat for almost any of these questions is honestly to echo what he said, we say it too, it’s what’s relevant to your subscribers. So, you know, general stats about video and email they have been known in many studies to increase sort of the clicking or that gut reaction, that sort of lizard brain things are moving we wanna click on it. But let’s say you trust it and you send out an email and it doesn’t appear to be working, then you need to do, to sharpen the ax you need to go and look at your results.
That’s not to say every single person that puts a GIF in email is going to have some crazy conversions. You’re probably going to get the conversion at the email level but you may not get them to do the thing that your business needs them to do to convert. So, like he said, it’s very complicated and really it’s just a matter of testing it out. If you haven’t tested or tried that before you have a piece of video content, you know, look at all the interactions and start with the goal and kind of work backwards from there and know that video email’s a method that you can use to get them to that point.
Michael: Yeah, then be careful that you’re looking at the right metrics because if you’re only looking at top funnel metrics and not measuring the important stuff you might be sacrificing dollars [crosstalk 00:45:12].
Jamie: Sure, absolutely. Okay, so let’s… We have so many questions. We’ve covered a lot and some of them we already answered with our presentation. Let’s look here. Let’s see. Oh, here’s a good one and this is actually one that we can both kind of…and my answer is gonna be [inaudible 00:45:45] my last answer. Someone’s asking about the best ratio text to images for both your landing pages and your emails. So, I think my answer is always, you know, we looked at a lot of examples. There is not a magic ratio of text to images.
Also gone are the days when too many pictures, you know, got your email blocked or marked as spam. There’s so much technology that I won’t even get into that sort of makes that thinking obsolete. Load times are not an issue anymore, the rendering, that kind of thing. I would say the smart thing about ratio text to images in an email is to make sure that, again, the goal of the email is focused. What are you trying to get them to do? Is every element of that email thematically similar?
If you have lots of images, you know, is your email about shirts? Are there lots of images about different types of shirts? Is it that we wanna show you 50 different types of, you know, vacation destinations, you have 50 different destinations, 50 different CTA’s. They all have a general theme. So, the ratio of text to images there isn’t a magic number. I think it’s more about the focus. And like you saw in that Toyota example there’s lots of pictures in that email so if you first glance at that email you’re like, “This is fine, it’s well designed.” But really it wasn’t because they were asking you to do 75,000 different things.
The cleaner starker, you know, one big image and text and a button in their subsequent emails, that wasn’t necessarily a better design as far as the aesthetics of it but it was a better design as far as the focus and the fact that you knew what that email was asking you to do. So, I think for us it’s not about necessarily, like, the design plays into the best practices of what the call of the email is more than it does sort of the aesthetics. There’s lots of different theories about layout and all that good stuff. That’s kind of our philosophy there. What do you say about landing pages?
Michael: Well, I say that both for email and for landing pages I would ask the question, “What are you trying to do? What are you trying to sell?” And if you’re selling clothes or any e-commerce thing, shoes, whatever, you know, images are really, really important.
Jamie: Take me to shoes.
Michael: It’s probably the most important thing, right? Because how could I… The main thing is like, “What does it look like? Do you have my size? And how much is it?” And then, “Do you have an amazing offer?” Holiday destinations. A holiday destination email without any images in there is gonna be pretty dull I think or at least on the landing page because that’s, you know, you’re selling the dream so you need to see that dream inside your head. If you’re selling insurance, well, probably pictures of, you know, generic salesmen shaking your hand or whatever is not gonna be super effective.
Jamie: It’s not that great.
Michael: There’s still something in there that’s relevant but, you know, I don’t think there is a golden formula. However, over time, you know, you can refine that stuff and you can [inaudible 00:48:50] user usability test, talk to your customers, so on and so on. Find out what the call to ratio is for you.
Jamie: Yeah, I think that’s great and I’m consolidating because we have so many good questions. But I’ve seen this one pop up frequently in prior questions and live. Everyone always wants to know about testing, AB testing. And actually, at Emma, you can do ABC subject line testing. But for both email and landing pages, what are the best things to test? And again, I think that’s a really broad… There wasn’t really one that was more specific. Let me see if I can find one. See if one of my sidekicks can send me one.
Michael: No, I think there were a couple of maybe other things in there as far as, like, what’s the best places to get nicer stuff. Anyways, this maybe gonna be an answer that’s gonna bug a few of you out there but I’m not trying to be clever, I’m just trying to be honest. Before we even talk about it, I would say is split testing the right thing for you to do? Because some of the worst advice out there is like, “Everyone should split test.” Or you’ll hear statements like, “If you’re not split testing, you’re missing out.” Not true, not true.
If you do not have enough traffic, if you do not have sample sizes, meaningful sample sizes to give you a percentage of how a variant would perform for real then it’s useless. Sorry, that’s just the harsh fact. Here’s just a couple of numbers I’m gonna throw out real quick. Two percent baseline conversion rate. You want 10% lift, 95% significance, you have 50 visitors a day. It would take you eight and a half years to run that test.
Michael: And I think that’s the case for a lot of people, 2% conversion rate, 50 users a day on that page. So, then you can ask yourself, you know, “Should I start that test?” I’d say no, don’t spend eight and a half years learning…or learning one thing. Spend the rest of your life learning, that’s what I wanna do. Don’t spend your life learning one thing.
Jamie: Keep learning, guys.
Michael: That’s why it makes sense to do this stuff up front and that’s part of, you know, actually being able to have a strategy around it. It’s like, first of all, figuring out is it viable. If split testing is not viable then you don’t do it. Only do it when it’s helpful. Zero and split testing are not the same thing. [inaudible 00:51:11]. We can share this afterwards. I have a calculator, start playing around with it, see how much traffic would it actually take, how long it would take. Then you can also start playing around with it.
The higher your baseline conversion rate the easier it will be used to take lift. So, if you have a 60% open rate, whatever, you don’t need as much traffic to actually get meaningful data and results as opposed to an open rate that’s like 0.5%. So, there’s not a one set answer there. Okay, from there, if you have established that you have enough traffic to actually do meaningful testing within a reasonable timeframe, within a reasonable timeframe I mean within a month.
Even with the traffic, we have at Unbounce we have a lot. Many of my experiments I run with for four weeks to get proper [inaudible 00:51:52] picture. That also means that you don’t just stop the first time it hits 95% significance because that’s just a false positive. That’s why you do your recalculations to know, “Aha! If we saw a 95% significance level after one day then we have to check ourselves and say, “Well, actually, we know that the tests will have to run a month so are we gonna stop it after a day?” No. If we had to run the test for eight years are we gonna stop it after a week? No. So, once we’ve established that, onto testing. And this is so I could throw out some different…obviously, it’s interesting to test, you know, a subject line and everything.
Michael: Obviously, it’s interesting on your homepage to test, you know, message match and all that stuff, is it relevant with following up with it. So, I’ll go through that. But I think a more important exercise is to do the research, to do the analysis before you decide to test that. It’s so important. So, again, it’s one of these irritating questions here but, you know, so I would start looking at your funnel for analytics. I would say, “Aha, what’s the open rate look like? What does the clickthrough rate look like? What is the conversion rating for the landing page? And so on.
I’d get all those steps and then I’d understand where I’m seeing the big struggle. Where I’m seeing the big struggle that’s where I start working. So, I won’t just randomly start working on the email and landing page, I’ll try to analyze it. So, with landing pages, for example, even if you have a form on the landing page it’s a second interaction so you have to know where’s the problem. If the landing page is getting enough people to go to the next step then that’s fine, I won’t work on the landing page. If I’m seeing if that… Sorry, getting mixed up. If I see the drop up on the second interaction that means that’s where the problem is, it’s not the landing page.
Michael: So you’ll waste a lot of time. So, that’s the kind of mindset I like to kind of, you know, reach out with. But some of the things worth looking at, of course, is like, “Are we giving enough information here? Is this relevant? Are we giving too much information?”
Jamie: “Is it clear?”
Michael: Is it clear? Is there a clear headline? Is there a clear photo? If you’re talking about entrepreneurship why is there a picture of a bartender with a towel? It doesn’t make sense.” All that stuff. The whole, again, like the logical progression, like, does the subject line line up with the email, does the email line up with the landing page, does the landing page line up with what you’re asking, does the form…blah, blah, blah, all that stuff. So, I will start from those things and from there, you know, you’ll have the questions and you’ll have hypothesis around this.
Jamie: And honestly, for email, it’s about the same. If you’re just testing just to test without really thinking of what’s the goal, “What am I not achieving that needs to be improved?” You know, just to echo everything he just said. Testing just to test doesn’t get you much. But if you can look at diagnosing the problem and/or really for us what we do often with clients we have a whole team of people that you can…if you’re a customer you can talk to.
And they sit down and they just say, “What are…” They start with the goal of the general business and then we start to chip away from there and we start to think of what campaigns could be built to achieve pieces of this goal, what workflows, what sort of triggered campaigns could happen to support the big goal? And then down the road, you know, we don’t usually start…you never start with testing down the road. We would then look at, “Okay, so we changed this and there seems to be a lift here but it’s not, you know, can we actually say that these are better subject lines or the right subject lines, is it more did we send at the correct time?” You know, there’s lots of different factors.
So, for email, you know, and I know that’s probably not the right answer that everyone wants but for email, opens could be as much about when you sent the email as it could be the subject line. Also, again, that from name people sort of forget about that, they don’t really think about that as part of the experience and so that’s something that if an email is from Jamie as a written letter but the from name is Emma Email, you know, do those experiences match? And I think, you know, by in large from the experiences that Michael talked about before and after the email, it’s all about making a cohesive experience for the person, you know, if I fill out a form does the thing that happens immediately after that, the welcome email or whatever it might be, that first interaction, does that match the experience that I just had, are you actually making good on the promise that you made to me top to bottom in that mailing?
Then the action you’re asking me to take in that email, what happens when I leave? If you’re saying that when I click this button I’m gonna go to coupons and then I go to your homepage, you know, that’s where a lot of people too sort of, you know, testing is not necessarily the silver bullet, it’s really that they didn’t really think of…it’s not like the email in total isolation both in their program and just in the design and it all is one big experience just, you know. And again, we always tell people I’m Jamie, I’m a consumer, I’m a business to business consumer and, you know, clothes consumer and glasses consumer and whatever else.
I don’t stop being a human because I came to work at Emma, so I’m still absorbing information in my inbox that you saw is very crowded. Much the same way that the people you’re trying to contact are, you know, depending on what your business is. So, human interaction, the psychology behind conversions and open through clicks and things like that. There’s some throughlines there, there’s some human nature kind of stuff that’s happening regardless of who I am or what’s happening. So, that’s my thing. Okay, so I think we are a little bit over but I think we could probably… You guys are still hanging on. We still have quite a few people online.
Michael: Yeah, let’s do one more.
Jamie: I was gonna say, do you have to run? Could you take one more question?
Michael: Well, one more then I have to run.
Jamie: Yeah. Okay, all right. Me too. There’s so many good ones. What’s going on? What do you wanna answer?
Michael: Well, we can do a follow-up if you want to.
Jamie: Yeah. Yeah, let’s do that.
Michael: Let’s do one more question then we can do follow-up, either send them out in email or do it in, like, written form.
Jamie: Okay, here’s a good one. This one is about email but it’s a Michael question. It’s from Howard. I like your name, Howard. “Please, talk a bit about creating unique landing pages that link to the buttons in your email. So, I click a button in an email and I go to a unique landing page. What are your thoughts about that? Is that important or is that overused?
Michael: I would say in most cases, and again, I mean there’s never gonna be that one single answer but I’d say yeah, in most cases it makes sense. Again, you’re trying to create the most relevant least distracting experience possible. So, in most cases, unless your company basically only has one product so that you can, you know, and that’s the product you’re selling just with a slight difference, whatever, you know, then maybe it makes sense just to send it to your homepage if you only have that one thing.
But in most cases, yeah, you’re trying to make a very highly specialized experience. So, for example, e-commerce, you know, talk about that a lot. It would be if you have 20% on whatever, a Nikon DSLR camera, whatever, make sure that you send me directly to that. You know, minimize the conflict of friction [inaudible 00:59:25] my expectations and then show me the most relevant, you know, experience, right? So, we’re talking about something called attention ratio here at Unbounce where we’re saying, you know, attention ratio could be like how many things can you do as opposed to what you’re supposed to do. And we talk about limiting your attention ratio, right?
So, that doesn’t mean that your landing page is horrible if it has two links, that’s not it. We’re just saying to limit it. If you have four links or four buttons but they’re all kind of serving the same purpose, by all means, you [inaudible 00:59:56] those are links but they just help you get to the landing page, that’s fine. What I’m saying is don’t have 50 irrelevant links which give people so many options. “Are you sure you want this or that or this or that?”.
So, I think that’s the way to think about it, right, is how do we create the most relevant and least distracting experience so that people experience the least amount of friction or, like, brain jolts where they have to, like, recalibrate. So, that means, of course, message match, visual match, and all that. Everything to make it as easy for me to take it to the next step. So, yes, I would say they’re very important. So, I used Unbounce for six years before I joined the company so I’ve used it for very long time. One thing I do like about this or any landing page builder, of course, I prefer Unbounce but the cool thing is you can build these landing pages very, very quickly. And that’s the thing, once you build it then you can clone it, you can clone it 100 times if you want.
I’d say the one thing you might wanna be careful with as far as sending [inaudible 01:00:54] stuff is like dedicated landing pages is just like… Unbounce, for example, has dynamic text insertion that means you can make…if the only thing you’re tweaking is just a headline, whatever, just the messaging, then you can use that instead because to my point, if you spread it out too much then you reduce your chances of being able to like test it and stuff because then you’re like maxing, you’re sending maybe a sample of 10,000 users but you’re spreading them out over 100 landing pages.
That’s an extreme example but then you’re reducing your sample size to be so small that you can’t really be testing it anymore. So, there’s a little bit to consider there also. And then also just maintenance, like, you know, if you do a new landing page for every campaign which 99% of the instance is gonna be a good idea, just remember that they live [inaudible 01:01:41] you may wanna get rid of them and stuff. So, yeah, it’s all about making it the most relevant, least distracting, like, how I get them quickest from A to B.
Jamie: Yep, exactly. Yeah, I was gonna say don’t send me to your homepage unless you’re like relaunching your homepage and announcing that. If you’re just sending me, you know, or unless you’ve tweaked that homepage to be super focused. But definitely think about what you’re asking me to do and make sure that it’s very, very clear and easy for me to do that thing where I go and if that doesn’t already exist then you should create a new place for me to go. Yeah, a wonderful service like Unbounce. Okay, well I’m gonna let me Michael go. And yeah, we’ve got so many questions. We can chat about maybe doing a follow-up blog or something like that to make sure…
Michael: Oh, cool. We can do a follow-up blog, we can do another webinar. [crosstalk 01:02:30].
Jamie: Yeah, awesome. Well, I’m so excited. Thank you so much, Michael, for joining us.
Michael: Thanks for having me.
Jamie: Yay. And thank you, guys. Again, we’ll send the recording out and yeah, hopefully, we can get some of these additional questions answered for you too so thanks so much.
Michael: Thank you, bye.