Need a WordPress Autopopup Newsletter Tool? You’ve got it!

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So you want to get more subscribers on your list and you’ve decided to put some thought into developing the best WordPress form for that: The Newsletter Form. Now, where to start?

We’ve got the right tool for you – it’s a WordPress Form Plugin. What does it do? It helps you create all kinds of WordPress forms. Do you need a WordPress contact form, a WordPress feedback form or maybe a WordPress customer survey? Look no further! With CaptainForm you can create these and many others in minutes.  All you have to do is install the CaptainForm plugin and start a three step journey to create the newsletter subscription form to fit your business.

(1) Edit Form- After you select New Form, start with the Newsletter Subscription Form template ( Find it in the Other Form dropdown) and Edit away by dragging and dropping the fields you need. Name and email fields are usually enough for this type of WordPress form, but you can definitely personalize it according to your needs by adding images or an attention-grabbing headline. If you know HTML you can also add HTML content to your form. There’s a dedicated field for that.

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(2) Settings-  From the Settings dropdown select Themes and you’ll be able to add a logo to your form, customize the background and form frame, set the highlight, buttons and more. From the same dropdown you can choose to integrate your form with 3rd Party Apps , set Payments, Security or add Rules. Take advantage of the Preview section to see how your form will look like.

(3) Publish- You’ve come to the final step: now you can select the publishing method suitable for you. If you want your WordPress Newsletter to automatically pop up on a page or in a post, this is where you can set it to appear after a certain number of seconds.

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See how easy it was to create? Now you’ll reach your clients’ inbox in a flash!

 

But there’s a lot more you can do with this WordPress form building tool so make sure you add it to your toolkit!

How to Get Paid for Your Freelance Writing Projects On Time, Every Time

Acquiring new clients, getting a steady stream of work, and staying on top of your finances are some of the most important skills every freelance writer needs to master. Unfortunately, more often than not, getting paid or paid on time can become a freelancer’s biggest problem. You’ve completed your part of the bargain, yet you’re still waiting for the payment.

According to a Freelancers Union survey, about half of the participants reported problems with getting paid. The study, cited by fastcompany.com, also revealed that are owned over $10,000 in unpaid invoices and spend approximately 36 hours chasing missing payments.

Without a doubt, companies need to be held accountable for paying freelancers on time, every time. However, there are still some essential steps you can take to protect yourself from deceptive clients and get paid for your freelance writing projects.

  1. Read the Contract Carefully

Most freelance writers don’t pay close attention to the contract and sign it after just glancing through it without understanding their right completely. And, it’s understandable – companies tend to throw seven-page contracts full of legal terms at writers when, in fact, all they care about is “how much money will make?”

If a client has yet to pay you for your work, read the contract carefully to see if the company has violated its part of the deal. Some clients have ambiguous time frames as to when you will get paid. Or, if you work with an advertising agency, the contract might specify that you won’t receive payment until the work is reviewed and approved by the company that hired the agency. In that case, there’s not much you can do to force the client to pay you.

But, if the contract mentions a specific time frame as to when you will get paid for your content writing, then the company has clearly violated their part of the deal. When this happens, you can move on to the following step.

  1. Provide a Kind Reminder

If a client is late with thepayment, don’t rush to threaten to sue them. Instead, a wise move is to let them know that you understand your rights, and you expect them to meet their part of the contract. The best way to do this is with a kind reminder.

Let them know that you’ve completed your obligations under the contract. Provide the specific paragraph from the agreement which forces the company to make the payment by a specific time frame.

If the client doesn’t respond to your kind reminder(s), let them know you are ready to pursue legal actions if they don’t respect their end of the contract. If the client still doesn’t respond, then it’s time to…

  1. Pull Out the Big Guns

There’s only so much frustration you can experience when paymentis delayed. If the amount of money the client owns you is significant, you can pull out the big guns and go to court to force them to pay you for your content writing services.

Most contracts stipulate the company is obligated to pay your lawyer’s fees if you win. Therefore, going to court can be expensive for companies, and they prefer to avoid that.

If you’ve decided to take legal actions, make sure you send your client a letter letting them know this is a final warning. Also, give them a deadline by which you expect to receive the payment, or you’ll file a lawsuit.

  1. Know Your Rights

When you sign a contract with a client, ensure you understand the terms you agree to. Read the contract carefully or ask a lawyer friend to help you understand the legal jargon. If you think the agreement doesn’t protect your rights, ask the client if they’ll allow you to make changes to the contract.

If the company allows you to perform changes, you might want to include the lawyer’s fees in the eventually of a lawsuit and a penalty clause that will increase the amount owned if the company continues to delay its payment.

Contracts can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Before you accept a new freelance writing project, make sure you have at least a written document covering the basics of the job – who you are, what the project is, how much will you get paid, when will you receive payment, who own the work, and so on. That way, if a client fails to pay you, you won’t be completely unprotected.

Fe-el.com Web Design Services

Web design is probably one of the most popular services nowadays. Since more people and businesses are appreciating the importance of being online, the next step is to have a website designed where they can show off what they offer as well as reach out to customers all over the world.

Fe-el.com specializes in web design services. We work hard to develop a design that is not only engaging, but also that can bring out who your business really is. With our web design services, you can put your mind at rest that the people who will visit your website will be enticed by it, and also feel inspired to take some form of action. This is what we aim for when we design websites for our clients. The design that we come up with will enable visitors to relate with your business, while enjoying a pleasant online experience. The websites the team at Fe-el.com creates are so powerful and appealing that they will leave an impact on visitors, and make them more inclined to re-visit again in the future.

The web design process that we undertake is divided into several steps, and at each part of the process you will be an integral part of it. At Fe-el.com we believe that the client needs to be present during the design process so that we will be better able to deliver a site that represents what he or she has been hoping for.

We start off by understanding what the client wants and prefers, and based on this evaluation we will then formulate a web design strategy. The team at Fe-el.com has plenty of experience in designing all sorts of websites and our approach is one where performance metrics, data analysis and research go hand in hand for best results. We will then proceed to information architecture as we believe that an effective web design is all about simplicity. Afterwards we will present the design that we feel would work best for the client. Our web design is all about engagement and interactivity so that ultimately we can present the best brand image for your company.

The following steps involve technology planning and strategizing because the web design also needs to work well from a technical point of view. Finally we will then finalize the web design process by launching the website. Through this phase, and afterwards, we will be there with the client, as our web design services are as comprehensive as can be. Launching calls for ongoing support and guidance as well as measurement for improvements. And Fe-el.com will be your partner through it all so that you won’t have to worry about anything.

Web design is something that may look really complicated and out of your league. However, with the support of Fe-el.com web design can actually turn out to be a very positive experience for your business. In time you will be amazed at the progress you will start registering in the number of clients, sales and revenue. And all this thanks to Fe-el’s web design services.
Web Agency Milan.

Why Sword Coast Legends is the digital Dungeon & Dragons RPG you’ve been waiting for

Sword Coast Legends

Sword Coast Legends was my favorite game of GDC 2015. Now, three months later I think it has a pretty damn good chance of being my favorite game of E3. And yes, I know we just got started—that’s how incredible Sword Coast Legends is.

In case you missed my GDC preview, let me recap: Sword Coast Legends is an isometric CRPG officially sanctioned by Dungeons & Dragons. It’s like the D&D folks saw Pillars of Eternity and went “We can do that too.”

Except Sword Coast Legends is taking the isometric CRPG in some pretty amazing directions. At GDC we got a peek at the game’s Dungeon Master mode, wherein one player takes on the role of DM and basically crafts a challenging dungeon for 1-4 other players on the fly. That alone helps Sword Coast Legends capture the essence of tabletop role-playing in a way no other game successfully has.

But at E3, we got a look at something even more interesting to me (as a tabletop player): Custom campaigns.

sword coast legends screenshot 6

It’s a huge feature and we only had half an hour, so apologies if any of this seems rushed—we basically glazed over most of the game’s capabilities in order to both see everythingand get a brief hands-on run through a custom dungeon.

But what we saw looks amazing. There’s a very robust design and scripting editor built right into the game, as far as I can tell. The only thing I couldn’t figure out is whether you can create custom maps or whether you’re just adding props to prefabs—but either way, the amount of customization here is phenomenal.

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You can create custom named locations, custom quests, write custom dialogue, custom vendors, custom characters (replete with custom stats and items), custom enemies—basically anything and everything can be tailored. Is it infinite customization? Of course not. I don’t think you can import your own character models or anything really crazy.

But this is a spectacular amount of control ceded to the DM. You can even, as I mentioned, decorate dungeons with props. During our demo, we watched an empty dungeon room turn into a grim ritual chamber, with rows of torches and an altar. Give two players the same dungeon layout and they’ll undoubtedly put the space to very different uses.

We saw quite a bit of the dungeon stuff before, though—this is just a further extension of it. Far more interesting is the idea of customized quest chains, whether wholly original or based off some classic D&D modules.

sword coast legends screenshot 7

To give the sensation of linear progression, you can make it so your party only triggers new locations when certain items are searched, or after dialogue, or what have you. Basically, you can make a whole new CRPG with the tools in Sword Coast Legends. As a fan of the genre—one that basically died for ten years—the idea of mod crews working on a huge story-driven experiences within Sword Coast Legends? That’s pretty exciting.

Further reading: 33 must-see PC games revealed at E3 2015

The one (sort-of) downside from my meeting today: I confirmed there are no ties between the main campaign and DM Mode. At GDC it sounded like there might be some tie-ins—and, in fact, the developer I spoke to today said they went back and forth on it for a while. But ultimately it didn’t make a ton of sense.

There is still four-player co-op in the main campaign though. The way it works is the host ultimately possesses the save files, while the other four players drop in. Dialogues can be initiated by anyone in the party, though, which could either be interesting or a total disaster depending on your friends.

sword coast legends screenshot 2

All in all, it’s looking great! I don’t love the 3D aesthetic quite as much as Pillars of Eternity’s Infinity Engine-esque art, but the game still looks pretty good (at least as good as Wasteland 2 and Divinity: Original Sin) and it plays well. Some of the animations still need more feedback and movement could be a bit more fluid, but overall I have no huge complaints on that front—it played like an isometric CRPG.

It’s almost like the genre never died in the first place. Almost.

Stay tuned for more coverage of E3 2015 from PCWorld, and be sure to follow my Twitter account for up-to-the-minute impressions and shots of the show floor.

Google takes another swing at Excel with Sheets update

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Google launched an updated version of its Sheets web app for spreadsheet editing on Monday, adding new capabilities that could help lure people away from Microsoft Excel.

The updates include a feature that lets users preview the results of formulas as they type, so they can troubleshoot problems without leaving the cell they’re editing. Google says the new capability is exclusive to Sheets, and comes alongside other capabilities like the ability to filter data by conditions including “greater than” and “text contains.” A new GETPIVOTDATA function makes it easier for users to pull information out of a pivot table, as well.

People who rely on Sheets for creating charts also got a few extras, including the ability to add data labels that show the exact value of bars in a bar chart or points in a graph. Users can also change the shape of points on line or scatter charts from circles to stars, triangles, pentagons and other shapes.

Monday’s update also brought new features targeted at improving Sheets’s collaboration chops. The software now allows users to set up editing warnings for certain cell ranges to remind themselves and their collaborators to be careful when changing critical values. Whenever a user goes to edit inside one of those areas, they’ll be shown a pop-up that lets them know it has been flagged as an area they should be cautious about changing. It’s a new augmentation to the service’s collaboration tools, which also allow users to confine collaborators to editing only certain cells.

Google’s new features come as Microsoft moves towards its upcoming release of Office 2016. That major update to the company’s productivity suite will be focused in part on making new collaboration features available, which will put apps like Excel 2016 in closer competition with Google’s collaboration technology.

How to take control of Dropbox sync

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As a Dropbox user, you surely love having all your files available in the cloud—that is, until they end up on your computer. As convenient and comforting as it is to have your files automatically synced to your PC, it can cause problems with your storage space and internet connection speed if your Dropbox is stuffed like a junk drawer. Fortunately, there are a few ways to manage the cloud service’s syncing feature and keep things running smoothly.

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To save on hard drive space, uncheck the folders you want to exclude from syncing.

Use selective sync

Dropbox syncs all your files to your computer. That’s no big deal if you only have a couple gigabytes’ worth in Dropbox, but things can get hairy if you have a hundred or more. Dropbox syncing does consider storage limitations—it automatically it syncs your smallest files first and continues until you run out of space. But that may still leave you without the presentation you need for your afternoon meeting.

The best way to save space and make sure you absolutely have the files you need is to use Selective Sync. This feature lets you designate per computer which folders to exclude from syncing. Not only does it help you manage your storage space, it’s also a great way to make sure only appropriate files are synced to your home and work computers, respectively.

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The Dropbox icon changes when you pause syncing.

To enable Selective Sync from Windows (Vista, 7, or 8), click the Dropbox icon in the system tray. Next, click the gear icon and choose Preferences. Then select Account > Selective Sync. A window will appear showing all your top-level folders with a checkbox next to each. Uncheck the box of each folder you want to exclude from syncing and click OK. Those folders will be removed from the hard drive of that computer, but will still be available on your other Dropbox-connected devices and through the website.

Pause syncing

Sometimes it’s not your storage but your bandwidth that’s at a premium. In those cases, syncing a lot of files, no matter what the size, can cause a bottleneck in your data flow. The easiest way to clear it is to temporarily pause syncing.

To do this, click the Dropbox icon from the Windows system tray. Click the gear icon and select Pause syncing. You’ll see a pause icon over the Dropbox menu to show syncing has stopped. To start it again, follow the same steps and select Resume syncing.

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You can control bandwidth usage manually in Dropbox’s Preferences.

Manage bandwidth

Even if you won’t want to completely put the brakes on syncing, you can still slow it down. By default, Dropbox throttles itself to 75 percent of your maximum upload speed and downloads at the fastest speed available. But if you’re still browsing at a snail’s pace, you can customize these settings to improve performance.

Click the Dropbox icon from the Windows system tray and click the gear icon. Select Preferences > Bandwidth. A window will open with fields for your upload and download rates. Click the Limit to radio button next to each and enter your preferred rates in each field and click apply. You may have to experiment with different rates to find the ones that work best for you.

What’s Happening At Google I/O 2015

Google IO

The Google developer conference, Google I/O, is underway in San Francisco, featuring a lineup of design-focused content for developers and designers. Today is rounding out to be a showstopper, from Google Maps Offline to the Google Now enhancements and Apple Pay rival Android Pay.

We swept the interweb to provide the best updates and news from the conference. Check out the highlights:

Google Now On Tap

Today, I/O conference-goers previewed Google Now enhancements. Google Now is a predictive search tool, and has gotten more intelligent. Google also proclaimed its availability on mobile browsers and Google-indexed apps.

Google noted on its Inside Search blog:

You can get notifications like where you parked your car, news stories based on your interests, or help with travel like your upcoming reservations. We’ve also gotten better at giving smarter answers to some of your questions… and at helping you get things done across your apps.

Android M Release

Google announced a developer preview of the next version of Android, the“M” release. The release features early access to Android so developers can prepare apps for the next version of the Android. Visit the M Developer Preview for downloads and documentation.

Google Photos Now Free

Google confirmed the launch of Google Photos for free… with nearly unlimited storage. With the service, Google will host 16MP and 1080P of photo and video storage for Android, iOS, and web users. Check out the details here.

Mobile Payments With Android

Google announced Android Pay, a cloud-based payment solution native to its mobile operating system. Think of it as an upgraded “Google Wallet” and a competitor to Apple Pay.

Google Opens “Inbox By Gmail” To The Masses

Today Google publicly released “Inbox”, which could be described as Gmail on steroids. Inbox features trip bundles, “Undo Send”, “Swipe to Delete”, upgraded signatures and reminders, and more. Check out more info on Inbox here… or download the app.

3D Becomes More Accessible

Google enhanced its cardboard frame smartphone attachment (used to create a 3D viewing device). The updated version is compatible with bigger phones and will support iOS devices.

Google Offline

Google announced multiple Apps will go offline, including Google Maps and Gmail. (Google Maps Offline will launch later this summer.)

Tune into the following hashtags on Twitter for the latest I/O updates:

  • #googleio15
  • #io2015
  • #io15 livestream

This Cognitive Bias Will Help You Create More Persuasive Landing Pages

While we’d all like to think that we act based on reason and logic, the truth is that we have many cognitive biases that affect our decisions.

Back in 1974, psychologists Tversky and Kahneman were the first to theorize and research the anchoring effect: our tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information presented to us (the “anchor”) to make subsequent decisions.

Take the release of the original iPad for example. After Steve Jobs showed off the high-resolution screen and impressive features, he asked the audience how much they thought this “revolutionary” new device should cost.

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“What should we price it at?” asked Jobs. “If you listen to the pundits, we’re going to price it at under $1000, which is code for $999.”

He put a giant “$999” up on the screen and left it there for several minutes.

“I am thrilled to announce to you that the iPad pricing starts not at $999, but at just $499.” On-screen, the $999 price was crushed by a falling “$499.”

Bingo. Because of the anchoring effect, $499 is now considered “cheap.”

Understanding biases like anchoring helps us make sense of our personal decision making process, but it also helps us persuade our prospects and create more powerful landing pages.

Let’s dig into how brands and marketers are currently using anchoring – and how you can too.

Present the most expensive option first

As we saw in the Jobs example, when a higher price is presented first, it becomes the benchmark against which other prices are evaluated.

Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers saw this first-hand when she ran an A/B test for her client’s pricing plans. The original page ordered the pricing from least expensive to most:

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Whereas the variation presented it in reverse, starting with the most expensive on the left:

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The verdict? The variation took the cake with a whopping 500% uplift in click throughs!

Because people read English from left to right, placing the highest price on the left ensured that people would see it first – making it the anchor against which to judge the price of the other plans. And that made the lower plan seem likethat much more of a great deal.

The same effect can be achieved by comparing your pricing schemes to that of competitors. Consider this example by analytics tool Hotjar:

hotjar-example-anchoring

By showing potential customers how much they spend on a monthly basis for using a combination of tools ($265/month) versus how much they could be spending by using their all-in-one solution ($29/month), Hotjar positions itself as the product that offers the best value.

Use anchors to put things into perspective

So much of our decision making is governed by how information is presented. A $40 pricing plan might sound like a lot on its own, but using an anchor can help you put things into perspective for prospects.

Consider this campaign that agency Saatchi & Saatchi put together to collect donations and raise awareness for a worthy cause:

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Image source.

In this example, the image grabs your attention, stands out and makes the immediate connection between the amount we spend on luxury items versus the small amount it costs to donate.

By showing people the amount of money they spend on their luxury items (the higher price) right above the low cost of the donation, they created a campaign that begged the question: “How can you spend so much on fashion but not be bothered to donate?”

Since 50% of our brain’s capacity is geared towards vision, the images we perceive on a landing page affect our emotional state. Images can communicate an idea, thought or feeling much quicker than text and can be used brilliantly with price anchoring.

Beware of negative anchoring

Anchoring isn’t a magic bullet. Sometimes, displaying multiple elements on your page can create an unwanted anchoring effect.

Have a look at the way Buffer displays their pricing plans:

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As we’ve already covered, they may want to consider leading with the most expensive plan, but beyond that lies a greater issue. Once you choose a monthly plan, a popup comes up summarizing the amount you’re going to pay.

Suddenly, it isn’t the (reasonable) monthly plan you chose but a yearly payment of $2250.

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The initial piece of information I received was $50 per month, but I didn’t get any indication that I was going to be charged annually. The large amount that suddenly appears on my screen comes as a complete shock.

To avoid negative anchoring, Buffer should consider testing the annual price on the pricing page. Why not inform people of the monthly price as well as the summarized annual price? It’d also be a great opportunity to present a discount to those paying for a year upfront.

At the very least, Buffer could test including a note about the annual billing under the call to action button, as on this landing page:

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Wrapping it up

There are many different cognitive biases that have an impact on our decision making and purchasing patterns, but few are as impactful as anchoring. When used properly, anchoring can bring you dramatic improvements in your conversion rate.

To use anchoring on your landing page, pay attention to the initial information a customer is presented with when they land on the page.

  • First, set a goal. Which option do you want people to choose?
  • Then set up an anchor. What will make your goal look like the best possible choice?
  • Don’t forget to test, test, test. You want to be sure you’re not inadvertently creating a negative anchoring effect.

Over to you – do you use anchors on your landing pages? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Use Social Media To Reach The Right Audience For Your Business

As a marketer, understand what your peers are doing on various social media platforms to maximize your business results.

Social Media Examiner does the marketing community a great service by assessing how marketers use the top social media platforms. The survey for their 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report is emailed to their readers who help share it. 3,720 people took the survey in 2015. Due to how it’s distributed, respondents are interested in or are using social media.

Here’s how the social media platforms stack up in 2015, the seventh year of this survey. (As a point of reference, here’s our analysis of 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report.)

  • 93% of marketers surveyed use Facebook
  • 79% of marketers surveyed use Twitter
  • 71% of marketers surveyed use LinkedIn
  • 56% of marketers surveyed use Google+
  • 55% of marketers surveyed use YouTube
  • 45% of marketers surveyed use Pinterest
  • 36% of marketers surveyed use Instagram
  • 15% of marketers surveyed use Slideshare
  • 14% of marketers surveyed use Forums
  • 13% of marketers surveyed use Social review sites
  • 9% of marketers surveyed use Social bookmarking
  • 7% of marketers surveyed use Geo-location
  • 4% of marketers surveyed use Vine
  • 2% of marketers surveyed use Snapchat

Social Media Platforms 2015What’s missing?

  • Blogs. Social Media Examiner reclassified blogs as social media content rather than as a social media platform. I disagree. While blogs do provide content (text, images, videos, presentations, audio and PDFs,) they also allow comments and discussion, and enable sharing across other social networks.

Top 10 social media platforms 2015

To maximize your social media results, understand each platform’s audience and strengths.Social Media Platforms 2015

1. Facebook is social media’s mass market

As the data shows, almost every marketer is on Facebook. Why? It’s the dominant site globally according to the Global Web Index. (Here are 5 Key Facebook Trends for 2015.)

Underestimate its power and reach at your risk. That said, Copyblogger deleted their account, a decision they didn’t make lightly, because it wasn’t yielding sufficient results for the effort. (BTW, they moved the conversation to Google+.)

Facebook has focused on video. Not only is video hot this year, but also it provides higher advertising revenues. Here’s an example of native Facebook video.Earned Media Defined

Facebook marketing requires both human and financial resources to stand out in your audience’s stream. Since Facebook advertising continues to increase year-over-year, expect to pay-to-play on this forum.

With its ever-changing algorithms, Facebook keeps marketers on their toes. To find out more, follow my friend, Jon Loomer. He’s the guy the experts turn to, so why shouldn’t you?

Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip:

  • Target your Facebook ads. Don’t just boost your Facebook posts because they’re not targeted.

2. Twitter is social media’s broadcast system

Twitter provides real time reach to get your message out but tweets have very short lifespans.

Monitor what’s being said on Twitter about your company, brand and employees. Use Twitter to discover customer questions and problems. Then take them offline and work them out.

Build your Twitter community using a variety of methods. Twitter works best when you don’t limit your participation to self-promotion. Twitter requires engagement with followers and sharing other people’s content.

Maximize your reach using a variety of tools to seek out like-minded individuals. Set up special lists and hashtags to make your time more effective.

Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip:

  • Take a page from Guy Kawasaki: Publish multiple times to increase reach.
  • Include images and videos to stand out in people’s streams.

3. LinkedIn provides professional connections that result in lead generation and drive sales

UMass Dartmouth research of Inc 500 reveals that LinkedIn has been the most consistent social media site for small businesses.

Participate on a personal basis with a social media CV that incorporates reviews, related content and associations.

As a business, position your internal corporate thought leaders using a combination of business pages, employee profiles and LinkedIn publishing. Don’t limit yourself to the c-suite since customers trust technical experts more. Customer Trust Factors

Use LinkedIn to build business relationships that enhance your business. Take a broad approach: Include employees, past employees, customers, distributors, suppliers, and thought leaders.

Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip:

  • Engage your employees to support your goals. Help employees to polish their profiles. Show that you take care of your employees. In my opinion, it’s one of the most underrated LinkedIn uses.
  • Create an alumni group. Take a page from the McKinsey playbook. Their former employees are their biggest source of future income.

4. Google+ keeps marketers’ attention

Ask most people and they’re not quite sure what sets Google+ apart from the social media pack, especially since it’s no longer a favorite child within Google.

Marketers have kept Google+ in their social media mix due to the close association with the search engine.

Want the inside scoop? Check out Martin Shervington. He’s the expert.

Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip:

  • Have a content strategy for Google+. Don’t just randomly post to Google+ or any social media platform. Follow Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick to understand their approach. Traffic Generation Café’s Ana Hoffman also focuses efforts on Google+. It’s where she engages with her followers.

5. YouTube remains video’s home

We’ve said it before: 2015 is the year of video.

While other video options continue to expand, YouTube is a must in every marketer’s mix. It’s not just a video platform. It’s the second biggest search engine.

For most businesses, video requires specialized resources, human and financial. It tends to be more expensive than other content formats. Further, with the growth in online video viewing across devices, it can be difficult to break through.

Augment your content with a video version. Enhance your presentations, show your customers how to use your products, get your employees talking.

Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip:

  • Dip your toe in the video stream. Start to create your first 50+ videos to get traction in this medium. Beauty expert Michelle Phan made 54 videos before she started getting traction. This is consistent with Hubspot blogging data that shows that you need 50+ posts.

6. Pinterest keeps marketers’ attention

While Pinterest ranked sixth on Social Media Examiner’s survey, it was the fastest growing site globally according to Global Web Index. Unlike other platforms, Pinterest’s revenue impact tends to be delayed.

Don’t let its predominantly female demographics fool you. Pinterest delivers the highest revenue per participant. (Remember women do the lion’s share of shopping, at least in the US.) Customers show pins to store clerks to indicate what they want.

Pinterest is where customers find inspiration for shopping and their lives. It’s a pre-purchase indicator.

Regardless of ranking, Pinterest is a must for fashion, beauty, interior design, crafts and food.

Pinterest also rocks for content distribution. It’s Buzzfeed’s number 2 source of social media traffic. Understand that it requires a different type of visual presentation to attract attention.

Our Pinterest prediction for 2015 and beyond: Expect Pinterest to rollout a video option. They’ll do it to be competitive and for the ad sales. Additionally, Pinterest will continue to expand as a search alternative (I borrowed this from Guy Kawasaki.)

Want to keep up with the inside Pinterest scoop check out Cynthia Sanchez.

Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip:

  • Monitor your product offering as it relates to pins. Due to the delayed action, you must ensure that older product pages are redirected to related new products or you’ll lose sales!

7. Instagram is social media’s photo album

You only need a few images to pull your prospects into your product.
For B2B marketers, GE has had a beautiful Instagram presence, it’s the fashion and design that shine on Instagram.

Don’t forget that Instagram is a mobile app that’s owned by Facebook. Don’t underestimate its ability to show your business visually.

For more Instagram insights Sue Zimmerman is the woman to follow. She walked around SMMW with hashtag signs.

Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip:

  • Incorporate your message into your photographs. Take a tip from Sue Zimmerman. Leverage your ability to add bling in the form of text and hashtags.

8. Slideshare is the professional lead magnet

Build your following by posting your presentations and other types of content (including videos and PDFs) onto Slideshare. For many businesses, it can be a slow progression to break 1,000 or 10,000 views.

Businesses make real money from Slideshare. Many would prefer that you not know this because the more people that use it, the less effective it becomes. (Check out this Slideshare case study.)

BTW—Get a boost by tapping into Slideshare’s editorial campaigns.SlideShare Calendar

Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip:

  • Improve results by augmenting your presentations. Especially in today’s business world where less is more, using your words on Slideshare improves your audience’s experience. Follow Ann Handley who annotated her Hubspot keynote to provide extra commentary. Ann Handley annotates her Slides on Follow the Fear Talk-1

9. Forums, the granddaddy of social media, still thrive

While not everyone’s cup of tea, forums tend to have a dedicated focus and loyal following. Participants gain authority through on-going participation and transparency. Threads provide straight talk and conversations on topics of interest to members.

FlyerTalk is a prime example. It’s focused on the business traveler.FlyerTalk Forums

Forums are also integrated into other social media platforms. This occurs mainly on niche sites like Ravelry.

Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip:

  • Be part of the conversation where appropriate. Supply useful information and answer questions. But don’t sell in forums!!! The members will stand by you if you’re transparent and eat you alive if you promote.

10. Social media reviews integrate customer input.

Social media reviews are curated media entities. They gather information created by members and customers. Products get ranked based on reviews.

The top examples are Yelp and Trip Advisor. Despite its standing as a retailer, I’d add Amazon to this list as a social media site. It started the customer review process back in the late 1990s.

  • Monitor what’s being said. Respond where appropriate but don’t act defensive. Take the conversation offline as quickly as possible.

7 Split Testing Myths That Ruin Your Tests

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This confession has been a long time coming: I love split testing and conversion rate optimization.

There… I said it!

These two practices have been the main focal point of my entire professional career!

In this post you are going to read a lot of things that might make it look like I hate split testing (I don’t!). It is still one of the best ways to measure what works and what doesn’t.

What we’re really doing today is taking a more critical look at split testing and finally busting some of the biggest myths around this extremely useful practice.

Here are the big 7 you’ve heard time and time again.

(NOTE: If you’re just getting started with split testing – check out this post.)

Myth #1 – Split Testing And Optimization Are The Same Thing

It took several years for split testing to hit the mainstream, but today it is one of the most recognizable optimization tactics.

It’s growth in popularity stems from two seductive things:

  • Extremely low barrier to entry (low cost and easy tech implementation),
  • Countless case studies depicting 300% lifts in conversions.

Testing has become a recognizable practice at the C-Level, and it’s no wonder why – who wouldn’t want a 300% lift from a split test?!

In fact, TrustRadius found that 48% of companies plan to spend more on split testing this coming year.

Unfortunately it is the increased popularity that has caused a fallacious reduction of terms. Too many marketers associate split testing as conversion rate optimization (CRO), which is a mistake.

Simply put…

Conversion rate optimization is a process that uses data analysis and research to improve the customer experience and squeeze the most conversions out of your website.

Split testing is a CRO tool used to verify your optimization strategies.

Myth Busted: Split testing is only one of the many tactics used when optimizing a site.

Myth #2 – You Should Only Run Iterative Tests

Iterative testing is a useful split testing methodology, but it is not the only way to run tests.

An iterative testing program is when each new test is born out of the previous learnings. In general, iterative tests make small page tweaks, implement the winner, and test another small change.

Chris Goward, CEO of WiderFunnel refers to iterative testing as Evolutionary Site Redesign (ESR). Though this is a valid practice, it should not be your only testing approach.

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Image Credit: WiderFunnel

The above image simplifies the concept of iterative testing, but makes some unrealistic assumptions.

The first is that each test will provide you with some level of website success –– many tests actually flat line or don’t provide a lift. If tests don’t provide any lift between each variation, your website isn’t becoming more successful!

One of the major problems with iterative testing is that it relies on smaller scale changes. More often than not small changes in elements entail small changes in results.

Sure, there are plenty of case studies where a button color increased clicks by 400%, but those types of results are generally:

  • Impossible to replicate
  • An indication that something is broken in your testing process or technology

Optimizers need to adopt a mixed approach with their testing technique between innovation and iterative tests. I’ve been a huge advocate for the innovation technique (the radical redesign of a page), when it’s appropriate.

Iterative advocates -– before you get your pitchforks, I have a very serious question:

If the page below were a new client’s page, would you really suggest ‘continuous design improvement’?

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Screenshot: MrBottles.com

Myth Busted: Sometimes a page is just broken and you need to blow it up and start again. When the updated variation wins, you don’t just stop optimizing. You run further iterative tests to squeeze out more cash.

Myth #3 – You Should Test Everything

This is one of the worst myths of them all.

Not everything should be tested!

If you take one point away from this article, please let this be the point. For every split test you run, there is an infinite amount of other tests you could have run.

You want to make sure you are testing on pages that will bring in revenue and testing elements that matter! There are two types of pages you should never test:

  • The broken page that just needs to be fixed.
  • A page that has no impact or an inconsequential impact on revenue.

As marketers it is easy to get lost in all of the metrics we find oh-so-interesting. As much as marketers love metrics, it’s important to remember that bosses/clients love money.

Myth Busted: If your test can’t be related to the bottom line somehow, you shouldn’t be testing.

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Learn how to track traffic the right way so you’ll know which Facebook ads, emails, and social networks are driving leads and sales –– and which aren’t.

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Myth #4 – Everyone Can/Should Split Test

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it…

If your site is traffic ‘challenged’, you should not be split testing.

If you can’t get at least 100 converting actions on each variation, don’t bother running the test. If you do run the test, be very careful with the data because it is probably wrong.

Since split testing and CRO aren’t the same thing, you can still optimize your low traffic site and use other verification methods including:

  • Qualitative insights – Insights gathered from non-analytical sources such as heatmaps, user surveys, or personas.
  • Persona construction – A semi-fictional character depicting your ideal customer, in general you create several to account for different customer types.
  • Real time personalization – A type of user segmentation that dynamically inserts or provides specific content for that user segment.
  • Sequential Testing – A type of test comparing the results from two distinct dates. This method is often frowned upon, but is a good way for traffic challenged sites to get an idea about what’s working. Use sparingly if at all.
  • Split tests using micro conversions as indicators – Micro conversions are higher level conversions ,e.g., clicks, on higher funnel pages, e.g., homepage. They are used as indicators when you run a test that doesn’t have enough deep funnel conversion data. For example: if you are an ecommerce site with low traffic, you cannot run a test on your homepage and measure these changes at the sales level. When testing, you can look at the these higher level conversions as an indication of success.

Myth Busted: Tests with an insufficient sample size wastes time and money on an optimization medium that will likely give you bad data.

Myth #5 – Test Results Will Remain Constant

Test results are a snapshot of a test’s performance for a period of time. There are various factors that can cause your conversion data in the future months to change with the biggest factor being time.

Seasonality will always impact conversion rates, and a test that was run in November will have very different results than the very same test in March.

Why?

Because your visitor’s intentions are vastly different during these two periods of time!

Whenever you make your winning variation live, you need to periodically monitor the conversion rates. I recommend this for two reasons:

  1. You will identify imaginary lifts
  2. You will be able to identify more optimization opportunities

An imaginary lift is when a test shows you these amazing results that don’t pan out.

Normally this is due to a false positive caused by low sample sizes, test scale issues, or poorly quantified metrics. If you catch imaginary lifts early, you might just save your job.

There is nothing more frustrating than being told to expect a 15% increase in sales and then never seeing the payout.

When you monitor these pages, you become a step ahead of the game. Time isn’t the only thing that degenerates conversion rates:

  •  traffic source changes,
  • offer appeal,
  • design paradigm shifts

…are among some of the other factors that will depress your champion variation.

When you monitor these pages, you can get an idea as to why the conversions are dipping and then start a new test campaign to remedy the situation.

Myth Busted: Due to this volatility of your customer, you shouldn’t take your test data and make 12-month projections with that data.

Myth #6 – Split Testing Will Fix My Awful Conversion Rate

Here’s the deal…

Split testing is only a validation tool and nothing else.

Your awful conversion rate is likely due to other issues, and split testing will help you prove what’s broken.

You’ll never be able to merely split test your page into a conversion machine. You need to research and analyze what’s depressing conversions and develop a solution. The solution comes from the research, not the test.

It’s also important to note that you can’t simply optimize a page to be a real winner either. At the very foundation what will impact your conversions is your offer and its appeal to your market.

Myth Busted: No amount of CRO will fix a site with a broken offer.

Myth #7 – The Test Is Done When My Tech Says So

Since it’s so easy to use tech tools, this is in the running for the most damning myth of them all.

Testing tech numbers can lie –– yes, you heard me right.

Your testing tech is great at crunching numbers, but these are simply numbers in a vacuum. It’s our job as marketers to put these numbers in context!

What’s wrong here?

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The sample size is just too darn small!

Look at the top variation, the one with 3 conversions. The tech is telling me that this variation is the winner at 95.9% confidence rate (95% is the industry standard). If I only used the tech as my standard for calling a test, I’d be in trouble.

What’s truly disturbing is that 25% of marketer’s who run split tests call that test as soon as the tech indicates.

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This myth has even permeated into some of the top marketing groups I’ve had the privilege of being a part of! Just a week ago I saw this answer to the question of, “How many visitors should I have before I call a test?”

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Remember, these are some of the brightest people in the industry!

However, the testing technologies have positioned themselves in such a way that we take their approval at face value. Please, be smarter than your testing tech and apply the numbers.

Here are a few ways to make sure you aren’t being duped by unapplied statistics:

  • Aim for ~100 conversion activities per variation
  • Always find out the set sample size necessary, this will help you schedule your test (you can use any of these calculators: Optimizely, and VWO)
  • ALWAYS complete the week (or better yet a buying cycle). If your test is scheduled to be ‘significant’ in 10 days, make sure to run the test for 14 days to account for daily variations
  • Don’t just call a test because your tech told you to! There is always a lot of volatility at the beginning stages of a test, and your tech might call a winner because the sheer percentage difference is so large it seems significant.
  • Don’t add new variations or remove variations during the testing period. You’ll need to restart the test to do this.