I’ve talked about testing testing testing before. Usability testing is so easy to do these days that there is no excuse not to do it.

A/B Testing for conversion rates is a great way to see if simple iterations of your current site can make a big impact on results.

Check out this infographic on testing contact forms that you typically put on squeeze pages and other offer / registration form pages.

testing to optimize website form conversion rates

 

There’s 3 Reasons To Optimize Your Contact Forms:

  1. You don’t use all of the data fields you collect.  Nope, think hard about why you need to know each and every field you ask for.  Because every additional field will limit your ability to get the maximum participation from site visitors.  You’re asking them to just walk away.
  2. Simple changes can drastically change how much effort you have to put into promoting and advertising your offers.  If you engage in paid promotional activities, conversion rates can radically change the ROI on your investment.  In fact, you might have enough traffic as it is.  You just need to change the user experience when they get to your site.
  3. Less data collected means less data to manage.  Make it easier on yourself and manipulate less uncecessary profile data.

 

One question that arises for anyone that pushes back or hesitates on testing for optimized response rates: Would you rather have more people in a permission-based relationship (so you can ask for more profile data as you go, as you need it) with your organization, or have drastically less (over 100% less in some cases!) people that you know about at all.

Is this infographic compelling enough to get you to reconsider just how much information you really need to ask for?  Say “Yes” in the comments if you see the benefits of testing this stuff!

In my marketing communications advisory of nonprofits and churches, I have increasingly been producing infographics for clients’ marketing campaigns. . . because they are effective and they just work in getting the word out.

When we create custom infographics for clients it usually takes about a week or so to turn them around and costs the client anywhere from $500-750 on average to produce.  The results have been phenomenal creating some powerful case studies for integrating visual media into anyone’s marketing communications campaigns.

But for those times where you want to produce a quick infographic, there are other resources out there like Piktochart which can produce interesting visual content for your blog or flyer or other smaller project.  Check out this quick video where you’ll see some screenshots of the menus inside the piktochart online service:

 

Just earlier this week, I published an infographic that I whipped up using this method:

 

infographic example

 

 

There is of course a learning curve to using the online infographic generator with it’s set of online toolbox because you want to control details of layouts, text placement, etc.

But to be truthful, the real challenge of infographic production is not the graphics but being able to use data in order to tell a story that is compelling.  That’s where the real value is when we create custom infographics for clients.  When we succeed, people get the message and are compelled share or follow the call to action in it.

But if you’re up for dabbling in infographic land in the short term, these online infographic tools are a decent beginning point.

 

Undoubtedly if your organization has a social media presence, you are leaning on your fans and followers to help spread the word. That’s one of the core reasons you are utilizing social media in the first place, right? To leverage the social networks of your supporters in order to reach new people that your organization doesn’t have an existing relationship with yet.

So you probably are asking your community to share your posts. To retweet and thumb up Like’s for your status updates. To +1 interesting content in your feed.

But have you explained to them WHY you want them to do it? More importantly have you shown them how their simple actions can help them be a part of the work your organization is doing?

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Check out this simple direct mail piece attempts to do with their community. Do you see how they are framing the opportunity for each of the thousands of people in the social media community?

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On the back, the larger than life number is shared in a way that invites the person to be a part of the plan.

How are you framing the WHY opportunity for your supporter base? Are you inviting them into the larger story or are you just drilling them with neverending requests to pimp out their personal social network for something where only your organization benefits?

I’m excited because this month at Liquid Church we are launching a massive campaign to get up to 3,000 people to read the entire New Testament Bible in 40 days all together as a community.

If you aren’t aware of some of the trends going on with Bible engagement and churches today, take a look at the infographic I pulled together to help share the situation in the Church:

 

Bible Engagement Trends

 

So for 40 days leading up to Easter, we will be reading the Bible in 225 small groups across New Jersey. We even have several church online groups forming so that our community of online worshippers can participate with us. All the details are available at www.40daybiblechallenge.com

Bible reading campaign

 

The program is being put together in collaboration with Biblica, who is the copyright holder of the NIV Bible. We have been able to produce thousands of custom printed Bibles for our campaign through their Community Bible Experience. With Biblica’s help, we’ve also been able to make it available in PDF, Kindle, ePub, and audio formats. In addition, we’ve produced a spanish translation as well as kids versions of the daily bible readings. We’ve got iTunes podcasts. We also have links to the YouVersion reading plan available for your smart phone. And to top it off, we have a daily email devotional that will be sent out every day to keep everyone encouraged and on track. There you go, no excuse NOT to read it with us.

I’m excited to see what happens when our entire community is in sync reading the same portions of text weekly over the next 8 weeks. What is been surprising is the enthusiasm people have shown to sign-up to read together. You would think in today’s day and age that reading the entire NT Bible wouldn’t be a huge draw. But by doing it together, it has brought out the best participation and energy we have seen in awhile.

Have you ever read the Bible together with your entire church? How did it go?

Everyone wants a pat on the back for a job well done.

Your volunteers and team members deserve a pat on the back.

So what is holding you back from giving some pats on the back?

You might have a outbound marketing strategy, or a social media strategy, but do you have a Thank You Strategy in place?

thank you note from the Pope

Here is a copy of a postcard I got from the Vatican recently where the Pope himself wrote me a handwritten thank you note for helping out at a church event. The postage and postmark are totally legit from Rome, Italy for sure. Of course I love the fact that someone went out of his way to arrange such a fun little gesture.

It stays pinned to my wall at work for anyone to see. I have had several people strike up conversations because of that one little thank you note. I have also been told that a volunteer has pinned one of my thank you notes to their bulletin board at work so they can see it every say. Can you ever imagine where people in your community might talk about how your ministry is so appreciative of their contributions?

What can you do to make thank you notes a regular part of your routine, no matter what specific job or role you are in currently?

My challenge to you this week: send someone you have been working with a short note of thanks I encouragement. In fact, send three. And don’t do it via email. Send it via trusty old snail mail. And sit back and watch how impactful it can be.

I have been thinking more and more about one of the fundamental failures communicators are making in their work and was reminded of it when I drove into my local ShopRite parking lot the other day.

After renovations which made grocery shopping fun and delicious (new food court in the actual store!), traffic went through the roof. But the store didn’t stop there.

Thinking about the user experience even before we walk in the door, the management realized while shopping inside the store was fun, getting a parking spot wasn’t anymore.

putting audience first

So what did they do? Call them crazy, but I now have free valet parking at my grocery store. The first in the entire state apparently.

What are you doing to make the experience of your guests, audience, followers, supporters and volunteers to be a WOW-experience? Where can you go further to put their needs first?

If I looked at your website, is it really tuned for first time visitors? Or is your content set up in a way that “everyone else does it”?

Do you talk more about what you need from your supporters (like tons of “give give give! Just give us money!” type messaging) vs what they might really want to explore or hear about regarding their opportunity to participate in impactful work?

Do you talk more about you, as in your “institution” organization? Or do you really celebrate “you,” the person reading your content — you know, the volunteers, supporters, constituents who are the real heros, without which you wouldn’t have a job?

What can you do to pull out all the stops to out to put your audience first, kind of like giving free valet parking for me to run in and grab a carton of milk at my ShopRite?

I’ve written about usability testing a couple of times here because if you’re developing a digital footprint, it is important to test test test.  And it doesn’t take as much you think to do it properly.  As Wikipedia puts it:

Usability testing is a technique used in user-centered interaction design to evaluate a product by testing it on users…in contrast with usability inspection methods where experts use different methods to evaluate a user interface without involving users.

Usability testing focuses on measuring a human-made product’s capacity to meet its intended purpose…[it] involves watching people trying to use something for its intended purpose

Today, I interviewed Tony Albanese, product marketer over at ZURB.  They offer a suite of website development apps including SolidifyApp.com, VerifyApp.com and Notableapp.com.

I have been using VerifyApp.com recently on live site development projects I’m leading currently and it has been a great tool to validate what we’ve intended to build as well as identify some things from the users’ perspective that we never would have thought about without user testing input.

Useability testing allows you to address navigation, content presentation, and other items to improve the user experience which in turn increases the likelihood of the site to deliver on the original objectives for user engagement.

Here’s the interview video below.  Watch it and I’ll join you afterwards below:

Here’s an real-life example of what Verifyapp.com was able to uncover regarding a client’s website recently.  Although there were 3 different ways to sign-up for a newsletter or email list on the home page of a website, over 40% of the users didn’t know where to click when prompted to sign-up for free content, email lists or newsletters from the site.  That tells you that there is a communication issue going on.  Either the site is too busy and has distracting elements, or the calls to action are not clear, or placement of the sign-up forms are not visible enough given the current layout.  This is prompting a look at how to narrow the user experience so that sign-up for permission based email list relationships is one of the core pieces of the homepage offerings.  Of course, we’ll test out sample layouts along the way to ensure we’re improving the success rate.  That is what user testing can do for your website.

If you are a nonprofit, does your site clearly allow visitors to find and use the donation forms on your site?

If you are a church, does your site make it easy for prospective visitors to find the appropriate information they need in order to decide and plan on a visit?

If you are a cause-related organization, are the volunteer opportunities being promoted on your pages presented in a way so that the most urgent yet relevant positions can be seen?

Those are just some of the initial questions we can begin to address with user testing.

So what are you curious about with your own website?  What *assumed* function can you test to see if you really should be concerned enough to do something about it?

When you produce any messaging for your audience, who are you writing for? Does it really show in your writing?

You see, so many times we end up writing for the wrong “me”

Instead of writing for “me” the reader who is going to end up reading the materials you are producing, many marketers write for “me” — literally themselves. Their writing ends up for their own edification. To serve themselves or their organization. Does this make sense?

user-centric messaging

Check out the awesome packaging I found in medicine aisle at Duane Reade recently. Imagine you have a cold, stuffy nose, cough and/or have a headache at the same time. You need to find something to make you feel better…pronto. When you walk down this aisle, which packages will grab our attention first?

The product marketers here took a very bold move and produced packaging with product copy that completely served the “me” that is the potential customer. Not the corporate brand that is trying to gain market share, brand equity, etc. Nope, this drug maker is completely focused on what is important at that moment in Duane Reade — the sick customer. Wonderful. I love it. Don’t you?

Now look back at your latest marketing collateral piece and tell me if you honestly can say that you produced it with the right “me” in mind.

This week I got this interesting email from the Croc’s email list I’ve been on.

Check it out below and tell me what stands out to you in the messaging?

Email List Marketing Appreciation Tactic

 

What stands out for you that you don’t get with your usual mailing list messages?

I bet you it was the celebration of the 1-year of loyalty for staying on the email list.  At least that is what it was for me.

I felt appreciated.  And giving me a 20% off code to anything in their store was a nice incentive for me to click through and see if I could find anything that might be worth it to use it.

The great part of this is that you don’t have to offer all of your subscribers the same discount.  This is all done through an autoresponder.  In your email list marketing service (Aweber, Mail Chimp, etc), you can easily set-up the feature where a specific email is triggered based on the number of days from the day of sign-up.

Imagine if you reward your email list subscribers in incremental fashion?  Give them something at 90 days, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, and more!   For a retail operation, discounts or bonus goods are obvious.

But what could a nonprofit or church organization do to reward the subscriber?  How about some of the following to get your brainstorming started:

  • “Certificate” for a free coffee or meal with a staff member or leader
  • Create some downloadable eBooks or recordings that are of value to your subscribers
  • Arrange for discounts to events or attractions.
  • iTunes or Amazon mp3 gift card for a song download? Redbox code for a rental?
  • Branded merchandise that your audience will actually use or wear (don’t be cheap!)

What else could a nonprofit or church organization give away as a reward that is affordable yet of high perceived value to the subscriber?  Please leave an idea or two in the comments.

 

Have you started a 365 Project yet?  A photo-a-day? A blog-post-a-week?  A journal project?

These can be an amazing way to highlight the year at the end of the next year.  But you have to spend a few minutes this week to plan for the content when you need it in 11 months from now.

Planning year-end highlight videos now

 

Here’s a fun little video that my friends Sim & Bek just released — as you can tell, it was 9 months in the making.  BUT —  if you think about how they produced it, it is something anyone (even you! ha!) can execute on if you just plan it out in advance.

Take a looksie and I’ll join you further down the page after you watch the fun vid:

 

As of this post’s publishing they’ve already garnered over 1,000 video views.  Would you love that for any of your organization’s videos too?

All this creative couple needed was a still camera — an iPhone cam would do perfectly; a regular spot for the camera to sit; and a regular spot for Bek to stand when taking a couple of snaps each month.

If you review the video again, they only take 3-6 shots for any given milestone.  Easy-peasy!

The more important thing to think out now is the workflow — You can easily email the photos to yourself with the same subject line (easy to search for at the end of the year) or sync/transfer the photos into a project folder that you set up now.

At the end of the project, all you have to do then is simply import them into iMovie or Windows Movie Maker and overlay a track of music to fit the mood.  That’s it!

What kind of project could you create in 2013 if you started today?  Check out these fun photo-lapse videos to spark your creativity:

 

Imagine taking a photo a day of your staff at work in the office.  They can hold up ipads or printouts or chalkboard with whatever big project you’re working on that month?

What about a photo a week for every Sunday at your church?

Or have someone hold up signs that feature flyers / posters / marketing collateral featuring your monthly events, message series, etc.

A simple one is to create a simple sign that says “We HEART our volunteers” or “supporters” and then take snaps shots whenever you meet one anywhere.   The key here is that you have a sign or some other device that stays constant in all of the photos.

Do you launch customer projects all across the country?  Why not create simple signs that your sales force brings around and snaps with their customers?

Or get a small whiteboard and have people answer a fill in the blank statement that talks about something related to your mission.

Imagine a year-end review video flipping through the photos of all of these various series of photos.

 

All it takes is a simple snap of a photo TODAY to get things going!  Can you help me pick a project for myself?  Drop a comment here to suggest one!