Howl and the World Howls With You.

Category: Digital Marketing

Exit Intent Popup: The Power to Engage vs. The Power to Annoy

Everyone I know hates popups.  They always make me think of that old whack-a-mole game.  People find them annoying, intrusive, repetitive and obnoxious. An exit intent popup are just another flavour.

Funny thing is, they work.

I started using them on my www.tincancanucks.com book website a couple of weeks ago when I released a sample chapter for download.  Most of my traffic is driven by AdWords and tends to be new rather than returning at the moment.  As a test, I set up a download page on the website for the sample chapter PDF and created an exit intent popup via Convify—an online service which you can integrate with your website.

Exit Intent Popup: How it Works

The way it works is that when someone comes to my homepage (or any other page in the website), when they go to close the browser window (or take another action that show’s they intend on exiting the site) this is intercepted with a popup:

Exit Intent Popup for Tin-Can Canucks

Exit Intent Popup for Tin-Can Canucks

They can click through to the download page, or they can click on “No Thanks” and then exit the site.  There are a lot of ways to configure this exit intent behavior—you can trigger it based on time, number of pages visited, new vs. returning visitors etc.—and in my case I have it configured to show only once a day for any given visitor; that reduces the annoying factor to a reasonable amount I think.

Convify provides conversion metrics (it’s part of a larger digital marketing platform it looks like), and so far, in two weeks I’ve seen a 1% conversion rate.  For a site with fairly small traffic this seems okay to me, and I’m not seeing anything indicating I’m driving traffic away—and the thing with an exit intent popup is that the visitor was leaving anyway, so it’s not likely to raise the exit rate, and even if it reduces my return visitor rate, at the moment that’s pretty small to begin with.

Fundamentally, this is no different from marketing automation gateway forms—in this case I’m not looking for personal information, and so may generate a higher conversion rate than if I was using a gateway form to capture contact info before the download.

And like gateway forms, it works—it drives conversions.  In a marketing automation system, we can track these conversions and score the interactions.  Like a gateway form an exit intent form is another tool in the marketing automation toolbox.

So, in my experience (anecdotal though it may be) I’m seeing increased visitor engagement, which is what I’m looking for for this site.  The popup’s configuration to make it less annoying is a crucial part of its value though, and I think makes the difference between engagement and annoyance.

Exit Intent Popup: Roll Your Own

Now, if you want to use an Exit Intent popup yourself there’s no need to go with a service like Convify—especially if you already have a marketing automation platform.  The ActiveConversion software for instance, will track goal page and URL-specific campaigns, and so can be used to track conversion from clicks in a popup.  While the software doesn’t provide the capability to create the popups, that’s to be expected since it’s not a content management tool, and for those with a little jQuery experience, there’s an excellent tutorial for creating exit intent popups with jQuery which can be found here: http://beeker.io/exit-intent-popup-script-tutorial

Now some may ask: do I still find exit intent popups annoying?

Yes, yes I do.

Perhaps I’m a hypocrite for using them, but the facts are they work—even on me, and I’m one cynical digital marketer.

Like I said, I believe the critical part is to make them as engaging as possible with as little annoyance impact as possible.  In my case above, I’m engaging the visitor with some interesting, useful content—promising the full story about the post-war RCN in the downloadable PDF.  I’m asking them for an additional moment of their time—a couple more clicks—if they’re interested in the content.

And if not?  My apologies for the annoyance.



Word of the day: Friktison

The All-Too-Obvious Marketing Automation Fail

(To catch my—admittedly few—readers up, I’ve recently moved positions to ActiveConversion, a Marketing Automation vendor who focuses on the industrial and manufacturing market segment.  My position with ActiveConversion is as the Product Specialist, and so understanding the how, where and most importantly, why the software works and does what it does for our customers—and what pitfalls need to be avoided to be successful—is central to my role.

Read more about Marketing Automation for Industrial and Manufacturing customers at the ActiveConversion Blog.)

Recently, while doing some industry research I came across another Marketing Automation vendor’s State-of-the-Market report which, based on its executive summary looked interesting.  As it was gated content I filled in the form, including the standard fist name, last name and email.  They also requested a Company name (not uncommon); despite being a competitor I thought the research was of interest so I included our company name.

The form submission went through; the research report was emailed to me as well as a polite greeting—all pretty standard Marketing Automation behaviors.  As a Marketing Automation vendor we eat our own dog food—so why wouldn’t a competitor?  Made sense to me.

I’ve been involved with Marketing Automation for over a decade now—from coding, designing and developing a platform to training, implementation, evangelizing—I’ve seen the sausage getting made and know a bit about the pit-falls.  The number one challenge most users of Marketing Automation face is a lack of content—scratch that, it’s a lack of relevant content.  Too often drip emails will be too general, not specifically relevant to the conversation or flat-out incorrect.  Sometimes it’s because one email is being used for multiple drip processes, or that the emails are slightly modified versions of the templates or canned content that came with the system.

If you know what you’re looking for, you can catch these pretty easily.

And that’s what happened with our competitor’s drip campaign.  Three business days after I download the research report I received an email from the company, signed by a mid-level manager pitching me on marketing automation software and services.  The email was pretty plain, but read well and I’m sure to most would look and sound like a personal response.

It wasn’t—and here’s how I knew:  the email specifically said that the sender had done some research and had found our company and thought we might be facing sales challenges that could be solved by marketing automation.  It’s was personalized with my name, and used our company name throughout.

For any other possible lead/company this email might have worked.  But it was glaringly obvious that this was automated; that no research had been done and that in all likely hood no one was paying attention to the fact that I was in this nurture campaign.  If they had done some research, and had paid attention they would have known that I was a competitor and not a potential lead.  They would have known that I’m not unfamiliar with Marketing Automation and that I understand how it can help my business—and they would have known I’m unlikely to change marketing automation platforms.

Because no one was watching this, or really following up, this competitor ended up wasting at least 1 email (perhaps not much in the big picture financially) and looked pretty foolish.  Worse yet would be if I clicked through on the links to schedule a consulting session—I’d be wasting valuable salesperson time and bandwidth (I didn’t).  Because no one was paying attention to the “fit” of a lead like me—and not reviewing company names/personal names through Google or LinkedIn the entire ROI of the interaction with me was shot to hell.

This could have all been avoided if someone had reviewed my lead profile, actually done some research and flagged me as a poor fit/competitor.

While I don’t know for sure that this competing vendor’s product can provide company identification information (although in my case I provided the Company name) and the ability to search Google and LinkedIn (or other social media) for an identified lead to determine who they are and if they fit—the concepts are obviously universal.

(I will point out that the  ActiveConversion software does provide those handy capabilities to allow users to research and flag leads who aren’t of value—like me)

Ultimately, in my mind this instance is that perfect example of where using Marketing Automation fails—it’s a powerful tool which can positively impact sales, marketing and efficiency but it’s not a silver bullet.  Drip emails are not one-size-fits-all and the information provided by a Marketing Automation system is only of value if it’s used—and used properly—to enhance profiling and intelligence and focusing sales efforts on those leads most likely to become customers.

But if the glove doesn’t fit….



Word of the day: Friktison

What is Lead Scoring?

The last few years–well, okay the last decade essentially–I’ve been involved with marketing automation and demand generation.  Originally I lead the development of the demand generation product Canterris Marketing Suite, and eventually moved over to Twist Marketing to act as a digital strategist and project manager, with an eye to implementing marketing automation tools and campaigns for clients.

While at Twist I’ve worked with other platforms, from Eloqua to Sharpspring depending on the size of project and clients needs.  One of the things that always comes up–especially for clients new to demand generation platforms–is what is lead scoring, why should we use it and how is it done?

While with Canterris I developed a workbook that helped customers determine their needs in terms of scoring leads coming to their website.  I recently dusted it off and though an updated version of it might be of value, so during the rewrite I thought I’d post some of the basic information here on my Blog to perhaps answer some of the common questions that come up.

What is Lead Scoring?

Across virtually every industry and segment, customers today are in control of the buying process. This is particularly true of the prospective customers you want to target. With on-line access to a wealth of information – from your official website to product review sites to blogs and other social media – they self-educate, identify potential vendors, and form opinions on which vendors best meet their needs. And they do all this long before they’re on your sales group’s radar. As a marketer, it’s your job to find these prospects, separate the serious buyers from the tire kickers, determine when they’re ready to start a purchase conversation, and introduce them to your sales team. How? By reading the prospects’ digital body language.

Just like body language consists of explicit gestures (thumbs up, nodding, waving and so on) and tacit cues (leaning forward in a chair, a tilt of the head, etc.), digital body language is made up of explicit and information. Using this information, you can determine a customer’s sales readiness and which action to take next. Lead scoring is how you do this.

But first, marketing and sales must agree on the definition of a qualified, or sales-ready, lead. This is essential to forming a working partnership in which marketing generates qualified leads and sales closes them. In the on-line world, a qualified lead is one that is both a fit for your products, services and strategies, and sufficiently engaged to start talking with sales. Fit is determined by the explicit information you collect: their role, region, company, industry, revenues and so on. Basically, are they and/or their company who you want to sell to? Do they have the right budget? Are they in the right country? Can they make a purchase decision? Engagement is determined by tacit information gleaned by their activity on your website or email marketing campaigns. What web pages have they viewed? What have they downloaded? What events have they registered for? Based on this information, you can gain insight into their level of interest, where they are in their purchase cycle and whether they’d be receptive to engaging with sales.

I usually recommend a Co-Dynamic lead scoring methodology—a fancy way of saying it allows companies to prioritize leads based on both explicit data, like job title, business or industry, and implicit data demonstrating prospect interest, like website visits, downloads and email campaign response. Lead scores are not fixed, but may increase or decrease over time according to prospect behaviour.

(to be continued as I update more of the workbook)…

Of #twitterfail and Other Internet Realities

The Internet and the Web are vast and rich spaces. The advent of social networking may seem to have revolutionized how we interact with these spaces, but in truth it has only really added just one more place in which information transfer can occur. The information available through the ‘net is amazing in its scope, breadth and depth. I’m sure if you looked long enough (say 10 minutes) you’d pull up an old post I made to the space1999 mailing list in praise of Alan Carter’s propensity for crashing Eagles–posted sometime when I was in University over a decade and a half ago.

Today those of us plugged in tweet and blog and update our Facebook status–and often fail to remember just how long what we say will hang around and how it might impact our lives and/or careers ten years later.

Yet, that said, quite often there seems to be this strange memory pot-hole in the ‘Information Super-Highway’ (what an old term!). Often what we cherish most in terms of posts or articles or positions seem to fade from the Internet and Web over time–sometimes in the most inopportune moment! I think this is for two reasons. First, each of us is generally a small fish in an immense ocean, and unless you’re a public figure, what you say or do is at the mercy of the vagaries of hosting and archiving. Which comes to the second reason: the vagaries of hosting and archiving. Data storage isn’t free, and with that in mind it’s not surprising some of the short fiction I had published with small press e-zines a decade ago is no longer accessible now that said e-zines are long out of business.

Recently Twitter has been making noise about how to generate a revenue stream without moving to on-line advertising. I understand this need–I work for an Internet company, and revenue is the lifeblood of any business. Without some steady income Twitter will eventually just go away.

But there’s a fine line to be walked here. Twitter’s value isn’t really in the service it provides, but in the reach it has to it’s millions of subscribers. Charge for the standard on-line service and the subscribers begin to vanish. This is what many newspapers have discovered when they put their content behind a pay-wall when they moved online (and sadly, some are now attempting to relearn that lesson again–likely with the same results). People might pay for premium Twitter service–but no one will pay for what we get to do now for free.

So, if no subscription fee, and no advertising, what is Twitter to do?

I say, just imagine the market and trend-research and analysis potential in mining billions of tweets from millions of users. Monetize that is what I say. Otherwise I think the end result of old revenue thinking on Twitter’s part is one giant fail whale.


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