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How One Bank Doubled ROI by Being Creative in a Conservative Industry

Artistic man paints
Even if you work in a conservative industry, there are creative ways to increase conversions. Image by Death To Stock Photo.

Marketers are often constrained by the demands placed on us by our boss and clients. But external pressure can also come from the industry we work in — especially when it comes to conservative industries like banking, healthcare or government.

With these industries comes a certain degree of pressure to conform to specific aesthetics, brand guidelines and previously established marketing practices. This restrictive environment can make it difficult to test and develop new methodologies (read: increase conversions).

And it doesn’t help that these industries typically require more personal information from customers, introducing more friction into the signup process and making building trust more important than ever.

But in spite of all these hurdles, there are ways to be creative in a conservative industry — as we saw in our recent webinar with First Midwest Bank. Their creative approach allowed them to stand out from their competitors all while building trust with their prospects, ultimately leading to a 195% conversion increase.

How did they do it (and how can you do it too)? You can watch the recording here, or read on for the distilled wisdom.

Push best practices to their limit

Everyone knows photographs of people are a powerful way to draw the eye on landing pages. This best practice is repeated in so many blogs that it has in some ways become a cliché.

And when First Midwest Bank tested this best practice, they found (predictably) that images of people did help increase conversions on their landing pages.

conservative industry landing page example female face
This landing page brought First Midwest Bank a 150% conversion increase over a variant with a suitcase as a hero shot.

But they also uncovered something interesting: the “ideal” person represented on the page differed depending on where the lead was from.

While a landing page with a smiling man increased conversions by 47% in Illinois, it performed poorly in Indiana, with a 42% conversion decrease:

conservative industry landing pag example
This photo increased conversions by 47% in Illinois but decreased them by 42% in Indiana.

This insight led to more A/B tests, resulting in 26 different landing pages depending on the state.

In other words, adding a smiling person to First Midwest Bank’s landing page wasn’t enough. They had to find the best possible smiling person for each state.

The takeaway here?

Best practices are a great jumping off point for A/B tests, but don’t allow yourself to get too comfortable. Get creative and push best practices to their limit. As fitness celebrity Jillian Michaels says, get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

jillian-michaels gif

Test best practices ’til you break them

Getting creative with your A/B tests means pushing best practices, but it also means questioning their validity.

We’ve all heard about the importance of placing important information “above the fold” — that the majority of visitors can’t be bothered to scroll below it. This advice has been shared so much that many marketers wouldn’t be caught dead putting a form or call to action below the fold.

But A/B testing revealed something interesting for the First Midwest Bank team, who kept testing even though they had a high-performing champion landing page. They decided to stick their form below the fold. And boy, were they glad they did:

Midwest Bank Champion Landing Page with From
Below The Fold Landing Page
The landing page variant with the form below the fold (bottom) outperformed by the variant with the form to the right (top) by a whopping 52%.

The challenger, with the form below the fold, increased conversions by 52%.  

Perhaps the variant with the form above the fold came on a little too strong; maybe prospects needed to be sold on the offer a little more before forking over their personal information. No matter the reason, this so-called “best practice” just wasn’t right for First Midwest Bank’s leads.

But this isn’t the only “best practice” they debunked through A/B testing.

If you’re an established brand, you’ve likely got a set number of colors that you incorporate into your designs — they’re part of your corporate identity. And in those brand guidelines, you’ll often have a contrasting color or two to draw attention to specific elements.

For example, it’s a best practice to use a contrasting color so that your CTA button stands out and makes a prospect’s next choice obvious: click the button.

So when First Midwest Bank began testing their landing pages, they decided it made sense to complement their signature purple with a colorful CTA:

Orange CTA Button Form Landing Page
Purple CTA Button Landing Page
Using a contrasting color for their CTA button seemed logical for First Midwest Bank, but they still decided to test it.

But the results surprised them: First Midwest Bank saw a conversion rate decrease of 20% when they used a red contrasting button instead of a purple one.

The takeaway?

Best practices are guidelines, not gospel.

Be creative with what you test, even if that means that you’re deliberately being a rebel and breaking the rules.

Use SSL to reduce anxiety and establish trust

As much as you want to be daring and think outside of the box, there are still basic things that your prospects need from you to feel at ease. Especially in conservative industries, if you don’t want to cause prospects anxiety, you need to reassure them that their personal information will remain private.

So how can you demonstrate that you know their personal information is important and that you don’t take their trust lightly?

SSL or Secure Sockets Layer, is an industry standard security measure that uses encryption to ensure that any data sent through your landing page forms is secure.

A secure SSL landing page shows a client that you’re as serious about their business as they are about their private information. It subtle, but effective.

Notice how the URL for this First Midwest Bank landing page contains that little lock and https:// at the beginning?

SSL Landing Page Example
Using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) shows your clients that you’re serious about their privacy.

First Midwest Bank understands the importance of being creative, but they also understand the importance of credibility and security — so they used SSL landing pages to connect with security-conscious customers.

This keeps the path toward conversion as seamless as possible — squashing anxiety and providing leads with the confidence they need to become customers.

The result for First Midwest Bank? Over one million dollars in loans in 5 months.

Get down with your creative self

Brace Yourself Meme Leads Are Coming

Your industry shouldn’t introduce constraints; it should be an opportunity for you to stand out.

Especially in conservative industries where competitors aren’t likely to be pushing the envelope, there’s a lot of room to get creative and push beyond the status quo.

Because at the end of the day, creative campaigns and fun A/B tests aren’t only for cool lifestyle companies. Even bankers, insurance brokers, health professionals and government workers can get down with their creative selves.

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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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5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers

Traits B2B Influencers

Traits B2B Influencers

Marketers are still asking, what is B2B influencer marketing? Here’s a definition I’ve been using over the past 5 years or so:

B2B influencer marketing is activating internal and external subject matter experts with engaged networks to advocate and co-create content of mutual value that drives measurable business goals.

As the groundswell around influencer marketing rises and becomes a normal part of the B2B marketing mix, the volume of information and misinformation on the topic also increases.

One of the most popular questions people also ask about B2B influencer marketing focuses on what makes a good business influencer? By now we all know that popularity alone does not make someone influential. It’s certainly important, it's just not the only thing.

As B2B marketers mature in their understanding of the role influence plays and how the dynamic of brand content co-created with industry experts plays out with customers, they begin to realize that other factors matter. Topical relevance matters of course as well as resonance of the topic amongst an influencer’s community.

B2B Marketing Influencers

The intersection of individual expertise, how well that expertise resonates with followers and the size of network creates a baseline of characteristics when evaluating whether a certain influencer might be a match.

But there’s more than that. Understanding what makes a great influencer is both art and science, soft and hard skills. The success of identifying, qualifying and engaging influencers is also directly tied to how they will be engaged and to what end.

Some people reading this might think that influencer marketing isn’t the magic pill some are playing it up to be. There’s a reason for that, because it’s not magic. It’s more like alchemy.

The reality is, there’s no one formula for the perfect B2B influencer, but there are some common characteristics that B2B brands should look for in varying proportions according to what’s important to a program or activation. I call those characteristics:

The 5 Ps of B2B Influence

Proficiency - In B2B marketing, the vast majority of those considered influential possess deep expertise in the field they work in. This is a significant difference from many B2C influencers who are often self proclaimed as influential with clever media creation skills.

As B2C influencer content and engagement tactics evolve, some are crossing over into B2B with a trickle of opportunists successfully creating influence amongst B2B audiences not solely for their expertise, but for a combination of adept social media content creation skills and some expertise. B2B marketers who do their due diligence will be able to filter accordingly.

Popularity - While network size is not the only thing, nor is it the most important thing, it is definitely a metric to consider. Some marketers swing in the direction of ignoring audience size altogether because of lower engagement rates with popular influencers. This is simply foolish. All things being the same, I’ll take 2% engagement of an influencer with a million followers over 2% from someone that has 1,000 followers.

What matters is how network size factors in with the type of influencer you need. For example, popular influencers aka “brandividuals” are often best for top of funnel content. Niche domain expert influencers are better for middle and end of funnel content. Engaging a brandividual and expecting conversions is just naive.

Personality - If you’ve worked in B2C influencer marketing and been exposed to all the characters there, B2B is going to seem a bit dry. Now there are some colorful characters in the B2B influencer community, no doubt. But personality is often a trait that needs to be uncovered when you’re working with some types of business influencers.

The good news is that savvy influencer marketing practitioners know how to plant the seeds that can grow and blossom within an otherwise introverted influencer. You don’t need them to be a colorful character, ripe with personality per se, but you do want them to connect with the passion they have with their craft and how their expertise can help others be successful.

Publishing - Content is the media that conveys the ideas of influence and while B2B influencers are not expected to produce the same types and quantity of content as in B2C, it is ideal when there’s a platform where the influencer publishes. At a minimum, that would be social networks but to be a B2B influencer, it’s most likely that also includes articles contributed to publications if not research, books and presentations.

Promotion - The value a B2B influencer brings beyond adding expertise and credibility to brand content is the ability to share what they helped create with their network. Trust of brand content is at a low, especially with advertising. Customers yearn for authentic content and the right kind of influencer collaboration can give them that, delivered via the influencer’s own distribution channels. That means social networks for course but also potentially blogs, email newsletters, podcast, LinkedIn Live, contributed articles or columns in industry publications.

I know some people reading this are thinking there could be even more P’s like being Prolific, Persuasive or Passion. Yes, there could be so many more but we have to draw the line somewhere! It's important to be able to manage the data and insights necessary to factor these characteristics into selection, qualification and engagement.

Some of these traits will not fully reveal themselves until you work with an influencer on a few content activations. Others will fluctuate over time and that is normal. It's important to understand that influence is a temporal thing. It is not fixed or permanent. It’s important marketers realize that before they disengage an influencer in the short term due to lower performance. The same goes for high expectations after great performance.

Organic influencer engagement is a little dynamic and what you don’t spend on paid influencers like an ad buy you will (in part) need to invest in relationship management, education and even tips that will help the influencers be more effective.

B2B brands with high influencer churn or low performance often apply “ad buy” perspectives to a what is actually a relationship driven effort. Mismatched expectations are not helpful for anyone, so think about the 5Ps as you evaluate and nurture your influencer community. Consider where of each your ideal influencers need to score on the 5 Ps in order to be a good match for the kind of activation you have in mind.

When there’s 5P alignment, there's happiness: for customers, influencers and your B2B brand.

The post 5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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