5 Marketing Trends to Win Business in 2021

2021 is not so much a fresh start as it is a continuation of last year’s disruption. The marketing key to success in 2021 will be to refine the marketing strategy you swiftly developed last year. Here are the five trends that every marketer should know…

2021 is not so much a fresh start as it is a continuation of last year's disruption. The marketing key to success in 2021 will be to refine the marketing strategy you swiftly developed last year. Here are the five trends that every marketer should know (or be reminded of) as we begin this new year:

1. Double Down on Digital

The acceleration of the shift to e-commerce will be even more noticeable in 2021. According to eMarketer, US e-commerce sales will reach $843 billion this year, up 6% year-over-year. The distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccinations has just started, but a profoundly changed public notion of health may prevent consumers from going back to how they used to shop even after the "end" of the pandemic. Every organization should transform its business model to a more digitally advanced platform. CNN Business reported that roughly 8,400 retailers and 110,000 restaurants closed in 2020. Thus, it is important to invest more in your digital or e-commerce platform and continue to digitally connect to your customers who are staying home now, more than ever.

2. Excellence of First-Party Data Collection

With privacy regulations such as GDPR, we already know that third-party cookie-based marketing will all but disappear shortly. Marketers must build compelling CRM platforms to enable a consent-driven first-party data set that allows them to communicate directly with their customers. Simply collecting basic information (e.g., name, email address) about your customers is no longer enough. According to Salesforce, 57% of customers are open to sharing personal data in exchange for personalized offers. With this in mind, conduct surveys to gather meaningful information (e.g., preference) about your customers.

3. Personalization fueled by MarTech

As previously stated, leveraging first-party data acquired through your digital platform will be even more pivotal for success going forward. The next step is to proactively mobilize personalization and amplify the business impact by enabling martech such as SalesForce, Adobe, or Hubspot. With these tools, you can seamlessly connect all customer touchpoints (owned and paid media) with personalized content in a scalable manner.

4. Focus on ROI of Digital Media

According to eMarketer, global media ad spending declined by 4.5% due to COVID-19 last year, but it will rebound this year at an expected rate of 16.4% for digital and 7.9% for traditional media. Although media budgets are increasing, marketers must pay extra attention to ROI to justify spending this year, especially as a hangover from a difficult previous fiscal year. Effective usage of first-party data with relevant, high-quality content and consistent ad optimization through testing will be the keys that enhance your ROI. It will allow you to maximize revenue while minimizing spending.   

5. Practice What Is Preached  

Many companies have taken a stand against racial injustice in response to civil unrest in 2020, and 85% of Americans expect companies to address racial inequities actively, according to PorterNovelli. Make sure to keep up your social commitments and show your customers that you carry through on promises made last year through your brand story. Customers will pay attention to which companies continue to "practice what they preach" in 2021. Remember, loyalty is solidified when trust is built. 

2020 was a year of upheaval and unexpected challenges and it is finally gone. Starting fresh in 2021, all marketers should take some time to look back and review what worked and what didn't last year. To get a competitive edge in 2021, add “lessons learned” to your business' advantage. A commitment to continuous transformation — even in disruptive times — will bring new customers and, most importantly, maximize the likelihood that existing customers will stick with you.

Want to learn more? Check out Merkle's 2021 Customer Experience Imperatives here.

No, that won’t work

Last week I interviewed Ian Harris, a professor of surgery, for my podcast. His research has found that over half of all surgeries are ineffective.

Hi 👋  I am Paras Chopra, founder & chairman of VWO. Here is the 7th post in my fortnightly series outlining a new idea or a story on experimentation and growth. Hope you find it valuable.

Last week I interviewed Ian Harris, a professor of surgery, for my podcast. His research has found that over half of all surgeries are ineffective.

Yes, you heard that right: the majority of surgeries don’t work (as compared to a placebo). The list of what doesn’t work includes commonly done surgeries such as those done for knee pain, back pain, hip replacement, and so on. (If you don’t believe me, I highly recommend watching this talk by the professor.)

Nl

This claim indeed sounds shocking, but recall that the most common surgical procedure in human history was bloodletting. In this practice that lasted for thousands of years and was common until the 1850s, the doctor would make a cut in the body and simply let out the blood of the patient.

Everyone thought this should work (partly because everyone did it) and many different variations of bloodletting were iterated and compared with each other. But, amazingly, a question that wasn’t asked until the 19th century was whether performing bloodletting works better than not doing it at all? Once this question was asked and a randomized control study was done, it was quickly understood that bloodletting doesn’t work (but may actually actively harm the patient).

Let me reiterate… bloodletting was performed for over 2000 years before it was discovered that it doesn’t work.

This makes you wonder – what else that we do commonly doesn’t actually work?

Actually, the sad part is that we don’t know what doesn’t work because, apart from medicine and science, we don’t perform enough randomized control trials (which are nothing but A/B tests in the marketing parlance). Even in the field of surgery, a systematic review of ~10,000 surgical procedures discovered that an A/B test was conducted for only 1% of such procedures. The remaining 99% of procedures were simply assumed to work.

In our day to day work as marketers, product managers, or leaders, we take so many decisions that feel right. Surely, that “best practice” change should work. Or this new campaign makes sense, so it should be run. But does it really work? What evidence do you have that if you hadn’t done anything, that metric wouldn’t have gone up?

Like the human body, businesses and markets are complex systems. There are thousands of factors that influence whether a particular action will have the desired impact. If the suggested action is our idea, we’re biased to believe that it works. 

However, learning from the ineffectiveness of bloodletting and many such surgeries that are still performed, the right attitude should be that best practices and genius ideas may simply not work (or, worse, may actively harm).

Unless a properly set up randomized control trial (or an A/B test) gives clear evidence of harm or benefit of a particular action, it would pay to believe that it probably doesn’t have any impact. The default orientation towards a new idea should be: no, it doesn’t work (unless you can prove that it works).

In other words, yes you should really be planning to run 25,000 A/B tests in 2021.

Do you have a story of an A/B test that debunked a widely held belief? I’d love to know about it. Send me a note at paras@vwo.com. I read and reply to all emails.

Inferred Links Will Replace the Link Graph

For 25 years, links have been core to how Google ranks web pages. But, today, I think most marketers dramatically overestimate their importance. There’s good evidence that over the long run, links won’t be all that crucial to Google’s…

For 25 years, links have been core to how Google ranks web pages. But, today, I think most marketers dramatically overestimate their importance. There’s good evidence that over the long run, links won’t be all that crucial to Google’s rankings, and will be replaced by lexical references that connect topics and keywords to a brand, website, or page—what I’ll call…

What I Learned Publishing 200+ Blog Posts on CXL

This is my last week at CXL. It’s bittersweet. I started on a Monday and published my first post on a Thursday. Since then, it’s been rinse and repeat for nearly two-and-a-half years. In sum, I wrote 46 posts and edited another 156. That works out to about a half-million words and a new post […]

The post What I Learned Publishing 200+ Blog Posts on CXL appeared first on CXL.

This is my last week at CXL. It’s bittersweet. I started on a Monday and published my first post on a Thursday. Since then, it’s been rinse and repeat for nearly two-and-a-half years.

In sum, I wrote 46 posts and edited another 156. That works out to about a half-million words and a new post every 4 days for 870 days.

Through it all, here’s what I figured out—and what I failed to solve.

5 things I learned 

1. Your brand isn’t what you just published; it’s what people see most often.

If, like CXL, you have 750+ posts floating around the Internet, your content brand isn’t what your strategy is now—the one that’s affected, say, your last 20 or 30 posts. It’s the other 700 posts that account for 95% of your traffic (since new stuff takes time to rank).

google analytics organic traffic to blog posts.
Organic user growth to posts I worked on. More users landed in November 2020 than my first eight months on the job combined. Organic takes time.

If your top five blog posts—which were published years ago—account for 30% of new users, then those posts are your brand for one in every three people. When someone finds a broken link, missing image, or dated bit of advice, your reaction may be, “Oh, that post? We did that years ago.” But for them, it’s all they know.

The division of traffic, not recency, shapes your content brand. That’s all too easy to forget. We work in the moment. We form forward-looking strategies.

Ask: If none of our content had a publish date, if there were no time-ordered list of posts, which articles would we say are the core of our brand? The most important topics and high-traffic posts may be buried deep in your blog roll. They should be top of mind.

We now update twice as many posts as we publish. It doesn’t take as long (one to four hours is enough to satisfy users and search engines), but it’s the most valuable thing we’ve done for organic traffic and the biggest opportunity for our content brand.

triage document to prioritize blog post updates.
Our triage document prioritizes content updates based on historical traffic, potential traffic, and evergreen-ness.

We started by fixing the big mistakes (broken stuff), and will, in second and third iterations, work on smaller things—off-brand tone, so-so articles, etc. 

2. Set a hard deadline that’s barely feasible—then use that pressure to improve processes. 

An old boss used to say, “Deadlines are your friend.” For her, deadlines staved off procrastination. But they’re also a cap on quality.

Everyone publishes on a budget. Time is part of that budget. Journalists have to make the morning paper. Magazines have to get out each week. Even academics—the most immune to deadlines—have to wrap up articles and books in time to earn tenure. 

It’s a balance. If you told me I had to publish a post every day, the quality would go down. But if you didn’t demand any cadence, there’s no way I’d say, “Twice a week sounds good.” That’s at the fringe of feasibility.

I can’t tell you how often I scrambled to get a post out the door in time for the Thursday morning newsletter. (I failed every six weeks or so.)

slack conversation about newsletter.
This conversation with Kyndall, who sent out the newsletter, happened…often.

But that pressure has been a great catalyst for process development. It’s absolutely possible to get a high-quality post out the door in 15 hours. A fixed deadline inspires efficiency. (It also banishes the low-ROI fiddling that can drag out final revisions for an extra week.)

Over the course of a year or so, running the blog went from a 40-hour-a-week gig to a 25-hour-a-week effort. The surplus time then went to stand-alone projects, post updates, etc.

(Yes, I could’ve used it to build more cushion into the publishing schedule, but that would only lower stress—which was manageable—not add business value.)

If CXL didn’t have a 10-year precedent of what a “good” post was or how often we usually published, it would’ve been difficult, from Day 1, to know that we had the right balance of publishing more versus publishing better.

But if you need a starting point, know that posts like ours take about one hour per 100 words.

3. Don’t try to create a perfect strategy; execute a good strategy more often.

I came to CXL after several years at an agency. Agency life teaches you the value of pretty slide decks. You need them to win client buy-in. If you have to rework (or abandon) a strategy, clients lose faith.

As a result, you spend a lot of time trying to create an airtight strategy—one that you’re confident will work, with milestones spread across several months. But you’re relying on a lot on hypotheticals and “best practices.”

No strategy guarantees success, especially at a micro level (e.g., picking topics for blog posts). We’ve published some great things that few people saw. We’ve published some mediocre posts that drive tons of traffic and leads. (Google’s standards are lower than ours.)

One post went viral because—unbeknownst to us—it gave exquisitely timed reassurance to an anxious influencer, who then shared it.

You can’t plan for this stuff. What you can plan for is the general shape of things—a makes-sense-but-not-foolproof strategy. From there, you’ll have more success if you execute that strategy more often. (Executing on it more often also gives you real-world feedback—the best way to refine your strategy.)

dart board with three darts.
Once you can hit the board with your darts, start throwing more darts—don’t bother looking for a technique that guarantees a bullseye. 

4. If you want a unique voice, write about topics you’ve got no shot to rank for.

Yes, this is counterintuitive, but hear me out.

If you’re just starting in content marketing, these are the typical steps for a by-the-book, keyword-targeted strategy:

  1. Identify the most relevant topics you should write about.
  2. Realize that the SERPs for the “core” aspects of that topic are way too competitive (i.e. dominated by big sites with tons of links).
  3. Find related, long-tail topics that have less search volume and lower competition.
  4. Publish on those until your domain is strong enough to go after the original keywords.

It makes sense. It drives traffic. But it will destroy any chance to stand out. The strategy, in effect, asks, “What keyword volume will remove all incentives to publish something unique?”

As a distribution channel, search rarely rewards tone, design, or angle. So much content looks the same because everyone’s style guidelines try to please the same search engine.

Flip the script:

  1. Identify the most relevant topics you should write about.
  2. Pick topics that big sites own, ones for which you have no prayer to rank for.
  3. Create content on those topics with a novel take or presentation.
  4. Embed those unique elements—of language, visuals, whatever—in all the content you create.

If you work to get eyeballs on your content before search is involved, you’ll establish the standards you need to get attention, now and later. (Retrofitting existing content is clumsy and expensive.)

Put another way: Quantitative data is the proof, but qualitative data is the story. This isn’t a shock to those who do conversion research—quant data is the “what”; qualitative data is the “why.”

But if you want a compelling research study, you’d better ask at least one open-ended question. Code those qualitative responses (ideal H2s) and use individual excerpts to add raw energy to your write-up. That’s what pulls people through an otherwise dry report and gets social shares.

The quantitative data, by contrast, wins the links—it’s the benchmark data that people love to cite.

A final note: Don’t overcomplicate original research. The U.S. News & World Report studies on cities, colleges, hospitals, and schools rely on about a dozen data points. All but a few are publicly available. The rest fall into one of three categories:

  1. A purchased dataset (e.g., from Gallup);
  2. One of their other studies (e.g., using hospital and school data for place rankings);
  3. Some non-scientific email survey.
methodology for u.s. news and world report studies.
Ah, yes, nothing says “authoritative” like a SurveyMonkey poll of 3,000 randos.

The third category is key. It generates “proprietary” results—the one extra data point you need to keep anyone else from replicating your results.

Grab some quantitative stuff that’s already out there. (Kaggle has a ton; Siege Media cataloged many sources.) Run a survey with an open-ended question. Mash mash. Publish.

If only everything were so simple.

3 problems I didn’t solve

Too many of these sorts of posts are triumphant—challenges faced, challenges met. I’m walking away knowing that there are things I didn’t get right or haven’t solved.

It’s engaging to work on hard problems; it’s disappointing not to see them through to a cathartic resolution.

1. Blogs are hamster wheels. I should’ve stepped off more often.

This is the single biggest reason I didn’t solve more problems. The weekly fist-pump moment of this job is right after you publish the second post of the week, usually Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning.

The rest of the week is a denouement—a much-needed winding down to get ready for next week’s plot twists and frenetic climax. The blog is always the main event, and it requires heads-down work, not introspection.

That slows progress. As Amos Tversky, Daniel Kahneman’s long-time research partner, said, “The secret to doing good research is always to be a little underemployed. You waste years by not being able to waste hours.”

hamster next to wheel.
The author in an undated photo. (Image source)

I could’ve made blog production more efficient—or published better stuff—had I taken the occasional Monday and said, “Okay, this week, the most important thing is improving how we operate, even if it means we don’t publish anything.”

I never did.

The result was incremental improvement. The 15-hour reduction (from 40 hours to 25) that took over a year was probably achievable in six months had I stepped out of the wheel once a quarter.

For anyone running a blog or thinking of starting one (godspeed), build thinking time into your editorial calendar—at least one week per quarter. No one outside your company will care if you don’t publish for a week, and you’ll get better a hell of a lot more quickly.

2. Those “side projects” are usually unfinished—or not very good.

Like any startup, we have tons of ideas. Also like any startup, we don’t have the capacity to execute them. We do, of course, have the boundless enthusiasm to think we can execute them.

That spare 15 hours after the last post goes out isn’t the best time for creative problem solving. It’s a great time to update blog posts, do email outreach, or other fuzzy-brain tasks, but you—or I, anyway—need the first fruits of my brain to execute complex content projects.

With rare exception, the additional content projects I worked on fell into one of two buckets:

1. They didn’t get done. We have several dusty strategy docs and a few half-baked projects.

For example, we grabbed thousands of screenshots of Amazon’s homepage over the last 20 years. We planned to analyze them to create a visual history of one of the web’s most ardent champions of iterative design.

Summer 2019 was the last time I touched it. We adjusted priorities. We had a domain migration that December. And, oh yeah, we started developing a new product (Adeft).

screenshot of amazon homepage from 2011.
You could be forgiven for thinking this was Amazon’s first-ever design, but it’s less than 10 years old.

2. They weren’t very good. Here’s another example: We wanted to increase traffic by targeting head terms that were too broad for a blog post (e.g., “email marketing”).

Hub pages were a cheap option because we could add a small amount of original content (e.g., definitions, FAQs), then automatically pull in relevant posts, webinars, and courses based on WordPress tags.

But we had only bare-bones design and dev resources. “We’ll put out a beta version and see if it gets traction,” we said. But these pages needed to earn links to rank. They needed to be so good that we were proud to promote them. They weren’t.

So, each one drifted around Page 3 or 4 of search results, as invisible as a slim volume in a cavernous library.

photo of huge library.
The Tianjin Binhai Library in China. (Image source)

In retrospect, it would’ve made sense to outsource some of these projects—give them to people for whom they could’ve been the number-one priority.

That, or we should’ve shoved the blog out of the way for a week here or there. But it’s a hard sell (to yourself or others) to sacrifice output of a thing that you know works.   

About 60–70% of a given week can go toward serious, creative work. The rest isn’t wasted (plenty of fuzzy-brain work is super valuable), but I have too often assumed that all hours are equal.

3. Some experiments take a long time to run (maybe too long for a startup). 

The biggest “before-and-after CXL” change in my thinking has been to go from a strategy- to experimentation-centric workflow.

I have Peep and, as a discipline, conversion optimization to thank for that. I move faster. I spend less time pondering. (Why speculate when you can get user feedback?) New ideas justify a test, not a strategy.

But the A/B testing mindset often defaults to two- or four-week cycles. Those are comically short time periods if you work in content or SEO.

So how, at an experimentation-focused startup, do you iterate rapidly if you need six months to get back data? Should you stick to a strategy if a shift in your product or market resets priorities?

I don’t know.

Conclusion

For the life of me, I can’t find who tweeted(?) it, but someone on some platform once wrote that when things, as they do, get all startup-y, it’s best to “roll down the windows, turn up the music, and keep driving.”

That’s good advice. And this has been great fun.

The post What I Learned Publishing 200+ Blog Posts on CXL appeared first on CXL.

Best Real Estate CRM Software

It’s easy to see how much technology is changing the real estate industry. Customers are more savvy than ever and expect a high level of attention and service before buying or selling real estate with your company.  For real estate agents, digital…

It’s easy to see how much technology is changing the real estate industry. Customers are more savvy than ever and expect a high level of attention and service before buying or selling real estate with your company.  For real estate agents, digital tools like customer relationship managers (CRM) have made managing contacts, leads, and customers […]

The post Best Real Estate CRM Software appeared first on The Daily Egg.

I Am Merkle, Vol. 5

I Am Merkle is a series of interviews that showcase the individuals who make Merkle a unique and diverse place to work. This month, learn more about our featured employee, Jackie Sass.

1. Tell us about yourself; where did you grow up? Where do you liv…

I Am Merkle is a series of interviews that showcase the individuals who make Merkle a unique and diverse place to work. This month, learn more about our featured employee, Jackie Sass.

1. Tell us about yourself; where did you grow up? Where do you live now? 

I grew up in Columbia, MD with my parents and two sisters, and currently live in Brookeville, MD with my husband and two young daughters, Evie (5) and Isabelle (2).

Don’t Use Inverted Color Cues on Toggle Buttons

A user made the mistake of posting their private information publicly. They had accidentally set their account to public when they wanted it set to private. What inherently caused this serious error wasn’t the user. It was a bad toggle button design. T…

A user made the mistake of posting their private information publicly. They had accidentally set their account to public when they wanted it set to private. What inherently caused this serious error wasn’t the user. It was a bad toggle button design. The user misperceived the toggle button that controls the public and private modes. […]

The post Don’t Use Inverted Color Cues on Toggle Buttons first appeared on UX Movement.

How We Used Facebook Ads to Help Vitrazza Reach $1 Million/Month in Sales

Find out how Inflow’s team of paid social strategists helped Vitrazza increase Facebook spend by 180% YOY with ad creative testing, user-generated content, audience segmentation, influencers, and targeted remarketing.

When we talk to eCommerce brand owners about Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads, we hear the same two questions over and over again:

  • “What creative works best?”
  • “How can we scale?”

The truth is, there is no universally accepted maxim when it comes to answering either of these questions.

Fear not, however. In times of darkness and uncertainty, turn to the Bat Signal. To quote the inimitable Batman, “Sometimes truth isn’t good enough. Sometimes people deserve more.”

We heartily agree. eCommerce brands, stores and business owners deserve a Facebook advertising partner that will go full-tilt in discovering the answers to these questions for each unique partnership. 

Enter Inflow.

In this case study, we’ll share how we took Vitrazza Glass Office Chair Mat’s Facebook Ad Account from spending $1,500 a month to $30,000+ a month profitably — at a lifetime 4.2X return on ad spend (ROAS) with over $250,000 in ad spend. 

Here’s what we did:

  • Ran ad tests to see what creative worked best 
  • Segmented audiences for explosive lookalike performance
  • Utilized influencers to reach new audiences
  • Revamped remarketing to provide a memorable brand experience

Spoiler alert: We helped Vitrazza eclipse the daunting $1 million revenue mark within a one-month period and experience a 90% increase in total sales YoY. 

First, Some Background

Vitrazza Glass Chair Mats came to us with a scale issue. They were looking for explosive sales growth and recognized that Facebook and Instagram ads presented the opportunity to do so. At the time, they were running Facebook ads around a $1,500/month budget, with 90% of spend going to remarketing lists. 

Vitrazza wanted us to answer their questions on creative and scale with results, not theories. Their goals: 

  • Demonstrably grow their Facebook ad spend
  • Shift the prospecting vs. remarketing percentage
  • Identify which type of creative assets would move the needle 

Our team got started. A thorough Facebook Ad Account audit revealed several areas of opportunity. Vitrazza also already had a stellar library of existing image assets, a high average-order value (AOV), and a willingness to increase budget. 

We had the winning combination to launch our strategy. 

What We Did:

At Inflow, we deploy a proven full-funnel approach to paid social ads. Given Vitrazza’s growth goals, it was clear we could leverage Facebook Ads to reach new audiences with our “See, Think, Do” framework. 

1. Tested Ad Creative and UGC

Vitrazza had a gold mine of content to work with, including some high-end photo shoots, TV-production-value commercials, and no shortage of customer testimonials. Our first step: Get the content organized and outline a plan. 

We knew Vitrazza Glass Office Chair Mats were not an impulse buy. We also knew that a successful tagline for Vitrazza was “Glide into office elegance.” 

All this is great, but elegance and user-generated content don’t typically go hand in hand. How could we diversify the creative ad mix to include UGC elements and high-production-value content, whilst upholding the integrity of the “Office Elegance” vibe? 

First, we took off the bat cape and turned back to Bruce Wayne as we stepped into the mind of the consumer and mapped out the purchase journey. What message did someone in the first phase of the funnel need to see and hear to move on to the next?

The answer: Video.

Video works well to introduce a brand or product for nearly any industry or niche. But it couldn’t be just video for the sake of video. To be successful on Facebook and Instagram, our ad creative needed to follow some basic guidelines:

  • Be short (one minute or less) to meet consumers’ rapidly shrinking attention spans.
  • Utilize closed captioning or a text overlay to improve view rates. 
  • Have an element of excitement. 
  • And, perhaps most important, provide good information.

So, we got to work. We tested a highly produced spot vs. a low-production-value video to see which would perform better.

Wouldn’t you know it: The lower-production-value video (right) won in both volume of sales and ROAS.

This was critical information. Now that we knew the success of quick, low-production-value ad creative, we were ready to test out its possibilities with user-generated content. 

Getting that content was the first challenge. We worked with Vitrazza to identify incentives for users (specifically, gift cards) to provide video testimonials with their smartphones. 

UGC content that is recorded in a square or horizontal format lends itself best to the mobile feed placements on both FB and IG. These tend to work better than vertical video, so we made the criteria clear to those we requested content from. 

While the initial goal was to extend the reach of our audience in an authentic way, the content ended up surpassing our expectations. For example, this video (featuring Mark, a happy customer) was able to spend $17,352 and hit a 4.2X ROAS.

Another video, featuring yours truly, spent $14,341.79 and resulted in a 4.2 ROAS

Even when you have a beautiful, higher-end product like a Vitrazza Glass Chair Mat, UGC is certainly worth testing in your Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns. It helps substantiate the product and provide social proof, which are critical in the consumer decision-making process. 

Showing off relatable content — where viewers think, “I had that same problem with plastic mats,” or “My office looks so similar to that; the glass chair mat would be a great addition” — helped us drive more spend and reach more qualified users. 

Segmented Seed Audiences

Creative, while one of the most important factors in the success of your campaigns, is not the only piece of the puzzle. Understanding which audiences are performing best with that creative is the jet fuel which keeps the Batmobile performing. 

Facebook and Instagram offer a multitude of targeting options to reach the right audience. We started with some of the historical must-haves: 1% lookalike of purchasers, “add to carts,” and “view contents.” We also used email lists Vitrazza had collected via Klaviyo to build lookalikes. This included an all-time purchaser list and a high average-order value (AOV) list. 

We used the traditional Ad Set Budget (ABO) method: set equal budgets across the board (so long as the audience sizes are similar) and let them run for a couple of weeks, unless we saw a clear opportunity to intervene. 

When we identified the winners, we started to increase the budgets on the winning ad sets, utilizing an incremental approach (increasing by 15% every few days). We used automated rules within Facebook to do this. If the ad set had a certain amount of conversions, under a certain CPA, we’d give it the old budget bump. 

Eventually, some of the 1% lookalike audiences started to burn out. When we saw the performance plateau, we widened the lookalike percentage. We started with 2% lookalikes of the winning seed audiences (the source audience from which the lookalike audience was modeled). From there, we continued testing into larger percentages of lookalikes and repeated the process. 

Once we had time-tested, lookalike-percentage-tested seed audiences, we took lookalikes of the top 3–4 seed audiences and clustered them into an ad set. This supercharged performance and let us scale further beyond the traditional segmentation model of lookalikes. 

As we were scaling spend up, Vitrazza was experiencing massive sales growth, which meant more robust Klaviyo lists and segments. We built new segments by pulling in more recent purchasers, breaking out bigger lists based on repeat purchasers or those who were two times the AOV, and uploading the value of the purchase data. We synced this into Facebook — and new, powerful lookalikes with associated values were built. 

Lastly, once we had the Purchase event on the Vitrazza Facebook pixel really humming, with our top creative and ad copy combinations dialed in, we took our best performers and ran them against a broad audience, with essentially zero targeting parameters. 

You did what!? 

That’s right, Robin. We trusted in Vitrazza’s offer, creative, and ad copy, and we trusted Facebook to go out and find purchasers for us. 

Using socially proofed ads (where we grabbed the post IDs of top-performing creative), we launched broad targeting with cost caps. We set the cost cap about 10% higher than what the target CPA goal was to give the algorithm more opportunity to deliver the ads to the right people. Because we were also pulling in the value of the purchase event, we were able to test and optimize ad delivery for a minimum ROAS threshold.

A helpful hint: Pairing a clean naming convention with clean UTM parameters on the back end of the ads helps with ease of reporting and gives you maximum visibility into performance. 

In short, dialing in on creative and audiences helped supercharge Vitrazza’s sales and allowed us to scale the account — while still exceeding client goals. 

Utilized Influencers

There’s more. 

We learned pretty quickly that UGC was a great way to scale the account. But we also knew that we were in need of additional content, because the new UGC content coming in couldn’t keep pace with the rapid growth of the account. 

So, Vitrazza turned to the deep blue ocean that is influencer marketing. In collaboration with our strategists, they identified traits and qualities of ideal influencers that would work well for their paid Facebook and Instagram ads. 

The winners: Chris Han, Nvizion, MorganCodes, and ChelseyHorne.

Vitrazza was able to partner with these amazing influencers, each with their own loyal, distinct fanbase. We ran these in separate campaigns within Facebook and Instagram and tagged each of the respective influencers. This enabled us to reach new audiences with our targeting and add an extra layer of social proof to the Vitrazza brand. 

The posts have all performed well, but the Chris Han photo has produced at the highest level with over $39K in spend and a 4.9x ROAS! 

All of the influencers individually produced over 2.3x on cold traffic

Continued Remarketing

We were sending a lot of highly qualified users to the site with strong purchase intent, but we still needed to round out the paid social strategy with the “Think” and “Do” phase — otherwise known as remarketing.  

Average conversion rates on a last-click basis for eCommerce fluctuate, but a safe bet is that they’ll be between 1–2% depending on industry. That means 98–99% of your audience is coming to the site and NOT purchasing. A good remarketing strategy is imperative, especially with a higher-price-point product like a Vitrazza Glass Chair Mat. 

For Vitrazza, we set out and expanded remarketing efforts by segmenting audiences based on activity or inactivity.

We built a “Think” campaign, or a mid-funnel campaign where users have demonstrated some level of intent with the brand. This included video viewers from our See audiences; Google Click ID users; content viewers within three-, seven-, and 14-day windows; Facebook engagers; and Instagram engagers. We oriented our creative on proof, pulling in additional customer testimonials or really driving into some of the key value propositions which solve consumers’ pain points. 

For the Do phase, we focused primarily on users who had added to their cart. We staggered the audiences by five, seven, 14, and 21 days. In this phase, our creative was much more offer-driven, highlighting the discounts and special offers. We also focused heavily on the product as opposed to lifestyle images. 

The key here is to frequently switch out the creative and give users a fresh look at the brand. Because this is the smallest part of the funnel with the fewest number of users, keeping fresh creative helps reduce ad fatigue and drive down frequency, while increasing returns from 10x to 19x.

The Results

Just as Batman said, a hero can be anyone. In this case, the hero was Vitrazza. 

They went all in on testing a variety of content, including UGC and influencers. They allowed us to be nimble and trusted Inflow to provide the best recommendations based on our testing data. 

The result: We scaled the account from $1,500 per month in Facebook ad spend to over $34,000 and counting, all while exceeding ROAS goals. 

Since our partnership, Vitrazza has consistently achieved record-breaking revenue numbers, month after month, including their first $1 million month! Beyond the directly measurable impact, we’ve seen uplifts in their branded search queries and organic traffic, which we also saw in our Seltzer Goods Paid Social Case Study.

With over a quarter of a million dollars spent on Facebook and Instagram and a 4.2X ROAS, the See, Think, and Do strategy for Vitrazza has worked out great. It can work for your brand, too.If you’re looking for a Facebook Ads agency partner to help you get similar results, request a free proposal from our team now

Announcement: CXL Agency is changing

It’s been ten years since I started the CXL Agency.  We started off with a value proposition “we build websites that sell”. Most of our time went into building WordPress websites. The initial vision was to templetize and scale building conversion optimized websites. There were many problems with that, and we quickly learned, and adapted.  […]

The post Announcement: CXL Agency is changing appeared first on CXL.

It’s been ten years since I started the CXL Agency

We started off with a value proposition “we build websites that sell”. Most of our time went into building WordPress websites. The initial vision was to templetize and scale building conversion optimized websites. There were many problems with that, and we quickly learned, and adapted. 

Two years after the start we had evolved into a pure conversion optimization agency, and later it would become one of the world’s leading CRO agencies.

As the agency has changed and adapted over the years, so has the world.

We now live in The Retention Economy. 

For too long businesses have focused on short term wins chasing revenue over long term value. As a result VC’s now value businesses based on customer retention rather than multiples of revenue. Because customer retention is a better way of working out the true value of a business. 

The losers of the retention economy will be those who continue to focus on short term wins and vanity business metrics. 

But to thrive in this new reality, we need a shift in our thinking. 

So, as of today CXL Agency will be changing its name to Speero. But it’s way more than just a name change. 

We think CRO agencies that focus solely on conversion rate are broken. You need to think of the full customer experience, the brand, and focus on down-funnel metrics like CLTV, retention, pipeline dollars, and so forth. 

That’s why we’re shifting to focusing on Customer Experience Optimization, CXO. Speero’s new CX optimization program will include the fundamentals (research+testing), but we’ve designed new methods and processes for what we do, to improve the results we can achieve. 

The changes are;

  1. We run regular ‘research sprints’ throughout the program to gather new data, form new hypotheses and validate ideas as they arise. 

With the world changing faster than ever, you can’t just speak to customers once and be done with it. It has to be an ongoing process. Covid has made many businesses realize that consumer needs and expectations can change on a global level within a matter of days. Our research sprints mean we’re able to keep these changing needs in mind.

  1. We use data to understand and measure not only CR, but customer experience, retention, and lifetime value.

Way too often customer data sits within siloed teams across businesses. But when valid data from the entire customer journey is available it changes your focus from short term to focusing on bigger business metrics like retention. Leading to a much higher payoff from our work. 

  1. We run our experimentation maturity audit to understand and benchmark where you are when we start working together.

It helps us recommend what changes you should make in your business across tools & data, people & skills, strategy & culture, and process & methodology. We’ll do it again at the end of the 12 months, to chart your progress. 

  1. More education

We give you five free passes to CXL to fast track your team on everything CXO. We also run a number of collaborative workshops so your team can learn through working alongside our awesome team. 

  1. We map your customer journey and create data backed personas. 

By looking at the broader experience customers go through, we can create even stronger hypotheses for experimentation and drive higher revenue. 

But that’s not all, there’s more news from Speero:

My co-founder and managing director of the agency Viljo Vabrit is joining me on the board, making way for research director Ben Labay to step up as the agency’s new managing director. I know his infectious enthusiasm will help drive the agency forward. We’re lucky to have him. 

We’ve also expanded the team with some great new hires, some of their names might be familiar to you;  

Emma Travis has joined our UK team. Her previous role was head of CRO at Epiphany Search in Leeds. She brings ten years’ of experience in UX, research and CRO. Emma also has experience building and developing optimisation teams, processes and cultures, most recently at one of the UK’s fastest growing airlines. She worked with Jabra, Carphone Warehouse, Irwin Mitchell and First Direct.

Paul Randall also joins the UK team from British shoe retailer, Clarks. Paul has used a design thinking mindset to enhance customer experiences for over eight years. His empathy towards customer behaviour comes from conducting hundreds of usability studies and experiments. Paul has previously worked with Screwfix, Maximuscle and Flogas.

Two seniors hires for our US team too. Kristina Rowe, who joins us from her role as the senior digital optimization consultant at American Cancer Society. She previously worked with Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Progressive Medical.

And Jason Keough who spent the past 13 years’ as director of conversion optimization at Allianz Worldwide. He has presided over 10,000+ experiments aiming to help solve client and customer problems. He’s also worked with Delta Airlines, Priceline, Orbitz, Ticketmaster, and Tickets.com.

Great changes, great team. Check them out over on the new Speero agency website. 

Meanwhile, CXL and the blog will continue to operate under the CXL brand name, and will integrate Adeft into its offering. 

Watch this space. 

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