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No-Touch CRO: 11 Ways to Optimize Your Website Without Touching Your Website

Wait a minute, no-touch website optimization? How on earth can you optimize your website without touching it? That’s absurd. Insane even. Have you gone stark raving mad, Oli?

Who me? Never! Or at least, not all the way crazy. I’m talking about ways that you can experiment, learn, and change behavior simply by using page and UI elements like Popups and Sticky Bars. An approach I call no-touch CRO (conversion optimization).

What is No-Touch CRO?

Kinda like the title suggests, no-touch CRO is about uncovering, exploiting, and maximizing the conversion opportunities that exist on your website. It’s all about velocity, getting results, and learning quickly and easily so you can make informed updates and optimizations to your website backed by data.

Here’s how it works in a nutshell. You install the Unbounce script on your site once, and then you have access to creating experiences on every page, without touching any code or design on the site.

Think of it as a layer of abstraction that exists above your site. Like literally.

“Are you doing that product awareness thing again, Oli?” Yup. I most definitely am. But only because I think the 11 ideas below are badass, and it’s how I like to work.

(Skip to the 11 website optimization ideas).


Navigating the Politics of Website Optimization

The reason I like this approach is because the politics of website development, design, and optimization are a complicated and slow-moving pain in everyone’s ass. The number of stakeholders, sign-offs, reviews, and revisions that are necessary to get a change implemented are always underestimated. Not to mention budgets, different departmental priorities and needs, and of course time. It’s basically a giant cluster that needs to be navigated proactively.

Which is why, if you can come to the table with some evidence that your ideas can affect positive change, those same naysaying stakeholders will become advocates for your work.

Now, I’m not suggesting the first thing you do is to start hammering your pricing page visitors with popups. You have to be smarter than that. Starting small, on low-traffic pages, and using techniques that are legitimately useful for your visitors, and provide as much evidence and learning as possible. The more successes you can show, the greater the bounds of your website optimization freedom will be in the future.

I’m going to share 11 ideas for you to get started with no-touch website optimization using popups and sticky bars, but first, you need to get your web developer to install the script on the website.

Your developer may have some questions such as: How big is the script? Which pages does it need to be added to? We interviewed two of our web developers at Unbounce to understand these concerns, and it was enlightening to hear about their process, and what they check when considering adding another script to the site.

We found that it’s typically a 1-2 day turnaround to get a new script installed, based on the research they need to do regarding page speed and bug testing etc. But one of the most interesting parts to me was simply the desire for the web developer to be included in the process. They didn’t want marketers installing it on the site themselves because it’s a serious concern that needs to be handled properly.

A big positive insight was that the amount of features available in the Unbounce platform (for triggers, targeting, and timing) allows significantly more functionality, interaction, and marketing campaign content without any requests of the developer’s time – making it a big win-win overall.

Just make sure you involve your developers.

If you have Google Tag Manager set up on your site, it’s even easier to get the Unbounce script added. Send this post about adding the Unbounce script using GTM to your web developer now.


11 No-Touch Conversion Optimization Opportunities You Can Take Advantage of on Your Website

Alright! Time to start optimizing your website without touching your website. Here are eleven creative ways to increase the number of conversions, and insights you get from your website.

#1: What on earth are you clicking on?

If you are a frequent observer of heat maps you’ll have no doubt seen big splotches where many people are clicking a page element (word, image etc.) when the element isn’t even clickable.

There can be several reasons for this:

  1. It’s just what people do when they read
  2. They are expecting something to happen

In the case of option B, there’s an opportunity to learn why they are exhibiting this behavior and ask them what they expected to happen.

You can do this by using the click trigger to launch a popup with a simple open-ended question such as “What did you expect to happen when you clicked that?” or “What are you looking for?”.

Conversion Implications

The responses from these research questions could inform you as to a missing part of the experience which you can then consider adding to the website, either directly, or after an A/B test of some kind.

An Unbounce Example

When I was researching behavior on our “What is a Landing Page?” page, I noticed interesting behavior on the first paragraph, where the first word was really strongly highlighted. I had two theories about this:

  1. It’s just a thing people do when they start reading.
  2. People were clicking on the first word and then dragging their mouse to the end of the first or second paragraph to copy the text. Because the page is a very well written and simple definition of what a landing page is, I hypothesized that people doing research who needed a definition to include in their content were copying the definition.

    To confirm this I watched some session recordings and observed someone doing this. I also searched Google for my newly written definition and found over twenty sites had done exactly that. Inbound links FTW.

#2: Create a Custom 404

Wouldn’t you like to know what people are thinking when they’re on your 404 page? If you dig into your analytics you’ll be able to figure out where they came from, but where should they go next?

By using a popup on your 404, you can take advantage of several conversion opportunities:

Option A: Research & Redirect

If you can establish where people are coming from (in order words, where the broken link is), you can use the referrer URL targeting in Unbounce to create a custom experience for them.

If the broken link is on your own site, you can get that fixed, or a 301 redirect put in place to a relevant page and if the broken link is on someone else’s site you can reach out to them for an update.

However, both of those options take time and resources to accomplish. You should put them in motion regardless, but in the meantime, there’s plenty you can do to learn and optimize.

This is a great place to experiment with a Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) experience to see what the preferred next step is. If you can show a pattern of next step desire here you’re ready to make a more permanent 301 redirect to the popular choice.

An open-ended question like “What were you looking for?” coupled with a few large buttons that redirect people to some of your critical path conversion pages.

Option B: Replace

Something you might not know is that if you use the Unbounce WordPress plugin for your landing pages, there’s a way to replace a broken link with a landing page.

When using the WordPress plugin, any URL you set up on your domain in Unbounce will assume dominance over an existing page. Now you most likely don’t want to do this with a legit page that’s working. But for a broken link you could publish a landing page using the very same URL to present an experience that you are in full control of – no developers required.

Warning! Don’t simply go overriding pages all over your website (unless you own it fully). Let your web and marketing coworkers know what you’re doing.

#3: The Login Hijack

I introduced The Login Hijack in my 5 Legitimately Cool Use Cases for Website Popups You’ve Never Considered post. The concept is to create an experience based on the information that you (probably) have a large % of visitors (customers in this case) only showing up to click the login link.

Note: You need to drop a cookie on your login page to identify customers, then you can use the cookie targeting in Unbounce to show the popup when they return next time.

This is a perfect place to insert some product marketing content. Here are two ideas:

Idea #1

Run a “did you know?” survey to measure new feature awareness. This could take the form of a series of large buttons with product or feature names on them, and a request to “Click all of the features you were not aware of.” The heatmap on this could be fascinating. Don’t forget to also include a login link so customers don’t have to click to close the popup before proceeding.

You could also include a login redirect after the question is answered to prevent the need for an extra click.

Idea #2

Present a popup with a 50-50 vertical split. The left side can present information about a new product or feature with a “Learn More” button, and the right half can provide a large login button. Not only does this allow you to get product messaging in front of your customers, it also makes the login link/button bigger that it would have been.

#4: Advanced Video Interactions

If you have any videos on your website you probably have a call to action at the end. This is great. Until you look at the engagement data and realize that 50% of people never get to the end.

You can get around this problem with a very cool interaction model that Unbounce Noah Matsell built.

Using this method (requires a little Javascript), you can present your visitors/customers with a popup based on 3 different levels of interaction.


On completion

When the video has been watched to the end. Note that a popup presents a significantly large area to present an offer than the typical text/button CTA that appears in the middle of the video window. You can even instruct people to watch the whole video to get a special offer.

You can see a demo here.

Here’s the Javascript

 <script src="https://player.vimeo.com/api/player.js"></script> <script> var offerVideo = $('.lp-pom-video iframe')[0]; //var vidURL = $('.lp-pom-video iframe').attr('src'); //$('.lp-pom-video iframe').attr('src', vidURL + '?enablejsapi=1'); var player = new Vimeo.Player(offerVideo); player.on('ended', function() { window.location.hash = "completed"; $('.lp-pom-video').html('<h1 style="color: #7ac142; left: 321px; top:30px;text-align:center;font-family: Montserrat;font-size:48px;">Thanks for watching!</h1><svg class="checkmark" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" viewBox="0 0 52 52"><circle class="checkmark__circle" cx="26" cy="26" r="25" fill="none"/><path class="checkmark__check" fill="none" d="M14.1 27.2l7.1 7.2 16.7-16.8"/></svg>'); }); </script> 

Here’s the CSS

 <style> .wrapper{ transition: all 0.3s cubic-bezier(0.165, 0.84, 0.44, 1); left: 10%; perspective: 1000px; -webkit-perspective: 1000px; perspective-origin: 30% 70%; } .item:hover{ cursor: pointer; } .item { box-shadow: 10px 20px 80px rgba(0,0,0,1); transition: all 0.3s cubic-bezier(0.165, 0.84, 0.44, 1); transform: translateX(0px); } .perspective{ transition: all 0.3s cubic-bezier(0.165, 0.84, 0.44, 1); left: 50%; box-shadow: -10px 20px 80px rgba(0,0,0,0.5); transform: scale(0.45) rotateY(14deg) rotateX(2deg) rotate(0deg) translateX(-75%) !important; } #lp-pom-text-452, #lp-pom-text-455, #lp-pom-text-456, #lp-pom-text-475, #lp-pom-text-476, #lp-pom-text-477 { box-shadow: 10px 20px 80px rgba(0,0,0,0.4); } .checkmark__circle { stroke-dasharray: 166; stroke-dashoffset: 166; stroke-width: 2; stroke-miterlimit: 10; stroke: #7ac142; fill: none; animation: stroke 0.6s cubic-bezier(0.65, 0, 0.45, 1) forwards; } .checkmark { width: 56px; height: 56px; border-radius: 50%; display: block; stroke-width: 2; stroke: #fff; stroke-miterlimit: 10; margin: 10% auto; box-shadow: inset 0px 0px 0px #7ac142; animation: fill .4s ease-in-out .4s forwards, scale .3s ease-in-out .9s both; } .checkmark__check { transform-origin: 50% 50%; stroke-dasharray: 48; stroke-dashoffset: 48; animation: stroke 0.3s cubic-bezier(0.65, 0, 0.45, 1) 0.8s forwards; } @keyframes stroke { 100% { stroke-dashoffset: 0; } } @keyframes scale { 0%, 100% { transform: none; } 50% { transform: scale3d(1.1, 1.1, 1); } } @keyframes fill { 100% { box-shadow: inset 0px 0px 0px 30px #7ac142; } } </style> 

On pause

This idea ups the cool factor for me. You can present an offer if someone pauses the video. A great place to ask a question (“Why did you stop watching”), or to present your offer right away.

You can see a demo here.

Here’s the Javascript

 <script src="https://player.vimeo.com/api/player.js"></script> <script> var offerVideo = $('.lp-pom-video iframe')[0]; //var vidURL = $('.lp-pom-video iframe').attr('src'); //$('.lp-pom-video iframe').attr('src', vidURL + '?enablejsapi=1'); var player = new Vimeo.Player(offerVideo); player.on('pause', function() { window.location.hash = "paused"; }); </script> 

Here’s the CSS

 <style> .wrapper{ transition: all 0.3s cubic-bezier(0.165, 0.84, 0.44, 1); left: 10%; perspective: 1000px; -webkit-perspective: 1000px; perspective-origin: 30% 70%; } .item:hover{ cursor: pointer; } .item { box-shadow: 10px 20px 80px rgba(0,0,0,1); transition: all 0.3s cubic-bezier(0.165, 0.84, 0.44, 1); transform: translateX(0px); } .perspective{ transition: all 0.3s cubic-bezier(0.165, 0.84, 0.44, 1); left: 50%; box-shadow: -10px 20px 80px rgba(0,0,0,0.5); transform: scale(0.45) rotateY(14deg) rotateX(2deg) rotate(0deg) translateX(-75%) !important; } #lp-pom-text-452, #lp-pom-text-455, #lp-pom-text-456, #lp-pom-text-475, #lp-pom-text-476, #lp-pom-text-477 { box-shadow: 10px 20px 80px rgba(0,0,0,0.4); } .checkmark__circle { stroke-dasharray: 166; stroke-dashoffset: 166; stroke-width: 2; stroke-miterlimit: 10; stroke: #7ac142; fill: none; animation: stroke 0.6s cubic-bezier(0.65, 0, 0.45, 1) forwards; } .checkmark { width: 56px; height: 56px; border-radius: 50%; display: block; stroke-width: 2; stroke: #fff; stroke-miterlimit: 10; margin: 10% auto; box-shadow: inset 0px 0px 0px #7ac142; animation: fill .4s ease-in-out .4s forwards, scale .3s ease-in-out .9s both; } .checkmark__check { transform-origin: 50% 50%; stroke-dasharray: 48; stroke-dashoffset: 48; animation: stroke 0.3s cubic-bezier(0.65, 0, 0.45, 1) 0.8s forwards; } @keyframes stroke { 100% { stroke-dashoffset: 0; } } @keyframes scale { 0%, 100% { transform: none; } 50% { transform: scale3d(1.1, 1.1, 1); } } @keyframes fill { 100% { box-shadow: inset 0px 0px 0px 30px #7ac142; } } </style> 

On series completion

Saving the best for last, this implementation allows you to monitor the viewing of several videos, show a live progress bar, and then present a reward/prize/offer when all of the videos have been watched.

This is great if you have a series of videos that you want to encourage people to binge watch Netflix-style, like The Landing Page Sessions, or a set of instructional videos that guide a new customer through a training or onboarding sequence.

You can see a demo here.

Here’s the Javascript

 <script async src="https://www.youtube.com/iframe_api"></script> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://rawgit.com/kimmobrunfeldt/progressbar.js/1.0.0/dist/progressbar.js"></script> <script> var vidsWatched = 0; //configure Progress Bar var bar = new ProgressBar.Line(progress, { strokeWidth: 4, easing: 'easeInOut', duration: 1400, color: '#ffffff', trailColor: '#eee', trailWidth: 1, svgStyle: {width: '100%', height: '100%'}, from: {color: '#FFEA82'}, to: {color: '#74D16A'}, text: { style: { // Text color. // Default: same as stroke color (options.color) color: '#F6921E', position: 'absolute', right: '0', top: '40px', padding: 0, margin: 0, transform: null, fontSize: '24px' }, autoStyleContainer: false }, step: function(state, bar){ bar.setText(vidsWatched + ' of 3'); bar.path.setAttribute('stroke', state.color); } }); var vid1 = $('.lp-pom-video iframe')[0]; var vid2 = $('.lp-pom-video iframe')[1]; var vid3 = $('.lp-pom-video iframe')[2]; var tag = document.createElement('script'); tag.id = 'iframe-demo'; tag.src = 'https://www.youtube.com/iframe_api'; var firstScriptTag = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; firstScriptTag.parentNode.insertBefore(tag, firstScriptTag); var player1; var player2; var player3; function onYouTubeIframeAPIReady() { player1 = new YT.Player(vid1, { events: { 'onStateChange': function(e){ if (e.data === YT.PlayerState.ENDED) { console.log('video done'); $('#lp-pom-video-483').html('<h1 style="color: #7ac142; left: 321px; top:30px;text-align:center;font-family: Montserrat;font-size:48px;">Done!</h1><svg class="checkmark" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" viewBox="0 0 52 52"><circle class="checkmark__circle" cx="26" cy="26" r="25" fill="none"/><path class="checkmark__check" fill="none" d="M14.1 27.2l7.1 7.2 16.7-16.8"/></svg>'); vidWatched() } } } }); player2 = new YT.Player(vid2, { events: { 'onStateChange': function(e){ if (e.data === YT.PlayerState.ENDED) { console.log('video done'); $('#lp-pom-video-485').html('<h1 style="color: #7ac142; left: 321px; top:30px;text-align:center;font-family: Montserrat;font-size:48px;">Done!</h1><svg class="checkmark" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" viewBox="0 0 52 52"><circle class="checkmark__circle" cx="26" cy="26" r="25" fill="none"/><path class="checkmark__check" fill="none" d="M14.1 27.2l7.1 7.2 16.7-16.8"/></svg>'); vidWatched() } } } }); player3 = new YT.Player(vid3, { events: { 'onStateChange': function(e){ if (e.data === YT.PlayerState.ENDED) { console.log('video done'); $('#lp-pom-video-487').html('<h1 style="color: #7ac142; left: 321px; top:30px;text-align:center;font-family: Montserrat;font-size:48px;">Done!</h1><svg class="checkmark" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" viewBox="0 0 52 52"><circle class="checkmark__circle" cx="26" cy="26" r="25" fill="none"/><path class="checkmark__check" fill="none" d="M14.1 27.2l7.1 7.2 16.7-16.8"/></svg>'); vidWatched() } } } }); } function vidWatched(){ vidsWatched++; console.log("vid watched:"+vidWatched); bar.animate(vidsWatched/3); if(vidsWatched == 3){ window.location.hash = "completed"; } } </script> 

Here’s the CSS

 <style> .wrapper{ transition: all 0.3s cubic-bezier(0.165, 0.84, 0.44, 1); left: 10%; perspective: 1000px; -webkit-perspective: 1000px; perspective-origin: 30% 70%; } .item:hover{ cursor: pointer; } .item { box-shadow: 10px 20px 80px rgba(0,0,0,1); transition: all 0.3s cubic-bezier(0.165, 0.84, 0.44, 1); transform: translateX(0px); } .perspective{ transition: all 0.3s cubic-bezier(0.165, 0.84, 0.44, 1); left: 50%; box-shadow: -10px 20px 80px rgba(0,0,0,0.5); transform: scale(0.45) rotateY(14deg) rotateX(2deg) rotate(0deg) translateX(-75%) !important; } #lp-pom-text-452, #lp-pom-text-455, #lp-pom-text-456, #lp-pom-text-475, #lp-pom-text-476, #lp-pom-text-477 { box-shadow: 10px 20px 80px rgba(0,0,0,0.4); } .checkmark__circle { stroke-dasharray: 166; stroke-dashoffset: 166; stroke-width: 2; stroke-miterlimit: 10; stroke: #7ac142; fill: none; animation: stroke 0.6s cubic-bezier(0.65, 0, 0.45, 1) forwards; } .checkmark { width: 56px; height: 56px; border-radius: 50%; display: block; stroke-width: 2; stroke: #fff; stroke-miterlimit: 10; margin: 10% auto; box-shadow: inset 0px 0px 0px #7ac142; animation: fill .4s ease-in-out .4s forwards, scale .3s ease-in-out .9s both; } .checkmark__check { transform-origin: 50% 50%; stroke-dasharray: 48; stroke-dashoffset: 48; animation: stroke 0.3s cubic-bezier(0.65, 0, 0.45, 1) 0.8s forwards; } @keyframes stroke { 100% { stroke-dashoffset: 0; } } @keyframes scale { 0%, 100% { transform: none; } 50% { transform: scale3d(1.1, 1.1, 1); } } @keyframes fill { 100% { box-shadow: inset 0px 0px 0px 30px #7ac142; } } </style> 

#5: Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) entrance experience

Do you have different target customer segment? At Unbounce we consider agencies and in-house marketing teams to be our ideal target customer archetype.

Given that you most likely have multiple ideal customer types, should they all be getting the same experience? No, of course they shouldn’t. But designing multiple experiences can be difficult. Which is why some experimental experiences can be incredibly eye-opening.

I’m a big fan of the Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) approach, and it’s not hard to create a few custom flows for your visitors.

By using an entrance popup with a simple self-identification question, you can drop cookies that help you create more customized experiences in other areas of your website.

I’d start with an “I’m an Agency or Marketing Team” type question.

Once you’ve dropped the cookie(s), you can take that knowledge and create experiences elsewhere on your site (or other web properties), and you can redirect the visitor to the best experience you have on your site for that persona.

For example, if someone self-identifies as working at an agency, you could provide an agency-specific resource or offer if they try to exit your site on the pricing page. For example, “Did you know we offer an agency program that includes a, b, c ?” or “Would you like a demo of Unbounce with one of our agency specialists?

There are almost infinite ways you can leverage this approach just by asking once for people to identify themselves.

And once again, you didn’t have to change anything on your website.

#6: G2 Crowd awareness

Got good reviews on G2 Crowd or Glassdoor? Embed some of the details on an entrance sticky bar for visitors to your “About Us”, “Team”, and “Careers” pages as social proof.

You could take your rating, a badge, or a review to use as social proof.

#7: G2 Crowd reviews

Ask customers (use the cookie you dropped on the login page for the login hijack example) to rate you on G2 Crowd. As you’re dealing with customers and they already do a lot for you, I’d suggest making this a subtle sticky bar and not an in-your-face experience.

#8: Welcome back MVP

If you know what your most important pages are you can use cookies and cookie targeting to drive people to them.

In my Advanced Triggers and Targeting post, I presented the “You Didn’t See My Most Valuable Page (MVP)” concept, where you set a cookie when visitors see your most valuable page(s). That way you can check for the existence of the cookie whenever someone leaves your site, and show them a popup directing them to the important content.

Using a similar approach, you can provide an entrance experience that welcomes them back and drives them to the important content.

To do this you’d combine cookie targeting (doesn’t have the MVP cookie) with a frequency trigger set to second visit. That way you know they are a repeat visitor and haven’t seen the MVP – as opposed to a first time visitor who hasn’t seen it which could mean they are already on their way there.

Create a Google Analytics report that tells you what % of visitors see your MVP, then observe if your Welcome Back MVP influences the number.

#9: Best Blog Content

In tomorrow’s final Product Awareness Month post, I’ll be sharing a lot of lessons I’ve learned over the past 30 days. One of those revolves around the topics of content that you’re writing about, and making sure they are things that people are A) interested in, and most importantly B) searching for.

To help you with this, you can use an exit popup to ask people which content they’d like to see more of. Then use this data (in combination with your SEO research) to guide your writing.

You can embed a simple Typeform in the popup to capture the responses.

Note: to add a Typeform survey in Unbounce, simple paste the embed code (from Typeform) into a “Custom HTML” element that you drop onto your popup in the Unbounce builder.

#10: Product Awareness Clicker

If you want to collect data about the levels of product awareness you have, at the same time as increasing product awareness, this tip is for you.

While similar in terms of the question to the login hijack, your goal here is to target new visitors as opposed to existing customers.

Trigger a popup on your homepage or features page after a time delay, presenting a series of product/feature icons with the request: “Which products/features did you NOT know we provide?”.

To select the appropriate time delay, look at your analytics for the average time on page for the pages you’re targeting, and set it accordingly. You want to set it just below the average so people see it, but still have time to read your content.

You can measure the results with a click heatmap, or by embedding a Typeform survey in the popup like the previous example. I like Typeform because they have some beautiful and simple big-button layouts that are perfect for this concept.

This is a good way to measure movement in your awareness metrics. For more clarity, segment customers from non-customers. You could do this with a second question on the Typeform survey that simple asks are you a customer. Or you could drop a customer cookie on your login or login success page and remove this cohort using the cookie targeting in Unbounce.

#11: Discount on 3rd exit

Just like shopping carts, pricing page abandonment is big deal, but you probably don’t want to give a discount the first time people leave, just because they’re leaving.

But if they repeatedly visit and leave your pricing page, it could be a signal that there’s an issue with them pulling the trigger. It might be the price point, and it might be worth experimenting with a discount using Popup or Sticky Bar.

You should be careful with discounts (if you’re a SaaS business) as they can affect your metrics in negative ways, but there is always a time and a place where it makes sense.

You can choose your own number, but I’d say that the third time someone visits and leaves your pricing page means it’s time to offer either a question (WTF dude?) or an offer/discount.

To do this with Unbounce, just use URL targeting for the pricing page, and show the popup on visit number 3.


So there you have it. A whole bunch of ways you can get into website optimization without bugging your web developer (more than once).

Aaaaand now, tomorrow marks the end of my 30 posts (that became 20) in 30 days product awareness challenge. This will be a transparent deep dive into everything I’ve learned over the course of the month, data from conversions, leads, clicks, adoption, awareness, and every interaction I’m able to consolidate in the next 24 hours.

See you tomorrow. I promise some very interesting learnings and results.

Cheers
Oli Gardner

p.s. Don’t subscribe to “Product Awareness Month”, because it’s over. Instead you should just read the entire epic 20-post collection when you have time for some binge-reading.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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From the Russian ad debacle to the Cambridge Analytica scandal to suffering a major stock price blow just a few short weeks ago, Facebook has been making less-than-stellar headlines the past few months. Users are concerned about their privacy and how their data is being used—and brands and marketers are wondering whether the platform will continue to be a viable advertising and engagement platform.

In an attempt to rebuild trust, ensure better data protection and transparency, the social network is doubling down, again, on their commitment to improving the user experience and creating a fun, respectful community.

As all marketers will remember, the quest to improve user experience started way back in 2015, with the announcement it would be making refinements to its News Feed to strike a better balance between friends, public figures, publishers, businesses, and community organizations. That continued in the summer 2016 with more updates favoring friends and family content—and was still on the move when the first scandal broke later that year.

Of course, these changes didn’t do marketers and brands any favors in the organic reach department. Organic reach had already been declining, and these moves have nearly eliminated its potential. And now, more changes have arrived, presenting new challenges as well as some opportunities.

Below we share the low-down on five of such recent or rolling out changes, what they mean for social media marketers, and some potential next steps to take.

1. A New News Feed

Once again, the News Feed is getting a facelift—a big one. While Mark Zuckerberg announced back in January 2018 that changes would be rolling out throughout the year, a “major update” was announced in April, which Director of Product Management, Mark Hull, details in the video below:

Essentially, meaningful person-to-person interaction is what will carry the News Feed ranking weight, and person-to-page interactions will continue to be second tier. Oh, and Facebook expects people to spend less time on the platform.

This sounds pretty scary for marketers. Most have adapted their strategies to zero-in on fostering engaging discussion, as well as throwing spend behind Facebook’s ad platform (which is also changing and we’ll get to that later).

But before you eliminate Facebook from your marketing mix, there are a few opportunities to consider:

Working with influencers: With Facebook continuing to elevate content from individuals, there may be no better time to start building relationships with industry influencers and thought leaders that you can collaborate with on content.

Read: Death of Organic Reach = New Opportunities for Influencer Marketing

Facebook Groups: As my colleague, Nick Nelson, reported not too long ago, while groups have long been available as a feature on Facebook, the brand-driven “Facebook Groups for Pages” were just rolled out last year. And some brands are seeing traction with them, but this isn’t something you leap into without being thoughtful.

Read: The Question on Many Marketers’ Minds: Should My Brand Start a Facebook Group?

Facebook Stories: Very recently, Facebook insiders asserted that Facebook Stories may very well be the future of connection on Facebook. Once again, as Nick Nelson pointed out: “Facebook Stories are intriguing because they offer a real chance to capture part of a user’s attention — maybe even more than the minimum amount.” And early adopters may secure an advantage.

Read: The Future of Connection on Facebook: How Stories May Change the Marketing Game

2. Stricter Ad Targeting

As of late, most of Facebook’s critiques are a result of their advertising products and practices. By increasing the targeting capabilities of their advertising products, Facebook arguably put users’ privacy at risk. To help correct that perception and protect user privacy, Facebook is making several changes to their advertising platform.

One such update was released in early July, requiring advertisers to state where they acquired people’s information for their custom audiences. Instead of simply uploading a list of emails you want to target as a custom audience, Facebook wants advertisers to take extra steps to ensure those emails came from a reputable source and that the audience has consented to those ads. With this change, Facebook hopes to improve transparency with users about why they see ads from certain brands and how they received their information.

New Facebook Ad Disclaimer

(Credit: Facebook)

In addition, Facebook has also disabled their Partner Categories product, which provided targeting capabilities from third-party data providers to advertisers. This limits advertiser insight into user behavior outside of Facebook (e.g. purchasing activity), making ads appear more natural to users and less “big brother.”

From our perspective, this is good news. Consumers are increasingly wary of marketing and advertising messages and this move can help strengthen the credibility and relevance of your ads and brand. Of course, this is all assuming you can and do confirm your custom audience lists and sources fall within the new guides.

So, if you haven’t already, take the steps to review your custom audience lists and their sources. You need to be able to state if you received the information directly from your audience, a partner, or a combination. If you used a data provider like an advertising or marketing agency, double check that they’ve acquired the data honestly and they agree to Facebook’s Terms of Use.

3. New Data History Tools

Now more than ever, people want control over their data. They want to know what information is stored, who has access to it, and they want to be able to delete it.

Recognizing this need, Facebook announced a new feature called Clear History that will be released “soon.”With this new feature, Facebook is giving users the ability to see the websites and apps that store information with Facebook, and delete that information from their account.

However, Facebook will still retain aggregated analytics, but no personally identifying information will be contained.

“We’ll still provide apps and websites with aggregated analytics – for example, we can build reports when we’re sent this information so we can tell developers if their apps are more popular with men or women in a certain age group,” Facebook says. “We can do this without storing the information in a way that’s associated with your account, and as always, we don’t tell advertisers who you are.

What exactly does this mean for marketers? If you use Facebook plugins on your website (think Facebook Pixel or “Like” buttons on websites), your audience can now see and delete the information that the plugin collects; meaning it won’t be connected to their profile any longer.

Obviously, if users take advantage of this when it rolls out, clearing their history could be problematic for marketers, and maybe even users. For marketers, it will be incredibly difficult to target these folks with ads. For users, that could mean an uptick in irrelevant ads for a time.

However, the eventual upside for advertisers could be the “re-learning” that needs to happen after a history cleanse, which can lead to a more relevant and accurate look of who your audience is.

4. Poor Customer Feedback = Ban

A poor customer experience really sours your impression of a brand. An to ensure that ads on Facebook lead to positive shopping experiences, and not negative ones, Facebook will now ban brands that have low customer satisfaction ratings from advertising on their platform.

For example, if users give you too many frowning faces shown in the rating system below, Facebook will reject your ads.

Facebook Negative Review Example

(Credit: Facebook)

Before you become too concerned, however, Facebook says it will: “Share feedback directly with businesses that receive high volumes of negative feedback and will give them a chance to improve before taking further action. If feedback does not improve over time, we will reduce the amount of ads that particular business can run.”

So, even if you receive negative ratings, you will have an opportunity to make improvements to prevent being banned.

The opportunity here is obvious. The better customer experience you provide, the more successful your marketing efforts will be. For Facebook ads, this is rooted in focusing on clarity and honesty within your ads.

At a minimum, Facebook suggests taking steps to ensure your ads aren’t misleading. In addition, use images or videos to make it very clear what you are selling and what you are selling it for. It’s also a good idea to set clear expectations for how users will receive your product or service. By setting clear guidelines, you’re more likely to meet customer expectations, leading to more positive user ratings. For more insight, read Facebook’s tips on how to improve customer feedback.

5. All of Your Ads, Exposed

Knowing the organization behind an ad is important. Otherwise, users might not trust the content of the ad. So, to increase ad and page transparency, Facebook now allows users to see all of the ads any page is running within their partner network.

This includes ads on Instagram, Messenger, and the rest of the Facebook partner network. In addition, even if pages aren’t advertising, Facebook will provide more information about a page including name history and the date the page was created. Together, these changes aim to give users more information about an organization so they can decide if an ad is credible or not.

Facebook Ad Transparency

(Credit: Facebook)

For marketers, this change isn’t a bad thing — it may even mean more eyeballs on your advertising content. However, marketers should still be thoughtful about how their ads will be perceived by individuals outside of their target audience.

For example, even if an ad isn’t specifically designed for or served to them, users can still review (and report) your ads. As a result, you need to take extra steps to make sure your ads are consistent, clear, and friendly for all.

The Life Force of Facebook

Long before the scandals and latest privacy concerns, Facebook has been rooted in evolution. Just think what the platform started as and has become. So, while the recent and coming changes seem pretty fierce, I think it’s safe to say we were already on that trajectory. And there’s probably more to come.

Since the major changes that impacted advertisers and brands began rolling out in 2015, Facebook has maintained their actions are all in the interest of creating a better user experience. And at the end of the day, that’s what the goal of any marketer is in their quest to nurture their audience and aid them on their customer journey.

So, it’s OK if you’re a panicked, disheartened, or simply irritated. But, at this point, the platform still holds marketing opportunity, marketers just need to adapt their social media marketing strategies, try new features and avenues, and work hard to ensure they’re part of providing that great user experience.

Looking for more social media marketing news, tips, and insights? Check out all of our recent social media-related blog posts.

The post The Latest Evolution of Facebook: The Marketing Low-Down on 5 Recent Changes appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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