Want a 66% Lift On Your Action Rates?

, Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Today everyone is busy and impatient. A study from University of Massachusetts Amherst found the average user will give a video two seconds to load before ditching it. Organizations trying to engage users through e-mail face the same challenge. Each time a user has to make the conscious decision to take action it reduces the likelihood they will ultimately do so. Every click matters.

Our job as online organizers is not only to tell a compelling story to engage supporters on an issue, but give them the most frictionless path for taking action.

The typical e-mail campaign requires that your supporters take 3 distinct actions.

1. Be invested enough in your organization and the subject to open and read your e-mail.
2. Be motivated enough by your copy to click a link.
3. Care enough about the issue to complete your landing page form and click submit.

What if I told you we could cut out a step? Think it would have a big impact on your campaign’s action rates? Guess what? We can and it did!

EmailOn a recent Feeding America advocacy campaign, we were able to use Convio’s action APIs and some creative e-mail design to give active supporters a two-step process.

1. Be invested enough in Feeding America and the subject to open and read the e-mail.
2. Be motivated enough by the copy to submit the form directly from the e-mail body.
3. [nothing else]

Yes, that’s right. Supporters who have previously taken action with Feeding America were able to view and complete the landing page form directly from the e-mail. We assumed that this would have a big impact on the campaign, however, we like to test all of our assumptions and ran this campaign as a 50/50 split test. The result was overwhelming. The two-step campaign outperformed the control (three-step) campaign by 66%.

That’s a tremendous lift for such a small change. We’re still digging into the test data, but in my opinion there were two factors at play here. One is the reduction of friction. By removing the landing page step, Feeding America essentially turned every click into an action. It eliminates the typical drop you’ll see from your Click Rate to your Action Rate. However, that alone can’t entirely account for a 66% lift. In my opinion the other driver of the lift was the visual cue supporters got by actually seeing the landing page form in the body of the e-mail. It is more eye catching and engaging than even the best worded hyperlink text could be.

We’re going to continue to test out this capability and will undoubtedly learn more along the way, so stay tuned for further updates. In the meantime, if you are interested in trying out a two-step action with your list, contact us and we’ll be happy to talk through how we can leverage this ability to increase your action rates as well.



How do you get to SXSW?

, Thursday, September 4th, 2014

… Practice, Practice, Practice. And then some.

(That’s our very own Kesah Schmitt up there, prepping for her SXSW 2012 session)

Getting selected to speak at SXSW Interactive takes a great topic, great speakers, and and a little help from your friends. Every year, SXSW asks the community to help choose which content will be featured at the show in March by voting for their favorite topics in the notorious Panel Picker. Which brings us to the task at hand!

We have two awesome sessions proposed for SXSW 2015 that could use some love from you, our nearest and dearest. If you would do us the honor of giving a thumbs up for these talks and maybe add a comment or two about how awesome the idea is, we would be eternally grateful. If you’ve never voted before, you will need to create an account first but it will be SO worth it when you are sitting in the front row of one of these great sessions:

Is Social Good The Next Killer App?
Something sexy happened at SxSW 2014 that didn’t involve Lady GaGa: an unprecedented number of do-gooding Geekerati showed up, wanting to change the world. So has social good become the next killer app, or just the latest trend to generate lots of hype but little impact?. Are we making any true progress towards actually solving the most challenging problems facing the world? It’s time to put SxSW to work doing what it does best: leading industry innovation, for good.

UI Elements that Need to be Pushed Down the Stairs
Interface elements like overlays, dropdowns, carousels and accordions are several of a web designer’s de-facto tools. However, in the age of responsive design, it’s time to re-imagine some of these design patterns. Bridging the concerns of users and devices, this workshop will explore how traditional UI patterns can wreak havoc on the modern web and what you can do about it.

voteSince SXSW 2010, Beaconfire has had 10 sessions (featuring 7 different staff members) selected – will you help us keep our streak going? Voting closes at Midnight Friday, September 5th so vote before you head out for the weekend and we know you’ll have a super amazing one. The accepted sessions will be revealed mid October, and we’d love to add your name to our acceptance speech!

What came first, the Chicken or the Crazy Egg?

, Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

At Beaconfire we love helping clients understand web behavior to best optimize their landing pages, websites and campaigns.  But there are so many analytic tools you can use, and all these numbers can be really overwhelming.  Have no fear – we’re here to help! One tool we wholeheartedly recommend is CrazyEgg (so much so that we are also customers).

You may be thinking “Please, not another analytics tool I need to learn.”  Don’t worry, CrazyEgg is very easy to understand and even easier to implement.  So why the love for CrazyEgg?  First, what makes CrazyEgg unique from other analytics packages is that it will show you ALL click activity on the page (even those that are not links!).  This can help solve usability issues which could be potential roadblocks for conversion and other success measures.  Second, CrazyEgg is more visual and less about the numbers.  This “pictorial” view tells you quickly what is working and what is not.

Read the rest of this entry

Innovation, KPIs and Jerry Maguire

, Monday, June 30th, 2014

In the digital world, resting on one’s laurels is not an option, and what engages users today, may fail tomorrow.  However, the best way to create a culture of innovation isn’t clear. At a minimum, we need to take risks and learn, but we also have to make sure that we are taking the right risks and investigating and learning from those innovations quickly. And the really tricky part is how do we measure that?

Lately, I’ve been researching what would be the KPIs (also known as Key Performance Indicators to the uninitiated) to ensure that Beaconfire is innovating smartly and quickly… and the answer led me to Hollywood and why the movies get it all wrong. Hollywood is littered with movies where the protagonist goes against the grain, takes a tremendous risk and in the end is rewarded for taking that risk. Just off the top of my head, I can think of several where someone quits their job, follows their passion and then either is more successful in their new career or begged to return by their old jerk of a boss. Jerry Maguire, Baby Boom, Wanderlust, Parenthood, Mr. Mom… in every case, the main character finds greater success in the end because they took a risk.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love movies that show the virtue of risk taking — my favorite film is Harold & Maude, which is entirely about finding one’s own way in the universe. The problem I have with the typical Hollywood movie is that they reinforce the message that you should take risks in life because it will work out in the end. In my opinion, it cheapens the real lesson that taking risks is a worthy endeavor regardless of the final outcome.

And this takes me back to Beaconfire. When I was trying to identify what should be the KPIs for the next year’s innovation work, my research led me to two schools of thought. One is to measure what percentage of your risks turn out successful in the end. It makes sense. You take risks in hopes of being rewarded in the end and tracking how effective you were at getting those rewards seems logical. And if you follow this reasoning, then of course Jerry Maguire was right to take a chance and quit his job, because his new agency was a tremendous success.

However, the second school of thought is that these are entirely the wrong KPIs for judging innovation. By judging the worthiness of a risk on the end result, you are predisposing yourself to taking safe risks that are likely to succeed, and over time, an organization takes smaller and safer risks until they aren’t really taking risks at all.  Instead, the second school of thought is that innovation KPIs should judge how quickly you learn from the innovations you pursue.

Risks are likely to fail. It’s the definition of a risk. But they are still worthwhile and in the digital space, a necessity. What matters is whether you are able to efficiently judge if that risk was a success (#WINNING!) or if not, learn something and try again (#STILL WINNING!). Jerry Maguire quitting his job to open a sports agency that cared more about its clients was the right risk for him regardless of whether or not it showed him the money in the end. What really mattered was how quickly he figured out if his new agency was going to be a success, and if not, take another risk and try a new line of work…


The Company We Keep

, Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Here at Beaconfire, we’re honored to work side by side with some of the biggest brands in the non profit, mission-focused and cause-driven world. While launching a new site is an accomplishment for our project teams, we are honestly more excited for the digital journey the new site will carry our clients on next. (yeah, that may be a bit unusual for an agency, but it’s who we are so nyah)

That being said, we get a little giddy when one of our clients is duly recognized for rocking the world with their awesomeness. To wit, the Brick Factory just named Diabetes.org, The American Diabetes Association‘s flagship website, the #1 best trade association website. This is what it must feel like when your child graduates summa cum laude from Harvard.

How did this all come about you ask? Since DC-based Brick Factory is surrounded by trade associations, they set out on a quest to determine which have the best websites and why. They started with 50 of the largest and narrowed it down to a list of their top 10. And of course our latest pride and joy was honored as the best. The top of the heap. The talk of the town. The… Oh, you get the picture.

In their words:
“This is one of the only websites on our list that doesn’t have a slider. The American Diabetes Association has an attractive, modern website that uses visuals and icons very well. Also, their original content is outstanding: relevant, entertaining, and tailored to their audience. We love the featured recipes!”


Lets put aside all the other accolades for a second and just focus on one: lack of a slider. I wanted to hug the Brick Factory folks really hard for calling this out. (in a non-creepy-fangirl way, of course). The market has been heralding the death of every website’s large rotating-hero-space-image-with-text-that-no-one-reads-or-clicks for a while. Yet the slider/slideshow/carousel lives on even though metrics prove it ineffective time and time again. We conspired with our client on this project to test a theory: If you actively engage your audience in your content, rather than allow them to passively consume it, what would happen?

Apparently if you’re the American Diabetes Association, all that happens is you noticed for doing something audience focused, content driven and downright fabulous. Seriously, go to diabetes.org right now and play with it. I’ll wait. (And I double dog dare you not to take an action.)

We are psyched that the American Diabetes Association was recognized, and can’t wait to see where they get honored next. Oh, and about that rumor about being so proud of our clients that I keep screenshots of their sites in my wallet, I can neither confirm or deny. (but gosh, they’re all so pretty…)