Amazing location - the Museum of Jewish Heritage on the southern tip of Manhattan right on the river and with a view of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty. My hotel is about 15 minutes walk away - close to the 9/11 site. This is the conference site.
1st Post - New Paid Content Marketing Research: Stats on What Works
Detail: MarketingSherpa's research director reveals paid content data from their updated studies. Gain actionable and up–to–the–minute information on search and email marketing, as well the influence of web design, pricing and payment plans on conversion.
Stefan Tornquist, Research Director, MarketingSherpa
Predicted revenue sources 2012:(top two)
- Advertising 79%
- Subscriptions 72%
Adverts in email newsletters - from 80% first time it cut 50% each time over 3 viewings. How do you get over this - advert rotation and advert position. Possibly move from graphic advert to text based.
How is economy affecting you?
- B2C - 40% of businesses do not expect any difference. For these the downturn opens up new opportunities if you have a flexible pricing or product model
- B2B economic effects being felt: Lengthening sales cycles, lower new customers each month, lower average purchase.
Sources of traffic (B2B)
- Search engine optimisation
- Paid search marketing
- Viral marketing
- Online sponsorship
- Offline advertising
There are large differences in the range of effectiveness in some of these - Viral marketing being one of them.
- Viral marketing
- Offline Advertising
- Paid search marketing
Point made that the SEO dominance may point to success of other channels driving traffic to your business via search
B2B - Web2 activities question
Very interesting in that the majority of the sample who are participating in the various activities do not know if it makes any difference at all.
If they know the effects they are:
- Increased engagement - 74%
- Increased awareness in potential customers - 44%
- Improved customer retention - 21%
- Customers spending more - 18%
Prediction of 50% growth in video advertising through to 2010 - $2.9B by then (PWC figures)
Slide on the testing done over the last year by conference participants with high impact figures after each:
- Homepage redesign - 10%
- Email list cleansing - 25%
- Redefining site architecture for SEO - 29%
- Implementing high end web analytics - 17%
- Redefining internal search - 13%
- Usability testing of registration and/or shopping cart - 19%
Information potentially wanted by a user before making purchase (may reflect a more complex purchasing decision):
- Customer Service
- Company information
2nd post - How to increase your ability to optimise sub-path pages by 30% to 50%
Flint McGlaughlin, Director, MarketingExperiments. Also runs research lab at University of Cambridge.
He used 3 cases studies to make points on conversion of visitors to users to customers
Site offers customisable news feeds and the objective was to improve the conversion rate for visits to signups
The process which he engaged in was during a webinar with over 1000 participants and took 10 minutes
- Make eye path vertical - one column
- Increase font size
- Purpose not clear
- Add credibility indicators
- Put sign up on the main page (typically asking people to link to a second page looses 50% of them)
The simple changes made conversions rise from 3.9% to 6.6% and then also reduced marketing spend by focusing on keywords which lead to highest conversions.
Clarity trumps persuasion
(he mentioned a clients $5M web redesign which was awful because it was unclear)
Optimisation is about leading the visitor to a single objective - too many objectives confuses the user and the page
Two questions to ask about a site and how it works: (you must fill two cognitive voids)
- What is your offer? (you have 3 seconds to get them oriented)
- Why should I participate? (if I am your ideal customer why should I purchase from you and not anyone else?)
Our tendency is to rush to the "why" before we have answered "what"
Our tendency is to answer "why" before we have made the questions, itself, relevant
Our tendency is to answer "why" with presumed authority rather than actual credibility (quantitative is better that qualitative). If you do not have quantitative then use someone's else's qualitative.
Marketing Sherpa offers subscription to knowledge
Q - does a feature matrix on the trial page help or hinder subscriptions conversions
The answer was yes - an increase in 1.12% conversions to 1.97% (75% increase) with the matrix - despite the matrix making the page longer and pushing the subscription signup to the end!
Subscriptions to an internet hosting subscription - currently at 1%
3 pages shown - original and 2 treatments. All 3 have a matrix
Wording on top - simpler headings, more focused proposition - Our best every hosting packages won!
1.31%, 3.44%, 2.05% (relative difference 162%)
Beware of unsupervised thinking by users!
(He uses his 13 year old son and when a page is done he sits him down in front of it and asks him - What is this page about?)
During the Q&A he said that using credibility indicators randomly does not work - for example littering the home page with 3rd party references. Instead use them at relevant decision/value proposition points and make them specifically relevant.
The amount of copy should be just enough to answer the 2 questions - what and why. You can use "popups" to carry additional content for more detail.
3rd Post: Revisiting Subscription Revenue Strategies to Support Changing Business Models
Detail: What's the right mix of free and paid content? How do I balance advertising, subscription, and single item revenue streams to meet quarterly goals and maximize long–term profitability? If you are like many strategists in the world of online subscriptions, you're looking at adjusting your revenue mix formula and adjusting your marketing strategy accordingly. Don't miss this spirited discussion to learn how a shift in the "big picture" will affect your efforts to boost traffic, increase conversions, and optimize revenue per subscriber.
Bobby Burton, Chief Operating Officer, Rivals.com - could not make it, Marybeth
Gavin, Senior Marketing Manager, Hoovers.com, John Boris, VP Marketing,
Moderator: Sean Donohue, MaketingSherpa
His intro went over the turmoil over the last year in the subscription model talking about the move back to the advertising model. He reckoned that this is cyclical and only applies to certain content which is explicitly up against similar content.
Adverts versus subscriptions - he asked them about the hybrid business models,
Marybeth explained that Hoovers supplies B2B information with a
subscription service that takes advantage of their propriery content.
They found that their subscribers became a valuable group for advertisers and they were approached to carry adverts. So they did! And it now comprises about 10% of their revenue - but it is carefully done
John said that Zagat has bounced backwards and forwards between
subscriptions and adverts for the last couple of years. Now they are on
a hybrid. A specific change they have made in the last year has tripled
their advertising revenue.
Advertising is the fastest growing revenue stream from their sites and they are debating moving to a free model - but giving up a guaranteed revenue steam from subscribers is difficult and may not be necessary. Subscriptions are still larger than advertising though.
Sean Donohue asked how they decide to place content on either side of the Free V Paid barrier?
John said that the key piece of information behind the barrier is
the review of a establishment and they now also have other stuff like
video and tours which (if they are community generated) are behind a
free sign up barrier.
Their mobile content is new and behind the subscription level.
Marybeth - they use the free site as a lead generation tool (they do not have a free registration level) and they tease with summaries for which the detail is available behind the subscription barrier. All their proprietary and analysis content is subscription only. The primary benefit they offer is that even with the non proprietary information they can save vast amounts of time by gathering and summarising it in one place.
Sean mentioned Rivals.com (missing panellist). It gathers information and communities around college sports. They realised that the community they service is really active at certain times of year and so they ramp up their content and marketing to match those natural peaks in interest.
Sean then asked about the community/Web2 levels of content - these
are very typically kept behind free registeration. He asked Marybeth if
Hoovers have been considering this area?
She said that they have implemented community forums, blogs and podcasts. More recently they have added self listing for individuals to add themselves as executives on company listings. However she said that their client base is time poor and the takeup has been poor. They have launched a separate site to promote those features.
Sean said that Rivals.com (who charge $9.95 a month) have found that
the community features have been a key attraction for their subscribers.
He then asked how the panellists prioritise their attention across the various revenue streams?
John - they have two teams focused on advert V users/subscribers. They have started to promote their free offering online to maximise advertising revenues and then subscriptions (to combat the perception that they are a paid only site).
Marybeth. They focus on bundling contextual content and wrapping
advertising or sponsorship around this content bundle. They also line
up free trials and other benefits that complement the content.
As they are used a lot by job seekers looking up background information they have also run job adverts on company pages (ie Dell openings on the Dell page)
Sean asked them each for one quick tip to share with audience
John - they used to have multiple subscription offerings and they
eliminated the lower price offering. They did not reduce the conversion
They also changed their cancellation policy - now by phone only and their cancellation rate has reduced by 40%. [this seems dumb to me, keith]
Marybeth - a livechat option is used as a conversion tool - if a
visitor delays at a conversion page for too long they are presented
with a livechat box asking them if they need anything - this has a very
high success rate.
They have also used webinars with a lot of subtle background inferences on how Hoovers can help the audience for the webinar.
What really, really works commercially is to ask an advertiser to sponsor one of those webinars.
Q from audience - someone whose business model is more subscription
than advertising. She asked about how they are doing the financial
modelling on the future revenue models.
John said that they gather a mix of quantitative information and informed opinions. If they forecast an inflection point in the future then they do need to decide on if they make a short term decision to pre-empt the future change.
Q - are either of them using widgets etc to push some of their content into social networking sites etc?
John - they are working on this at present to increase awareness but they are a strong destination site and this influences their approach.
Marybeth - they have developed a Google live search widget and a couple of other things but they have not yet seen traction with those.
Q - how do Zagat move people up the value train?
They have seen the biggest success in moving people from visitor straight to subscriber. Conversion from user to subscriber is less successful. They have offered a trial subscription with some success and use various onsite messaging to change people.
Q - product development split between free and subscription sites
Both said that their content is shared and so the product development is similar for both.
4th Post: Subscription Business Forecasting: Developing a Comprehensive Model for Sustained Growth
Detail: ShareFile launched in December, 2005 and today has over 130,000
users in 120 countries with over 2,000 paid subscription accounts.
Early in the business they built a mathematical model to run "what–if"
analyses and determine the answers to key questions including:
–How many months will it take to recover our customer acquisition cost?
–How many subscribers will we have in six months? One year? Three years?
–At a given level of ad spending, how long will it take to reach 5,000 customers?
–What impact will an improvement in registration process have on product revenues 12 months down the road?
–How much money should we spend to acquire new customers?
The presenter will share the concepts behind the development of subscription business modeling tools and walk through specific examples of how the models have helped in understanding the business and projecting future subscriber numbers.
Jesse Lipson, CEO, ShareFile
[Sharefile are a subscription only business - no free version]. He described them as a business file transfer tool.
Launched Nov 2005. Average revenue per month per customer $37 - currently working to move up to $41.
180,000 users, 2,600 paid accounts, Users in 120 countries.
Two key points
Modeling is extremely valuable, especially for subscription businesses
The underlying approach is the same for all businesses
Modeling is a simple representation of a complex phenomena. Business
modeling involves taking the key elements of the business and breaking
them into simple quantifiable elements
The key is the balance between complexity and overly simplistic.
Modelling helps you to value a customer and therefore helps you understand how much you can spend to acquire them.
Subscription Model Development:
7 Key variables
- Cost per lead
- Lead conversion rate
- Lead conversion time
- Organic growth rate (Word of mouth/viral)
- Churn rate
- Average revenue per customer
- Average marginal cost per customer (include customer support costs)
- Ad budget
- Cost per acquisition
- Time to break even
- Gross profit per customer
- Lifetime value of a customer
- Net present value of your acquisition
He suggested that you build a model - even in advance of having some or all of the data. The sooner you start the sooner you will start to learn.
One example of how they use their model - which he showed us. With a lifetime value of $828 he reckoned that they could spend $200 to $400 to acquire each one.
He then spoke about a program they ran to increase free trial conversion rates. They designed a test to see if follow up calls to ex-trial users and found that the conversion rate for phone calls versus not was 61% against 57%. Which seemed marginal - but when they put that into the modelling they found that over 4 years this action would result in a $538k increase in the value of the business!
He then showed an example of a reduction in churn rate which resulted in a $10m improvement in the business value after 4 years.
5th Post: Take a Look Inside: Building Your Subscription Base through Segmentation and Usability
Building a loyal, relationship–focused experience for both new and returning visitors starts with increasing the usability of the site. In the process of testing features like ‘Look inside the Magazine,’ guest checkout, and a variety of site search results pages, Magazines.com has developed experiences tailored to many audiences in order to maximize the functionality of their site and appeal to and deliver relevant content to all visitors. Hear lessons learned around acquiring online subscriptions, establishing long term consumer education goals, and site optimization based on customer behavior.
Kate O’Neill, Director of Customer Experience & Product Development Magazines.com
They have over 1M subscriptions per annum. Kate "owns" the site so has responsibility for all aspects of it.
She first spoke about what customers wanted from them and she focused on the ability to browse without registering. They brought in a number of new features and then tested them.
The process of usability testing is complicated by the fact that users do not know why they do what they do - so asking them why they have clicked on a particular option does not really lead to usable data.
So instead you should use multi-variable testing (changes various elements of a page) and use website stats to find both the high traffic areas as well as the duds.
The challenge is still that you may have various user types and so the aggregate data may hide relevant information on high use of features by one group and low usage by another.
Kate went through the test detail in some detail. Elements of the results were unexpected and so she also pointed out that you may not be able to understand some of your results - this is inevitable when testing with humans!
In the Q&A session she said that slow V fast internet connections did not appear to make a difference to subscription rates.
You should also consider using paper prototypes to explore other options for the features you tested.
6th Post: Keep them Wanting More: Maximizing Customer Lifetime Value through Strategic Offer Development and Delivery
The presenters discuss the techniques and tactics that they have successfully implemented to extend LTV (lifetime value) of their paid members. With effective site optimization to creative CRM email marketing strategies, TheLadders.com dramatically increased their revenues and LTV of their customer base. These implementations along with their successful execution, allowed TheLadders.com to experience package mix shifts to the longer–term subscriptions at initial sign–up along with increased subscription conversion to longer–term subscriptions post sign–up. Learn new approaches on how messaging, design and timing create longer subscriptions for your customer base and increase the bottom line in revenue.
Michael McCurdy, Director, CRM, TheLadders.com
Leslie Semegran, Director, Online, TheLadders.com
This site is for 100k plus jobs only. They charge jobseekers a
subscription to get access to the job listings. They offer packages
$30 a month
$120 for 6 mnonths
Their research showed that the lifetime values of customers went up
substantially as they moved from monthly to bi-annual to annual.
So how could they migrate customers upwards?
They looked at influencing the point at which monthly upgrade and what they upgrade to.
Leslie talked through the page on which users are invited to upgrade. They tried various things:
They moved the default to the 12 month
They spelled out the various lengths instead of using numbers
(neither of those worked)
They then showed all options as a monthly rate to
This resulted in a 15% decrease in the monthly and 250% increase in the yearly. The 6 monthly did not change much at all.
However this resulted in a lot of people contacting them to say that they thought they had signed up for a month by month charge (because of the wording) and asking to be moved back to the "proper" monthly.
They changed the page again - being mnore descriptive on the various options while keeping the monthly price. And they had a Total Charge very clearly on the page
This had the effect of reducing the uplift to yearly but it is still better than the original - more in 6 monthly now and less refund requests. They are also using a horizontal layout for the options and showing the total amount charged before the final button so people are very clear.
Leslie also explained how they also developed a different sign up page for people who had been members previously - same options but pre-population of the page with CC details already held etc.
379% increase in conversion rates on that page versus normal page with this page!
Michael then took over and spoke about some work with email
campaigns where they offered discounts to people who had left with
matching landing pages. They experimented with various discounts.
The offers varied from $5 dollars to 33% off. The 25% off one was the most successful. The testing only changed one variable - the discount. So the "A/B" testing was easy to analyse.
You would have expected the 33% off to have been most successful - however the 25% offer had the highest conversion to the yearly subscription.
He then spoke about a campaign to rescue people who were coming to the end of their subscription period - offering them 25% off their premium subscription. They tested this by keeping the discount the same and on 2 emails they experimented this time with changes in the data given to them in the email - varying from all data in the email to having them click through to a page on the site. The one which included in all the data in the email was more successful.
Then he talked about one click subscription extension - where people were offered 2 months free to upgrade their package. This was very successful in encouraging upgrades.
In the Q&A Leslie said that a 3 month options is being used in their UK site and they may consider this for the US - it is very successful in the UK. On the question of the effectiveness of their TV advertising Leslie said that as they could not track the increase in business directly they have been monitoring the change in categories and subscriptions against the pre TV age.
7th Post: The Economy of Paid Search: When and How to use it for Maximum Effect
This case study will detail recent paid search campaigns for AG Interactive properties. Get practical information on the relationship between SEO & Paid Search/Media, the impact of other media on branded search terms, and the impact of the high costs of search terms.
Jon Eggleton, VP Acquisition Marketing, AG Interactive
His business hosts over 3.7 million eCard subscribers. They also provide content to various IM and social networking sites and finally they have purchased a couple of photo sharing sites. Subscriptions are their primary revenue streams with advertising second and a couple of other revenue streams.
Their paid seach is mature - their sites are in a crowded category and so they have high CPC's (cost per clicks). Their annual subscriptions are low - $19.99 for a lot of them.
Their CPC trends 2008 V 2007 - Click Through Rate is going down 9% and CPC's have gone up 267% (for their branded sites). This is the result of competition in their sector.
Competition - varies from the various offline businesses such as Hallmark to non-sectoral businesses such as Wal Mart, Coca Cola, Amex and Sears. These businesses are bringing big changes to the CPC's as their business models, revenue streams and volumes are very different. They make money from consumers in different ways and they have large budgets.
He showed an example of a search results page around Valentines Day when a number of affiliates ran CPC adverts against the main branded sites which was illegal - but it meant a skew in the market in a very busy time for the business.
What did they do for Valentines Day?
- Deployed selective aggression (they decided that they would not be outbid on certain words)
- Reduced broad match keywords
- Focused on landing page quality
- Utilised real time reporting and keyword-level bidding
- Expanded long-tail keyword lists
This approach resulted in
- Impressions up 119%
- Clicks up 23%
- CTR down 44%
- CPC up 11%
- Subscriptions up 26%
- CPA up 4%
- Launch with 2nd tier engines
- Ask.com, Miva, looksmart
- Utilise international traffic
- Switch to Standard match on Yahoo
- Focus on profit, not CTR
- Test, test, test creative
- Purchase path crediting
He contrasted an SEO V Paid Search page - the SEO page is more
content rich but the Paid Search page has a higher conversion.
Obviously the content has to be retained somewhat on the SEO page as it
is directly related to the search engine ranking but there are design
elements of the Paid Search page that can be improved upon.
8th Post: A/B Testing Case Study
Encyclopaedia Britannica has been prolific in their use of A/B testing over the past 18 months. This information–packed session calls upon the findings of a number of tests (both winners and losers) designed to enable marketers to revisit all elements of a campaign including strategy, design, execution, and of course, results.
Dan Smith, Senior Vice President, Consumer Marketing, Encyclopaedia Britannica
I missed the first part of the talk. They have premium subscriptions, adverts on the free areas and they also have ecommerce offerings.
Caught him as he looked at various payment option bundles. They eliminated monthly option and went straight through to annual with incentives - 117% lift in free trials, 61% lift in paid subs, 130% lift in Revenue.
They tested one page order form. They tested one page one column, one page two column and two page control. The one pages did not perform well for them.
Article Page CTA Test
They show an abbreviated article and ask for details to read the rest - free trial offer. They changed the wording from Click here to read the rest to Click for Free Trial - less click throughs but higher conversions - so more committed traffic.
They also trialled an MSN advert on the landing pages (which may have distracted from the Free Trial offer). They lost free trials but the advertising revenue from the link meant an increase in average revenue overall from each visitor.
They also tested a Hackersafe logo on a one page sign up and this brought a 13% uplift on numbers signing up. This gave external validation of the credibility of their security.
Joe said that the growth of Wikipedia has expanded the sector - it has increased awareness of online information sources.
They do not have a registered free user category (without a CC requirement as they do have now) and are planning to try this. He sees their advertising revenues growing to be bigger than their subscription revenue stream. Although their subscriber base is picking up again having dropped a little.
They tried to get 400 subscribers to each test page to get valid results which takes about 2 weeks. (he said that their traffic is 1/187th of Wikipedia!). They usually test only one variable at a time.
9th Post: Online Subscriptions Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 - Reaching New Market Segments
Every year we celebrate an entrepreneur whose inspirational story shows you can start a subscription offering that succeeds online without major corporate backing. Past winners include AskTheBuilder.com and TheLadders.com. Find out who will win this year!
This now competes with ancestry.com which turns over about $150M per annum. This is a mature segment where the users are usually over 60.
Founded 2006 with 7 from original team - now 32 ee's. They raised seed funding of 1.2M last Autumn and they have a very traffic successful Facebook application. They started the development of that the day it was announced and it changed their marketing strategy to focus on piggybacking on the traffic from the social networks.
They have about 2.5M unique visitors a month (over 100k active users a day)
and they have 30,725 paying subscribers from a standing start in 2007. They have
He spoke about their sales channels - with affiliates accounting for 39% of their sales. They pay a 40% commission to them.
They have content partnership deals with over 30 different businesses and organisations.
He spoke more about Facebook and where they see it going for them. They spent an initial 15k to advertise it and none since - all adoption since is viral with over 3.5M downloads since October 2007. The facebook app showed a lot of Canadian activity and this lead them to the fact that the over 50's in Canada use Facebook a lot more than the US. Facebook in Canada was not launched as a college service.
He then presented some of their experiences with
worldvitalrecords.com and facebook. They gather email addresses by
offering to send emails which help with your research and this has a 4%
Searches done on the application give summary results which if clicked on bring you to a sign up page. Each page of the app carries a surname search box.
They have a special offer for Facebook users which is 99c for a month - taken from iTune track pricing which the facebook users are familiar with.
They reckon they will have 10 million facebook users by year end. They are collecting 2,700 emails a day.
.26% conversion rate for the 99c offer - with a lot of click throughs but a 4.15% conversion rate for those to give their CC or paypal details (paypal slightly higher).
Why are affiliates so successful - Paul said they treat them properly with the 40% one off revenue share a fair payment for their contribution to the business.
He said that the social networks can deliver really targeted advertising because of the profiling information that they have gathered - this offers tremendous opportunities for businesses.
On a humorous aside he said that he does get email for the MS Paul Allen and does forward it if it appears to be legitimate (via a friend who knows the real one) :-)
10th Post:This is a live session looking at a couple of sites suggested by the audience. Lead by Flint McGlaughlin, Director, MarketingExperiments.
We looked at entertainment.com and the very first suggestion was that there should be an understanding of where the traffic is coming from.
We followed the site through to the sign up page for online membership/subscription - click here for that.
The link to that page said Buy An Online Membership - yet this page does not use that term. So there is a Site Flow Interruption or Disconnect - the expectation of the user has been disturbed.
The graphic on the page gets in the way of the eye path - it draws a visitor to it immediately yet it does not answer the What or Why question. This eye path is influenced by:
- Motion (dangerous)
The heading is not clear enough, too many bullet points, text too small.
There was a discussion on the tension on the site between the printed product (they do money off coupons) and the online membership. The team leading the session have done work with the New York Times and they suggested a single form/page that allows the user to select between printed and digital and not split a site in two.
Clarity Trumps Persuasion
What is your offer?
Why should I participate?
Eliminate negatives - friction and anxiety
New York Times Casestudy - increase subscriptions to the online edition
They reduced a cause of friction - 3 equal buttons for Subscribe Now, Learn More and Free Trial. The Subscribe Now was made larger and the learn now was reduced to a much smaller link. The changes resulted in an increase in revenue of 65%.
They then looked at the free trial option page - which carried contradictions with Free V pricing information and also CC logos - you should not give pricing and CC logos equal emphasis on a Free trial signup - it introduces anxiety.
A change from a two paragraph layout to a single column (on a longer page) and this brought an 80% increase in revenue. Because the page became clearer with a better eyepath.
Next live site analysis - www.wie.org/unbound/
One of the first comments - never build a landing page with boxes,
bars and clips - there is no flow, no sequence and no clarity of offer.
The actual objective - signing up a subscriber - is "hidden" mid way
down in the right hand column.
The page starts with a banner (text in banners does not get read), then text which is not clear on the offering. This is followed by a number of photos of persons whose audio clips are carried by the service. We are now almost at the end of the screen and the user will still have no idea what the page is about.
Phrase used - component thinking instead of dialogue.
next one - MDR - www.schooldata.com/
This home page is unfocused and has multiple objectives. (as an aside - he made the point that the majority of the internet is full of bad pages working poorly - if you make any improvements you will do exceptionally well. This is a new industry and it is still learning)
The MarketTrial subscription page carries no value proposition - the What and Why are not addressed at the top of the page. The Free Trial text is too small - and the trial of what is not explained.
The form is too long - just collect the name, the email address and phone number.
use relevant testimonials here to validate.
next one - Weight Watchers
We looked at a page that is a landing page used for pay for click advertising with google,
Landing page analysis - the page is not clear. Vague heading, multiple options, a learn more button that goes to their home page! Disjointed eye path.
There are 2 columns with identical options. So make it one column, single call to action and they self sort with a radio button choice.
next one - Wall Street Journal
The page we looked at is a landing page (reached from the home page) for online subscriptions.
First issue was a Free Trial button that lead to a page with a lot of pricing - so a disconnect.
Second one is three equal choices - causes friction and unsupervised thinking.
First get them to buy, then to choose. That is the sequence of thought and the flow should support that. So ensure that the offer is understood and the visitor is immediately going to purchase.
next one - http://www.jobsinsports.com/
Example of good site:
- Headline with key offer.
- Next text addresses negatives.
- What they will do
- More detail on how they will do it
- Simple sign up
11th Post: The Payments Minefield: Developing a Strategy for Success in a Softening Economy
Paul Larsen, Payments & Operations Consultant
If you think it has been challenging for subscription merchants to meet recent credit card challenges, you may be in for a rude awakening. In the best of times, preventing inadvertent damage to customer relationships, caused by credit card ‘issues’, is problematic. In a softening economy, replete with delinquencies and shrinking available credit, the potential for future fallout is even greater. This must-attend session offers incisive best practices that can help you meet and overcome the challenges posed by an uncertain economic and competitive conditions.
- 50% of American CC's within 5% of their credit limits
- The average number of accounts per individual that are overdue by one payment or more - 1
- A lot of businesses do not implement best practice in transactional processing
Transactional best practices:
When re-trying to clear a cc payment you should re-attempt each 10 days and 3 times so that you cover the full 28 day payment cycle.
If you make multiple attempts over a number of days your processor may tighten up your account as they perceive that you are trying to get "dodgy" transactions through.
He gave a couple of examples of transaction recovery (having initially been declined). An observation that transactions under $25 are more likely to get cleared - the figures for three different merchants (with different price points) were:
- $13 - 51% recovered
- $24 - 58% recovered
- $50 - 27% recovered
The second and third ones tried 4 times over 30 to 40 days and they were able to do this because they are digital businesses and the direct cost of servicing a failed transaction is low to zero.
Cleansing of CC data
he then gave an example of merchants who asked for their CC details to be updated by Visa and Mastercard and these produced 2.2% to 5.1% of their details held which were out of date. This scheme in the US is a one time fee and less than a quarter for each update. This is compared to the cost of having payments declined.
These are becoming an issue for merchants [I guess these are similiar to the 3V disposable credit cards in Ireland] and the CC companies are developing a mechanism to give merchants information that will allow them to identify a gift card when a transaction is declined.
12th Post:Sean Donohue, Marketing Sherpa summarised some of his takeaways from the 2 days
Adapt to changing subscription business models
- Continually rebalance mix of paid and free - continuous analysis required - monthly or at least quarterly. New content, different user/subscriber types
- Sell service as well as content - filter and aggregate data, save time, offer analysis
- Exploit your niches
Make Web2 work for you
- Find a technology or platform that is a good fit
- View it as a long term strategy
Optimise your marketing mix
- Measure, monitor and track your marketing spend
- Paid search -
- If CPC is rising explore long tail terms
- Look at second and third tier search engines
- Focus on the profits that are being generated by each click stream
Defend against the economic downturn
- Plug your leaky payments bucket
- Focus on customer retention and cross-sell/upsell opportunities
- Repurpose content for additional revenues
- Elsevier (scientific and technology book publisher) digitised 4,000 books for the subscription based sciencedirect.com platform.
- marketed through free trial and volume discount
- Signed up 2000 customers for free trial
- Converted enough to make material impact on their annual turnover
Target tests for maximum potential value
- Identify your major pain or biggest subscription driver and try
- Upselling to higher sub package
- Trial registration path
- Feature/service that gets visitors over the hump
- Form a hypothesis and test it
Comment during discussion on offering a free trial or not - person from FT.com said that they dropped free trials a while ago and offered a money back guarantee only. She said this has not proved as effective as the free trial. A free trial allows you to continuously market to the potential subscriber - but should always be done having taken their credit card details first.
Suggestion on subscription renewals or conversions from free trials to subscribers - watch usage patterns and prepare a specific marketing message or offer to people who are low users or who have not used the service coming up to renewal or conversion deadline.
Another attendee brought this a stage further and suggested segmenting active customers with different services and communications for each. Reward highly active users/subscribers.