Every business owner eventually experiences growth stagnation.
It can happen with sales. And it can happen with your email list.
I’ve been there.
You feel stumped.
Your email list isn’t growing.
What can you possibly do to kick yourself out of this rut?
Well, the exciting news is, you’ve got several options.
Some of them are a fresh take on conventional list-building strategies. Others require you to think outside the box.
In this article, I’ll lay out the most effective techniques for you. You’ll walk away with a step-by-step plan to ramp up your email list.
Before we get into these strategies, I’ve got some crucial advice.
It is imperative that you block and tackle.
What does that mean?
When you’re trying to overcome a period of stagnation in business, it’s important that you put all your energy towards getting out of that rut.
Block a 30-60 day window on your schedule, and tackle only list building during that period.
Building an email list is fundamental to the success of your business.
The relationship you’ll nurture with your subscribers will determine the revenue-generating power of your business.
In fact, the average email marketer sees a 94% return on investment.
The strategies you’ll learn in this article will allow you to put your list building on autopilot. It means the time you take to focus on this one thing will be time well spent.
Let’s jump in.
It doesn’t matter what list-building strategy you’re using. It doesn’t matter which audience you’re targeting.
All list-building roads lead to your lead magnet.
Nobody will give you their email address without receiving an attractive offer in return.
With that said, the first step is to pick out incentives your target audience would want.
Put these steps into action to determine what that is.
Think about the ultimate result. If you double-down on their biggest pain point, this won’t be difficult to come up with.
Think about the big picture.
For example, if you’re a business coach, your ultimate goal may be to get your clients to bring in more sales and greater profits.
In keeping with the example above, the small steps can be:
Your best free content lies in these small steps.
It will help you create an offer your audience wants. It will also ensure you give away something that will give them an immediate win.
This is super important for lead magnets.
You want subscribers to consume the content, implement it, and achieve a positive result.
Now that you have an idea of what your audience will benefit from, it’s time to create something concrete.
I’ll cut to the chase.
Four strategies work exceptionally well.
Content upgrades are quickly becoming the gold standard for list building.
Brian Dean boosted his conversions by 785% using content upgrades.
Here is how to do that:
Let’s say you write a post “How to Write Blog Posts That Rank on Google’s First Page.”
You can create an “SEO checklist” as a content upgrade and place it within your blog post.
Here’s an example:
The chances of someone signing up to receive this upgrade? Sky high.
It adds to the value of your post as it gives readers a valuable resource to implement what you just discussed.
This is an incentive that stands on its own.
It’s not tied to any piece of content, and it should have a mass appeal.
I don’t mean that it must be geared towards everyone on the Internet. But people in your target market should be attracted by your brand-specific free offer.
Here are some examples:
Most people talk about the first two strategies. But many leave out the most important one.
You must have a lead magnet that is connected to your premium offers.
This applies to a physical product, a service, or an informational product.
This type of a lead magnet is often (not always) smaller and quick to consume. This way, you give subscribers an appetite for your paid product.
For physical products and software, it’s easy to come up with an incentive. You can give away a coupon code, a free trial, etc.
Like Curology does:
Here’s a good rule of thumb for info-products and services:
Let’s look at an example from Jeff Walker.
He offers a premium program that helps entrepreneurs launch a product.
It’s called Product Launch Formula.
His free incentive is a “Launch workshop,” which is directly tied to his paid product.
And that’s what I mean by preparing your customer for a purchase.
This is a smart way to build a warm list of potential buyers.
The last technique is to run a promotion.
This is where you use a giveaway to accelerate your list building.
When you implement this well, it works wonders. But I’ll admit: it isn’t my favorite strategy.
For one, it isn’t evergreen.
This isn’t something you can set and forget.
You run your promotion for a particular period. During that time, you have to market your giveaway aggressively and manage it closely.
After your promotion has run its course, that’s it. It has no use to you anymore.
Here’s my advice:
Which of these four strategies should you focus on?
All of them.
The days of one lead magnet are gone.
Of course, you don’t have to create all of them at once. That takes time.
But aim to have each of these types of incentives in your arsenal.
You’ve come up with your lead magnet ideas, and you’ve created them.
It’s time to ensure your website visitors have every opportunity to grab these free resources.
This is not about designing your site from scratch or spending big bucks on web design.
You simply want to ensure that your web traffic is directed to your incentives.
A few tweaks will do the trick.
Here are my recommendations.
Above the fold is the upper half of a website page.
It’s that section that a web visitor sees without having to scroll down.
The premise is simple.
You have a few seconds to grab your visitors’ attention. If your primary goal is to collect leads, the first thing users should see is an opportunity to sign up to your email list.
Here’s an example from Blogging Wizard:
Here’s another example:
Every standalone lead magnet needs a landing page. (This rule doesn’t apply to content upgrades.)
If you decide to run list-building ads, you’ll need this asset. If you want to direct your social media traffic to your lead magnet, it will also come in handy.
Let’s talk about the anatomy of a solid landing page. It needs to have:
I know. Most landing pages don’t include all these elements.
That’s why they don’t work.
I recommend including everything listed above, but if you have to choose, the first seven will do the job.
When you decide to run list-building promos, you need to capitalize on that prime real estate.
As I referenced earlier, giveaways require lots of marketing. The more exposure you can get, the more successful you will be.
Just replace whatever is above your fold at the moment with something related to your promotion.
Like in this example:
Apart from landing pages and feature boxes above the fold, you need to have opt-in forms elsewhere on your site.
Why three to seven?
Well, two is not enough to get the job done.
In marketing, there’s this rule that says prospects need to hear your message seven times before it sticks.
Only then will they take action.
I’ve analyzed several of the top sites in various niches. They all have many opt-in forms in that range.
I don’t know what your results will be. You can test it.
In any event, one thing is for sure: the more opportunities you have for web visitors to opt in to your email list, the faster it will grow.
And that’s what you want.
Here are some ideas where you can place these additional opt-ins:
At this point, you’ll start seeing an improvement.
Why am I so sure?
If you create lead magnets your audience wants and optimize your site for conversions, you’re achieving two things.
First, you have a foundation to scale your list building efforts.
Second, you are capitalizing on the traffic you’re already receiving.
That combination alone will make a difference. But let’s see how you can ramp it up.
Content is crucial at this stage.
There are three types of content I recommend.
In the second step, we talked about the importance of blog posts with content upgrades.
However, you were working with existing content.
You have to keep publishing valuable posts on a weekly basis. If you can create a content upgrade for each article, definitely do that.
What’s the ideal publishing frequency?
That depends on your niche and your audience.
I’ll tell you one thing.
You don’t need to post daily. Consistency is what matters.
One post a week is enough to see results with your list building.
You may have noticed webinars are in vogue these days.
And with good reason.
It’s a fresh way to deliver value to your audience.
It’s especially powerful for list building because it’s gated content. People have to sign up to your email list to attend.
Here’s the thing though.
Webinars are a strategy into itself. It takes preparation, the right tools, and robust marketing to make it a success.
But it’s worth it.
Webinars typically run about 60 minutes. It means you’ll need lots of content to work with.
The great news?
This content is typically evergreen and can be repurposed into blog posts or social media posts.
There’s no better source of free traffic than your social media profiles.
I recommend focusing on one main platform where your audience hangs out.
Post consistently. Build an engaged community. And direct that social traffic to your main site.
There’s no dancing around this fact: email list building is central to the success of an online business.
Make it a priority.
Periods of slow growth are commonplace and shouldn’t be a problem. What matters is what you do to get yourself out of the lull.
When it comes to increasing the number of your subscribers, you aren’t short on options.
Follow the strategies I’ve laid out in this article.
If you implement them, you’ll start seeing an increase in your email list sign-ups almost immediately.
Which list-building strategies have worked the best for you?
I am a big champion of the power of email marketing.
There’s no better way to build a community and nurture a relationship with your audience.
It’s hands down the most authentic way to prime your prospects, sell them your work, and grow your revenue.
So, when a powerful list-building technique comes along, I get excited.
After all, a thriving email list is the foundation of email marketing.
I’m sure you’ve noticed this, but I’ll point it out anyway.
Content upgrades are what’s hot right now if you want to accelerate the growth of your email list.
Take a guy like Bryan Harris, for instance. He sees a conversion rate of 20-40% on blog posts with content upgrades.
He now averages almost 80 subscribers a day.
Blog posts typically do not convert as well as landing pages because they’re not designed for that purpose.
The point of a blog post is to educate, entertain, and inspire. There’s too much going on to get someone focused enough to sign up to your email list.
Content upgrades have changed that completely.
You can now transform your blog posts into powerful list-building assets. All you have to do is uplevel your posts with a targeted free resource.
Don’t worry—I’ll show you how.
First, let’s define a content upgrade.
It’s a type of lead magnet you give your audience in exchange for their email addresses.
The typical lead magnet, like an ebook or an email course, stands alone.
It is not attached to any specific piece of content. It has its own thing going on.
A content upgrade is unique to a piece of content.
It’s usually tied to a blog post. But there are other types of content you can uplevel with a free resource.
Webinars, podcasts, and videos are examples.
The point is to enhance the value of your content with this additional resource.
As you can imagine, there are several ways to achieve that.
You can create a resource that helps readers implement what you just discussed. An action sheet, workbook, or toolkit are excellent examples.
You can give away something that saves them time, like templates or cheat sheets.
The ultimate strategy is to create something that will help them delve deeper into the topic.
This is where you give additional strategies, tutorials, case studies, etc.
Your options are endless.
Let’s look at some examples.
CoSchedule published a post “How to Repurpose Content and Make the Most of Your Marketing.”
The content upgrade?
A content repurposing guide and infographic:
If you read this post and were interested in implementing this content repurposing technique, you’d sign up for this upgrade in a heartbeat.
And that’s why content upgrades are so powerful for growing your email list.
They offer something you can’t say no to: value.
I’ll give you more examples later. For now, let’s get into how you can create your content upgrades.
Can’t you just create content upgrades for your new content?
Yes, but it’s not where you should start.
If you haven’t created upgrades, you should first capitalize on the traffic you’re already receiving.
This is the fastest way to see results.
You can identify your top posts with Google Analytics or Buzzsumo.
If you have GA fired up, go to the Reports section and click on “behavior.”
Go to “site content” and then “all pages.”
You’ll find the website pages with the most traffic.
You can also find this info directly from your WordPress dashboard if you have GA set up there.
Buzzsumo is even simpler.
Plug in your site URL and press “Go.”
You’ll find the posts with the most social shares.
Record these in a spreadsheet. They’ll serve as your targets for your new content upgrades.
These are for finding your top blog posts, but the same can be done for your podcasts, YouTube videos, webinars, etc.
To deliver that extra value, you need to pinpoint the gap in your content.
Otherwise, your upgrade won’t be worth opting in for.
Select one of your top content pieces found in the first step. Go through it from top to bottom, and consider the following questions.
If you’ve created something of quality, it should solve a problem.
I understand not all content is instructional or how-to, but the question remains.
Think about what knowledge you’re trying to deliver and what purpose it serves for your audience.
Let’s look at this post.
My goal is to give readers the fastest and easiest strategies to grow their email lists.
If I were to create a content upgrade for that post, it would:
This may sound futile. But without going through this exercise, your content upgrade can flop.
When I talk about types of upgrades later, you’ll understand why.
For now, figure out what your content is trying to accomplish.
And your job will be half done.
You know the goal of your content piece.
Is there a strategy you didn’t mention? A tool required to implement your tactics? Something that fulfills the goal but was not covered in-depth or at all?
Find the gap between the objective and what your content does.
Think of what could’ve been included to make your content more valuable.
You want an upgrade that accomplishes the same goal you established earlier, but with an extra kick.
When people consume new information, they’re thinking of the ways they can implement it for a positive result.
Your audience wants to achieve that outcome better, faster, and cheaper and with more precision, less error, and less effort.
That’s the purpose your content upgrade should serve.
What content do you plan to create in the future?
If you want to make upgrades a key piece of your list-building strategy, here’s what I recommend.
Don’t wait till after you’ve created your content to come up with an idea for your free resource.
Instead, strategize the future upgrade.
Leave an open loop.
This technique uses the power of storytelling to get readers excited about your content upgrade.
Here’s what storytelling does to the brain:
How do you achieve that?
Briefly mention a tool, a topic, a relevant experience, or an action step in your article.
Don’t expand on it in your post. Just mention it, and leave the gap wide open.
This way you’re giving people a piece of the story—not the whole thing.
The objective is to hook your readers.
Then, create an upgrade that closes this gap. I guarantee you, people will sign up to your list just to get the inside scoop.
With this technique, you’re utilizing curiosity, a major persuasion factor.
Now that you know what content you’ll cover, it’s time to establish the form.
How will you deliver your content?
Many people don’t give it much thought. They believe the content is the end-all and be-all.
Content and delivery go hand in hand.
Imagine you promise subscribers a quick win, and you deliver your content in a 30-day email course.
There’s nothing quick about a 30-day email course.
But that doesn’t mean this form isn’t appropriate for a different result.
Let’s say you promise advanced in-depth training, and you deliver it in a cheat sheet.
The email course would serve your audience way better in this instance.
It’s why I use it. It works.
You could also use a webinar.
Do you see how the type of upgrade you select can conflict with the actual content?
You want the two to work seamlessly.
Otherwise, your subscribers will feel cheated when they receive your resource.
They unsubscribe and never return to your blog again.
This is why I placed emphasis on establishing your goals in the beginning. It’s going to help you select the right type of content upgrade.
Here are the options available:
These will give you enough food for thought.
Ensure you select the form that aligns with your content and its goals.
You’ve got your content figured out. You’ve got your delivery method aligned with the content.
This is where you might have some problems.
Or maybe not.
Designing a lead magnet can be time-consuming and challenging for some people. For others, it’s a breeze.
Here’s the thing.
It doesn’t have to be overwhelming for anyone.
Even if you don’t have one technical or creative bone in your body, you can do this.
And if you don’t want to, you can outsource it for pretty cheap. That’s why sites like Fiverr, 99Designs, and UpWork exist.
For those who want to handle it themselves, here’s how.
First, I’ll tell you my favorite tools:
The best part? These are free to use.
Here’s an overview of how you can do this.
Whether you’re creating an ebook, ecourse, or cheat sheet, write out the most important points.
This will serve as a skeleton for your content upgrade.
Flesh out your main points. I like to use dictation to get through this faster. This way, you can just speak about your topic and let the tool do the typing.
Go through it with a fine-tooth comb to make sure there are no errors.
You can also do this with Google docs.
You can copy and paste images, icons, create tables, and highlight text to create a sophisticated design within a simple document.
Then, download your document as a PDF.
But if you want to step up your design, Canva and Beacon are the best choices.
This is so you can place it within your blog posts or on a landing page. One of my favorite tools to do that is Skitch.
I use it to take a snapshot of the individual pages of the content upgrade. Then, I overlay them in Canva to create an image.
Again, you can use Canva to do this.
Here are some examples:
It doesn’t have to be fancy.
You can use a feature box like this:
At this point, you should have all the assets created for your upgrade.
The task now is to set up delivery.
Some email systems, like ConvertKit, allow you to host files. This makes it super simple to deliver them to subscribers.
The alternative is to use your WordPress account.
Go to your dashboard, find the “Media” tab and “Add New.”
Upload your file.
You’ll receive a downloadable URL (“file URL”).
Anyone with the link can now access your content upgrade.
This is what you’ll use to deliver your content upgrade. Place the link you got in Step #1 within your email.
At this point, you can set up a system to segment subscribers.
Let’s say someone opts in for a content upgrade on list-building. You can tag them to be transferred to a separate list designated for people interested in this particular topic.
Most email software allows for segmentation.
When you segment subscribers this way, you are better able to deliver emails aligned with their interests.
It keeps them engaged and your unsubscribe rate low.
The only thing left to do is to promote your content upgrades. The goal is to get them in front of as many eyes as possible.
Place them prominently within blog posts. Do it several times.
When you share your content on social media, let people know there’s an additional free resource that comes with it.
A good way to promote your upgrades is to repurpose them. It’s not necessary to create a new resource for each piece of content.
If you’re covering the same topics, your upgrades will be relevant to other content you create.
If you really want to take your list-building up a couple of notches, content upgrades are a must.
They enhance the value of your posts and give your audience a reason to hop on to your email list.
In some instances, content upgrades are more powerful than stand-alone lead magnets.
Why do people shy away from them?
It can appear to be time-consuming and complicated.
In some instances, that’s true.
But if you follow the steps in this article, you’ll have everything you need to quickly and painlessly create content upgrades.
Why not transform every piece of content into a list-building asset?
That’s the kind of transformation that impacts your bottom line. Try it out, and watch your email list numbers go through the roof.
Do you have any tricks for creating high-converting content upgrades?
Do you think your website is performing to its full potential?
It’s frustrating if you’re not getting enough clicks and conversions on your website.
The layout of your page might be the issue.
Think about the goal of your website.
The layout of your website should match the goal for your website, depending on your business model.
For example, the main goal of an ecommerce site is to increase sales.
But the primary goal of a media or news platform may be to get users to click on advertisements.
The setup of your website needs to reflect your goal.
An ecommerce page will most likely get formatted differently than a news site.
What’s the best way to lay out the content on your website?
Use A/B testing to find the optimal configuration.
Here’s an example of how it works:
The graphic above is a good depiction of how you would use and analyze A/B testing, which is also referred to as split testing.
It’s a simple concept.
Half of your visitors will get directed to one version of the website, variation A.
The other half will be sent to another version of your site, variation B.
Then, you can determine which layout helps you achieve your goal better.
In the example above, variation A has a 23% conversion rate, while variation B only has an 11% conversion rate.
Variation A is the clear winner of this split test.
Again, the concept isn’t difficult to understand.
But applying this model to your website can be tricky if you don’t do it the right way.
If it’s your first time doing an A/B test or your last attempt was unsuccessful, don’t worry.
I’ll tell you everything you need to know before you start A/B testing.
Here’s a visual representation of what your procedure should look like:
The first thing you need to do is determine which conversion to improve.
Don’t change every aspect of your website.
That’s an ineffective approach and won’t give you measurable results.
Instead, make an alteration to something specific that’s related to your goal.
If you’re unsure where to start, here are some examples of different components you can change on your website:
These are just some basic suggestions to get you brainstorming.
All these components can affect the behavior and actions of your visitors.
Ultimately, these actions can impact your conversions.
Once you set a goal, you can form a hypothesis to test to determine whether that solution will help you reach those goals.
For example, let’s say your goal is to increase conversions.
Your hypothesis is that increasing the size of your call-to-action button and making it more prominent on your homepage will increase conversion rates.
Then you devise a split test to test that hypothesis.
Here’s an example from Yuppiechef:
Yuppiechef hypothesized that their website users were too distracted by their navigation menu.
They thought that visitors had too many options to click, so they weren’t selecting the CTA button.
What did they do?
Yuppiechef removed the navigation bar for their variation page of the A/B test.
The test layout resulted in a 100% increase in their conversions.
Highrise used A/B testing to test a hypothesis about the header on their homepage:
Altering this heading increased clicks by 30%.
To sum up the process:
If you change too many components of your website, it will be extremely difficult to accurately test your hypothesis.
You’ve got a goal and a hypothesis.
But how do you implement these tests on your website?
Not everyone who operates a website is a computer engineer or programmer.
Fortunately, you don’t need to be either to run an A/B test.
There are plenty of tools and resources that can help you do that.
Here are some places to start.
Google Analytics has an A/B test feature.
I use Google Analytics to get actionable data from my websites.
If you’re already using other features of Google Analytics and you’re comfortable using this platform, I think it’s a great place for you to start.
You can also try:
Both of these are options through Google Analytics.
Multivariate tests let you change multiple elements of your web pages.
Redirect tests are also known as split URL tests.
These are great for testing different landing pages.
Google Analytics gives you organized and detailed reports from your experiments.
You can easily analyze this information to prove or disprove your hypothesis.
It’s also free to use, which is always an added bonus.
The Five Second Test is another platform you can try.
It’s super easy to test the design elements of your homepage, logos, and landing pages with this service.
You’ll discover what your website visitors like and don’t like about your page.
You can run:
It’s a great resource to test the call to action on your landing pages.
Five Second Test also has some free plans to choose from.
Optimizely also offers A/B testing.
Like with Google Analytics, you can run multivariate tests in addition to A/B tests with Optimizely.
It’s easy for you to edit and change virtually every element of your website’s design.
You do need to sign up for a paid subscription to use their platform.
However, Optimizely offers you a free 30-day trial to check out their software—you don’t need to commit to a subscription right away.
Optimizely generates a line of code for you to insert into your HTML.
It’s easy to follow their instructions, and you’ll see results based on your testing in real time.
If you have a mobile application, Optimizely allows you to run experiments on your app as well.
Unbounce is another popular choice for A/B testing.
Here’s what they offer.
You can build a landing page with high conversion rates.
Integrate your analytics, marketing automation, CRM tools, or email campaigns with their software.
Their A/B testing lets you optimize conversions, converting traffic into leads and sales.
I like their drag-and-drop format to customize your website.
This feature makes it easy to make changes to your A/B tests.
It’s another paid subscription software.
Their packages start at $ 79 per month.
If you’re on the fence about which software to use for your A/B experiments, I would definitely recommend trying one of the options we just discussed:
These are all easy to use, regardless of your goals.
All right, as I said before, your A/B test will help you test your hypothesis.
Once you have the results, you’ll need to make sense of them.
This is a basic statistical experiment.
If you slept through your high school or college statistics course, I’ll give you a quick refresher so you can effectively interpret and analyze the results.
Here are some basic terms to get familiar with:
The mean is an average value of something.
Variance measures the average variability of your results.
The higher the variability, the less accurate your mean (or average) will be for the experiment.
You can use an A/A test to detect any natural variance on your website.
Here’s an example of A/A testing to determine the variance.
The two homepages above are identical.
However, the one on the right had 15% more conversions.
You can do the same on your website by splitting the traffic between two identical pages.
It’s important to know this information before you start the A/B test.
Let’s say the A/B test yields a 15% higher conversion rate for the page you’re testing.
Well, if your natural variance is already 15%, the A/B is inconclusive.
If you don’t know your variance from the A/A test, it could potentially give you a false positive result when you run the A/B test.
Your sample size is also important.
There’s no fixed number of visitors you need to get or set number of days you need to run your test for.
Continue your A/B test for as long as you have to.
Here’s an example of some results you may see after a couple of days:
At first glance, it appears that your variation was unsuccessful.
But your sample size isn’t large enough yet.
Here are the results of that same test two weeks later:
Sure, you want to stay on top of your data so you can measure the outcome.
But don’t do this too soon.
If you ended your test after the first couple of days, you would have missed out on all this additional information.
After running the test for two weeks, you can see there was a 25.18% improvement in the variation of your control page.
It’s statistics 101.
Yes, I know you’re excited to see the results so you can come up with a finalized page.
Rushing won’t help.
Take your time so you can get accurate results.
If you want to start A/B-testing your website, that’s great.
It’s an effective method to figure out what changes you need to make to your website to achieve your goal.
Want to improve conversions?
Maybe changing the color scheme, button size, or button placement can impact the results.
A/B testing is the best way to figure this out.
But make sure you keep everything we discussed in mind before you dive into this.
First, you need to set a goal.
The goal should be actionable, measureable, and realistic.
Next, set a hypothesis for your goal.
For example, if you’re an ecommerce company, you’ll want to increase your checkout rates.
Look at the graphic above.
What elements of your website can you change to minimize cart abandonment?
If your checkout process is too long or complicated, try a variation page with a simpler checkout procedure.
Test the hypothesis.
Earlier we looked at an example where a website eliminated a navigation bar for its A/B test.
This minimized clutter and brought the attention of their visitors to the CTA button.
Analyze the results.
Was your hypothesis correct?
In order to effectively and accurately measure your data, you need to understand the basic statistical concepts we talked about:
You should consider running an A/A test before you start your A/B testing procedure.
The A/A test will help you determine your natural variance to avoid getting a false positive from your experiment.
There are lots of great tools you can use to run A/B tests.
With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to find the best one.
I recommend starting with one of the choices I mentioned:
These platforms are a great starting point.
Their analytics tools will make it much easier for you to interpret the results of your test.
Do not rush. Give it some time before you jump to conclusions.
Make sure you get a large enough sample size before you draw conclusions about your hypothesis.
What aspect of your homepage will you change to test a hypothesis and increase your conversions?
You might have read about The BairFind Foundation in USA Today Sports Weekly magazine recently: Minor league ballpark signs raise awareness on missing kids. We helped optimize the signs discussed and pictured in that article, and I wanted to share our thinking behind those changes so you can get ideas for applying the Conversion Sequence Heuristic to your own outdoor advertising and other non-digital optimization.
Photo credit: Edwine Pierre Louis
More eyes looking equals more children found
BairFind is a Jacksonville-based nonprofit founded by former minor league pitcher Dennis Bair, who has been hard at work helping to find missing children for almost two decades. “It is sports marketing — we are leveraging the power of sports,” is how Dennis described BairFind in the article. “Minor league baseball has been our proving ground. We’re doing something the families cannot do for themselves, which is to get pictures of their missing children out there to millions.”
For the past year or so, MECLABS has taken on BairFind as a Research Partner, although a Research Partner with a unique pro bono relationship due to the foundation’s small size and nonprofit nature.
Here is an image of the original BairFind sign. Before you scroll down and see our analysis, you might want to look at the sign yourself and, using your own conversion optimization skills, consider how you might optimize the sign.
In fairness to the all-volunteer team at The BairFind Foundation, the signs were working pretty well — 183 children were located in the 2016 baseball season.
However, as with any conversion optimization scenario, the opportunity always exists to improve the messaging to increase conversion. With any sufficient amount of traffic, your messaging should convert at some level. And in BairFind’s case, that traffic is substantial — 40 million baseball fans.
But this is where it helps to sometimes get an external opinion. Because you live, eat and breathe your product every day, every week, every month, it can be difficult to see your messaging with fresh eyes.
When Dennis first discussed the sign with us in our boardroom, there were a lot of things that were unclear to us, and we had a lot of questions simply because we were outsiders to the world of finding missing children.
In addition, Adam Lapp, Senior Director, Services Operations, MECLABS Institute, led an analysis of the sign using our methodology and MECLABS Conversion Sequence Heuristic. Here are a few key optimization opportunities he identified:
Here is a look at the sign after we optimized it.
A headline was added above the images — “Have you seen these missing kids?” — to provide needed clarity around what the pictures are. The headline solves the previous difficulty/confusion-related friction, and a bright, yellow color was used to attract attention.
“We increased the size of the children’s images because they are truly the most important part of the posters. We squeezed every extra pixel we could out of the available space to increase their prominence and visibility,” said James White, Senior Brand Designer, MECLABS Institute.
The headline was changed to “Help Bring Kids Home” to add clarity to what search the sign is asking them to join. A subhead was added — “by looking, you just helped” — to reinforce their activity.
Messaging was added to the bottom of the sign to solve the issue of no clear call-to-action — “Text FIND to 91999 to donate BairFind.org.” Also, a bright color brings attention to it.
“The new copy at the top and bottom were very important new pieces which immediately conveyed the purpose of the signs and let the viewer know how they can help. We selected a vibrant ochre yellow taken directly from the central image to contrast well against the black background and draw the eye quickly to these important additions,” James said.
“This year, we had big time improvements to the visual aspects of our signs, thanks to MECLABS. MECLABS took our sign, which was very basic, and optimized the photos and really made the sign attractive to look at and made the children’s photos pop. They also helped us to clarify our message. And the feedback from all of the GMs [general managers] of the Minor League Baseball teams, the fans and the league presidents has been 100%: ‘Wow! Holy moly, these signs are sharp!’ Thanks to MECLABS, they are even more impressed with us and even prouder to feature our signs in their ballparks,” Dennis told me.
During the 2016 baseball season, 183 children who were featured on the signs were found.
During the 2017 baseball season so far, 334 children featured on the signs have been found — and there’s still a month left in the season.
Now, unlike a landing page A/B split tested in a controlled environment to ensure there are no validity threats, we can’t be sure that the optimization changes helped find more children. There were other changes as well. For example, BairFind’s network of minor league stadiums featuring the signs grew from 139 to 151.
And more children were featured on the signs. Instead of featuring the same four on each side of the sign, four children were featured on one side of the sign, and a different four children were featured on the other side of the sign. (However, if anyone has ever tried to increase clickthrough in an email or conversions on a website by simply featuring more links or CTAs, you know you might get some increase, but it is incremental and certainly not equal to the amount of new links added).
Applying conversion optimization methodology beyond digital marketing
Overall, the point of this article is not to show an example of a valid experiment, like we normally do. But rather give you some ideas for using core conversion optimization methodologies beyond the landing page.
If you’ve spent any time following MarketingExperiments and the MECLABS Institute, I’m sure you’ve seen how the Conversion Sequence Heuristic can be used to optimize landing pages, emails and PPC ads.
However, the Conversion Sequence isn’t really optimizing any of those digital marketing channels. It’s really being used to optimize a brand’s interaction with a customer’s thought sequence. And those digital channels are merely the avenue to facilitate (and test) that communication.
For example, I’ve used this heuristic when making recruiting trips to universities to show students how the Conversion Sequence can help them pick the best job when entering the workforce. I’ve used it to discuss how PR professionals can optimize their own work. And as shown in this article, we’ve used it to optimize physical, outdoor advertising signs. I’ve even heard talk around the labs of people using the Conversion Heuristic to help optimize their relationship with their kids or spouse. What have you used the Conversion Sequence to optimize? Message me on Twitter @DanielBurstein and let me know.
You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director Content, MarketingExperiments and MECLABS Institute, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.
You might also like
Data Analysis 101: How A Nonprofit Used Data To Secure A Critical Business Decision And Help Find 125 Missing Children
Beyond Landing Pages: Conversion rate optimization strategies
Landing Page Optimization: An Overview Of How One Site Increased Leads By 155%
Participate in a research project and drive conversion increases
Learn more about applying conversion optimization methodology and the MECLABS Conversion Sequence Heuristic here
The post The behind-the-scenes story of how we optimized outdoor advertising that was featured in a USA Today article appeared first on MarketingExperiments.
Now that you have discovered the benefits of using an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy to maximize your available marketing and sales resources by developing personalized campaigns for targeted accounts, it's time to focus on how you can further integrate ABM into your sales practices. Through the integration process with sales, you'll be able to develop a deeper understanding of each account in order to enhance how you personalize all marketing communications with those accounts going forward.
The result can be increased revenues and referrals from those accounts as their satisfaction with their experience rises.
Here are three ways that you can integrate ABM into your sales practices:
Available tools and platforms facilitate the integration process between ABM and your sales processes. This includes platforms that automate and update lead and contact information so everyone has the same current data on the accounts. Technology can also streamline marketing campaigns and provide a way to collaborate on the production of these campaigns. For example, this can include getting immediate feedback from sales on the visuals and content that marketing has developed, which is then shared across both teams.
Another area that technology can assist with in terms of integration would be the ability to deliver action-oriented insights from the data collected during the marketing and sales processes. The analytics can be divided and segmented into different metrics to understand the impact that certain ABM strategies had in assisting sales with lead generation as well as conversion.
This capability also includes customized reports on each account, drilling farther down to illustrate how the personalization efforts have impacted the results with that account. Having this information can serve as the map that both marketing and sales need to see how they can work together to improve the efforts that both make to winning new customers and keeping existing ones.
Shortening the learning curve for your marketing and sales teams through training can speed up the integration process between ABM and your sales system. The introduction of the aforementioned new technology also precipitates the need for training. our teams need to understand how ABM works and what it can achieve for sales.
First, your teams need to understand how ABM works and what it can achieve for sales. This gives them the rationale they need to be willing to change habits and processes that they might have been using prior to this move to the ABM approach. Second, providing hands-on training of any new technology gives them the framework for what type of integration is possible that will save them time and reduce any redundancies across functions. It will also show them how the integration can produce more insights that will help them achieve better results.
The faster you can ramp up their understanding of what and how to integrate ABM and sales, the faster those results will come for the organization. Through their training, they may even realize other aspects of what they do that can be integrated to speed the personalization of marketing and sales for each account.
3. Communication and Collaboration
While technology and training can provide the pathway to integration between ABM and sales processes, it is up to the people within those functions to truly make it happen. To be successful requires communication and collaboration between those on both teams. This starts with regularly sharing what each team is doing in conjunction with each account to determine how they might combine efforts to improve the experience for that account.
This will also help to ensure that both marketing and sales are speaking the same language so the accounts don't become confused by interaction with both.
Scheduling meetings as well as checking in on a one-on-one basis helps everyone understand the latest information on that account and showcases the results of the integration efforts. Ideas and feedback can then be implemented based on the previous efforts to determine how to further integrate. Doing this in a stepwise fashion can ensure the integration process works and helps everyone on both teams get acclimated to the changes that result.
The sales staff can provide their insights to marketing about why and when an account wanted to buy, which enables marketing to more effectively plan their campaigns for specific times of the year based on that information. Making that information available through a collaborative platform furthers the integration of the processes that both teams enact, helping to get more results within less time and using fewer resources.
Integration doesn't happen overnight between sales and marketing, and it doesn't end at some point. Instead, consider integration as an ongoing evolution for your organization that will occur over time. Each step you take toward integrating ABM into your sales processes will incrementally change what your teams are doing and result in measurable performance improvements.
Be patient, thoughtful, and open to the integration process that requires technology, training, communication, and collaboration to optimize the benefits you'll get from doing so.
When asked, a third of marketing organizations say their biggest challenge is maintaining personalized and consistent interactions with their customers. Download the Argyle ABM Survey for more insights.
Image credit: StockSnap
I was in Starbucks the other day, and in walks an older gentleman. I couldn’t help but notice that people kept focusing on him and chatting him up — in line, while waiting for a drink, etc.
I could overhear the conversations a bit, so I asked someone sitting near me, “Was that guy in the NFL or something?” He responded, “Yeah, that’s Rocky Rochester. He was defensive tackle for the New York Jets in Super Bowl III.”
He happens to sit by me, and we strike up a conversation. He notices I’m wearing a Hofstra shirt, and he says, “Hey, we used to practice there.” Then, when I notice his Super Bowl ring on his finger and mention it, he does something that simply shocks me.
He just hands it to me. So, I’m sitting there, holding a ring from Super Bowl III. The Super Bowl of Super Bowls. Broadway Joe. The Guarantee.
I share this story because inbound marketing was on the top of my mind in that coffee shop on Sunday morning — the team at our sister company, MarketingSherpa, was putting the finishing touches on the Quick Guide to Inbound Marketing for B2B — and I realized this story was the perfect analogy for effective inbound marketing. Often, we get so focused on data and metrics, technology and automation that we overlook everyday human interactions like this.
However, normal human interactions are what we should be trying to emulate with our marketing, especially inbound marketing.
Lesson #1: B2B inbound marketing gets you recognized
The first lesson speaks to the power of inbound. Whatever you’re selling — marketing automation tools, hospital diagnostic equipment, construction software — your buyers have a list in their head. It’s the consideration list.
I need to buy a B2B product. I can’t consider every possible company. Who’s going to make that short list?
When you create an engaging inbound B2B program and build an audience, you’re like Rocky Rochester. No longer are you just another guy in a Starbucks. You’re someone everyone wants to talk to. And hear from.
And the value of that has a ripple effect through your marketing. When prospects are at a trade show scanning booths, name recognition makes them much more likely to engage. When they get a phone call or email from someone representing your company, they’re more likely to give it a small opening. And, when they’re making that all powerful consideration or RFP list, you’re more likely to be on it.
Lesson #2: Have a good story to tell
Recognition isn’t enough. Prospects must have the desire to actually want to engage with that brand.
Sure, it helps to have the biggest brand in the world in your industry. However, if customers know they will only be sold to when they engage with you, they’re much less likely to seek out your content or subscribe to your newsletter.
The reason everyone was engaging Rochester in that coffee shop is they knew he would have good stories to tell.
On the flip side, if everyone had recognized him as, say, a vacuum cleaner or insurance salesman, they likely would have had that moment of recognition as well. However, they also likely would have gone out of their way to avoid him, not engage him.
Lesson #3: Effective B2B inbound marketing is relevant
When we were talking, Rochester noticed my Hofstra shirt, and he mentioned how the Jets would practice at Hofstra.
It’s a minor detail. And it happens naturally in a human conversation.
But all of your inbound marketing should, as closely as possible, replicate these human interactions and seek to provide relevant, helpful content to your audience.
Do you give your audience different email newsletters to subscribe to based on their interests? Do you de-dupe email sends when you know someone has already taken advantage of the offer — for example, removing people who have already registered for a webinar from the invite?
What can you do to make your B2B inbound program more relevant to customers?
Lesson #4: Surprise and delight your audience
Once they know who you are, are interested in your story, and know it’s relevant…still, these are busy people with a million different concerns. Even if they’re reading your blog post, they’re probably skimming it and only half reading it. And, how likely are they to share it with their social network?
To stick out from the clutter, you really need to delight them.
When I noticed Rochester’s ring, I didn’t expect him to hand it to me. It was so far above and beyond my expectations that I didn’t even think to take a picture of the ring on my finger until the moment was well over, and I had left the Starbucks. D’oh!
How can you surprise and delight your prospects? How can you go above and beyond? Here’s a great example from the Quick Guide to Inbound Marketing for B2B with New Relic, a software analytics company.
The company had a photo booth at an event and turned the photos of visitors — along with their answer to the phrase “Data helps me ___” — into virtual picture billboards it shared on social media. A great inbound strategy — customers hearing from customers.
But, the New Relic team didn’t stop there. They decided to surprise and delight. They turned the virtual billboards into tiny physical billboards that they then mailed to the customers. What do you think happened when they received those billboards in the mail?
They were surprised and delighted, so they shared that story with their peers on social media. Just like I’m sharing my minor brush with Super Bowl history with you.
“It’s really important to connect on that personal level, because no matter how big the companies that you’re selling to may be, they’re still people. And any time you can find a way to engage that’s a little unexpected and fun, that makes a huge difference,” said Baxter Denney, VP of Growth Marketing at New Relic.
You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.
You might also like
B2B Inbound Marketing: Top tactics for social media, SEO, PPC and optimization
Inbound Marketing: How a B2B company used a content marketing strategy to improve customer experience
B2B External Communications: How IBM conveys the value of complex products, spotlights innovative employees and entrusts employees with social media
Inbound Marketing for B2B: 10 tips to attract and engage your audience in a helpful (not salesy way)
Marketing today is a fast-moving, highly competitive landscape where a proliferation of content from multiple brands competes for customer attention on a plethora of channels, platforms and technologies!
Brand loyalty is ever more elusive as customers are faced with seemingly endless choice, and interactions with companies are often brief and low-commitment.
What’s the answer to gaining and retaining customers in such a fragmented marketing environment?
Lead nurturing has emerged as a discipline helping prospective customers along a journey towards purchase, while building a relationship between them and your brand.
What is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing focuses on educating qualified sales leads who are not yet ready to buy. The key to successful lead nurturing is to deliver content that’s valuable enough to keep your audience engaged. If you do it right, lead nurturing can help you build a strong brand and solution preference in your prospects long before they’re actively engaged in a buying process.”
Lead nurturing – Key considerations
Lead nurturing is about much, much more than simply sending out multiple untargeted emails to your entire prospect list.
Rather, it should be considered as a series of carefully crafted and targeted communications that align with the prospect’s profile and help move them down the buying funnel.
At it’s heart, effective lead nurturing is directly related to understanding and responding to the prospects’ pains and where they are on the buying journey.
Only then can you deliver truly useful content that will engage them and increase loyalty.
Of the 20% of leads that sales reps follow up on, 70% are not ready to buy.
But research suggests that 80% of those not ready to buy now will do so within the next 24 months. Your goal is to hold the interest of those leads until they are ready to buy from you. Think of lead generation as playing the long game.
5 Steps to Lead Nurturing Success
Step 1. Understand your buyer
This is without a doubt the most crucial step of all. You know that prospects go through stages – what has traditionally been called the funnel.
What you also need to know is what those stages are and where your prospective buyers are in relation to them.
Interviewing your customers is a great way to get deep insights into the needs and processes at work when someone is considering whether or not to buy what you’re selling.
This will also help you to create buyer personas for better targeting of content.
Step 2. Discover and decide on what motivates your buyers
Use data from previous campaigns to inform future activity. By analysing past marketing activity you can begin to establish which approaches, forms of content and messages had the greatest and the least resonance.
Pick up on how many leads moved through the stages and what it was that prompted them to take the next step. Feed these insights into your content strategy and you will be on the road to creating an optimal lead nurturing pathway.
Step 3. Decide, what is the ideal customer experience?
Once you have created a lead nurturing pathway that you believe best fits your prospects’ buying process, you’ll need to test and troubleshoot to identify potential pitfalls and sources of friction.
Can you better personalise the experience using information you have about individual prospects?
Their interactions and behaviours should influence and shape the flow of communications delivered.
Eventually, you should emerge with an optimised lead nurturing structure built through a series of rational, insight-based decisions.
Don’t forget to document and share the reasoning behind it all, so your team and others can have the benefit of your good work.
Step 4. Plan your lead nurturing process
Timing is of the essence in any lead nurturing pathway. Marketing activities and interactions need to be well-timed.
Too frequent and you risk overloading prospects – too sparse and you risk losing their attention.
It’s also essential to be clear about what happens next. If they get through the lead nurturing pathway without becoming a qualified lead, do you have a backup plan?
Or are they simply consigned to the dead leads pile?
Step 5. Automate your communications
Begin with an automated welcome campaign sent out to each prospect as they enter your database.
You can start delivering educational information right from the off, and commence building that all-important relationship.
Communicate the most crucial things you want them to know, and also think about getting some information from them as well.
Speed your way to lead nurturing success
Segmenting your prospects by attributes such as job role, industry or sales stage will help you tailor your content for maximum resonance and engagement. And nurturing is useful when applied to customers, as well as prospects, to help streamline their experiences.
Personalisation is another key strategy, and you can build your knowledge of the customer to help you do this by progressive profiling.
This involves asking for incremental pieces of information at different stages, in exchange for useful content.
The more you build a more defined picture of who your customer is, the better you will be able to nurture them.
Become a lead nurturing champion with this ultimate guide. Download Lead Nurturing Guide for Modern Marketers
You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
I think this is a fitting quote to demonstrate the importance of a great homepage.
Once a visitor lands on your homepage, you need to impress them in a hurry.
Failure to do this typically results in a lost conversion with the vast majority of visitors never returning.
How can you ensure you make a good first impression?
And, more importantly, how do you boost conversions and increase the revenue value of your homepage?
There are countless strategies that work to some extent.
But I’d like to cover a handful I feel are the most practical and impactful.
I’ve researched each of these strategies and have implemented them on my own as well as my clients’ sites.
I’ve even seen some clients increase the revenue value of their homepages by as much as 851%.
This is not an exaggeration or some gimmicky hype to get you to click on my articles. This is stuff that works.
Let’s get down to business.
Your first objective is to ensure a fast load time.
This is perhaps the most important factor of all because the rest of the strategies I’m going to discuss don’t really matter if the bulk of your visitors abandon your homepage prematurely.
Here’s a graph that illustrates how page abandonment increases as the load time of your homepage increases:
I suggest using the Pingdom Website Speed Test to accurately assess the load time of your homepage.
If it takes any longer than 5 seconds, you need to speed it up. Learn how to do it from this article I wrote.
Once a visitor lands on your homepage, they should be able to tell right away what you’re offering and why it’s worth their time to check out your site in further detail.
This requires you to take one simple but incredibly important step: create a clear value proposition.
ConversionXL defines a value proposition as a clear statement that:
Here’s the value proposition I include on neilpatel.com:
It’s clear, specific, and to the point.
Below are some other good examples.
Dollar Shave Club pulls it off well:
So does Unbounce:
You get the idea.
For a more thorough explanation and tips on how to create a killer value proposition, check out this guide from ConversionXL.
A few years back, there was a study that examined the impact of including a picture of a person on homepage performance.
The study involved A/B testing of two very different landing pages created for Highrise, a CRM software company.
The original design was pretty basic but fairly busy, meaning there was a lot of information.
However, the new design was very simple and included a large picture of a woman smiling.
The results were undeniable. Using the second design, with the woman smiling, resulted in 102.5% more sign-ups.
Here’s a comparison of the two designs:
What does this tell us?
It’s clear that including images of people (more specifically, people smiling) on your homepage can have a dramatic impact on conversions.
I actually follow this formula on my homepage for neilpatel.com, and it’s worked out wonderfully:
Other successful bloggers do the same.
Do you recognize this guy?
Here’s another one:
And here’s Marie Forleo:
This is Matt Barby:
Here’s Lewis Howes:
These people aren’t celebrities. They aren’t models.
They’re just bloggers. Successful ones.
They’ve figured out that a face on the screen vastly improves the profitability of the homepage.
At first thought, placing your contact information in a conspicuous place on your homepage might not seem like a big deal.
It might seem like a mere footnote.
But it’s actually more important than you might think.
In fact, a study from KoMarketing found that
once on a company’s homepage, 64% of visitors want to see the company’s contact information.
And it’s not just your basic info like an email address.
Most people want thorough contact information like your phone, email, and address.
According to KoMarketing,
a lack of contact information will also deter buyers from moving forward with a Request for Proposal (RFP) and with filling out a form to request a demo or RFP.
I think this is important so visitors can tell for sure you’re a legitimate organization with a physical address and not some sleazy snake oil salesman who’s just looking to take their money and run.
The same study from KoMarketing states that
once on a company’s homepage, 52% of visitors want to see ‘about us’ information.
This is one of quickest ways to establish trust and credibility with potential customers.
They want to make sure you’re legit.
Typically, the best location for your contact info and About Us section is the navigational menu at the top.
It’s above the fold and can be found in an instant.
However, if you have a fairly brief homepage, you could also place these sections at the bottom, like I do on neilpatel.com:
There’s one mistake in particular I see countless companies make.
And that’s offering too many choices on their homepages.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
I would venture to say that vast majority of visitors who land on this page feel overwhelmed or even paralyzed with all the information.
It’s just too busy.
Here’s the deal.
People tend to enjoy having different options and choices. But only to an extent.
Too many choices have a paralyzing effect, and many people will end up doing nothing.
Here’s a screenshot from The Harvard Business Review in which they touch on a 2000 study involving choice:
The point here is that you should keep your homepage fairly simple:
That’s exactly what I tried to do with the Quick Sprout homepage, and it’s worked out very well.
If you have a lot of different products, build some type of filter so that visitors can figure out what they need without being overwhelmed in the process.
You know what I hate?
When I land on a website and want to test out a trial version or make a quick purchase but get hit with a long registration process.
I find it really inconvenient and flat out annoying at times.
And guess what?
So do most other people.
There’s an article written about this issue by User Interface Engineering (UIE) called The $ 300 Million Button.
I suggest you check it out if you are not sure what I am talking about.
Long story short, most first-time shoppers find it irritating when they have to register before they can buy something. In fact, many resent it.
I love a particular quote from one shopper who said,
I’m not here to enter into a relationship. I just want to buy something.
I think this sums it up perfectly.
Don’t make your customers jump through a bunch of hoops. Instead, allow them to complete their desired actions as guests rather than registered users.
That, right there, can have a dramatic impact on your revenue.
The article from UIE provides a concrete example of just how big of an impact it can have.
Here’s a screenshot:
Let’s be honest.
It doesn’t take much for a would-be customer to turn around and hightail it out of your site.
And most people will have multiple concerns they’ll want addressed before they ultimately decide to make a purchase.
Here are some common concerns they may have:
Your goal is to quell any concerns or objections they may have.
But how do you do this?
It usually starts with acknowledging the problem your demographic is facing. Here’s a good example from Basecamp:
This lets visitors know that Basecamp understands how disorganization and confusion can create stress and hinder the progress of a project.
The suggestion is to let Basecamp help them get things back on track.
Including a few testimonials tends to be effective for proving that a product can fix a potential buyer’s problem. If it’s worked for countless other people, it will work for them too.
As for trust builders, here are some ideas:
Finally, with proving value, explain why your price is what it is and what customers will get from you that they won’t get from competitors.
If a visitor doesn’t convert right away, there’s a good chance you’ll lose them forever.
You want to strike while the iron is hot and while you’ve got them on your website.
One of the best ways to do this is to create scarcity or urgency.
I do this on neilpatel.com by having a feature that says “Training Starts in: X amount of time”
It begins counting down immediately after visitors land on my homepage.
I’ve found this to be effective for getting visitors to take action and for increasing conversions.
Now, there are a lot of different ways to create scarcity or urgency, and I don’t have time to fully discuss them here.
But what I suggest is checking out this post from Marketing Land that explains some techniques for using urgency psychology to improve conversions.
Note: There’s legit scarcity and there’s fake scarcity.
Using fake scarcity is a sleazy, underhanded tactic that most people will sniff out.
Always be honest.
There are many factors that ultimately determine the revenue value of your homepage.
It can be maddening trying to figure out what makes your visitors tick and wrapping your head around the psychology of user experience.
But I know for a fact that using these strategies will have a positive impact on the process.
You can use them to build instant trust, encourage further browsing, increase conversions, and ultimately boost your revenue.
What do you think is the single most important aspect of your homepage? What makes it profitable?