50+ Digital Marketing Tools To Grow Your Startup

where does the rail goThe one constant of Austin’s SXSW conference is the gaggle of startups trying to pitching for attention. Some deserve it, others not so much.

IdealSpot.com was named one of the 50 Austin Startups You Absolutely Must Know About, I’m a co-founder and CMO of one of those startups.  I thought you might be interested in some of the tools that IdealSpot and other top Austin startups in town are using.

If you do a quick online search you’ll notice that there are more than enough tools to help business owners get their startup up and running. While that’s definitely a major perk of technology, it can also be overwhelming – especially when it comes to subjects like SEO and digital marketing. How much does this tool cost? Will it work for my business? Is it still relevant? Will I be able to understand how it works?

To help make your already hectic startup lifestyle a little less hectic here are 50 SEO and digital marketing tools to help your startup grow.

1. Green Lotus

If you’re getting involved with SEO or digital marketing for the first time, you may become extremely overwhelmed. Not only are there an abundance of tools and resources available, SEO can get tricky enough at times, that even seasoned veterans can run into problems. Toronto’s Green Lotus, however, is looking to change all that.

The company recently launched a set of SEO and Social Media Tools that are specifically meant to help entrepreneurs and small business owners with their SEO activities and improve their search engine rankings. Green Lotus is offering a 30-day free trial, but packages start as low as $8 per month.

2. Grexit

If you’re using Google Apps, which is a no-brainer, then you may want to supercharge your account with Grexit. This tool converts your regular Gmail into a powerful collaboration tool to help easily manage your project management workflow. There is a free option and pricing plans start at $5 per month.

3. Boomerang

Speaking of Gmail, Boomerang is a nifty tool that automates important email follow-ups, such as sales leads or reminders when bills are due. There is a free basic version and plans starting at $4.99/month.

4. Klaviyo

Email marketing is still important and should be a part of your marketing strategy, which is why you should make the best out of Klaviyo. This tool helps you send out personalized and targeted emails, but it also has features like analytics, autoresponders, subscription management, and real-time segments. It also integrates with the CRM, shopping cart, help desk, and marketing software of your choice. If the free plan isn’t enough, pricing starts at $25.

5. MailChimp

Since we’re on the topic of email marketing, MailChimp is one of the most popular email marketing tools available. MailChimp allows you to send out targeted emails, subscriber profiles, and automated emails. You can send 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers for free.

6. Sniply

With Sniply you can post an ad for your business on relevant news stories that you share with a link driving visitors back to your content. Confused? Here’s an example of Sniply in action. If you use under 1,000 clicks per month Sniply is free. Anything more will begin at $29 per month.

7. Fanplayr

Fanplayr uses big data so that you can analyze, segment, and target your audience. With this real-time information you’ll be able to create customized content and offers which will help you increase conversations.

9. Intercom

Intercom offers four customer communication packages to help you observe, learn, engage, and provide support. Overall, this is an incredible tool if you want to reach and retain customers. There’s a 30-day free trial, with plans starting at $49 a month.

10. Hostt

Hostt is a free web hosting solution that allows you to easily and cheaply host your website for the cost of a domain each year Total investment = $14/year. You have the ability to automatically install WordPress, Joomla and many other CMS solutions. This is an incredible gem that I found a couple months ago and host several sites on.

11. SimilarWeb

SimilairWeb provides competitive insights about a website, as well as the overall digital presence of a company. This includes everything from monthly visits to referring sites to visior interest. If you purchase one of the Pro versions, which start at $199, you will discover even more.

12. RankWatch

This SEO Management Platform used to assist you with your digital marketing campaigns, see which keywords are ranking the highest for you, suggestions for improving your site, and keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing. Packages start at $29/month.

13. IDoneThis

Keeping your team on the same page is crucial. That’s why tools like Trello, Basecamp, Do and Producteev are so popular. While these tools are amazing and beneficial, sometimes you just need a simple communication tool to reflect on what you and your team did for the day and to celebrate accomplishments. IDoneThis accomplishes just that – with plans maxing out at $5 per month.

14. Rignite

Another collaboration tool is Rignite, which is ideal for social media media campaigns. With Rignite you can monitor multiple social media platforms, schedule posts and have access to campaign reports. While Hootsuite and Buffer have been used in the past for monitoring and scheduling, they both don’t include the collaborative features of Rignite. After a 14-day free trial, plans begin at $28 per month.

15. Stripe

If you’re looking for a tool to collect and process payments from your customers, then you have to consider Stripe. However, what makes Stripe stand apart from a service like PayPal is that it can handle coupon codes, invoicing, prorating, and refunds. Stripe charges 2.9% + 30¢ per successful charge, or less – based on volume. You should also check out Recurly if you need a solution for recurring subscription payments.

16. SumoMe

SumoMe is a powerful tool that will give your site, and business, a major boost. SumoMe has a number of features that include a scroll box for email signups, contact forms, heat maps to see where your visitors are coming from, and a tool that auto-optimizes your share buttons.

17. WooRank

Whenever there’s a free tool available to help increase your business, it’s definitely a win-win scenario. WooRank is one of these tools since it performs a free and in-depth SEO audit of your site.

18. QuillEngage

Don’t worry if you don’t understand the data in your Google Analytics reports. Not everyone has the time or technical knowledge to decipher an analytics report. With QuillEngage, however, you are given an easy-digest report with actionable advice to improve your site’s performance.

19. StreamScience

StreamScience is a great online marketing tool that assists you with creating, curating and distributing content that will reach the right audience at the right time, which means that you don’t have to do content marketing all on your own. There’s a free personal plan and a professional plan for $9.99.

20. Crazy Egg

There are several tools, such as Mixpanel, that can help you understand the behavior of your audience – which can be used to improve engagement. However, a cheaper and equally effective is Crazy Egg. This tool provides a heatmap so that you can see where your customers are coming from and what they’re doing on your site. Starter plans begin at $9/month.

21. Optimizely

Optimizely can be used to test pages, segment visitors, and track everything from engagement, clicks, conversions, and sign ups so that you can make actionable decisions. There’s a free Starter Plan if you’re not ready for Enterprise.

22. Ampervize

In case you didn’t notice, there are a lot of online resources for growing your startup. The thing is, not all businesses are the same. That’s why a free tool like Ampervize comes in handy. Just answer a couple of questions and you’ll be directed to the online marketing sources suited best for your startup.

23. PunchTab

Looking to boost loyalty and user engagement? Then you have to give PunchTab a try. This software-as-a-service platform gives you the power to reward users for sharing or commenting about your products through customized gifts, gamification, and other socially-driven activities.

24. Nimble

Nimble has many amazingly useful features that include; Contact management, Insights, Social listening, Activity management, and a Unified inbox. Overall, Nimble could very well be the most complete CRM available. Pricing is $15/month per user.

25. LaunchRock

While SquareSpace is an outstanding place to showcase your products, LaunchRock is a simpler site builder option that was designed specifically for acquiring customers early on. Use LaunchRock to also validate an idea and generate some interest in your startup.

26. Guides.co

One of the best ways to help your startup grow is by demonstrating your authority. This can be accomplished by creating useful information for your audience. With Guides.co you can create and publish helpful guides to help you and your business get disscovered by influencers and your target audience.

27. UserTesting

Want to know what people think of your website, video, or product? Look no further than UserTesting. This powerful tool is a great way to gain priceless feedback from real people. The Basic plan starts at $49 per month.

28. Colibri

Colibri is a great tool to discover influencers in your industry, monitor what people are saying about your brand, and keep track of your competitors. By using this tool you can jump into the right conversations online. The Standard Plan begins at $95 per month. If that’s too much, you may want to look into a company like Positionly.

29. Cyfe All-In-One Dashboard

Let’s keep this short and sweet. Cyfe has an effective all-in-one dashboard that keeps track all of your businesses activity. You can als customize Cyfe to help your startup grow the way you see fit. You can signup for free, but the Premium plan only costs $19 per month ($14 per month if paid annually.)

30. HiQ

HiQ Labs makes it easy to predict human behavior online. Using HiQ you can help improve retention rates at your company as well as place people in the best jobs possible. This helps with workplace planning.

31. Wistia

Video marketing is a big deal. And it’s only going to get bigger. If you don’t want to come off as an amateur then you may want to use Wista to create videos and keep track of who’s been watching them, and for how long they watch. If the Free Plan isn’t enough, there is a Small Business for $25/month.

32. Searchmetrics

With Searchmetrics you can now many data-driven decisions with your content.  Because content is the backbone of many companies and being found online, Searchmetrics helps you figure out what keywords and content you should be writing about for top results. Easily compare your content with your competitors content.

33. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo can connect you with industry influencers, content discovery, and backlinks. In short, it’s a pretty spectacular tool. If you have the extra funds, BuzzSumo has Pro plans starting at $99 per month.

34. Oktopost

Oktopost is a social media management tools designed just for B2B marketing. Not only can you schedule posts to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you can measure the results of campaigns by tracking each lead you generate. After a 30-day free trial, plans start at $55.

35. Raven Tools

As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of available SEO tools. Raven Tools comes equipped with a set tools for all of your SEO, PPC, Content Marketing, and Social Media needs. What makes Raven stand out though is that it cuts out time-consuming tasks by generating in-depth, easy-to-understand reports. Packages start at $99/month, which isn’t bad if you want to add this with something like Google Analytics.

36. Yoast WordPress SEO

WordPress is a great tool for startups. It’s free, easy-to-use, and can be customized to fit your needs. However, to get the most out of WordPress you’ll need to get the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin. This plugin optimizes your WordPress site by providing you with features like a content analysis function and automatically generated XML Sitemap.

37. Connect Up

An interesting contact manager. Write one note, have it personalized and sent to hundreds of people in seconds. It will sort through contacts and choose to send the note via email vs. Facebook vs LinkedIn vs. text.

38. ShipStation

If you have to ship physical products via UPS, FedEx, USPS, DHL, OnTrac, & others they integrate with tons of platforms and make the whole process seamless.

39. AngelSpan

Investor relations for startups to help manage, curate, and report on communications to save the entrepreneur time and energy.

40. Radius

For cleaning sales/contact data and prospecting based on vertical/size/geo.

41. Hipchat

Makes it easy for your team to communicate and engage with one another. Other favorites include Slack, and Asana.

42. Shareist or IFTTT

Social sharing is vital to getting your story out. Shareist let’s you capture content urls, feeds and ideas, share them immediately on social media, and save them for building and publishing pages to your blog. Or you can find great content using Zite, FlipBoard, Buffer’s Daily App, Triberr and then use a combination of Pocket, Buffer & IFTTT to enable your social sharing allow my good friend Dennis Goedegebuure to walk you through.

43. Triberr

When you create your own content, Triberr helps content creators get more shares through superfan activation, employee advocacy, and tribe marketing. Use it to build a tribe to share your content.

44. Mozu.com

Gives you the power of a platform like Magento without all the server and software maintenance.  They have really advanced developer tools to help deliver experiences that are pretty much impossible on ecommerce platforms like WooCommerce, BigCommerce, or Volusion (sister company of Mozu).  The price point isn’t low, but if your startup is making money from ecommerce, stability, support, and speed are totally worth the investment.

45. Commerce Sciences

Sure, A/B testing is great but after a few experiments you end up serving the exact same experience for all visitors, which is really false by nature. This is where website personalization platforms such as the popular Commerce Sciences kicks in — it enables marketers to significantly drive SaaS or ecommerce sales by serving the right content to the right visitor at the right time. For instance, an ecommerce marketer may target shoppers which added $50-90 worth of goods to their cart, with an upsell coupon which could be claimed if they are to add more items and reach $100.

46. GoAnimate

GoAnimate is a simple tool to create your own custom videos that you can share using Wistia for analytics and lead generation.

Kill the Paper (eDepoze) example:

47. Camtasia

While we are talking about video. Capture screen recording and edit your videos. This is important for product demos and walkthroughs. Video is so important to marketing today.

48. Conspire

If you are raising funds, reaching out to potential clients or trying to do business development (read the Sumo Advantage to get the most from BD) you will want introductions to people. Conspire tells you exactly how to get the best introduction to whoever you want to meet — a customer, employer or investor.

49. HoneyBadger

One to keep an eye on potential competitors? Here is a Chrome extension that shows you how much traffic a site gets, how much money they raised, what powers their stack, and much more. While you are checking out extensions check out this great list of must have extensions.

50. BlitzMetrics

One of the most effective digital marketing tactics we have found is remarketing with Google and Facebook. While it seems easy you want to make sure you set it up properly to maximize your growth potential. Here is a step by step guide a 30 step process for startups to generate killer lead gen and sales using Facebook and Google in tandem, or they have a service to set it up for you or to train you to do it.


gozoltNot exactly digital tools but since we are always on the go and always need to have our electronics charged check out Zolt Laptop Charger Plus. The world’s smallest, lightest, smartest laptop charger, and more. Power your laptop, phone and tablet at the same time.


Please share if you think others would benefit.

Is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) a Dead End?

55HApril 9, 2015 will be the first annual International Conversion Rate Optimization Day. April 9 is also my 45th birthday. I’ve invested almost half my life evangelizing for conversion rate optimization (CRO). I should be thrilled but instead I find myself asking: is CRO, as it is practiced today, a dead end?

The good news is that there is a greater awareness that increasing sales conversion rates offers a greater ROI than what you can get from optimizing your traffic; either from paid or earned media. There is also a greater awareness of the tactics necessary to increase conversion rates.

Considering the Current State of CRO

CRO has been good for us. We studied hard, experimented, and then trained and encouraged clients to become experts in the many varied aspects of the CRO disciplines.

Yet not one of these siloed disciplines was a decisive factor in consistently achieving better results.

Upon reflection of our nearly 20 years of CRO work we observed that some companies effortlessly adopted a culture of optimization. Others achieved wins but failed to absorb the lessons learned. Their CRO was all about after-the-fact fixes; the dead end of many of today’s traditional tactic-based CRO efforts.

Conversion Rates Are Only a Leading Indicator of Success

Better conversion rates are not an end to themselves, they’re an unworthy goal. Conversion rates are only a leading indicator of success. Your conversion rate tells you whether you’re failing to satisfy customers, merely meeting their expectations, or hopefully exceeding those expectations by delighting customers.

In 2001 I defined conversion rate this way:

Conversion rates are a measure of your ability to persuade visitors to take the action you want them to take. They’re also a reflection of your effectiveness at satisfying customers, because for you to achieve your goals, visitors must first achieve theirs.

Ten years ago CRO was still in its infancy. Today’s traditional CRO or growth hacking is focused almost entirely on tactics and after-the-fact fixes based primarily on the company’s goals. There is nowhere near enough emphasis placed on helping visitors achieve their goals first.

Traditional/Tactical CRO Is Too Focused on After-the-Fact Fixes of the Funnel

Let’s get real – your customer isn’t truly in a funnel. There’s no gravity compelling them through your experience like there is in a real funnel. There is only the customer’s motivation and your understanding of that motivation to create persuasive momentum.

Your customers’ journeys are their stories, NOT funnels. They could tell you the stories – just try asking them. And those stories don’t always have happy endings.

Your customers’ stories end happily when they are delighted. And for them that may mean buying from you or from a competitor. It’s simply a matter of perspective.

The most successful companies start with the story from the customer’s perspective. Their business people make that story accountable through analytics. They anticipate what needs to be measured in order for the analysts to understand the actual customers’ experience – did their stories end happily? These stories are then shared with the business people and they learn what’s missing or what needs to be optimized.

  • Can your analysts tell the customers’ stories from the metrics they see?
  • Can your business people tell analysts what to measure?

If you cannot answer yes to both questions, then your strategy isn’t truly aligned with customers’ needs.

Successful CRO Must Align Strategy With Customer Needs

The companies that truly excel at conversion rate optimization have evolved a culture of customer-centricity; not at the manager or director level, but in the C-suite. The best companies absorb CRO learnings and incorporate them into strategy and operational changes. That makes them superior, not just at fixing, but at creating relevant customer experiences, including marketing campaigns, customer flows, and meaningful content. They deeply understand and are fiercely committed to delighting their customers.

One of the privileges of working through CRO challenges with diverse organizations over the years, was learning that no matter the industry, business size, or product, the only story that truly matters is the story that your delighted customers tell about your company – not the one you tell your customer.

CRO is an adolescent and it’s tough to judge the behavior of an adolescent. It needs to evolve and grow up if we’re ever going to have a meaningful 10th annual International Conversion Rate Optimization Day.

Please share if you think others would benefit.

Recipes For Practical Customer Experience Design & Optimization – Buyer Legends

This is an important post that Anthony Garcia wrote on the Buyer Legends blog If I gave you a recipe some of you would be thrilled and others not so much. You can cook a gourmet meal that will have your taste buds fox trotting. I know that to be … [Continue reading]

Get Buy-In From Skeptics – A Conversion Rate Optimization Case Study

Gerald’s grandpa is a 71 year old luddite who doesn't use email or a smartphone.  So how did Gerald get his grandpa, the CEO of an old school catalog retailer, to champion a highly technical  shopping cart and checkout development initiative?  Gerald … [Continue reading]

Where do companies and entire industries go to die?

Listen to Bryan explain how businesses that can’t seem to get into the mindset of their customers are failing and what you can do to avoid that pitfall.  Mitch Joel from Six Pixels of Separation interviews Bryan Eisenberg about the Buyer Legends … [Continue reading]

What A Used Car Salesman Can Teach You About Empathy

He pushy pushed his way up towards the stage. I had just finished presenting the keynote at Driving Sales, an automotive dealers conference. He thrust out his hand and eagerly shook mine; saying “thanks ... blah blah blah…. “ And then I heard him … [Continue reading]

Can Your Company Deliver What Marketing Promises?

As marketers are given better tools for storytelling, it may become harder for companies to deliver on the promises they are making. If I promised to give you $25,000 as a gift and then only gave you $10,000 you might be grateful, but you’d also be … [Continue reading]

How to Get Traction for your Startup Business

Most business owners (who aren’t in stealth mode) want to get the word out about their new ventures in order to help build credibility, and trust. Those are critical barriers to overcome when you are a new start-up without a track record. I am no … [Continue reading]

Where’s Bryan? 12 Provocative Posts You May Have Missed

Things have been crazy the last couple of months since publishing our new book so I’ve been neglecting this blog a bit.  Just in case you missed it here are a few things my team and I have been working on in the past few weeks: 1. Conversion Rate … [Continue reading]

The Stepford Personas: What Lies Beneath?

Conferences are fun. The drinks afterward are better. Confidences get shared. Let me give you a peek into Chad’s world. Chad is the chief marketing officer (CMO) of a very successful company you’d recognize and probably admire. I changed his name … [Continue reading]

Get Your Free Copy of Buyer Legends: The Executive Storyteller’s Guide

  I hope you got your copy already, if not grab it for free over the next couple of days. Please share this with your team and friends. … [Continue reading]

Want to Create a Legend?

Your marketing deserves to be legendary! Your brand and it’s story crave sharing from one customer to the next. That is the difference between a story and a legend. Think about the brands you admire most; isn’t it because of how those brands make … [Continue reading]

Jerry’s Branding Punch Line

Do you know the one about Jerry and Jeff walking into a coffee shop? “I love advertising because I love lying.” Jerry Seinfeld tells the room as he accepts a Clio award for his work with American Express.  He goes on to describe how people are … [Continue reading]

Is that a Gap in Your Brand Story?

In days long gone a company’s brand story typically emanated from a single place, from the company itself.  Today, technologies like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs, Yelp, and (insert technology dijour here) have given customers a … [Continue reading]

Show Me Yours and I’ll Show You Mine

When I talk to marketers about their creative briefs the responses I get are about as diverse as the undie aisle at Target.  Their briefs come in all shapes, styles, and sizes and only the most brave and defiant don’t bother to use briefs at all. … [Continue reading]

A 217% Lift Every Content Marketer Should Be Getting, But Will You?

Over the course of almost two decades, Jeffrey and I have worked directly with hundreds of content writers. Many of them were our secret weapons in many of our most exciting client success stories. Once the writers understood the personas they were … [Continue reading]

The One Technique You Can Use Tomorrow to Get Amazon Results

There are bad companies, good ones, great ones, and then there are legendary companies. Legendary companies that disrupt, innovate, revolutionize their space.  These companies lead, not just in market share, but in the hearts and minds of their … [Continue reading]

Is Your Blog Doing it’s Job Effectively?

Jeffrey and I built our business on content. When we first started our agency in 1998, we had zero capital (even rent & grocery money was tough). What we did have, for those of you who really know us, was lots of opinions. So we started writing, … [Continue reading]

Will Your Social Media Deliver What Your Brand Promises?

Brands must make sure their stories are being told properly across all channels and that they can measure alignment and congruence across the channels as well. In 1967 Maytag aired its "lonely repairman" TV commercial, telling the first of many … [Continue reading]

Developing a High Converting Landing Page {Slideshare}

This presentation should help you improve your current desktop and mobile landing pages as well as how to develop new ones. How to Design a High Converting Landing Page from Bryan Eisenberg I wanted to make sure people could take the context … [Continue reading]

How to Design High-Converting Mobile Landing Pages {includes video}

To create effective landing pages, you should understand the anatomy of a landing page and it should be part of your landing page and optimization framework. After optimizing thousands of landing pages over the years, I want to offer this framework … [Continue reading]

Amazon’s Performance Secrets

It was a great honor to present at the inaugural ClickZ Live in New York this week. I was asked to share some of what I presented. For years we have paid careful attention to Amazon, and I shared a few secrets we have discovered about what makes … [Continue reading]

How to Get More Leads with Persuasive Scenario Planning

Take 30 minutes during your lunch break today and catch Jeffrey's webinar with Marketo on "More Effective Lead Generation Using Persuasive Scenario Planning."  Jeffrey will show you a scenario narrative process that ensures all business decisions are … [Continue reading]

SXSW, Not All That Keeps CMOs Up at Night

It sounds like IT, not marketing! Data breach, identity protection, customer security - these are terms that never concerned marketers much. The breaches that retailers Target, Neiman Marcus, Zappos, and other brands like Evernote, Living Social, … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Opt-In Overlays

Last night, at a get together hosted by Noah Kagan of AppSumo, I was with my friend Peep Laja and several other conversion optimizers, Austin being declared the Conversion Capital of the World now. :-) Coincidentally, I was on his ConversionXL blog … [Continue reading]

Can I Help Inspire Your Organization to Change in 2 Links?

I want to share two links I reviewed last week that will hopefully change the way you look at digital marketing & advertising and the way you manage data in your organization. Digital marketing seems to push people to be more analytical in their … [Continue reading]

Super Bowl 2014 Advertisers: Did They Win the Search Game?

There were many aspects of Sunday's game that left people quite disappointed. Forget the game. I don't even want to comment on the persuasiveness of the Super Bowl television ads. Today, we are just going to look at how well those advertisers did at … [Continue reading]

Why Everything You Thought About Mobile Might be Wrong

Today marks my 13th anniversary writing for ClickZ. I have seen change happen more slowly than I believed possible and more rapidly than I could notice in this evolving digital marketing space. So, is 2014 the year of mobile? Do you remember every … [Continue reading]

Great Metrics Lie About Social Media

A Bain survey recently shared that 80 percent of company executives believed they delivered a “superior experience” to their customers. But when Bain asked the executive's same customers about their own perceptions, only 8 percent of customers felt … [Continue reading]

Please Don’t Stereotype Your Personas

In my last column, I promised to show you how to take these lists of personality mapping attributes and turn them from your typical persona stereotype (soccer mom, techno geek) into characters that ensure deep understanding and empathy. Many of the … [Continue reading]

Personas: The Magic behind the Mirror

Did you know most persona efforts fail as soon as the personas are completed? Teams create their personas, design slick posters to put on the walls, and say "these are our personas!" Creating personas is really just the beginning. A persona is not a … [Continue reading]

90% of Content Marketers Suffer From ‘The Curse’ & How to Remedy It

When it comes to stuff in which you have a huge personal investment (your kids, your homes, your businesses), you risk losing your objectivity. Hey, it's a human thing. Too much knowledge about your company and what you offer leads you to answer … [Continue reading]

Michelle Smith & Persuading Your Potential Customers

In order to plan the click-through-experience models, or persuasion scenarios, on a web site, we develop archetypical fictional characters composed from real data, called personas, who represent your buying audience. We must allow for multiple … [Continue reading]

10x Conversions, Complex Sales & Flipping the Funnel

Last week, Jeffrey and I were in the Bay Area of California to do some client training and work. On a quieter day we decided to visit our friends over at Marketo to catch up. A few months ago, we worked with their very talented team in redesigning … [Continue reading]

Complex Sales and the Persona Creation Process

How do you define a complex sale? Is it a B2B purchase? Is it planning a family vacation for 2 adults and 3 kids ranging in age from 4-12. Can it be purchasing new pillows for your bed? How about when deciding on an enterprise testing and targeting … [Continue reading]

What People Do on Your Site and Why

Ever since Google Analytics was introduced in 2006 people began an obsession with "what" happened on their website. They could understand that a certain number of visitors came to the website, that so many of them used the internal search, and that … [Continue reading]

What Makes a Good Online Copywriter?

Good Copywriters Are ... "What makes for good online copywriting?" Both marketers and copywriters have their reasons for asking this question. "Can you recommend a good online copywriter?" Ah. Unfortunately we have considerably fewer answers to … [Continue reading]

Hidden Secrets of the Amazon Shopping Cart 2.0

You may be in a test cell right this moment. Go to Amazon.com, search for a book and look at their add to cart button, ready to buy area. Is the background of the box white or blue? Amazon is doing a significant test to their add to cart button … [Continue reading]

Google’s Search Magic Revealed

The closer you look, the less you see... Caught up in the day-to-day rhythm of business we rarely take the time to zoom out and see the big picture. Google search seems like magic and it only gets more magical. Let’s take a look at magic. Your … [Continue reading]

The Shake Weight Challenge of Social Media

The social and mobile revolution is about data. It is the enormous volume, real-time velocity and variety of data from disparate sources that is causing indigestion issues for most business’ corporate metabolisms. It’s not a publishing … [Continue reading]

The Smarter Data Manifesto

"An organization's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage." - Jack Welch Fifteen years of working with many organizations (it is an impressive list) has taught us most organizations … [Continue reading]

The Next Generation of Data Analysis

In the near future you will use voice commands to ask for actionable stories to be related to you from raw data. It sounds like Star Trek but it's months away, not years. Today is the start of IBM's SmarterCommerce Global Summit 2013. As part of … [Continue reading]

Choose Not to Confuse

Every company has to make choices when it comes to how it markets and sells, and, in some cases, who it is and what it sells. In an email exchange, Tom Grimes, the owner of a Culligan dealership in Amarillo, TX and a brilliant friend, shared with … [Continue reading]

A 7-Point Spring Cleaning Checklist

People do spend some time tidying up their websites and marketing efforts. Yet, there always seems to be a few things they forget to clean up. Since it's spring, here is a checklist for you to start getting your site in order: 1. Clean up your … [Continue reading]

Jeff Bezos’ Secret to High Conversion Rates

If you do business, online or traditional business, I hope you took the time to read Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos' 2013 shareholder letter. In it he shares this tidbit: "Our heavy investments in Prime, AWS, Kindle, digital media, and customer … [Continue reading]

Adopting a Culture of Experimentation

“Almost any question can be answered cheaply, quickly and finally, by a test campaign.  And that’s the way to answer them – not by arguments around a table.  Go to the court of last resort – buyers of your products.” “Scientific Advertising” was … [Continue reading]

Leadership in the Age of Agility & Experimentation

Here’s the punchline; The role of today’s leadership is to “remove the speed bumps in the experimenters’ way!” ~ Scott Cook, co-founder and Chairman of Intuit Nobody worth arguing with argues whether search, social, and mobile technologies have … [Continue reading]

Technology should support your goals, NOT slow you down!

While the one constant in business is change, the one variable that has greatly accelerated—due to mobile and social—is the velocity of change. This is why we now hear so much about the importance of real-time marketing, agile marketing, or the need … [Continue reading]

How Can You Evaluate This Kind of Performance?

I just finished reading this article about an EBay study that questions the value of Google's main Adwords service. I've been really impressed with eBay's performance as of late, especially their mobile efforts. But, I am concerned how this news will … [Continue reading]

Comparing the Anatomy of B2B Landing Pages

Last week, my partner and brother, Jeffrey and I were doing an in-house training for a large B2B marketing team. At the end of our training, we had them review a bunch of landing pages across the web to see how they could apply what they learned over … [Continue reading]

Facebook Offers Desperation

With news that Facebook gift sales and revenue are off to a rough start, they are starting to show how desperate they are for people to start buying gifts. Have you noticed their latest offer of desperation (Get $3 off your gift of $5 or … [Continue reading]

Use the Data

When I studied the data and made an intuitive prediction that 80 percent of PPC professionals would be replaced by an algorithm in the next three years, my brother Jeffrey and I expected some resistance. We were extremely surprised at the … [Continue reading]

How to Optimize Your Mobile Landing Page for Conversions: Hulu.com Example

A couple of weeks ago, I asked readers how they would optimize the following Hulu.com mobile landing page that I saw when I searched for Hulu on my iPhone's browser. Obviously, there was an issue with the image loading, but that might not be … [Continue reading]

Marketing Analyst, You Better Up Your Game

Last week, I explained how 80% of PPC professionals will be replaced by an algorithm. However, deeper in to my article I also mentioned that "many of the “web analysts” who only function as data reporters without adding much business value" will also … [Continue reading]

PPC Pro – You’re Being Replaced

You’re fired, laid-off, downsized, terminated, made redundant, rightsized, pursuing other opportunities, discharged, dismissed, pink-slipped. Search Engine Marketing professionals are becoming redundant, replaced by technology, so they should prepare … [Continue reading]

Can You Optimize This? A Mobile Landing Page

My cable contract just ended, so I have been thinking about how little actual cable TV my family watches. I was wondering if we could do with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. I had some time waiting to pickup my kids from school, so while I was … [Continue reading]

Why You Won’t Crush It This Year!

I began writing this column on marketing optimization in 2001; yet this morning, 12 years later, I find myself in LA to train a well-known company that wants to start "crushing it" by developing an optimization culture, rarer than running a few tests … [Continue reading]

Fanning the Flames of Big Data

Last week, an article in TechCrunch offered an opinion on "Why We Need to Kill Big Data." Perhaps it was inspired by this tweet that was embedded in the article: "I hate the term 'big data'. Its all just data. Someday we'll all just call it data - … [Continue reading]

Google Plus Needs to Become Content Marketing Friendly

Google+ may be growing, but anyone who spends time on it wishes it had more engagement with their connections and more content being shared. Unfortunately, it doesn't. Why is this happening? It is not just lack of people, it is the lack of … [Continue reading]

The CMO’s Marketing Analytics Optimization Framework

In my last column, I shared recent research about how CEOs have lost trust in CMOs' ability to be focused on business performance. Hopefully, when asked how your company currently measures its digital initiatives you don't get an answer like this … [Continue reading]

When Conversions Come Easily

When you consistently deliver a great customer experience, build a great product and develop a brand people trust you don't have to try as hard to convert your visitors. Check out an old version of the DropBox home page: Check out what … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Planning Social Media Landing Pages

In the last Conversion Optimization challenge I asked readers to review a series of promoted Tweets and the corresponding landing and thank you pages. The most important thing to consider for your ads or landing pages is the nature and context of … [Continue reading]

Facebook’s Desperate Attempt to Prove Its Value (Test it Yourself)

Last week Adobe and IBM both came out with studies about how little impact Facebook had on referrals to sales on Black Friday's online shoppers. Facebook then countered with their own evidence showing how they impacted traffic for retailers. Yes, … [Continue reading]

Your CEO Doesn’t Trust That You’re Doing Your Job!

Did you see the startling statistic shared last week that 70 percent of CEOs have lost trust in marketers? If you're a marketer, like I am, that should alarm you. According to the recent Fournaise 2012 Global Marketing Effectiveness Program, which … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Social Media Landing Pages

This week's conversion optimization challenge is to offer recommendations on a socially promoted whitepaper campaign. Bloomreach recently launched a Twitter campaign including some promoted Tweets to gain traction for their latest whitepaper, … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Copywriting Perspectives in Email Marketing

Last week's conversion optimization challenge was to take a look at the webinar invite sent out by WriterAccess.com with the subject line: Webinar Invite: Lessons Learned From 90,000 Content Orders.  The email contained two major obstacles and a … [Continue reading]

70% of CEOs have lost Trust in Marketers

According to the recent Fournaise 2012 Global Marketing Effectiveness Program, which has interviewed more than 1,200 CEOs across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, CEO's have lost faith in their marketing departments with their inability to … [Continue reading]

The Wizards of Social Media

The more remarkable the customer experience (or piece of content), the stronger the desire to share it through word of mouth and social media. Just barely exceeding expectations isn't enough. Remember, it’s important to be remarkable! The 3 … [Continue reading]

The About Us Page in a Social World

Since my column about the Power of the About Us page (remember 2006 when MySpace was really popular) was written, not a week goes by that I don’t receive a comment about it.  Every website needs an "About Us" page, it’s one of the most important but … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Email Marketing – Webinar Invites

This week's Conversion Optimization challenge is to take a look at the following email I received from WritersAccess.com with an offer to attend a webinar: The subject line was: Webinar Invite: Lessons Learned From 90,000 Content Orders What would … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Perfectly Persuasive PPC Landing Pages

Last week, in our Conversion Optimization challenge we looked at the following PPC ad: and the corresponding landing page (image capture below): How would you optimize the ad and the landing page? My general guidelines for marketing with … [Continue reading]

It’s Not My Job: Why Marketing is Broken

I was in Moscow last week with Jeffrey, waiting in the lobby for a taxi. I passed the time taking screenshots of "promotional" emails and ads with their corresponding landing pages. After clicking through some ads and emails I needed to vent.  I … [Continue reading]

Companies spend $92 on Driving Traffic Compared to $1 on Customer Experience

by Column Five Media.  What are you doing to optimize that spend ratio in 2013? Are you planning on investing in a/b testing, usability tests, heuristic/expert evaluations, optimization software. customer journey analysis, personas, or marketing … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: PPC Landing Pages

This week's Conversion Optimization challenge is to look at a PPC ad I found on Google for the search term "SEO Management Software." Here is the ad I clicked on: and here is the landing page (image capture below): How would you … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Selling with Video

Last week in our Conversion Optimization challenge I asked, how would you improve this Quick Tour demo video found on the homepage of UserTesting.com. I won't tell you any more about them. If you don't know them it's because the video should do a … [Continue reading]

The Grok’s Not to Miss Links for the Week of November 6th, 2012

Retailers, Black Friday is right around the corner. Super Storm Sandy has already impacted businesses this past week in many ways. Time is running out to make sure you are all ready for the holidays. As Andrew Goodman points out Your Holiday PPC … [Continue reading]

Social Media is not Media

What are you doing to increase the value of the relationship with your customers today? … [Continue reading]

Content Marketing: Superheroes Teach the Art of Storytelling

Last week, I visited ComicCon Austin with my 7 year old son. The people in costumes, the famous actors and characters were not what caught my attention. What fascinated me is the engagement that people had with these characters many of whom have been … [Continue reading]

Conversion Rate 101: Demo or Explainer Videos – Presenting Effectively

Since we just finished looking at how to optimize ecommerce product or hero images, I thought we should look at how to get the best demo or explainer video to help sell your service or product. There is no question video marketing is hot, but doing … [Continue reading]

Halloween Special: Frightening Landing Pages

Trick not treat! Most visitors clicking your promotions hope that you'll offer them with some tasty treat. If instead you do things that shake their enthusiasm and frighten them from taking advantage of your offer, they'll just bail on you no … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Optimize Your Product Image to Sell

Last week's Conversion Optimization 101 challenge, asked you to look at the eBags TLS Workstation Laptop Backpack and the product image(s) they use. I asked you to let me know what  things would you test as the primary image display? They have … [Continue reading]

Kids on Retail: Thoughts from the Next Generation of Shoppers

What are you doing today to be ready for them when they are your customers in the next 5 to 10 years? Just think about how different the landscape was just 5 years ago. … [Continue reading]

Confessions of an Online Marketing Tool Junkie

It's fun to play with the latest shiny new object and marketing tools, but remember marketing success rarely happens because of the tool. Success happens because of what the people and process you have in place do with the tool. Invest in your … [Continue reading]

Grab Your Free Kindle Copy of a Great Business Book This Weekend Only

My friend Tim Miles has his birthday this weekend. So he decided that this weekend he will be giving away his book, Good Company – Making It, Keeping It & Being, for free on Amazon. I want you to help me give Tim a present back for giving of … [Continue reading]

Google Adwords Conversion Rates by Industry

My friend, Larry Kim just published some research his company Wordstream just released. Wordstream used the data collected by the AdWords Performance Grader, a free AdWords account audit tool which has evaluated over $1 billion dollars in annualized … [Continue reading]

TheGrok’s Not to Miss Links for the Week of October 25th, 2012

I know not everyone can keep up with everything Jeffrey and I read or share during the week. Here are some of those links you don’t want to miss this week: If you are doing any kind of Content Marketing, you'll want to grab a copy of the 2013 B2B … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Make Your Product Image Sell

Social media and ecommerce are becoming even more visual.  With apps like Pinterest, Instagram, etc., the use of the correct photograph and even well shot video is critical in selling your products effectively. So let's take a look at a product … [Continue reading]

Average Conversion Rate by Industry 2012

For MarketingSherpa's 2012 Website Optimization Benchmark Report they surveyed participants and asked them to write in what their average conversion rate was. Here is a chart of the results: While this is survey data and not the most accurate, at … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Optimizing Complex Web Forms (w/ 10 Point Checklist)

Last week, I asked you to review and comment on how you would optimize this beautifully designed, but non-optimized form: The three most common form design problems: Forms that fail to reduce fear Forms that fail to build trust and … [Continue reading]

Your Customer Is In Control. Are You Ready?

  What have you seen as the biggest change in the last 6 years since the book was published? … [Continue reading]

Just One Thing

Do you remember the movie where an ad executive played by Billy Crystal takes time off to go on a cattle drive and he befriends an old cowboy, Curly, played by Jack Palance? While they are out, Billy's character, who is in search of the secret of … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Form Folly

There were some excellent responses last week's CRO challenge post on a NetFlix ad and landing page mismatch. Thank you all! Today's challenge is to explain how you would improve and optimize the form below . While the page looks polished and … [Continue reading]

The Number 1 Rule for Content Marketing

...or the dog will just ignore you! … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: When Ads and Landing Page Don’t Stink!

Last week I asked how you would improve scent from this NetFlix ad and landing page combination, I found while looking at FaceBook on my iPad. From a scent perspective the issues include: a mismatch of languages mixed messaging in the … [Continue reading]

Last Minute Secrets to Boost Holiday 2012 Sales

We asked a bunch of our industry expert friends: if a small to mid-sized retailer asked you for a couple of low resource, high impact & simple to execute, tips they could use before the holidays, what would you tell them to do? The tips had to be … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Ad Continuity/Scent

It was Dr Ed Chi, a Xerox Palo Alto Researcher, as early as 2001, who indicated that humans track information in a similar fashion to the way animals follow a scent. According to an article on the study: People... engage in what [Dr. Ed Chi] calls … [Continue reading]

Conversion Rate 101: Effective Pricing Tables

Last week, I asked you to look at the pricing tables from the Dell.com website and to offer suggestions on how to improve them. There were some fabulous suggestions, let's take a look: Graham Charlton shared: A comparison table, as used by UK … [Continue reading]

Mastering Conversion Rate Optimization?

We (Jeffrey Eisenberg and I) were naïve and full of ourselves; in 2005, when "Call To Action: Secret Formulas To Improve Online Results" hit the major bestselling book lists. In 2006, "Waiting For Your Cat To Bark: Persuading Customers When They … [Continue reading]

TheGrok’s Not to Miss Links for the Week of October 4th, 2012

It's been almost 3 years since I published one of these. However, I know not everyone can keep up with everything Jeffrey and I read or share during the week. Here are some of those links you don't want to miss this week: First things first, if … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Pricing Tables – Ecommerce

On Twitter, I shared a link to this article from Smashing Magazine, Pricing Tables: Examples And Best Practices. When I shared it, I said that while many of these were beautiful there was still plenty of room for some conversion optimization. This … [Continue reading]

What Keeps Retailers Awake at Night in 2012 [Videos]

I just came back from Shop.org's Annual Summit in Denver, where over 4,000 retailers and industry supporters came to learn more about what the industry was up to. While I was there I thought I would spend some time interviewing some of my retailer … [Continue reading]

Just Released: The Website Testing & Optimization – Buyer’s Guide for the Enterprise: Second Edition

There are several things that prompted me to update the Buyer's Guide to Testing & Optmization: 1. Since Google replaced Website Optimizer with Content Experiments, I had to comment on it. 2. I've decided to add a new tool to the … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Culture Trumps Strategy and Tactics

Last week, I published my first  Conversion Optimization 101 post and asked you if you could look at a particular screenshot and also to tell me: What’s wrong with this picture? How would you fix it? Here is the image: There were some … [Continue reading]

Content Marketing Personas

It seems like only yesterday that I typed the following words into my computer: Conversion rate is a measure of your ability to persuade visitors to take the action you want them to take. It's a reflection of your effectiveness and customer … [Continue reading]