Visual Storytelling as a Means for Conveying Data without Falling Asleep

3 in 10 of the 3.4568% of all top-20 ranked Final Five finishers have all…hello? Okay, just checking to see if you’re still awake. Data has a way of putting people to sleep, not literally, but more of a “mental check out.” Data can be mind-numbing, even if the story that the numbers are telling is mind-blowing. Unless you have a real love for numbers and hard data crunching, chances are you’d rather have the information presented to you in a more amiable manner.

Your customers are no different. Sure, they do care that your service or product can increase their profit by 15% over the next 3 months if the quarterly return on their initial investment is plus or minus 5% (adjusting for a 2.5% margin of error), but they don’t want to read this sentence to find that out, I didn’t even want to write it!

 

Using Visual Storytelling to Compel and Inform

One of the easiest ways to get around this problem is to practice what we call, Visual Storytelling. The art of Visual Storytelling isn’t really a mystery, instead of telling a story with words, use a visual reference to get the point across. Perhaps the simplest visual cue that lends itself to data and numbers is the standard pie charts and line graphs we all grew to love in elementary school math class.

Still, as boring or standard as they might seem, it’s much more visually compelling to look at a line graph that goes way, way up rather than looking at something like this:

* 1/04/12 – 25.5%
* 5/28/12 – 28.5%
* 8/23/12 – 32.6%
* 10/2/12 – 41.8%
* 12/25/12 – 53.5%
* 1/29/13 – 69.1%

That’s a lot of information to take in, even if it is pretty simple to look at the right column and notice that the numbers are going up. But it’s still much easier to see a line graph shooting up through the roof showing profits and gains going up. Further, a line graph will get some points across better than data can. For instance, unless you have a real head for numbers and a keen eye, you probably didn’t notice that the rate the percentage above was going up increased drastically as time went on. Whereas the first percentage jump was 3%, it was followed by approximate jumps of 4%, 9%, 12% and 15%. And did you factor in the different dates? Of course not! That’s too much data to grasp just looking at numbers!

 

Infographics are Visual Storytelling Aids that Work

Of course, as mentioned, line graphs and pie charts are rather basic, so it’s a good idea to combine them into infographics. Infographics can have a number of different mediums for visual storytelling, all combined into one big sharable chart. They can also have blurbs next to the chart to get your main point across, giving you a simple, short and sweet way to explain your content and data without hitting people over the head with numbers and analysis. Of course, sometimes you need to do that, so don’t let this stop you, but thinking of alternative (and more viral) ways to get your point across is always helpful.

 

A good thing to keep in mind when relating data and stats to customers is that it doesn’t have to be boring just because it is informative. For example, you can have some humorous content in the infographics or even tie the data into something more lighthearted. For example, maybe your product increased sales for a specific brand at the same time reruns of the Big Bang Theory started airing on Channel 5. The point is, make your numbers more fun while still getting the point across.

Ways to Create Fresh Content to Keep Visitors Coming Back for More

Creating new content is critical to the success of your web pages, but let’s face it: It’s also a pain in the butt.

It often seems like you’ve already said everything you want to say about your blog or website’s subject matter. Yet if you don’t provide a constant stream of fresh, engaging content, you risk alienating your regular visitors and you could stop attracting new fans.

‘Refresh’ Your Pages with Engaging Content

Here’s some easy ways to keep your blog or website engaging and interesting to new fans and loyal return visitors:

– Engaging Content Is Critical – This is something you hear a lot, but what does it really mean? Engaging content can mean any number of things, such as a lively debate about a controversial subject relating to your niche to reviews of the latest news. It could mean stories from your own real life or somebody else’s that are relevant to your subject matter.

Developing engaging content is something that should come organically to you. If you are the author of a popular blog or website, you probably already are constantly on the lookout for articles, images and other content you think your readers might find interesting. But you don’t always have to give your readers long blocks of text. In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t.

Infographics are one of the hottest types of engaging content being used online right now. These are images that present information both textually and with engaging graphics. The purpose of infographics is to make your content easier to be absorbed by your visitors.

Videos are another great type of engaging content, especially if you don’t usually post videos of yourself. If your readers have following your blog for a long time and then suddenly, BOOM!, there’s a video of you in your own home or office, it can be like: Mind. Blown.

– Put Your Visitors First – The most successful sites make their readers the blog or website owners’ top priority. This pays off because when visitors feel valued, they are much more likely to come back another time.

Did you ever read a blog or website and think, “Boy, this person is such a know-it-all?” How did that make you feel? Now compare that to a blog or website where the author is actively responding to visitors’ questions, sharing stories about interactions with fans, and inviting visitors to share their stories or tips as they are relevant to the blog’s subject matter. Big difference. Much more inviting.

– Mix It Up A Little –If you’ve been using the same theme since the first day of your blog or website, or always use the default layout, it may be comfortable for you but it can be a real turnoff for your visitors. People like it when you shake things up every once in a while.

Think about the way Google will change their home search page for special holidays or just for fun. You can do the same thing with your blog or website to make it more engaging for your visitors. At the very least, change your theme to reflect the season, such as having a snowy background in winter, a sunny one in summer, and so on.

Okay, these techniques of enhancing the users’ experience when they arrive on your pages may take a little time or effort on your part. But they will pay off royally when you build your subscriber list and start attracting hundreds of new visitors every day. See for yourself!

Facebook And Google Are Not Your Only Advertising Options

Marketers, we need to have a talk. For the past few years, the cost per click of Google Adwords, and now Facebook’s newsfeed ads and promoted posts, have been climbing. It makes sense that as platforms have become more and more known to marketers and the public in general, more people have tried to take advantage of them, and they’re become more competitive. For some markets, certain keywords and audience targeting may still be viable on these networks, but many small businesses and entrepreneurs will find themselves boxed out of these networks by costs of per click sometimes into the double digit dollars. Ouch.

Instead, here are a few networks that are off the beaten path but can offer a great ROI for those willing to take the time to explore them.

Bing: Bing has been laughed off as a search engine in lieu of Google’s massive marketshare when it comes to search traffic. That said, their ad product can actually offer a decent volume of traffic at a fraction of the cost. This is partly because they’ve partnered up with other smaller search engines (like Yahoo), and ads run through the Bing ad manager will also show up on those networks. In general, you can secure the same keywords for less by using Bing if Adwords is pricing you out. Plus, their support is excellent, especially when compared with the sped of Google’s, and livechat means you can always get clarity on ad performance, no matter where you are in the world or what time it is.

Reddit: Reddit is an odd duck. Many people have been scared off from using this platform because they’ve offended a deeply defensive community. Reddit avoids promotion as much as possible, and people catch on quick when it becomes apparent that someone is posting their specialty forum or ‘subreddit’ with the express intention of promoting their brand or hawking a product. That said, reddit gives marketers the ability to pay for a link to remain at the top of a subreddit for as much time as you’re willing to pay for – and lucky for marketers that value is grossly underestimated right now, meaning you can get impressions and clicks dirt cheap. We’re talking advertisements that get 15,000 impressions for $10. If you’re writing effective ads that get even a few clicks, you’re already getting a lower cost per click than just about any platform available for mainstream marketing.

Other honorable mentions include things like Stumbleupon, where promoted content can go viral for no additional cost, and retargeting using the Bing display ad network. These are far from your only choices, but they’re a good starting point to get the wheels turning about how you might be able to leverage networks outside of the ones that grace headlines every other day. Of course, the same principles apply when keeping careful track of your ROI and split testing your ad creative to make sure you’re getting the best return possible.

Three Enormously Bad Landing Page Copy Techniques

Do you have a landing page that is under-performing or not converting at all? If so, consider the fact that many landing pages out there follow three extremely flawed approaches for content creation. If your landing page falls into one of these three categories, it’s likely that any promotions, ads or other monetary boosters you try will fail as well, sinking more of your hard-earned money into a failing endeavor. Similarly, it’s unlikely that changing the design or aesthetics of your landing page will help.

 

Three Bad Landing Page Copy Strategies

So what are these three horribly horrible approaches to creating landing page copy?

1. Guessing at What Your Lead Wants to Read. This is how many landing pages are done: simply trying out random messages that might or might not have worked on other landing pages, to see the results. Unfortunately, this takes a lot of time and ultimately, costs you a lot of money in sales. Sure, guessing right the first time can be extremely easy and lucrative, but what are the odds you’ll guess right? Do you really know what you consumer wants to read, or are you too close to the sales aspect of the product to listen to the true consumer needs? Remember, guesswork is costly and most of the time, flat out wrong. If this is how you created your landing page, it’s time to reevaluate your under-performing copy.

2. Looking to the Competition. Okay, so every online marketer looks at what their competition does in order to keep their finger on pulse of the industry, but some of us use the competition as our basis for research. Figuring that the competition has done their marketing homework, we “borrow” from their landing pages and rewrite copy in the same vein as their copy. We figure, “They must know what they’re doing, so I’ll just do the same, we have the same demographic, after all.” But what if they are just guessing? Or what if they are dead wrong? You just anchored yourself to your competition’s success and furthermore, there’s now nothing to truly differentiate your two landing pages. Why should customers go to you instead?

3. Cliché Ad Copy. Finally, many marketers will turn to tired, old, boring and used cliché messages that they think sound good, they don’t. These messages don’t scream, “Buy me now!” They scream, “Help! I was written by a lazy marketer who might also be extremely corny!” Your message and copy need to mean something. If you aren’t the best-selling product, don’t call yourself that. Empty copy leaves prospects guessing. Be specific in the problems your product solves, it’ll be that much more impressive.

 

What’s the Right Way to Approach Landing Page Copy?

Now that you know the wrong way to approach writing copy for your landing page, what’s the best way? A little technique called Voice of Customer, or VOC. VOC is a marketing technique that relies on knowing your customer demographic in order to create viable copy that speaks directly to them in a language they prefer. VOC writing relies heavily on your understanding of your prospect’s problems and pain points, in other words, what do they need solved and what problems do they have with the solution you’re presenting.

When you know this, you can market the product or service in a manner that speaks directly to the lead, thereby eliminating friction. When you know their wants and needs, you can prioritize them accordingly, deconstructing each bit of friction with every line of copy on your landing page. This brings greater satisfaction to the lead as they read down the landing page and ultimately, all but guarantees the sale.

Copywriting Toolbox: The ‘Foot in the Door’ Technique

Most marketers are serious do-it-yourselfers. They’re learning constantly about all kinds of different facets of marketing and trying to put what they learn into practice all with just one pair of hands. Most internet marketing guides will tell you to begin outsourcing and managing as early as possible, to help grow your business at the fastest rate possible, but this kind of management role isn’t always feasible if you aren’t entering into your entrepreneurship journey with some startup capital.

Oftentimes, you’ll have to make something work all on your own, and copywriting is no different. There’s a reason that there’s an entire industry dedicated to having someone else write your web copy, sales letters, email series, and more – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do a bang-up job yourself with a little bit of know-how. Today, we’re going to go over the “foot in the door” copywriting technique; it’s a classic copywriting move that can help you to increase responsiveness by easing into your propositions (purchases, sign ups, referrals, or whatever constitutes a successful conversion for your business).

The foot in the door principle is based upon the fact that people are naturally resistant to taking large steps out of the blue. This is, for example, why telephone salespeople have to work through such a large volume of number registries to keep sales at an acceptable level. That said, this resistance tends to lessen when the ‘ask’ becomes less and less of a hassle or monetary obligation for someone. Obviously, you would be more likely to try a new type of shampoo if it cost $5 per bottle than if it were $15.

Those studying (anecdotally) copywriting psychology posited that perhaps these smaller actions could be used to build trust, and thus, over time, increase the chances that someone would agree to a larger ask. As luck would have it, for you, they were right.

The first time I learned of the technique, it was written something like this: If someone came to your door and asked you to put a large political yard sign out endorsing a certain candidate, you would likely be resistant (even if it came from a party you identified with). But let’s say, instead, campaigners ask you to take just an “I support [candidate name]!” button. You’ll never wear it, but the ask is small and you agree; there doesn’t seem to be any harm in doing so. Let’s say that a week or two later, the same people come by and this time they are asking about the yard sign. You may have said no before, but you already agreed with them once, and the button spurred you into doing a bit of research on the candidate, and now maybe you’re more open to a public endorsement. Without a doubt, the second strategy will end up with more lawn signs in more yards.

No matter what your business is, you can use this same technique. In your own business, think of how you can get someone to agree to something small before you ask them for something big. In sales letters, you’ll notice that copywriters often pose questions with seemingly obvious answers.

“Do you want to cure your acne this week?”

“Do you agree that acne creates an unattractive, juvenile appearance?”

The purpose of these questions is to bait readers into mentally agreeing and nodding along; if they’ve already agreed with you on one thing, they’re more likely to agree with you on the next thing as well. In your own businesses, think about how you can use this technique to ‘soften’ any ask you have – you might just be surprised at how dramatically conversion rates change when correctly implementing it.