Freemium models and digital services: When do you pull the ladder up?

 

If it wasn’t clear enough already, it’s painfully obvious now: if you’re offering a service you expect users to pay for, you need to give them a freemium option to begin with. But you might be losing out if you can’t upgrade your freemium base.

Recent research from e-commerce provider Avangate, of 1000 consumers, makes the priorities clear. 97% of users prefer flexible purchasing options when selecting premium online services, while six out of 10 will only subscribe to a service if it has a freemium option.

The reason for this spike is generational – and it’s only going to exacerbate in the coming years. Ed Chuang, chief communications officer at Avangate, believes the percentage of post-millennials demanding a free trial option will be near 80%. The question for brands and marketers now is shifting from getting potential customers to buy, to getting them past the first rung of the ladder. As Avangate chief marketing officer Michael Ni puts it, because of easy discoverability, customers have the power now to demand better models – which is why freemium has become fundamental.

“Freemium has become the on-ramp,” Ni tells MarketingTech. “Customers are basically unprofitable until you can actually grow them, or get them to get past that freemium tier. Hence we talk about revenue moments.”

Revenue moments (below) represents every potential opportunity a business loses out on payment. Renew, acquire, activate, upsell, cross-sell, upgrade. It’s a mantra which marketing managers and sales managers ought to repeat to themselves constantly. If a customer uses a product’s freemium push and runs away when that free trial period is over, it’s an obvious revenue moment, but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of others.

Picture credit: Avangate

When a credit card payment is bad, it’s a revenue moment. When a consumer wants to upgrade or downgrade, it’s a revenue moment. When a consumer wants to put their subscription on hold as they go on holiday, it’s a revenue moment. For a large organisation, these don’t get mopped up as often as they should, and could result in 10% to 20% revenue leakage – not insignificant numbers.

“The new generations double expectations,” Ni explains. “They won’t buy unless you give them a freemium model. [If] I start, I know there’s five other [services], so I can keep going with this service as I need to.” This is the key. At which point do you stop giving and start taking? Cloud storage provider Dropbox, for example, offers a free version up to 16 GB – but Microsoft offers unlimited free OneDrive storage to Office 365 subscribers.

Avangate advocates the concept of ‘usage qualified leads’ (UQLs); users who are clearly interested in the product and, through data collection, are very likely to upgrade or expand their usage in the future. Yet it’s safe to say that the sliding scale for freemium services varies by business. Ni offers a hypothetical example of an electronic signature company. Five free signatures per month would be more than enough for Joe Bloggs, but for a salesperson sending out many contracts, they will exceed their limitations pretty quickly.

“It’s clearly going to capture that prosumer segment,” Ni says. “That’s really what people are looking for: do you have a big enough prosumer that actually has some business need for [your product], or is it enough that is starts replacing some other tool?”

Freemium is clearly all about getting the user from first value to second value, of recurring value. Yet first value doesn’t have to be a user signing up for a free product. For Avangate, more than 1000 stores got to revenue on its watch. In some cases, ‘first value’ can just be setting up a product catalogue without incurring the wrath – and expenses – of IT. The second value comes when the first cheque arrives. When that starts recurring, then the ideas of where to slide the freemium marker up and down can be examined.

Avangate recommends six strategies for maximising modern digital commerce services: service every moment – acquire, activate, upsell over every touch point; deliver the right model at the right time; iterate at new speeds; recover revenue throughout the commerce lifecycle; go global, or be local in every country; and simplify and scale your operations.

“You have to get to first value,” Ni says. “Be laser focused to get each segment to that first value, then you can move to recurring value, and then start to upsell, cross-sell them. That’s a typical path, and that’s what we see in our customer base as well.”

Written by James Bourne for marketingtechnews.net

3 Simple Steps To Transform Your Website Into A Lead Generation Machine

Let’s face it not many companies have a big budget for website design projects that don’t lead to new revenue. Yet so many companies spend boat loads of money on website redesign projects every 2 – 5 years that net them nothing. Certainly stranger things have happened I know, but I am here to tell you there is a better way!

Traditional website design does not:

  • Convert buyers at all stages of the sales cycle.
  • Highlight your content.
  • Have an easy navigation menu.

Now think of the many ways a prospect can interact with your company: they can inquire about a product or service, they can call you, they can send you a general inquiry, or they can subscribe to your newsletter or download a content offer.

Is your current website converting your unknown website visitors to leads in all the ways a user can interact with your brand? It’s likely your website is not working this hard because many website design projects don’t focus on lead generation.

Keep in mind that most first-time website visitors are not ready to buy. Actually 96% aren’t ready to buy. Therefore, it’s important to focus your online lead generation efforts for buyers at all stages of the sales cycle.

Follow these 3 simple steps to turn your traditional website design into a lead generating machine.

Step #1 – Map Out Your Buyers Personas

Dr. Jane

A deep understanding of who your buyers are is not only important for the foundation of the business but also for effective marketing. Selling a product or service to an unknown buyer is challenging. It’s even more challenging in online marketing if you do not know who your ideal customer is.

Luckily mapping out buyer personas is as easy as determining your most likely to buy customers, use historical data if you have it, and then understand their motivations, goals and challenges. If you are not sure exactly what drives your buyers you can select a handful of past clients to interview to uncover their specific persona.

Step #2 – Build Your Marketing Assets

Owned media is the most important marketing asset a company can have. In addition to owning it, meaning it’s not leased or rented, you have something that never loses value over time. Hence the reason why it’s a valuable asset!

Just like building an art collection, building marketing assets takes time. It’s unlikely you will create your entire brand collateral and then stop. Every campaign you run online and offline will need its own set of assets.

You can lessen the content burden by focusing on content assets that are reusable such as evergreen case studies, newsletters and presentations.

Step #3 – Always Be Iterating

I had thought about making #3 about improving the user experience. But that’s so played out don’t you think? Every website designer will talk up and down about the user experience of your site. However, I rarely (if never actually) heard a website design pitch that involved a reiterative process to improve the actual user experience. I mean after all the user experience is about the user, and designing for the user is not a project but a process.

Unfortunately many companies don’t have in-house resources to iterate, which is almost always why they can’t make adjustments until the next redesign. If this is you, instead of employing a website design company that thinks about your website as a project, on-board a company or a marketer with the ability to iterate until your website has achieved your growth goals.

Original resource – http://www.business2community.com/

Why customers are now your brand’s best salespeople

 

The consumer landscape has changed considerably in recent years, with customer expectations reaching unprecedented heights, pushed along by the uptake of social media.

Businesses and consumers alike have acknowledged this shift. Survey results released last week revealed that 82 per cent of U.S business leaders believe customers have higher expectations compared to three years ago – with 60 percent admitting to facing difficulties pleasing their customers. Similarly, a 2014 study showed that 87 percent of customers have requested help online, with 66 per cent expecting a same-day response to their online request.

This trend shows no signs of abating, with increasing social media uptake and non-traditional web-based apps continuing to bolster the standards of customer service and choice.

More and more customers are using digital channels to find and share information, and to produce their own reviews, recommendations and tips. This rapid growth in user-generated content has elevated the customer’s position as a brand’s most powerful advocate and critic.

The evolution of this “new digital consumer” has necessitated a rethink of the way that brands market and tap into social customer service channels. All businesses are being forced to innovate and adapt their online strategies to keep customers happy, deliver real-time service and cultivate brand loyalty.

Customer-centric tactics are key

With consumer expectations and influence rising, it makes sense for businesses to put customers at the centre of their approach. But how can brands achieve this in ways that are both effective and efficient?

Online communities have become a particularly integral tool and resource for both customer service reps and marketers. A study by Millward Brown Digital showed that customer communities drive almost 12 times more same-session revenue than other social channels including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube and Google+ combined. This is an alarming discrepancy when one considers how much time and resources most businesses today put into these social platforms.

The same survey found that customers who interact with brands through online communities experience greater levels of brand engagement, loyalty and satisfaction. In fact, stats showed that online communities lifted a brand’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) – which measures a customer’s willingness to recommend a company’s product or services – by almost 70 per cent.

But it’s not just brand loyalty and recognition that stands to benefit – it’s sales as well. Sony recently released data showing how its online PlayStation Europe Community is fostering deeper customer engagement and driving online sales.

The PlayStation Community has more than three million unique monthly visitors and acts as digital destination for gamers to connect and share experiences, as well as exchange ideas and communicate with customer service.

Sony examined the top members in this community and found that 82 per cent made purchases from the online Playstation Store. This shows the potential for online communities to function simultaneously as both customer service channels and viable marketing channels for sales growth.

Vodafone UK has employed similar tactics to great effect. The company recently revealed that it has been using gamification in its Vodafone UK eForum to improve online engagement and sales. Results followed in the last financial year, with an average of 800 customers a month visiting Vodafone’s online community on their way to the checkout.

The selling power of social communities

To maximise the selling potential of online communities, businesses need to recognise that consumers are now the most powerful driver in their sales funnel.

The Millward Brown Digital survey showed that online communities impacted more than US$500 million sales over a yearly period, as well as driving 65 per cent of all e-commerce sales. This equated to 7.8 more shoppers than other social channels and 11.8 times more sales than other social channels.

This is not a ‘flash-in-the-pan’ tactic, however, with online communities having the ability to influence consumers over a much longer time-period than some might expect. Statistics show that sales conversion increases by approximately 50 per cent after a visit to an online community, and that 79 per cent of visitors intend to make repeat purchases from the company they’ve engaged with via the community.

Online communities can be a game-changer for businesses, enabling them to build closer connections with customers and influencers who now demand, and matter, more than ever before. The key to unlocking this potential lies in providing consumers with rich content and peer recommendations – to not only boost brand engagement and loyalty, but to turn customers into their most effective salespeople.

 

Original source: http://www.marketingtechnews.net/

Consumers want to buy – but are you prepared to sell?

 

The internet is an unstoppable force. Last year, the U.S. marked a crucial milestone, when e-commerce sales surpassed the $300 billion mark for the first time. In Europe, meanwhile, online sales are predicted to rise by almost a fifth in 2015.

Many factors are behind this continued growth – more reliable internet access, the development of mobile as a channel, the importance of convenience in retail, to name a few examples – and the juggernaut that is online retail shows no signs of slowing. But are retailers prepared?

It may seem strange to ask this question, given that most organizations are running sleek websites, well optimized for multiple devices. Customers clearly feel they’re getting a good front-end experience, otherwise online shopping would not be so popular. However, behind the scenes, operations tell a different story.

There’s a marked difference in the efficiency with which retailers are executing their e-commerce strategy. Recently, RSR released a report into online retail’s winners – i.e. those increasing market share – and laggards, which revealed an interesting contrast between the two groups.

In the winners’ camp, retailers are likely to be focusing on aligning their IT and business goals. This is because they’ve already managed to create consistency between their online and offline channels on basics such as messaging, pricing, brand identity and product ranges. Now, they want to use the strength of this platform to drive revenue.

The laggards, on the other hand, are still trying to unite their e-commerce operations with activity in other channels, and this is predominantly down to one simple reason: technology.

RSR found that those failing to gain online share are far more likely to be trying to innovate with legacy systems, rather than using updated solutions that are better equipped for the demands of today’s international, omnichannel retail industry.

What the winners are smart enough to see already is that technology is no longer the sole domain of the IT department. Entire organizations are powered by data driven insights, and therefore aligning technical objectives with wider business needs is far more likely to secure the buy-in of other senior decision makers.

Not only that, but it’s going to make the insights revealed from their e-commerce platform better utilized, which will in turn will improve the customer experience.

Having everyone on-side is only going to grow more important as online’s dominance increases further. More and more retailers are finding themselves in a position where they are reaching saturation in their domestic market, and need to expand in order to discover new profit opportunities.

But, as those with experience know, launching into new territories is easier said than done. Maintaining operations across several geographies, languages and currencies is a complex challenge, which legacy e-commerce platforms struggle to meet.

To place themselves in the strongest position to capture international e-commerce potential, retailers need a commerce platform that can scale and develop to meet the demands of a growing enterprise. Not only that, but that scalability must be quick, to ‘strike while the iron’s hot’, so to speak, and be able to accommodate wide variations in consumer demands.

What many retailers find is that achieving this doesn’t just rest on putting the right technology in place; it relies on finding the right implementation partner to map software capabilities to business requirements.

By working with a partner who understands how to optimize customer journeys across several markets, retailers can do more than increase clicks and conversions. They can create the kind of personalized online experiences that build long-term customer relationships.

Original source: http://www.marketingtechnews.net/

5 Simple Ways to Optimize Your Website for Lead Generation

Optimizing your website to generate leads is a no-brainer. But it’s not as simple as throwing a “click here” button on your home page and watching the leads pour in. (Unfortunately.)

Instead, marketers and designers need to take a more strategic approach. In this post, we’ll go over some quick ways you can optimize your website for lead generation that actually work.

To understand how to optimize our website, we’ll have to first gain a basic understanding of the lead generation process. What components are at play when a casual website visitor turns into a lead? Here’s a quick overview:

lead_generation_visualization.png

The lead generation process typically starts when a website visitor clicks on a call-to-action (CTA) located on one of your site pages or blog posts. That CTA leads them to a landing page, which includes a form used to collect the visitor’s information. Once the visitor fills out and submits the form, they are then led to a thank-you page.

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of lead generation, we can get down to the dirty details. Here are five simple ways to optimize your site for lead generation.

1) Figure out your current state of lead gen.

It’s important to benchmark your current state of lead generation before you begin so you can track your success and determine the areas where you most need improvement.

A great way to test out where you are is to try a tool like Marketing Grader, which evaluates your lead generation sources (like landing pages and CTAs), and then provides feedback on ways to improve your existing content.

You can also compare landing pages that are doing well with landing pages that aren’t doing as well. For example, let’s say that you get 1,000 visits to Landing Page A, and 10 of those people filled out the form and converted into leads. For Landing Page A, you would have a 1% conversion rate. Let’s say you have another landing page, Landing Page B, that gets 50 visitors to convert into leads for every 1,000 visits. That would be a 5% conversion rate — which is great! Your next steps could be to see how Landing Page A differs from Landing Page B, and optimize Landing Page A accordingly.

Finally, you could try running internal reports. Evaluate landing page visits, CTA clicks, and thank-you page shares to determine which offers are performing the best, and then create more like them.

2) Optimize each step of the lead gen process.

If your visitor searched “lawn care tips” and ended up on a blog post of yours called, “Ten Ways To Improve Your Lawn Care Regimen,” then you’d better not link that blog post to an offer for a snow clearing consultation. Make sure your offers are related to the page they’re on so you can capitalize on visitors’ interest in a particular subject.

As soon as a visitor lands on your website, you can start learning about their conversion path. This path starts when a visitor visits your site, and ends (hopefully) with them filling out a form and becoming a lead. However, sometimes a visitor’s path doesn’t end with the desired goal. In those cases, you can optimize the conversion path.

How? Take a page out of Surety Bonds’ book. They were struggling to convert visitors at the rate they wanted, so they decided to run an A/B split test (two versions of a landing page) with Unbounce to determine which tactics were performing better on each page. In the end, they ended up changing a link to a button, adding a form to their homepage, and asking different questions on their forms. The result? A 27% increase in lead generation.

If you want to run an A/B test on a landing page, be sure to test the three key pieces of the lead gen process:

a) The Calls-to-Action

Use contrasting colors from your site. Keep it simple — and try a tool like Canva to create images easily, quickly, and for free. Read this blog post for ideas for types of CTAs you can test on your blog, like the sliding CTA you see here:

Pop-up_CTA-1.gif

b) The Landing Pages

According to a HubSpot survey, companies with 30+ landing pages on their website generated 7X more leads than companies with 1 to 5 landing pages. 

c) The Thank-You Pages

Oftentimes, it’s the landing pages that get all the love in the lead generation process. But the thank-you page, where the visitor is led to once they submit a form on the landing page and convert into a lead, shouldn’t be overlooked.

Along with saying thank you, be sure to include a link for your new lead to actually download the offer on your thank-you page. You can also include social sharing buttons and even a form for another, related offer, as in the example below:

    • HubSpot landing page

Bonus: Send a Kickback Email

Once a visitor converts into a lead and their information enters your database, you have the opportunity to send them a kickback email, i.e. a “thank-you” email.

In a study HubSpot did on engagement rates of thank you emails versus non thank you emails, kickback emails doubled the engagement rates (opens and clickthroughs) of standard marketing emails. Use kickback emails as opportunities to include super-specific calls-to-action and encourage sharing on email and social media.

3) Personalize your calls-to-action.

Dynamic content lets you cater the experience of visiting your website to each, unique web visitor. People who land on your site will see images, buttons, and product options that are specifically tailored to their interests, the pages they’ve viewed, or items they’ve purchased before.

Better yet, personalized calls-to-action convert 42% more visitors than basic calls-to-action. In other words, dynamic content and on-page personalization helps you generate more leads.

How does it work? Here’s an example of what your homepage may look like to a stranger:

Smart Content

And here’s what it would look like to a customer:

Smart Content

4)  Test, test, test.

We can’t stress this part of the process enough. A/B testing can do wonders for your clickthrough rates.

For example, when friendbuy tried a simple A/B test on their calls-to-action, they found a 211% improvement in clickthroughs on those calls-to-action. Something as simple as testing out the wording of your CTA, the layout of your landing page, or the images you’re using can have a huge impact, like the one friendbuy saw.

5) Nurture your leads.

Remember: No lead is going to magically turn into a customer. Leads are only as good as your nurturing efforts.

Place leads into a workflow once they fill out a form on your landing page so they don’t forget about you, and deliver them valuable content that matches their interest.  Lead nurturing should start with relevant follow up emails that include great content. As you nurture them, learn as much as you can about them — and then tailor all future sends accordingly.

According to Forrester Research, companies that nurture their leads see 50% more sales ready leads than their non-nurturing counterparts at a 33% lower cost. So get emailing!

Tips compiled by Katherine Boyarsky for HubSpot.

BOT Traffic is Out of Control!

Various articles have appeared recently discussing BOT traffic and how this type of traffic is a great danger to the integrity of online advertising.   And it is true that BOT traffic is a real problem with an estimated 10-20% of all traffic being BOT (11% of online and 23% of video according to the WSJ).

This has resulted in a slew of solutions that promise to “clean up” the traffic by measuring and filtering out any BOT traffic. Of course these solutions come at a cost and to make sure you buy most will make you test your traffic and find as much as 60% BOT (especially if you run a small website – You are prime target of these people). However, while these solutions claim to do a good job of identifying and cleaning up BOT traffic, most are vastly over shooting and identify and eliminate what they identify as “suspicious” traffic but that in reality is perfectly legitimate traffic.

Take for example the case of a referrer that is not passed by a source of traffic. Most BOT filters will identify this traffic as BOT but in reality this traffic in many cases is totally legitimate. Many networks for example do not pass referrers and “domain” traffic is more often than not masked but the traffic is legitimate. As a result, we’ve seen very solid conversion traffic labeled as BOT. The reason is that more often than not the algorithm designed to identify BOT traffic is not capable of distinguishing between a source of valid traffic and a source of BOT traffic.

On the other hand we’ve seen so called IAS rated traffic that guarantees 100% human (with the restrictions mentioned above) being tested and proven to be fraudulent. The reason is simple – some traffic providers cheat. And since many web owners do not have the IAS test code on their site, they may be paying for traffic that is BOT and not realizing it, until the advertisers on their site ban them. Additionally, a simple fact is that while some BOT traffic is easy to identify, most people who send BOT traffic are not dumb and are adapting.

So what is the solution?

First and foremost get your traffic from reputable networks or sources that are testing the traffic that they provide and are able to detect BOT or non performing traffic before it comes to you. A CPM for a certain type of traffic or a click have usually known cost brackets so any traffic that is offered at a fraction of what most would sale it for has to be viewed with caution.

Second, understanding what is your traffic type. Is it search, pop, domains, etc.? This will give you the ability to assess the traffic based on referrer being passed or not and as a result if referrer or IPs mismatch are legitimate for example.

Thirdly, finding and implementing simple solutions to test your traffic to insure that it is human. These include simple testing like CAPTCHA on part of the traffic that you get (2-3% is enough with at min 25% passing). Other solutions include blocking traffic from known BOT (published by IAB if you are a paying member), blocking IPs that generate more than one click per day on an ad, implementing honeypot links (click traps – these can even be implemented by yourself via a simple 1 pixel image and link), measuring mouse movement, off-screen clicks, etc. These are great options for rapidly identifying BOT traffic and, often, they are available free by ISPs.

Finally test your traffic continually and no matter what the quality. This is the best way to insure that the traffic that you get is clean day in and day out.

Bottom line is that, in our view, the best solution to addressing and managing BOT is to be aware of where your traffic comes from and test it and continue testing no matter how reputable the source of traffic may be. People who send BOT are smart and they are always going to find a way to fool algorithm no matter how much we think we are in control.

Just as a side note, here is a diagram that I saw from Solvemedia back in 2012 entitled “The BOT Stop Here” (click on the image to enlarge it). It has a great illustration of estimates that show anything from 4% to 31% BOT traffic in advertising depending on who you talk to and some down to earth recommendations. Bottom line it is your $ that is at play so make sure you are careful.

solve-media-infographic-the-bot-stops-here

Additional resources on this issue:

If you have any questions, let us know by contacting one of us via information@onwardclick.com