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Friction Free Forms for Marketing Ninjas

Happy New Year!

I’ve written before about the dangers of asking too much of your site visitors before you have established a meaningful, value-based relationship with them.

Now Lisa Margetis at Singlehop has reminded me of the importance of keeping any “asks” you must make of your customers as simple and pain-free as possible.

In her curiously titled “Contact Forms for the Minja” (which stands for Marketing Ninja, apparently!) infographic, Lisa illustrates how response levels and conversions fall as the number of fields in an online form increase. Using data from Dan Zarella, we can see that the optimal number of fields in a form is around 3 to 5:

More fields fewer conversions

And from Marketing Sherpa we also know which fields are most valuable to most marketers:

The fields marketers value the most

In summary, as Lisa rightly points out:

It’s all about finding the right friction

Too much friction (e.g. too many fields or hoops to jump through on your site) and people will refuse to fill out your online form. Too little friction and the data you collect are unlikely to yield sufficient insights to allow intelligent segmentation and targeted content marketing in future.

As Lisa’s infographic shows, there are many examples that prove, and sometimes disprove, the theoretical principles. But the simplest rule I think any marketer should follow is:

Only collect data that you actively plan to use.

In my experience, that’s by far the easiest way to ensure that all forms present the minimal amount of friction to your online customers and prospects.

Now go forth, learned Minja, and create beautiful, friction-free forms!

The Basic Data Capture Mistake Almost Every Marketer Makes

As marketers, we know a large part of our job is to collect as much data about customers and prospects as possible. Feeding the database gives us leads to qualify and valuable data to mine.

So it makes perfect sense when we have something of value to these people—like some great content or special offers—that we should make them jump through a few data hoops before we let them at it. The least they could do is share their name, email, and maybe some lifestyle interests so we can contact them again in future. Isn’t it?

No! It turns out this is actually one of the worst things most marketers do online.

Next time you have something that other people would like to access, try this for a change:

Give it to them. Just let them have it. No forms to fill, no data to share. Just instant, free access to the content they desire.

But here’s the kicker. If they like what you gave them, now is the perfect time to ask them to do you a favour in return. Perhaps they could give you just a few pieces of contact information so you can stay in touch and share more great content like this in future.

You see, people who have just been given something are much more likely to give something in return. It’s called reciprocity, that sense of indebtedness that is hard-wired into human behaviour.

I-doubled-my-data-badgeAnd in tests, flipping the online data collection to take place after the gift is received allows marketers to capture twice as much data as before. Yes, that’s double the data for no extra effort.

Not only that, but it’s often better quality data too. The tyre kickers and time wasters have got what they wanted and are unlikely to want to stay in touch. But the people who really appreciate your content, who know that it can bring value into to their lives, have everything to gain by sharing their contact details.

But don’t just take my word for it. Put it to the test. Flip that data collection page in your website, or trial the alternatives alongside each other in an A/B test. If your website visitors are anything like every test sample I’ve ever encountered, you’ll soon see you data counts and quality climbing.

I know it feels counter-intuitive but, honestly, this really works.

Now, stop thinking about it. Go put it to the test!

Who’s Watching Webinars These Days?

Webinar presenters will find a host of fascinating data points in BrightTALK’s DataLeaks 2013 presentation. Did you know for instance?:

  • On average, 90% of the audience has shown up 15% of the way into each webinar. So, if you’ve something interesting to say, best save it until you’re about 20% (one fifth) of the way into your webinar!

2013-07-11 22_55_18-DataLeaks 2013_ The Holy Trinity of Demand Creation _ BrightTALK

  • The average webinar duration on BrightTALK is 41.8 minutes, while videos run for just 20.7 minutes on average.
  • Webinars about human resources attract the largest audiences, financial services the smallest. Who knew?:

2013-07-11 23_03_07-DataLeaks 2013_ The Holy Trinity of Demand Creation _ BrightTALK

  • Webinar viewing is still predominantly a desktop or laptop-based experience. Less than 5% of viewings come from tablets or other mobile devices.
  • The average ‘no show’ rate—that’s the percentage of people who pre-register but then never show up to view the content either live or on-demand—is about 32%, up from just 15% in 2008
  • Around 40% of people watch a webinar or on-demand video from start to finish. The rest arrive late or leave early.

Great stats to bear in mind while planning your next webinar. See the full data presentation at

June 2013 – Top UK Facebook Performers Report

Michael-Ball-WinnerThe Socialbakers’ report for June is now out. In it we learn that Amazon UK is the UK’s leading brand page on Facebook with almost 3.5million local fans, ‘Up Your Viva’ is the leading media brand page despite losing fans since its peak in mid-May, Michael Ball gets more engagement on Facebook than George Michael, and EE responded to more questions on Facebook in June than Sky but took almost twice as long on average to do it.

Get the full report from Socialbakers. How does your brand page compare?

How to Ask for Help On Twitter (Please Read This!)

Please-Help-call-to-actionIt’s well known that if you ask people to retweet something on Twitter they’re more likely to do so than if you don’t ask. But exactly how much more likely has never been quantified before.

Step forward Hubspot’s Dan Zarella, author of The Science of Marketing, and a huge dataset from social update scheduler Buffer.

Dan analysed common calls to action featured in over 2.7million tweets to gauge what impact they have on recipients. While I should urge a little caution given the slightly skewed nature of the data (Buffer users tends to be more sophisticated social media players than the average) the findings are still pretty impressive.

As I’ve shown before, sometimes the littlest changes can have the biggest impact. So, here are the Top Seven Best Performing Calls To Action from Dan’s study:

1. Please Help – this simple, human plea generates more than 160% more retweets than the average tweet. Evidence, if it were ever needed, that social media is all about people helping other people.

2. Please Retweet – the old favourite solicits around 130% more retweets than average, still a great performer.

3. Please RT – interestingly for a shorthand world limited to just 140 characters, abbreviating Retweet to RT leads to 30% drop in retweets received! But ‘Please RT’ will still bring in around 90% more RTs than the average tweet so remains popular amongst the Twitter elite.

4. Please – OK, so this word may not always relate to an overt call to action but your mum was right: a little politeness goes a long way bringing home more than 70% more retweets than average.

5 Retweet – if you’re too cool to be polite, this one word still helps elicit over 50% more retweets than average.

6. Spread – we’re in the long grass now, but tweets featuring the word ‘spread’ still manage to attract over 30% more tweets than average

7. Visit – last on our hit list, the word ‘visit’ brings a tiny retweet uplift of around 15% over the average tweet. Not to be sniffed at perhaps, but a long way from the 160% boost at the top of our list.

So now you know which phrases are most likely to encourage your followers to retweet your content. But when and how often should you use these calls to action?

Clearly, if you beg for a retweet every time you post, your followers are likely to lose interest before very long. Instead I recommend you save your pleas for those times when you really need some help, maybe once or twice a week at most, depending on your activity levels. There are no hard and fast rules, but ask yourself what it must feel like to be on the receiving end of your tweets. If your Sent Tweets starts to look a bit like a charity fundraiser, you might be overdoing it. A little moderation will greatly increase your impact when the time comes to ask for those retweets.

And it almost goes without saying, it’s far better to focus on providing high quality content that your followers will spontaneously want to pass on than to force feed them rubbish they feel obliged to pass on to satisfy your constant requests for their help. Great content always generates the greatest response, even when you don’t ask for it.

The Science of Facebook Engagement (infographic)

I’m often asked how companies can increase the engagement levels of their posts on Facebook. Sadly, there’s no silver bullet or one-size-fits-all solution, but there are plenty of studies that show the value of experimentation.

And while it doesn’t offer any universally applicable answers, the infographic below may give you some fresh ideas for what to test next.

In brief: photos work well (as do videos), less is more, spell out your ‘call-to-action’, try simple participation ideas like caption competitions and know when your fans are online.



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