The Framing Effect: Simple Tweaks to Stop Losing Money

Imagine you’ve got a deadline to meet.

It’s been 15 days out of the 30 you were initially given. You’re working slow and steady; after all, you’ve got two weeks left.

The next morning, you’re talking to a few friends over an early lunch at your favorite restaurant. Everyone is sharing what’s going on in their lives — birthdays, projects, travels, etc., — you mention the project you’ve been working on and how you’re happy with your progress.

Your friend John — always the pessimist — explodes when you tell him you’ve got two weeks to finish.

To him, it’s not two weeks left, it’s two weeks already used up that you can’t get back. It’s two weeks gone which you could’ve used to finish the project.

It’s two weeks you’re using to pursue one thing when you could’ve pursued multiple things.

To John, you’re in trouble and need to pick up the pace.

You leave the lunch date anxious and worried about whether or not you’ll meet the deadline. You’re also thinking about the opportunity cost of not being more productive.

You no longer have two weeks. You’ve burnt two weeks.

What happened here is a classic case of the framing effect. You and John were both expressing the same information but in different ways. John framed it negatively and you framed it positively.

By simply changing the way the problem was presented, you became more risk-averse or more risk-prone.

The framing effect is a powerful tool we’ve been using it for thousands of years to convince and convert.

Keep reading to learn more about framing and how you can use it to stop losing subscribers (and money).

 

The framing effect is simply the way you present information

 

The framing effect is an example of a cognitive bias, in which people react to a particular choice in different ways depending on how it’s presented; e.g. as a loss or as a gain. People tend to avoid risk when a positive frame is presented but seek risks when a negative frame is presented. Gain and loss are defined in the scenario as descriptions of outcomes (e.g. lives lost or saved, disease patients treated and not treated, lives saved and lost during accidents, etc.).(source)

The Framing effect is something each and every one of us uses in our everyday lives. We use it to structure arguments with our friends, family, and colleagues. We use the framing Effect when we’re negotiating, talking about problems, or even seducing.

It’s ubiquitous, but many of us don’t even know what we’re doing. Framing was formally identified as a cognitive bias by psychologists

Framing was formally identified as a cognitive bias by psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.

The Experiment That Got Everyone Talking About Framing

 

The original experiment asked students to make a decision in a hypothetical situation. They would be required to save lives or allow lives to be lost.

Imagine that the U.S. is preparing for the outbreak of an unusual Asian disease, which is expected to kill 600 people. Two alternative programs to combat the disease have been proposed. Assume that the exact scientific estimate of the consequences of the programs are as follows

When the situation was framed with a chance of saving lives, people were less likely to take risks (positive framing).

If Program A is adopted, 200 people will be saved. [72 percent]

If Program B is adopted, there is 1/3 probability that 600 people will be saved, and 2/3 probability that no people will be saved. [28 percent]

Another Group was given the same cover story, but the loss of life was emphasized and people became more risk prone (negative framing).

If Program C is adopted 400 people will die. [22 percent]

If Program D is adopted there is 1/3 probability that nobody will die, and 2/3 probability that 600 people will die. [78 percent]

Even though the absolute value of all these situations is 200 people surviving, the way each situation was presented had a huge impact on how people decided.

Positive frames create an environment that avoids risk-taking and proactive behavior.

Negative frames create an environment that causes people to take more risk.

Have you ever watched two news stations at the same time?

Watch a station like BBC or CNN while watching Aljazeera.

Compare and contrast what they’re reporting and what they’re not reporting. Also look at how they frame stories that appear on both stations.

It’s eye opening.

Framing has worked in propaganda since man has been able to communicate. It’s not always so overt or even intentional.

Take the controversy over the U.K. ballot to leave the E.U. — The Brexit.

The original wording on the question was:

“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?”

It would have prompted a simple yes or no, but complaints were made over the question being biased or confusing. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron accepted a recommendation to change the wording after the phrasing was tested on potential campaigners, academics, and language experts.

The final wording on the question was:

“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

The options that led to the fateful decision were:

Remain a member of the European Union

Leave the European Union

(Source)

When you frame a situation a certain way, it forms a reference point. We’re irrevocably tied to reference points which in turn create expectations about outcomes.


Enter the expectation effect, the logical progression of framing


The expectation effect, also known as the subject expectancy effect, is the way behavior, perceptions, and results change as a result of personal expectations or the expectations of those around us.

As soon as you think it’s possible then the belief creates a higher chance of it occurring.

Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results. –Willie Nelson.

You’re familiar with many instances of the expectation effect due to positive or negative framing. You just didn’t know what was happening until now.

  • Hawthorne Effect: Workers are more productive when given more attention during a test or change to their work environment that’s SUPPOSED to improve productivity. The effect is temporary.
  • Pygmalion Effect: Individuals perform better or worse depending on the expectations of their superiors.
  • Placebo Effect: One of the most common and widely studied applications of the expectation effect. Patients — based on the belief that treatment will work — receive treatment benefits.
  • Halo Effect: Positive feelings in one area cause inconsequential or neutral traits to be viewed positively. In English, positive attitudes associated with a brand’s marketing can spread from one product or service to another aspect or thing. E.g., from using new software to the amount you’re improving your business.

To create the right expectations, your framing of the situation needs to be credible.

In a marketing situation, you can’t hope to build the right expectations if the context you use to frame your solution isn’t congruent.

For example, if you framed your solution as a stripped down version of popular accounting software, your customers won’t expect it to do much more than the basic accounting functions they need to keep their finances in order. If you — for some reason — begin to market it as an all-in-one system, there’ll be problems with their expectations.

If you — for some reason — begin to market it as an all-in-one system, there’ll be problems with their expectations.

To set the right expectations in a group, frame the situation correctly from the beginning.

Now that you have a very clear understanding of the framing effect, it’s time to use it to become incredibly persuasive.

Four Types of Framing to Bring About Your Desired Action

 

Loss Framing

Loss framing is also known as the negative framing effect and is simple to understand. If you’ve ever come across a landing page that uses a timer then you know what loss framing is.

Don’t lose $100 every month on groceries, enroll in our exclusive shoppers club.

You don’t want to lose the opportunity to ….

Don’t lose your home because you “didn’t know,” call us today….

The common thread here is fear. Fear of potential loss.

Loss aversion describes people’s tendency to strongly avoid losses to acquiring gain. Keeping your house is more important than buying a new one.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s pretty simple to frame novel products. Instead of focusing on only it’s novelty — always a hard sell — you can focus on what it’ll prevent them from losing.

Facebook prevents you from losing contact with your friends and family.

AirBnB prevents you from losing money on huge hotel bills while experiencing a new city.

The video below shows how loss frame and gain frame can be used in medical screening.

 

When to use it

The answer depends on your audience and the attitudes they have towards the product. Loss-framed messages work best when the outcome is less certain. It helps remove attention from the ambiguity of the situation and refocus it on what they lose by not choosing you.

In the context of buying your product, you can say “don’t lose $250 every month on insurance. Buy xxx.” Instead of “save $250 every month by buying xxx.”

When possible, present two options.

  • Buying your product
  • A sure loss

This’ll put them in a risk-taking state of mind and make them more likely to take a chance on you.

The same applies to personal situations. If you’re trying to convince someone to take a less than certain risk — a cross-country road trip. You can frame the argument to highlight all the things they stand to lose like opportunity, experiences, meeting new people, and memories.

 

Gain Framing

Gain framing is most effective when the benefits of your product, argument, or situation are obvious to the other person. Positive framing is another way to describe it.

Learn a new skill and advance in your career…

Treehouse uses gain framing in their YouTube advertisements.

They have a few different variations, but they’re all showing you the same thing. Someone who was working in a field they didn’t find rewarding took a few classes through Treehouse.

After that, they were able to get high paying jobs. You can do the same if you sign up for a program with Treehouse. You can gain a whole new career and financial freedom.

Dentist’s also use gain framing a lot. Take the video below:

They’re pretty much selling you the world and then some, but you have to start with your smile  (Honestly, I had no idea a smile could do everything under the sun until I watched this video).

When to use it

When the outcome is clear and easy to illustrate, gain framing is the best type of framing effect to use. They’re more persuasive than loss-framed messages because the outcome doesn’t require your prospect to think too much.

For example,

You can easily say get fifty percent more on your tax return when you choose us.

For me, that’s a no-brainer.

Statistical Framing

Statistical framing is arguably the most abused type of framing effect. It relies heavily on data to influence decisions. You can use statistics to create a negatively framed or positively framed message.

I can say my product works 90% of the time while a competitor can say it fails 10% of the time.

Both statements are strictly true, but deliver a very different meaning to the person receiving it.

The video below shows how marketers have been abusing statistics for years.

Long ago, political aspirants mastered the art of statistical framing. The video below is from the 2012 presidential campaign which pitted Mitt Romney against Barack Obama.

The facts presented are strictly true, but the context only tells a part of the story. Obama presents facts and frames them in the context that best suits him. It fails to tell the whole story.

Prosecutors are also known for using statistics to frame arguments in what’s known as the prosecutor’s fallacy.

When to Use it

Statistical framing is one of the most versatile framing effects because it’s easily coupled with positive or negative framing.

You can use it in your marketing messages to show social proof in a positive frame e.g., 7,345 smart people just like you have signed up for our newsletter.

Since 7,345 people have already signed up, there must be something there.

You can also use it the same way Mitt Romney and Barack Obama did. It’s always fun to pick a fight with the competition.

Note: never pick a fight with someone who’s considered David when you’re Goliath — we still believe in fair play.

Language and Imagery Framing

Let’s not forget about the imagery and power words you can use to have a profound effect on the frame of your message. Copywriters have been using words and imagery to frame powerful messages for decades.

In The Adweek Copywriting Handbook (formerly known as Advertising Secrets of the Written Word) Joe Sugarman says:

“Your ad layout and the first few paragraphs of your ad must create the buying environment most conducive to the sale of your product or service.” 

For your website, that means your words need to sell and your imagery needs to back them up.

I’m a fan of design; I’m always making small tweaks to my website to figure out what’s working best and what’s not. My design is always second to the copy.

You can use words and imagery that appeal to the emotional center of the brain. When your design backs up your imagery, you give a stronger sense of stability, sophistication, and trustworthiness.

If you’re a young exciting clothing brand, you should have words and images that support your branding.

Vibram Kills it with their five fingers campaign.

A stroll through an apple store is very different than a stroll through an AT&T store. Apple gives you a feeling of class and sophistication while AT&T gives you a feeling of utility. Neither is inherently better than the other. It’s the frame created through the imagery and language used.

Drop your visitor into an environment that encourages one behavior and discourages another.

I read the story that Cantor Fine Art created (and watched the video).

They use compelling imagery, music, and a powerful narrative to sell their art.

When to Use It

Imagery and language are staples.

When you can, insert a video of someone using your products. If there’s no video insert images of your product in action.

In lieu of both these options, tell a story about your products and how they made someone — or even you — a better version of themselves.

One of the most powerful ways to use language and imagery to test out framing is when you’re running A/B tests.

Instead of looking at A/B testing as changing the color of a button from red to white, look at it through the eyes of your visitor.

Maybe the problem isn’t the button; the problem may be the way the information is presented or the actual information that’s presented.

For example, someone landed on your wedding dresses page and you’re showing wedding dresses from actual events. Your visitor wants to see the wedding dresses that are in stock. Because of that, she’ll bounce from the page and won’t call.

On the other hand, if you show wedding dresses in stock, she’ll be more likely to call you and discuss alterations or a fitting.

Language and imagery are indispensable. Period.

It’s your turn

 

We’ve looked at the framing effect from many different angles in this article and you’ve seen how it works in the wild.

Stop reading and take a deep look at the framing of your messages. Are they giving you the most bang for your buck?

Statistics, are you using as well as you should be?

Are you setting the right expectations from the beginning?

Would you benefit more from a positive frame or a negative frame?

Is your language compelling and does your imagery work to back it up?

The framing effect is everywhere and we use it ALL the time — both consciously and unconsciously.

Use the framing effect to your advantage and stop losing your audience and customers.

Demographic Segmentation: What it is, How to Use it, and Examples

Last updated February 12, 2019.

A segmented market is one that’s more valuable to you.

Demographic segmentation, in particular, is often the first step in creating customer profiles that help you make better products, messages, and close deals.

Before we had things like Facebook and Google that let you target your customer’s interests, intent, and behaviors, – the things that make up psychographic segmentation – all we had was demographic data.

That’s what print and television advertising empires were built on. If it’s not broken then why fix it?

 Demographic data is important but it’s by no means the only information you need to create useful customer segments.

 In this article, we’ll look at what demographic segmentation is, how to get the information, and examples of how smart businesses are using it.  

Definition of demographic segmentation

 Demographic segmentation is the process of dividing your market into segments based on things like ethnicity, age, gender, income, religion, family makeup, and education.

 This helps brands spend their advertising and marketing budget more efficiently. Instead of going after their entire market, they’re able to show relevant messages to people more likely to care.

It’s the most common type of segmentation strategy.

 Most analytics tools on the web will give you basic demographic information.

google analytics demographic segmentation

Other segmentation methods such as psychographic and behavioral segmentation are more difficult to implement.

How to get demographic data

You may not be able to get demographic information for every one of your customers or audience members. That’s alright.

 You can get the data from enough people to build a profile of your most engaged customers.

 With that, you can choose the right social media platforms, create better marketing material, and grow your subscriber base more quickly.

 There are a number of ways to unlock this information. We’ll touch on two methods.

Analytics software

  If you have a website then you’re using analytics software to understand who visits and what they’re interested in.

Most analytics software allows you to see basic demographic information like gender and age.

Log into your analytics account and check if it’s collating the information. If not, you can use a tool like Google Analytics (GA) in addition to your current solution.

GA will give you gender and age information about a portion of your audience. 

Simply open your GA account, click on audience ->demographics -> overview. If you’ve not accessed this area of your account before then you’ll need to activate it and check back in 24 hours.

Quizzes and Surveys

Both quizzes and surveys allow you to ask your audience members direct questions. Once you have enough answers, you can feel safe knowing it represents the majority of your customer segments.

The difference between a quiz and a survey is that with quizzes, people want an outcome. You can’t get away with asking seven demographic questions and calling it a day.

You can sprinkle in a few demographic questions with questions calculated to boost engagement and achieve a higher response and completion rate than surveys.

Surveys allow you to ask direct demographic questions but the engagement rate is much lower. On average, external surveys have completion rates well below 20%.

If you want more data – surveys and quizzes are best.

If you want an easy way to get the data – analytics are your friend.

Note: Be careful about using census data. The information there is an average of small groupings like a neighborhood. Even though it may be attached to a household, it’s not representative of that particular household. The data about you and your next door neighbor is exactly the same.

Demographic segmentation factors (and examples)

Some demographic information is more important than others.

For example, if you’re selling premium online courses for photography, the gender of your audience isn’t as important as their age or income.

They have to be able to afford your courses and age will give you an idea of their willingness to learn a new skill.

We’re going to look deeper at the type of demographic segmentation information to collect and prioritize.

Gender

Gender tends to be the first method businesses adopt to segment their users. There are only two groups that matter.

Males and females tend to have different preferences.Without stereotyping anyone, men are more interested in financial trading and cryptocurrencies.

The owner of LCMS, Jin, uses a lot of imagery and testimonials on his homepage. You can see that most of the people present are males. Females are greatly underrepresented.

Women are more interested in home décor and beauty supplies.

Take a look at Sephora’s Instagram page.

They almost exclusively use female models to showcase their products and the looks you can achieve.

Some companies choose to only serve one gender or the other.

This is prominent in fashion Ecommerce.

Dollar shave club created a movement (and sold to Unilever for a billion dollars) by creating a product exclusively for one gender – men.

ONLY, on the other hand, is for women. All their marketing, imagery, and products are for that gender.

When doing gender segmentation, you don’t have to exclude a gender. The best results are achieved when you know which genders prefer specific products.

That way, you can use your budget to market to them and leave off the other one. 

Age

Age is also another common factor used to segment customers. It’s often paired with gender segmentation to create a more robust profile.

There are commonly accepted age groups for marketing and advertising purposes:

  • 12-17
  • 18-24
  • 25-34
  • 35-44
  • 45-54
  • 55-64
  • 65+

 Age plays an important role in where and how you market your products.

Toys are obviously for a younger demographic group but certain video games appeal to a mature audience as well.

Juul, the electric cigarette that took the world by storm, and is under investigation for its advertising practices, targets a younger demographic.

The campaigns are reminiscent of the ads the traditional cigarette industry used to target younger smokers.

In a broader sense, different age groups have different values, norms, and ways they interpret messages.

Younger groups are more impressionable. Messages targeted at them are flashy and abstract because their future is still up for grabs.

Older millennials and the 30+ crowd are more secure in the knowledge of what they want and need. Advertisements aimed at this group are more concrete because they’re experiencing the reality of the world in full force.

The older generations have traditionally been ignored because it’s thought that they’re set in their ways. An advertisement isn’t going to change their mind. Instead of attempting to sway their opinions, target this demographic segment in a way that informs them about things they already want or need.

Don’t tell them they need a new car. Tell them about the options available to them.  

Another way age is helpful is deciding which social platform you want to use. Every social media platform has an age group that uses it more than others.

For a younger demographic (12 – 24) Snapchat and Instagram are your best channels. The largest group of Twitter users are between 25 – 34.

Basic demographic information about their users is freely available. Do a bit of research to inform which channel you should spend the most time on.

Income

Income demographic segmentation is when people are segmented by their monthly or yearly income. You can segment based on personal income or household income.

This is most effective when you have a specific product for a specific niche at a higher price point.

Use income segmentation when you have both expensive and inexpensive products. When you segment the groups that can afford the products away from the ones that can’t, you get clearer feedback.

You’re able to build a profile of your ideal customers and improve the products based on what they care about.

If you don’t segment like this, you may get feedback from people who would never buy. Based on that, your product development can be derailed.

A good example of this type of segmentation is Mercedes. They have cars that start at forty thousand dollars and ones that start at half a million dollars.

VS

The customers for the forty thousand dollar car may never buy the half a million dollar car. If Mercedes asked them for feedback they’d likely ask them to make it cheaper.

The person who’s willing to pay half a million dollars may tell them to improve the performance or the finishing.

Education and occupation

People achieve different levels of formal education. With each tier of education, there are certain experiences they may have had.

We can all point to common grade school experiences.

If you’ve gone to college, you can point to common experiences there as well.

On the other side, your occupation can play a big role in how you purchase products and services. Doctors and nurses may make different food choices when compared to truckers and construction workers.

Executives in large organizations would make different clothing choices when compared to designers in a marketing agency.

Together, our education and occupation influence our buying decisions.

When segmenting based on education/occupation, it’s important to understand two things:

  • Are the majority of your customers likely to be in a specific education or occupational segment?
  • Does it even matter?

Some products have education requirements before you’ll receive the benefits. You wouldn’t enroll in an MBA course before you did your bachelors.

Certain magazines also appeal to people with specific groups. A medical journal would naturally appeal to Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and related educators.

Some, on the other hand, have no requirements. Do you need to go to college or work in a design firm before you buy a nice pair of jeans?

You can use this type of segmentation to your advantage like Convertkit.

convertkit occupational segmentation

They’re an email marketing company that targets creators. Does that mean they’ll turn away everyone else?

No.

It just means that all their decisions are informed by the main group they target.

Many of the fastest growing companies on the Inc. 5,000 list use occupational segmentation to position their companies and reap the largest benefits.

Family makeup (and lifecycle)

The last type of demographic segmentation we’ll touch on is family makeup. The needs of families are different when compared to the needs of individuals.

You wouldn’t target a family cruise at individuals and you wouldn’t target a night club or dating service towards couples.

Let’s say you offer continued education and skills acquisition for older customers (40+). It wouldn’t be a stretch to position your offer as one that’ll help them achieve a lifestyle that they always dreamed about for their family.

They’re not doing it for themselves alone but for their entire family.

Major events in a person’s life cycle are also when they’re more receptive to specific messages. Before a wedding couples are more receptive to bridal advertisements. After a wedding, they’re more receptive to messages about home furnishings.

Before and after their first child they’re more receptive to message about childcare.

Products that benefit from family segmentation:

  • Amusement parks
  • Movies
  • Food (healthy food for children)
  • Vacation packages
  • Investment/tax advice
  • Anything involving kids

These are just a few suggestions, this list is by no means exhaustive and you could come up with a creative angle to take advantage of family makeup.

Problems with demographic segmentation

Of course, because demographic segmentation focuses on factors that exclude actual behaviors, there are shortcomings.

Not using them at all

The biggest issue you can encounter is not using demographic segmentation at all. You may feel like it doesn’t matter because you’re selling a product that can appeal to all people (like a digital course or software).

While this may be true on the surface, it’s always a good idea to niche down and serve a group of people more closely.

Your messages are more effective and they’re more comfortable patronizing you.

Using the wrong demographic segments

Some demographic segmentation make sense for one product but not another. Income segmentation wouldn’t make sense for a bargain product but it would make sense for a luxury product.

Gender segmentation wouldn’t make sense for food but it would make sense for a beauty product.

Age segmentation makes sense for alcoholic beverages but doesn’t seem to apply to soft drinks.

Occupation is obvious for trade magazines but not as useful for general consumer products.

Whether or not you’re using the wrong segments depends entirely on what your product is, your branding, and goals.  Beyond that, it’s a matter of experimenting.

Limited in scope

People in the same demographic segment can have different needs. Just because two people are male and eighteen doesn’t mean they want the same things.

One may come from a family that values education above all else so they’re keen on buying test prep courses.

The other eighteen year old may have dropped out of school so test prep is the last thing on their mind.

It’s important to combine demographic segmentation with other types of market segmentation to build a complete picture of your best customers.

One variable can never tell the complete picture.

Conclusion

Demographic segmentation is an important starting point to understand your market and their needs.

With the right demographic information, you can create assumptions to test and refine your messaging.

Over time, you’ll understand whether age, gender, income, education, or family makeup is the most important variable for your specific products and services.

Use quizzes or surveys to get the demographic information and start experimenting with the information you unlock.

Don’t stop at demographic segmentation alone. Look into other types of segmentation such as behavioral and psychographic to build a better persona of your ideal buyer.

With that, you can craft clear messages that work – every time.

Let me know how you’re using demographic segmentation in the comments and don’t forget to share.

Unleash The Confirmation Bias In Business + 5 Examples

Last updated October 15, 2018

Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to convince someone their beliefs are wrong? It’s even harder to convert them to your way of thinking.

They tune you out when you talk about things that aren’t in line with what they think. As soon as you talk about what they know to be true they’re all ears.

Their pupils dilate, their posture changes, and they give you their undivided attention. It’s the confirmation bias at work.

The confirmation bias is the tendency to selectively search for, recall, interpret, and consider information that confirms your beliefs.

We latch onto information in line with what we already believe.

For example, someone putting together a research paper showing the effects of oil on aquatic environments will search for evidence that bolsters their point of view and largely ignore any other perspective.

A hiring manager that thinks a candidate is a good fit will pay more attention to information that supports their conclusion.

A coach that thinks people over six feet are better players will give taller people preference when choosing the members of his team.

Quizzes are uniquely positioned to give you the advantages of confirmation biases. When you understand your audience, your outcomes will reflect what they already believe about themselves.

We can go on and on about it, but it’s safe to say that the confirmation bias can open huge opportunities in your business. All you have to do is tap into what your customers and clients already consider a truth while confirming they’re on the right path.

Peter Wason did us a huge favor

In the 1960’s, Peter Wason performed a simple experiment with a number of volunteers. The volunteers were asked to determine a pattern that applied to a series of three numbers. The example given to the subjects was “2-4-6” and they were allowed to construct their own series of numbers to test their hypothesis.

When they constructed their own series of three numbers, Wason would tell them whether it conformed to the rule or not. The actual rule was any ascending series, participants had trouble identifying it and would create rules that were far more specific.

What was most interesting was that participants only tested rules that would confirm their hypothesis. For example, if they thought the rule was “increases by ten” they would only test numbers that confirmed it EG 10-20-30 and ignore those that violated it EG 10-11-12.

Wason brought this cognitive bias to light and we’ve been using it ever since.

Examples of The Confirmation Bias In The Wild

Whether we admit it or not, we all want validation from friends, family, and peers. That validation can take many forms and it’s often used subtly in marketing. Here are a few examples of confirmation bias you can steal

Thank You Pages

I’ve written on the power of thank you pages to unlock more engagement and revenue. What happens after they optin or buy from you? Are you using the thank you page to confirm their initial thoughts about why they joined in the first place?

Derek Halpern of Social Triggers throws in some confirmation bias when you sign up for a free Ebook to get your first 5,000 subscribers. He confirms your initial thoughts that he’s a genuine person and asks you to start participating in the community that’ll help you grow your business.

 

If you were wondering if it was too good to be true, he removes that doubt immediately. From that point on, anyone who subscribes will only look for more information to back up their initial impression.

RoboForm goes straight for the jugular with their thank you page after sign up.

 

Roboform

After signing up, they let you know immediately that you’re an amazing person. Not only that, they ask you to show off this validation to your friends by asking them to sign up. The internal dialogue goes something like this.

The person who signs up thinks they made a good decision. RoboForm confirms this by telling them they’re awesome. With this newfound validation, the person would be more likely to spread the information to their social circle.

RoboForm gets more users, you get more validation to confirm your initial awesomeness.

Completing a process

 

When you’re using Mailchimp, you’ll eventually send out a few newsletters. I’ll never forget that first high five the monkey — Frederick von Chimpenheimer IV — gave me when I sent my first one.  This positive reinforcement confirms what I already know, I’ve completed a major milestone, and gives me kudos for doing so.

digital high five confirmation bias

The same process works during a checkout process. Sprinkling in “well done” and “you’re almost there” messages will help increase conversions.

Another way to use the confirmation bias to encourage the completion of a process is to use a progress bar. When you sign up for services like Facebook, Dropbox, or anything that requires a little more information, a progress bar is used to show how much you’ve done.

We use a variation of this inside of our app.

confirmation bias inside KyLeads

If you’re at the beginning of the process, usually, your own momentum is enough to keep you going. Then, something happens and you have to log out or start doing something else.

The progress bar shows you how much effort you’ve already put in and subtly reminds you that there’s just a little bit more to go.

LinkedIn profile completion

 

LinkedIn does this well with their profile strength indicator.

Before you take the time to complete your profile, you probably don’t have much going for you on the platform. It’s likely you don’t have many views or connections. You’re a beginner.

After filling out some more information, you’ll be an all-star ready to take on the world of corporate espionage :).

 

Daniel Ndukwu LinkedIn profile

 

The all-star rating confirms what you already know, you’re amazing.

It’s not limited to just social profiles, you can easily use it during the checkout process like the following example.

It lets you know that you’re almost there and for you to have come this far, there must be something worthwhile in the product you’re purchasing.


Conclusion


The Confirmation can be used in many ways which are both subtle and overt. Some of the best ways to intertwine the confirmation bias in your engagement and acquisition strategies are:

Reinforce an impression they already have

Use it to remind them of how much they’ve already committed thus confirming their love of what you’re offering.

Don’t stop there, brainstorm different ways you can use the confirmation bias to build stronger relationships with your tribe.

Let me know what you think about the confirmation bias in the comments and don’t forget to share.

18 Website Optimization Mistakes You’re Making (And The Fix)

Website optimization mistakes are everywhere.

The internet is an unforgiving place.

It’s also interesting in that there’s a lot of information freely available.

  • Your public library makes you pay for a card (and late fees)
  • You have to buy physical books
  • You need to pay for the good shows (HBO and Netflix)

People on the web don’t like to pay. Trust me, I run a SaaS company. We jump through hoops to keep our customers happy.

I digress.

Denizens of the web don’t pay with fiat currency; they pay with something more valuable – attention.

It’s almost impossible to capture the attention of web surfers. Once you have it, the fight to keep it is epic. You need more than a few sentences and a WordPress installation.

How does that affect you?

Website optimization is the process of improving key metrics important to you. Those metrics are different for everyone. Anything that distracts your visitors will kill your website conversions. When people notice, they’ll run away – never to return.

Your desired action isn’t on their mind.

There’s a light at the end of this tunnel. Most website optimization mistakes, with a little planning and foresight, are avoidable.

Let’s dive in.

1.     Crowded top menu

The most important areas of your website should be accessible within three clicks. This applies no matter the page someone lands on.

It’s been taken too literally. Webmasters seem to think every page is important. They’re not.

A subcategory of a subcategory of your services should NOT be in the main navigation menu. Rather, the link should be on the relevant category page.

Here’s an example of a crowded top menu.

AWS menu

In the above image, taken from Amazon Web Services, the menu is full of options. A casual browser wouldn’t know where to start. If they’re not motivated, they’ll bounce right off the page.

I bounced right off the page.

What’s happening here?

It’s simple; the human brain is a lazy contraption. It always takes the path of least resistance and minimal energy consumption. It’s in passive mode, also known as cognitive ease.  You need a conscious effort to move it into active mode which causes cognitive strain.

Do you think your visitors are going to exert that kind of energy for you? No.

The Fix

Preempt this scenario by streamlining your menu to the bare minimum. Every business is different so I won’t tell you what to put in your main navigation. Instead, I’ll give you a few general suggestions:

  • About (optional)
  • Contact
  • Pricing
  • Services/products

You can get away with one or two more menu items. Not many.

You also shouldn’t have many drop-down options. No dropdowns from dropdowns. That’s just tacky.

The extra menu items you’ve removed need to go somewhere.

For example, you streamline the menu item “about” which had the drop-down items:

  • Story
  • Team
  • Values
  • Mission/vision

When they click on the about page, you talk about what your customers will resonate with the most. You still give them the option to explore the other menu items on the about page. Here’s an example from Unbounce.

Unbounce navigation example

2.     Marketese

“Industry leading omnichannel solutions to help you send the right message, at the right place, at the right time.”

Source

Say what?

Let’s try that again.

“The best way to communicate with your customers in the places they find most convenient.”

Ah, that’s much better.

Marketese holds a special place at KyLeads. We hate it. You know how you have a favorite sports team and that sports team has a strong rival? Even the colors they wear can set you off.

That’s how we dislike marketese. It doesn’t do anyone any favors. It stems from multiple places:

  • Copywriters who don’t have a clue
  • Business owners who don’t have a clue
  • That intern without a clue

The end result is the people they’re talking to tuning them out. This goes back to the first point. We don’t have the mental bandwidth to decipher your message. If it’s not clear then we’re not going to give it the time of day.

Source

Marketese is your enemy. Nothing can happen unless you’re understood. You can’t be understood until you speak the language of your prospect.

The Fix

What can you do to make it better?

The good news is marketese has, possibly, the simplest fix. All you have to do is talk like a real human being.

  • Remove all jargon
  • Remove all buzzwords
  • Kick out technical speak
  • Appeal to the emotions.

This is easier said than done. It takes practice. Remember, people make decisions based on the way they feel. The logical part of our brain takes a backseat in the process.

Don’t believe me? Science has proven it.

making decisions gif

Source

3.     Convoluted message

A convoluted message follows on the heels of marketese. They’re similar but different. A message suffering from marketese is convoluted. All convoluted messages aren’t marketese.

Just like all mothers are women but not all women are mothers.

Put another way, you can talk like a human but still fail to communicate.

How do you know if your message isn’t clear?

Ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • What am I selling?
  • Who am I selling to?
  • What’s the major benefit?
  • Why should they choose me over a competitor?
  • How have I handled objections?

Now, these questions don’t only apply to items you make money from. The same is true for messages designed to get email addresses or anything else.

They’re all transactions.

They’re easy for you to answer. Ask someone who doesn’t have a clue about the product if they understand what’s going on.

Do they give you the same or similar answers you’d give?

If they do then congratulations, your message is clear. If they’re way off or have no idea then congratulations, your message is convoluted.

The fix

The fix, like most things in life, is simple.

The first step is to highlight a clear benefit. This should be one of the first things a visitor sees when they land on your page.

Distruptive beneift driven headline

Disruptive Advertising mentions two benefits. Spend less AND beat the competition (though, we’re not fans of having two promises).

The second step is to boil down what you’re selling into a simple statement. The more direct it is the better.

Struggling to hire is not why people start businesses. They do it to share their craft, provide for their families, and contribute to their communities. Struggle no more, we are here to help.”

I love the offer from Proven. It’s visceral. It works.

The third step is to push all your benefits through the “and so what” test. The “and so what” test makes sure you have real benefits.

  • It’s made with cotton

And so what?

  • Ehn (yea, not a real benefit)
  • It’s made with stain-resistant fibers

And so what?

  • So you can wear your clothes and forget about spills or doing the laundry this weekend.

That’s much better.

The fourth step is to own up to challenges that’ll form objections. For example, a common objection is that your prospect doesn’t have time to take a course. You can acknowledge that and let them know you’ve prepared the course in five-minute videos that are self-paced.

The last step is to talk like your prospects.

A few days ago  I was trying to figure out what those things that show up in Google results below the website are called.

I had no idea where to start. I just typed in a random query I thought would yield results “the navigation links that show up in Google results.” Much of what I got back didn’t tell me if I was on the right track. Then, one website mirrored the language I used. I knew I was in the right place.

That’s the same effect mirroring your prospects language will have on your conversion rates.

After you’ve followed these steps, ask another person to take a look. Are their answers closer to yours this time around? Rinse and repeat as needed.

 

4.     Formatting that’ll make you cringe

I’ve written a half a dozen books. A few of them were about specific business insights. Others were fiction.

With all of them, formatting was important – very important. It’s the difference between someone reading cover to cover or dropping it on the first page.

Content with poor formatting is intimidating – especially on the web.

What’s the big deal about it?

How does it affect conversions?

Let me ask you. How would you feel if the fifteen hundred words you’ve read up to this point were in one long block of text?

An uninterrupted string of words is far from ideal. As a reader, you can’t scan the text, decide on the most important information, or even hold your space.

For the content creator who’s looking for a conversion, you can’t take advantage of the way people read online.

In multiple eye-tracking studies, it was discovered that people read information in an F pattern.

f Shape reading pattern

With proper formatting, you can put the most important information right in the path of their gaze.

The Fix

Web formatting is kind of a big deal. It’s what determines if people will read what you’ve created or not. Here are a few insights that’ll help:

  • Use headings to break up the text every three to four hundred words
  • Have a clear visual hierarchy
  • Paragraphs should be three lines or less
  • Bold important information (don’t go overboard with this one)
  • Use numbered lists or bullets to break up text
  • Use relevant images to break up text (the key word here is relevant)

Put the most important information on the path your users will take. If you’ve got an offer or call to action, place it in the proper place on the page. Remember the eye tracking image from above.

5.     Navigation links on landing pages

We learn every day. I’ve known this tidbit for a few years. No navigation links on landing pages. That doesn’t mean the rest of the world knows it.

I’m always surprised when I see this mistake being made.

A landing page, in this context, is a page built for the specific purpose of compelling a visitor to take your desired action.

That is all.

It could be to:

  • Sign up for a free trial
  • Download an Ebook
  • Sign up for your mailing list
  • Purchase something

The desired action doesn’t matter. What matters is the focused nature of the page.

A single goal.

Extra links that don’t contribute to your goal are to be pruned ruthlessly. No exceptions.

I searched Google for an email marketing tool.

Gogole results for nav links

I clicked on the ZeroBounce link which took me to this page.

Zerobounce landing page links

They’re falling into the trap of sending most of their visitors to the homepage. Not only that, they’ve allowed me multiple opportunities to leave their page.

Landing pages tend to be difficult to leave or land on. That’s intentional. Once your visitors is there, it’s either they take your desired action, leave your website, or go back to the previous page.

Don’t get this part wrong.

The Fix

Remove navigation links in the header. Also, if your logo is visible on this page, make sure it’s not clickable.

Intercom landing page image

The landing page above is from Intercom. If you land there either you start your free trial, exit the page, or press back. There’s no escape.

6.     Poorly conceived headline

Headlines are part of the backbone of your page, opt-in form, or ad. David Ogilvy, in Ogilvy on Advertising, said 5 times as many people see the headline as the body copy.

If you get 1,000 people to read your copy that means 5,000 people saw your headline. It makes sense to spend time tweaking it.

 

classic headline copy

A good headline is different from clickbait.

I was subscribed to the mailing list of a popular SEO practitioner who will not be named. He used the most sensational headlines to get his emails opened. When I’d open the email and click through to the page, I’d be left hanging.

What took me there and what I saw were always different. That’s also a problem with message match which we’ll touch on later in this post.

I fell for it about three times. After that, I ignored his emails and later unsubscribed. I also reported him as spam – something I almost never do.

I felt misled. I’ll never trust him again.

So how do you build mouthwatering headlines that entice your readers without misleading them?

The Fix

There are a lot of headline formulas. I’ll touch on them in a moment.

First, the elements that make great headlines:

  • Clear benefit
  • Taps into our curiosity
  • Creates urgency
  • Emotional words
  • Power words
  • Specific (that could be numbers or an outcome)

You won’t use all these elements in every headline. Aim for one or two. Now, on to a few headline formulas you can use.

  • [Product Name] is a [product category] that [different thing it does best]

This one is commonly used by TechCrunch. Nice and clear.

Fitness app: Tep is an adorable fitness tracking app that works like a tamagotchi.

  • They All [Did Unpleasant Thing] When [Unexpected Thing], But When [Ideal Result of Using Unexpected Thing]!

Selling stationery: “They all laughed when I said I’d host the shower, but when they saw the invitations!”

Selling art school: “My dad didn’t say a word when I told him I was going to art school. But when he walked into my gallery!”

  • Who Else Wants [Most Desirable Outcome or Benefit]?

Fitness: Who else wants to look great naked?

Real estate: Who else wants that classic neighborhood experience?

  • The Only [SEO Keyword Phrase] Made Exclusively to [Most Desirable Outcome or Benefit]

Ski vacation: The only ski vacation designed exclusively to turn beginners into pros

Invoicing software: The only invoicing software made to do your billing for you.

  • The only [product category] that doesn’t [objection or anxiety].

The only car that doesn’t require gas or electricity.

The only online course that doesn’t require hours of your time.

Check out this post for a complete list of headline formulas.

Swiped.co is also a great place to get inspiration for writing headlines.

7.     Too many options leading to different end results

The human brain can handle roughly 110 bits of information at a time.  Conversations require 60 bits of processing capacity. Reading or writing requires the same.

Every option you add to your website takes a few bits of information to process.

In psychology, there’s a phenomenon referred to as the Zeigarnik effect. It states people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed ones.

How does that apply to the options on your landing page?

Yea, no one is going to look through 105 coffee mugs.

Every option you introduce – like start a free trial, sign up for our mailing list, get 20% off – is another incomplete task. Each one is eating into the 110 bits of processing capacity we have.

Not only that, each option produces a larger opportunity cost. If they decided to go with 20% off then they can’t take advantage of the free trial.

website optimization mistake - choice meme

These are just the options on your page. There are still other options available in the wider market.

Barry Schwartz makes a compelling argument in his book The Paradox of Choice. The more options we have the unhappier we are.

Why?

Because we have to give up much more to make that choice.

The fix.

I’ve stated it before. The most elegant solutions are simple. Get rid of all your extra options. Focus your landing pages, opt-in forms, and any other conversion devices on one goal per page.

The action doesn’t matter. The important part is your focus.

All the images, videos, audio, headings, and text should also reinforce your overarching goal. If not, get rid of them.

focused landing page image

This page is focused.

8.     Image sliders

Image sliders equal too many options.

They’re deceptive. They’re beautiful. They allow you to shorten the page. They deliver visual stimuli.

image sliders example

They’re one of the most annoying website optimization mistakes.

I know, we’re visual creatures. Facebook posts with images get as much as 2.3x more engagement.

Instead of a single call to action above the fold, you have two or more. Your visitor won’t click on the first option because they want to see what else you’ve got.

What if they’re all enticing?

Your visitor will be stuck. They may click or they may not. No one knows. You’re also forcing them out of their passive interaction with the world. They have to make a conscious decision.

Why would you do that to them?

Make it easier on them by offering one choice. They’ll know if they’re in the right place and you’ll know if your value proposition needs tweaking.

The Fix

No image sliders.

They slow down your website, introduce complexity, and damage conversions. You don’t need them. If you’re keen on using images then choose a good hero image.

Use images in other parts of the page. Don’t incorporate them into a slider. I’m asking nicely here. Please don’t do it.

Look at the KyLeads beta launch page.

Kyleads beta page

The focus was 100% on the message. No sliders, no images, and a simple background. The call to action was prominent and our conversions were consistent.

9.     Stock photos

I’ve got nothing against stock photos. We don’t use them much – if at all – on KyLeads. I understand some websites will benefit from them. There are some instances when you should avoid stock photos.

  • All images of people using laptops right on the beach.

You can’t see a thing – the glare is too bright. I also prefer to swim or make new friends. I guess I’m weird.

  • Stock images in testimonials

You’re using testimonials to increase credibility – right? Why would it ever seem like a good idea to use a stock image there? That’s an image you can buy off the internet. Did you also buy that testimonial?

Any goodwill associated with your testimonial will be destroyed the moment people realize you’re using a stock photo. A lot can be forgiven. Lying about results cannot be.

  • Free stock images

If you’ve been around the internet for a while you’ll know them. Even if you’ve been browsing a lot of websites in the same space, you’ll notice them. There are a few stock images that are nice, but have been used to death.

They’re usually listed on unsplash.com pexels.com or any of the other high-quality free photo sites. Stay away from them. If you’ve got to use stock images then at least shell out a few dollars to get the legit ones.

Note: I mean stock photos on sales pages or product pages. You’re free to use them on blog posts.

The fix

Stop using stock photos altogether. This is our preferred method. We don’t use stock photos. We don’t use them on our landing pages, our blog posts, or anywhere else. The closest you’ll get to a stock photo here is a meme.

Like this one:

meme example

Those don’t count. The world loves memes. This was a decision we made early on. All of our imagery is designed. If it’s not designed then we took them ourselves.

If you can’t invest in a designer then take images yourself. You have a smartphone. Most of the world does.

The last fix is to ask your customers to take pictures. User generated content (UGC) is amazing. It works wonders and is built in social proof.

ASOS – a popular online retailer – does this all the time. Their customers take images, post them to Instagram, and tag ASOS while using a special hashtag. ASOS uses them all over the place and reinforces the credibility of their brand.

You don’t have to be a fashion retailer to tap into user generated content. A home window repair firm increased conversion rates 30% by switching out a stock photo for one their customers took.

Image of window repair before and after

Why?

Because it was obviously authentic (authenticity is a post for another day).

 

10.     Message mismatch

How would you feel if you saw an ad like this one:

That led you to this page:

You’d be confused, annoyed, and maybe leave the page. That’d be a natural reaction. What brought you to the page isn’t what you’re seeing.

From what was written on the ad copy, you’d expect to see a few once in a lifetime deals. Instead, you’re taken to the homepage.

I can’t find any of the supposed deals.

The imagery is different.

The colors used in the ad and the page don’t even tally.

In essence, there’s nothing tying me to the ad I clicked and the page I landed on. That’s what it means to have a message mismatch.

Message match is when what brought someone to the page matches what they see on the page.

So how does that affect your bottom line?

Imagine if you saw a Coke ad in your Facebook news feed. They’re talking about a contest they’re running that allows you to travel the world with three friends. Cool. It’s Coke. They can afford something like that.

They use their characteristic red and smiling faces.

When you click on the ad, you’re taken to a landing page that talks about the competition. The only thing is there’s a bunch of blue. Coke’s red is missing.

You may brush it off. More likely, you’ll do more research to make sure the contest is legit.  Apart from that, the chances of you parting with your personal information just fell by a large margin.

When you’re crafting landing pages that are built to convert, the mismatch is anything but obvious. Only 48% of marketers build a new landing page for each marketing campaign.

The other 52% of campaigns are dumping users on the homepage or landing pages optimized for something else.

The Fix

It’s easy to slip into message mismatch. You’re close to your products and services. You know what they’re SUPPOSED to do and be.

Your visitors aren’t in your head.

Any whiff of inconsistency is greeted with suspicion and doubt. Can you blame them? The internet is the modern day Wild West.

The best thing you can do to avoid message mismatch is to keep your headlines consistent, your colors the same, and the imagery similar.

That doesn’t mean your ad headline needs to be exactly the same as your landing page. In many cases that approach is detrimental.

This is the ad.

This is the landing page.

MEssage match for front app

In the above example, the ad and the landing page have similar wording, a consistent design, and the same colors. There’s no doubt in the prospects mind that they’re on the right page. The only thing left is to read the copy and sign up.

  • Choose keywords to use in your ad/social post/ search results you’ll repeat in the headline of your page
  • Use the same colors
  • Take advantage of similar imagery
  • Use the same tone

 

11.     Testimonials without a backbone

We know testimonials increase conversion rates. They’re a way for a third party to back up your claims. What most people don’t know is there’s a right way and a wrong way to use testimonials.

Some just aren’t up to par.

They don’t have a backbone.

As I mentioned a few moments ago, the internet is like the Wild West. People have their bullshit detectors turned up to full power.

Testimonials are meant to highlight specific results your customers get by working with you. Vague testimonials like:

“I became happier after I went through the program.”

Won’t cut it.

“After taking the program, I have been able to spend more time with my family, haven’t had a panic attack in three months, and have peace of mind when I sleep at night.”

The second testimonial points to specific ways the customer has become happier.

Yes, they work with you to be happier. They need help painting the picture of what happiness looks like.

Did you know the better you articulate the transformation your products create the more you can charge?

I digress.

Testimonials from real customers are the best way to paint that picture.

The Fix

Testimonials are there to create trust between your business and a potential customer. To do that, the testimonial itself needs to be trustworthy.

Here are a few ways to make that happen:

  • Include the full name of the customer
  • Link to the customer’s social profile or website
  • Add an image of the customer
  • Use a specific result (my business improved won’t cut it. Try, our conversion rates improved by 30% in 21 days)
  • Address a specific objection you know your prospect has.
  • Don’t over edit.

Marie Forleo has an entire page on her website dedicated to testimonials.

12.     Auto playing music and videos (or any weird noise for that

matter)

This isn’t the mid 2000’s. Your website isn’t Myspace. No one wants to be subjected to your music preferences. We also don’t want to watch your video without warning.

When I asked the Inbound.org community about what website optimization mistakes they disliked, there was overwhelming consensus that auto playing music and videos suck. Chimes and other miscellaneous noise came in a close second.

Inbound org discussion 2

#1) I echo Zack and Alex about anything that makes a noise. There’s nothing that will get me to close a tab faster than that. My interest will hold through an instant popup, but play me any sound on your site and I will have forgotten that I was ever interested in the first place. Notable culprits:

  • Video
  • Song that plays in the background
  • Chat box that dings, chirps, or beeps to get your attention
  • Audio sound byte of someone’s voice

There are no words to describe how much I hate a website that plays sound when I didn’t ask it to.

#2) I instantly close the pages where instead of giving you the full article, you have to click through a slideshow of all 15 tips or tricks or photos or whatever–so you only see them one at a time, and you have to wait for all the ads to load. (While this is brilliant at reducing bounce rate and raking in ad revenue, I loathe the sites that do this and refuse to give them a moment of my attention.) 

This sums it up well.

The Fix

I know this may be hard for some. You’ve heard that videos can almost double your conversion rates.

They shouldn’t be forced on your users. The internet is a democracy. People vote with their time and attention. Let them choose.

That’s when you unlock the impressive conversion rates associated with video and other rich media. Not before.

Turn off video auto play features, chimes, and audio playback.

 

13.     Creating in a bubble is one of the biggest website optimization mistakes

In business, there’s a time between when you start creating and when you receive the first bit of feedback. I refer to it as The Desert.

The first piece of feedback is The Oasis. The intervening periods are the hardest.

You don’t know if people like what you have, want what you’re making, or are willing to pay for it. You’ve no idea what changes to make and which features to keep.

What happens here can be forgiven. You’re making a lot of educated guesses and working off of assumptions. Welcome to Business 101.

It’s what happens after you’ve arrived at The Oasis that can kill you.

Your customers and visitors are telling you what you need to know all the time. They tell you on social media, support inquiries, and website actions.

These customers are saying it loud and clear. Improve your service.

Whether you take that feedback and improve is a different story. If you do then you have the potential to not only increase your conversion rates, but build a brand your customers love. If you don’t then, well, good luck.

The Fix

Create feedback loops and monitor social media.

How do you do that?

There are many tools that’ll help you set up a feedback loop. You can simply send an email to your customers after they purchase. Wait a few days so they can use it but not so long that they forget about you.

Here’s an example of a great feedback request email.

Not everyone will respond to your feedback request. That’s expected. There are other ways to understand where you can improve.

  • On site surveys (really good way to get insights).
  • Social media monitoring.

Use a tool like Qeryz, Qualaroo, or Hotjar to create on site surveys.

You don’t need to ask a hundred questions to get what you need. Here are a few to get you started:

  1. How familiar are you with (insert brand name)
    • Very familiar (been to this site many times)
    • Familiar
    • Not very familiar (This is my first time here)
  2. What’s happening in your life that brought you here today?

(text field)

  1. Were we able to give you a solution you’re happy with?

(text field)

The first question gives you insights about stage of awareness. How much do they know about you and your product? The second question gives you voice of customer insight. You’ll learn how your prospect describers their problem, the referral sources, and potential lead magnets.

You may find out many of your prospects are coming from Facebook which indicates lower end awareness. For them, you could create a lead magnet campaign and drip out educational content about their problem, your solutions, and why you’re the best brand for the job.

Play with the questions until you get the insights you need to improve conversion rates.

The last part of the fix is social media monitoring. Many times, people will take to social media to complain or praise you. They don’t always tag you. It’s your job to find out what you’re doing right – and wrong – then act accordingly.

social media feedback 2

This is how social media interactions should go.

You don’t live on social media. Neither do we. To catch all the mentions of your brand – both good and bad – would take too much effort. For that, you have Mention.com.

Just like the name implies, it’ll help you monitor the internet for mentions for your brand.  

Use these three sources of feedback to build products your community loves.

14.     Bland calls to action and multiple calls to action

Without a call to action, there’s no conversion. Without conversions, your website is useless.

A common misconception is that people, after reading your excellent copy, will know the next action to take. The written word is easy to misinterpret.

The Bible was written 2,000 years ago. It’s a series of books. Each one has a different aspect of the same message. Over time, it’s been interpreted in many ways.

The crusaders used it to wage war.

Catholics used it to kill off Protestants.

Unscrupulous individuals have used it to systematically oppress other groups of people.

At its core, The Bible is a book that preaches love. That’s all. There’s no clear call to action after every book. Since it’s been left open to interpretation it has been interpreted by whoever, however, and whenever.

I digress.

Your call to action is the catalyst that propels your prospect to move. Without it, you may get your desired results or you may not. It’s up in the air.

Why would you slap any old text onto one of the most important elements of your conversion device?

I don’t know the answer either.

My personal favorites:

  • Subscribe
  • Buy
  • Download

What am I subscribing to?

What am I downloading?

What am I buying?

Are you seeing the problem yet?

The Fix

Calls to action clarify the next step. It leaves nothing to chance. Or rather, it reduces the amount of interpretation required.

Remember, anything that can be misinterpreted will be.

The fix is to clearly state what you want your user to do. The call to action doesn’t need to be a standalone device.

Put another way, you don’t need to fit everything into a button or hyperlink.

The only goal is to make the next step crystal clear.

crazy egg call to action image

In the above image, Crazy Egg got it right. They stated the main benefit of their service, let you know your commitment (30 day trial), and used interesting language to prompt the next step (show me my heatmap).

They’re framing you as the owner of the heatmap. As humans, we work harder to keep things we own than we do to acquire new things.

That’s why people will work 10x as hard to keep their home as they will to buy a new one.

Everything in Crazy Egg’s short copy supports the call to action. The button itself reveals how the service will deliver its promise and what you’re going to do in the next step.

Bob B CTA

The above image commands the user twice. The first command is in the pre header text “Enter your email address”

The second command is on the button “sign up and reserve your spot.”

As soon as you fork over your email, a spot is reserved just for you. How much clearer can it be?

 

15.     Leaving objections unanswered

There’s an objection for everything. It doesn’t matter how awesome the offer is.

I invited two of my friends out for a night on the town Everything was on me. One of them, a guy, didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation.

The other one, a lady, wasn’t so fast to jump on the train.

At first, she didn’t have any clothes to wear. I told her to put on a little black dress (she has a lot of them).Then she remembered she had to wake up early in the morning. I promised to get her home in time.

After that she claimed she’d already gone to most of the places in town. I assured her we would hit a few of the newer spots.

We went back and forth like this for a while. I patiently fielded every one of her objections. Some were legitimate, most weren’t.

You’re probably wondering why I spent so much time doing this when I was taking all the risk. It’s because I wanted to hang out with her. She’s a good friend.

I want to build a sustainable business even more. Most people don’t spend a fraction of the time I did addressing customer objections. It’s killing website optimization efforts.

Source

Some objections are legitimate. Some aren’t. All of them can derail a conversion. Don’t leave it to chance. If you ignore the elephant in the room then you’re inviting trouble.

You come off as if you’re hiding something. Are you? I didn’t think so.

The Fix

Be honest.

Acknowledge the hard parts contained in your offer.

Sure, some people aren’t ready to put in the work, energy, or part with their money. You don’t want them as customers.

They’ll hog your support lines, ask for refunds, and spread bad reviews about you. If you have customers like that then fire them.

If the product is expensive, acknowledge that and let them know why. You don’t use genetically modified organisms throughout your supply chain and believe in free range produce. It costs more so the end product is more expensive.

If they’ll have to put in work then let them know.

Though you’re honest, you don’t have to paint yourself in a less than ideal light. I said honest, not foolish.

There’s a difference between saying you’ll have to wake up at the crack of dawn and you’ll have to wake up earlier than you’re used to. There’s also a difference between saying most people will flat out fail and we have customers who’ve not achieved the results they’re after.

The better part of valor is discretion.

16.     Asking for more information than is absolutely necessary

The world is privacy centric. We live in an age of big government and big data.

Nobody wants to give away more information than is absolutely necessary. You don’t want Uncle Sam or the Big G to have your data (they do but that’s the subject of another post).

A long form staring your prospect in the face is bad.

They’ll wonder why on earth you need so much information. The end result is your form doesn’t get filled out, your product doesn’t get bought, and you’re out a conversion or two.

HubSpot and Canva got together to create a useful design resource. It contains almost 200 templates to make ads, social media posts, blog images, etc.

They’re on the right track. They’ve made a lead magnet their target market wants and needs.

They fumbled on the form.

hubspot and canva resource

I don’t know about you but I’m not filling out that form to get a few templates. I can get the same thing for much less elsewhere.

Long forms scare people away. There are better ways to get the information you need to segment your contacts.

The Fix

There are multiple approaches.

  • Shorter forms

The easiest fix is to shorten your forms. If you’re asking for 10 fields then reduce it to four. If you’re asking for a hundred then try asking for only twenty.

I know it’s easy to say.

Let me ask, do you need all of that information? Isn’t there another way to get it? Can you ask them questions throughout your email drip sequence? Can you make informed decisions based on the kind of content they interact with?

In the end, most of your lead generation forms should look like this:

This form is for registration. It asks for your name, email, and password. That’s as short as it gets.

For checkout forms, unless you’re shipping a physical product, you don’t even need to ask for their address. I know – blasphemy.

What are you using it for though?

  • Break long forms into multiple pages

If there’s no way to shorten your form and it’s over five fields, consider breaking it into multiple pages. This makes it less daunting for your visitors to part with their information. You never show more than a few fields at any given time.

Seal the deal by adding a progress bar to the top of your form. You can also use the information they filled out on the first page (always ask for name and email here) to follow up with them if they abandon the registration process.

  • Interactive lead generation devices (E.G. Quizzes)

I may be biased because we give you the tools to create high converting quizzes. That notwithstanding, they’re an awesome lead generation device.

Quizzes tap into multiple parts of our psyche.

  • They appeal to our narcissism because they give us the opportunity to learn more about ourselves.
  • They appeal to curiosity because you don’t know exactly what they’ll tell you.
  • They appeal to our Ego because we can share them on social media and amass positive social proof.

Not only that, they give you, the owner of the quiz, a way to get the right information without presenting your visitors with a pushy questionnaire.

 

17. You’re not using specifics

What sounds better?

  • Last week 1345 joined the SuperFit Revolution.

Or

  • Last week over 1000 people joined the SuperFit Revolution.

The first example has a ring of authenticity to it. The numbers come off as legit. You don’t get the same impression with the rounded number.

Most copy on the web isn’t specific. They speak in vague platitudes and marketing jargon. It’s not their fault. They didn’t know any better – until now.

The Fix

Get as specific as you can – then get even more specific.

What do I mean?

Alright, let’s say you have a few hundred subscribers. At first blush, you may want to round up and say “Join five hundred people who get our weekly emails.”

It’s more effective to say “Join 483 people who get our weekly emails.”

There are many ways to ad specifics to increase your conversion rates. A few of them are:

  • Case studies

In this post on Blogging Wizard, I shared the strategies I used to grow my email list almost overnight.

Readers were hooked. Many joined my mailing list.

  • Statistics

Nothing is more effective than a stat. We’ve created a beautiful resource that focuses on conversion rate optimization statistics. It’s been linked to, shared, and otherwise used all over the internet.

Part of the reason is because it’s beautiful. The other part is because it’s full of cold hard facts.

Facts serve as references after the conversion action, add credibility, and keep your user in passive mode.

Use them.

  • Exact details

Listen to a master storyteller. I don’t mean a writer – those count too – I mean an oral storyteller. Sit down around the fire and listen to them paint the picture with their words.

They set the scene masterfully. Yes, they may tell you what Johnny was wearing. That’s not where the magic lies. They’re masters because they tell you what Johnny was wearing, where he was, what he was doing, how he was doing it, and how he felt while it happened.

They give you enough details to feel the wind on your skin, smell the world in your nostrils, and most importantly, to experience everything Johnny experiences.

You don’t have to tell a story. You do need to add the details.

“Download the 10 chapter, 138 page, guide on conversion optimization.”

The devil resides in the details. Take advantage.

18. Load times

The final website optimization problem. Don’t be fooled. Just because it’s last doesn’t mean it’s not important.

There have been multiple studies about how site speed affects your conversions. This one from Soasta, and this one from Section.

They all arrive at similar conclusions. The slower your website, the greater negative impact it has on conversions. Think about how you use the internet. You’re wandering through half a dozen sites at any given time.

If one of them refuses to load what do you do?

Do you wait for it?

Not likely. If you’re like me, your friends, and the rest of the world then you’ll close it and look for the information elsewhere.

Load times kill your conversions for two major reasons:

  • It’s a horrible first impression
  • People never get to see all the other things you worked so hard on.

Together, people never see what you’ve created and they don’t give you a second chance to show them.

The Fix

There ae multiple ways to fix load times. Some of them are easy and some of them are super difficult. I’ll touch on a few and give you resources to further your education.

  • Don’t load content (Images, videos, audio) until your visitor interacts with it.

For example, you won’t load images halfway down the page until your visitor scrolls that far. That’ll save you a lot of bandwidth, especially if you use image heavy content. For WordPress you can use a plugin like Lazy Load.

  • Turn on compression.

This page is well over 100kb. That means it’ll load more slowly. Before getting to you, it was compressed and sent over. The end results is reducing the time it took to download (let me know how it did in the comments).

A simple tool to make it happen is Gzip.

Don’t worry, the majority of browsers can support compressed files.

  • Cache static files

When someone visits your website for the first time, they have to download a lot of components. When you enable caching, many of those cached components are stored on their hard drive. The next time they come, they only need to download a fraction of those elements.

Here are a few useful tools for caching:

  • Wp Rocket
  • Wp Fastest cache
  • W3 total cache

Now, here are a few tools to check the speed of your site. They give you great recommendations if you’re not up to par.

Speed up your site. Then do it again.

Over to you

We’ve moved through the minefield that is website optimization. One wrong step can spell disaster.

Even if you do most everything right, you may not get the results you’re looking for. It sucks I know. Keep an eye on the 18 conversion killers we’ve covered in this post.

Of course, there are more items that could be added to the list. These are the most common and the most dangerous. If you can find and correct them then you’ll be well on your way to hitting a conversion rate most websites only dream of.

Ignore them and you’ll never unlock the true potential of your website.

Let me know what you’re doing stay on top of website optimization mistakes in the comments section.

31 Headline Formulas That’ll Supercharge Your Content (plus bonuses)

Headline formulas are like the holy grail of blogging, landing pages, opt-in forms, and quizzes.

Why?

Because more people see your headline than ever look at the body of your content.

If you use a poor headline, it does not matter how hard you labor over your copy because your copy will not be read. – John Caples

If your headline sucks then the rest of your message will never get a chance.

Conventional wisdom will say start with a seed idea or keyword, plop it into your headline formula, and voila – you have viral content in the works.

I wish life were so easy.

It’s not.

Headline formulas will save you time, energy, and skyrocket your conversions. If you use them too much then you’ll come off as repetitive and stale.

Instead, use a healthy mix of headline formulas and headlines from scratch.

In this post, you’ll be introduced to some of the most powerful headline formulas available. Though they’re called headline formulas, you can and should use them throughout your copy.

They remove a lot of the guesswork associated with copywriting.

Every time you sit down to write a blog post, lead generation page, sales page, or any other page on your website – consult this post. Add it to pocket or bookmark it right now.  Hell, send it to your partner for safe keeping.

Yea, it’s that important.

Before we jump into the formulas, I want to equip you with the ability to make great headlines. That is, great headlines without a formula.

You need to know the rules before you can break them – right?

7 Elements of killer headlines

A headline has a lot of moving parts. Not all of them are needed every time. You can focus on a few elements and get your point across.

Other times, you need to pull out the big guns.

At all times, you need to keep them in mind and make sure you’re ticking a few of the boxes.

  • Specific

Specificity is way more powerful than a few general statements. It lends credibility to your headline and the rest of your content.

Use numbers or references to invoke specificity.

Specificity headline videofruit

In the above example, Bryan uses two numbers. A big one “10,000” to draw you in and a smaller one “5” to put it in perspective.

It’s perfectly ok to sell that as a short book on Amazon. You’ll learn how to write a short book in just five hours. Not a bad headline.

  • Power Adjectives

Not all adjectives are created equally. Some are meh and some conjure strong imagery – visceral reactions.

Do your best to incorporate strong adjectives at all times.

In this post on my marketing blog, I used the word “explosive.”

Adjectives for headline formulas

It promised more than effective or useful. It let the reader know they’d get something that could change their writing permanently.

Here are a few resources you can use to find power words:

Sumo

Enchanting Marketing

SmartBlogger

Buffer

  • Invoke Emotions

Emotions are the key to human interaction. Without them, we can’t make decisions or derive meaning from the world around us.

The more emotions you can invoke through your headline, the more likely it is to be clicked. Not only that, they’re more likely to read onto the next line.

Despite what people say, your headline only has one job, to be interesting enough to get people to read the body copy.

Yea, it’s not for SEO purposes, to convert, or any of one million other things.

Emotional headline image

In the above post, they won’t get any SEO benefits from the headline. They will and did get a flood of visitors to the post.

Why?

Because it touched on visceral emotions.

  • Addresses a need or interest

In the end, it has to be useful or interesting. People want to be entertained or taught. Not much else matters.

It’s why the Kardashians are rich – they’re interesting to many people.

You’re on this website – this page in particular – because you want to learn something. That something, in general, is how to grow your audience and business. You’re not here for the hell of it.

You’re busy. We know that.

Your headlines need to be aware of that fact as well.

Don’t make the reader guess what the point of your article is. Tell them up front. Or at least give them an idea.

  • Credible

Have you ever seen those headlines that aren’t possible but you have to click anyway?

“Scientists rediscover the ancient secret to living over 100 years.”

I mean, you know it can’t be true because life expectancy has been rising for decades. If it’s rising, that means we’re living longer now than in the past.

The average person doesn’t live to 100 years.

Obviously, the ancients didn’t live longer than us. But there may be an interesting piece of research behind the claim. Ah hell, let me check it out.

Does that thought process look familiar?

Credible is different from realistic. You can say anything about anyone as long as it’s credible. Appeals to authority such as scientists, leaders, well-known-institutions all lend credibility.

  • Clear

Clarity is perhaps the most important aspect of a good headline. Before they’re helpful, credible, use power adjectives, or do anything else – they have to be clear.

Without clarity, nothing else matters. No one will understand your message.

How do you make it clear?

Chop of the first and the last word.

I’m serious. We tend to lie more at the beginning and the end.

If that doesn’t work for you, try this simple exercise. Give it to someone else to read. Ask them to tell you what they think your content is about.

If they get it right then you’re golden. If not then it’s back to the drawing board.

Clarity is king.

  • Curiosity

Man is a curious creature.

Every innovation, invention, and breakthrough happened because of curiosity. Your TV is here because someone was curious. The same can be said about the internet and even cars.

You can ignore it or tap into it. For your headlines, use it to your advantage.

curiosity headline formulas

The above headline from Copyblogger taps into curiosity and a need. Online, you have to keep people coming back. It’s the only way they’ll buy from you.

This headline promises to tell you about two skills to fill that need.

The headline formulas

The following headline formulas can be used in more than just title headlines. Use them to break up text, keep bullets interesting, and even write chapter titles.

Get creative.

1.      [Product Name] is a [product category] that [different thing it does best]

This one is commonly used by TechCrunch. Nice and clear.

News Website: The Hustle is a news site that gives you news you actually care about.

Conversion optimization software: KyLeads is a conversion optimization software that allows you to handle everything from one backend.

2.      They All [Did Unpleasant Thing] When [Unexpected Thing], But When [Ideal Result of Using Unexpected Thing]!

Selling stationery: “They all looked at each other when I said I’d host the shower, but when they saw the invitations!”

Selling performing arts school: “My mom didn’t say a word when I told her I was going to performing arts school. But when she saw me on stage!”

Starting your own business: “Everybody scoffed when I applied for a patent, but when I made my first $100K!”

3.      Who Else Wants [Most Desirable Outcome or Benefit]?

Fitness: Who else wants to look amazing on the beach?

Investment advice: Who else wants to double their investment in 12 months?

4.      The Only [SEO Keyword Phrase] Made Exclusively to [Most Desirable Outcome or Benefit]

Skydiving: The only skydiving program designed to give you an unforgettable thrill without the risk.

Project management software: The only task management software made exclusively for remote workers

Conversion Optimization Software: The only conversion rate optimization tool made for small business owners.

5.      The only [product category] that doesn’t [objection or anxiety].

Accounting software: The only accounting software that doesn’t come loaded with a hundred pointless features.

Conversion Optimization Software: The only conversion rate optimization software that doesn’t take months to learn and implement.

6.       Now You Can [Do Something Desirable] [Counter to Expectations]

Email marketing software: Now you can sell to your list without “annoying” them

Family coaching services: Now you can raise a family without giving up your career?

7.      Now You Can [Do Something Desirable] [Great Circumstance]

Email marketing software: Now you can sell to your list and keep them coming back for more

Family coaching services: Now you can raise your family and earn six figures without a traditional job.

8.      We Promise You This: [Highly Desirable Result] Or [Consequence]

Marathon Training: We promise you this: You’ll run a half marathon in 3 months or we’ll pay for your all your gear and supplies.

Affiliate training program: We promise you this: If you don’t make $500 in the next 30 days then we’ll pay for your next affiliate training program.

9.      Here’s the [Adjective] Way to [Solve a Problem]

House cleaning service: Here’s the affordable way to treat yourself to more free time

House cleaning service: Here’s the eco-friendly way to get your home squeaky-clean

10.  [Eliminate pain in an unexpected way]

Tax preparation: File your taxes while sitting on your hands.

Teeth whitening: Get rid of coffee stains with your phone.

11.  [Do desirable thing in an unexpected way].

Team chat: Complete more projects – faster than ever – by chatting online.

Fully electric car: Drive 3,000 miles without ever stopping to buy gas.

12.   [Notable person] shows you how to [do notable thing like they do]

Boxing course: Mike Tyson shows you how to knock out opponents in the first round.

Sales Training: Zig Zagler shows you how to sell ice to an Eskimo and make them feel good about it.

Writing course: Stephen King shows you how to write bestsellers like he does

13.  [Service name] is a [service category] that [amazing outcome for end users or decision-makers] without [objection or anxiety]

Buttocks Lift: Atlanta Butt Lift is a cosmetic surgery clinic that gives you the perfect backside without abnormal contouring or bruising.

Dental service: Pearlman Ortho is a teeth-straightening studio that gives kids confident smiles. Without fear of being “metal mouth.”

Specialty Beard Grooming Store: Real Men Groom is a beard care product retailer that’ll get your beard in tip top shape without hazardous chemicals or lengthy routines.

14.  You’re tired of [objection or anxiety]. But you [desired outcome]. So it’s time you met [Product name].

Whitening Toothpaste: You’re tired of expensive procedures and unproven remedies. But you want that bright white smile. It’s time you met Purbrite.

Specialized pillows: You’re tired of groggy sleeping pills. But you need a good night’s sleep. So it’s time you met Cool Comfort body heat regulating pillows.

Running shoes: You’re tired of paying through the nose for name brand running shoes. But you need the comfort, support, and protection. So it’s time you met Ryko.

15.  [Do something] like [world-class example]

Tennis training: Serve like Serena Williams.

Speech lessons: Command a crowd like Barak Obama.

Cosmetic surgery: Remain ever young like Madonna.

16.  Are You Still Wasting Money on ______________ (Without Anything to Show for It?)

Conversion rate optimization software: Are you still wasting money on conversion agencies (with nothing to show for it)?

Accounting software: Are you still wasting money on an accounting firm (with nothing to show for it)?

Ergonomic Chair and desk: Are you still wasting money on a chiropractor (without anything to show for it)?

17.  Have a / Build a [Desirable Thing] You Can Be Proud Of

Branding services: Build a memorable company you can be proud of.

Woodworking classes: Build furniture with your hands you can be proud of.

College recruitment: Build a career (and life) you can be proud of.

18.  Get the [Unusual Adjective] Power of [Product Category] Without [Pain]

KyLeads software: Get the mindblowing power of conversion optimization software without juggling a dozen tools.

Search engine optimization service: Get the unfathomable power of Google search results without the confusion and uncertainty

19.  Get Rid of [Problem] Once and For All

Legal document generator: Get rid of your Lawyer’s fees once and for all

Business coaching: Get rid of poor business performance once and for all

Health Supplement: Get rid of your fatigue once and for all

20.  [Do Something Hard] in [Period of Time]

Business training: Become a successful entrepreneur in half the time it took Jeff Bezos

Teeth whitening: Whiten your teeth by ten shades in four weeks.

Programming course: Learn to code in less than 12 weeks.

21.  9 Out of 10 [Group Members] Can’t/Don’t ____________. Are You One of Them?

Software for writers: 9 out of 10 novelists can’t remember the birthdays of their main characters. Are you one of them?

Freelancer-matching service: 9 out of 10 marketers don’t like their freelancer’s attitude. Are you one of them?

22.  Make Your First [$] in Just [Time]

Copywriter platform: Make your first $1,000 as a professional copywriter in just seven days.

Flipping websites: Make your first six figures before the end of this year.

23.  How to Permanently Stop [Painful or Embarrassing Thing], Even if You’ve Tried Everything!

Botox injections for sweat: How to permanently stop wet armpits from ruining your day. Even if you’ve tried everything!

How-to-negotiate course: Permanently stop feeling underpaid and underappreciated, even if you’ve tried everything!

24.  [Known Competitor] [Does This Undesirable or Unimpressive Thing]. [Your Brand Name] [Does This Highly Desirable or Impressive Thing].

Vacation Rental Platform: AirBnB has expensive homes and safety is questionable. Nomadfinder allows you to stay with thoroughly vetted locals for free.

Laptop computers: HP computers are prone to catch viruses and slow down. AceWin vets every program before it can run on our OS – no more viruses.

25.  Can your [current solution] pass the _______ Test?

Writing software: Can your writing software pass the Nanowrimo Test?

Dating app: Can your dating app pass the Kid Sister Test?

26.  You are [comparative] than you think

College: You’re smarter than you think

Fitness training: You are fitter than you think

27.  Let [your product] work on your [noun] for just [time period]

Teeth Whitening: Let Purbrite work on your teeth for just four weeks

Deodorant: Let Temp work on your body for just 20

28.  Overcome the [Unexpected Culprit] That Keeps You [Unpleasant Thing]

Weight-loss book: Overcome the body chemical that keeps you fat

Debt counselling: Overcome the social pressures that keep your credit cards maxed

29.  Is it worth [low price] to you to [get outstanding result]?

Marketing book: Is it worth $5 to learn the secrets of getting people interested in your business?

Analytics software: Is it worth an hour of your time to get access to all the metrics you need to grow your business.

30.  [One word.]

Urban clothing line: Badass

Nanotechnology: Small

Botox Injections: Youth

31.  [Objection.] But/And it works.

New type of car stereo: Strange. But it works.

Teeth whitening: Tedious. But it works.

Marketing mastermind retreat: Expensive. And it works.

Bonus headline formulas for use on lead-gen pages, marketing Ebooks or blog posts.

The following headlines are effective in certain circumstances and appear out of place in others. For the most part, use them in Ebooks, blog posts, and lead generating pages.

They can be applied in other places, it’s your call.  

  • The Ultimate Guide to (Good, Bad or Desirable Thing).
  • What Everybody Ought to Know About (Good, Bad or Desirable Thing).
  • X Lessons I Learned from (Person or Unusual Experience)
  • To the (role) who will settle for nothing less than (world-class outcome)
  • Break all the rules and (world-class outcome)
  • How Your (Service Provider) Is Ripping You Off. And What to Do About It Right Now.
  • I Found a(an) (Adjective) Way to Get Incredible Outcome
  • See why we have an (adverb adjective social problem) in just short time.
  • (Influencer or celebrity) emotional reaction to (thing that basically the whole world already understood)
  • Is this the world’s first (Good, Bad or Desirable Thing?)
  • How to Survive Your First (Good, Bad or Desirable Thing)
  • How I found out that (unexpected thing) is the best medicine
  • Let me show you the secrets of (powerful group)
  • (What Group or Celebrity) Can Teach You About Unexpected Thing
  • (David-type addresses Goliath-type). Result. (Facebook vs Dribbble. Dribbble wins.)
  • How to Make $ With Your ________________,
  • Step-by-Step The complete library of (large # free and low-cost desirable resources)
  • Behind the Scenes of a _____________
  • Person does X. Another person’s reaction. Result: priceless.
  • Is (Trending Topic) a Scam?

Conclusion

Headline formulas are a great way to jumpstart the creative process. Use them as a tool to aid you, not as a lifeline to save you.

There are dozens of headline formulas in this post. Any one of them will turn into a great headline. That notwithstanding, it’s your duty to mix in the headline formulas and the ones you’ve created from scratch.

If you don’t, your jaded visitors will tune you out. Either they’ll see it on your website or the wider web. The result is the same. Your headlines cease to do their job.

There’s nothing new under the sun. All we do is rearrange the ingredients to make something unique.

Let me know the bits and pieces you’ve combined to make your own headline formulas in the comments and don’t forget to share.

Optimizing for Humans: Create a Brand That’s Loved

It’s about time we started optimizing for humans.

I started my journey into all things digital a little under a decade ago. What works has changed.

It was easier to get an email address. It was harder for people to pay for things.

There weren’t so many digital services. It was hard as hell to get a payment processor that you liked.

Building a website was a grueling process. Now, It takes all of twenty minutes from domain purchase to going live.

One thing that’s remained the same is our inexorable march towards adapting offline interactions to an online world. Personalization, live chat, and user experience advocates reflect this shift.

The path has been anything but straight. It reminds me of the line success takes.

success looks like in optimizing for humans

 

We’re not where we need to be. Not by a long shot. We’re well on the way to getting there. There’s no turning back at this point.

Yes, the barrier to entry for a digital brand is lower. At the same time, the barrier to success has been raised. Startups have millions in funding, growth teams, and advanced analytics.

The bootstrapped company, the blogger, and the solopreneur have the same tools on the surface. The topical view is rarely accurate. Can you implement all the tactics, analyze the data, read all the books, and chase growth at all costs?

No, you can’t.

That’s why it’s important to optimize for humans.

A quick primer on the journey of web optimization

There have been a number of loose phases when it comes to how people optimize on the web. I’ve split them into three.

Optimized for sales

The first phase was about chasing a quick buck. The techniques were more or less copied and pasted from direct response marketing. You had the long pages, the underlined words, the fear of losing, the psychological triggers, and everything in between.

Now, don’t get me wrong. My constant companions were (and are) The Gary Halbert Letters, The Robert Collier Letter Book, and The AdWeek Copywriting Handbook.

Great resources.

I recommend them until this day.

The methods they employ are effective. Gary has personality for days. Robert has countless templates you can adapt to email. The Copywriting Handbook is just that, a handbook to be used. They’re best suited to the Wild West era of the web when everything was focused on the visitors who would convert on the first interaction.

It’s a bit different now. It takes multiple interactions to get a conversion. Adopt the fundamentals from them, those will never expire. Everything else can be tossed. I mean the tactics. Tactics are for specific situations.

Strategy is timeless.

Optimized for search

After the web came to its senses and realized it was more profitable for Google to send them traffic, they optimized for search. All you had to do was send a thousand spammy links to your site, keyword stuff the title, and you’d be ranking in a few days.

The quality of the sites on the first page of Google were, to say the least, poor. Real sites whose owners didn’t understand the intricacies of Search were pushed to the second, third, and fourth pages.

A whole industry sprung up around optimizing for search engines. Many times, they preyed on business owners who didn’t know any better.

They basically said “Look, SEO is hard. Give us thousands of dollars and in a few months we might be able to help you rank. No guarantees.” Imagine if your accountant told you that when you asked if your books were in order.

Today, the practitioners are called SEO’s, publications are dedicated to news about SEO, and it’s no longer about stuffing keywords in the title.

Google is a billion dollar company. Another billion dollar industry sprung up around them. They like their billions.

People were tired of search results that sent them to useless websites with direct response sales tactics. Internet users are utilitarian. If the app isn’t benefiting them, they’ll drop it in a heartbeat.

The Big G figured this out. They had two options:

    1.      Lose billions of dollars because they weren’t useful

    2.     Give prominence to websites that were useful to their product (if you’re not paying for an awesome service then you’re the product. Google is awesome. We’re the product.).

They chose the latter. They spearheaded the phase we’re currently in.

Optimizing for humans

Every blogger, corporation, and small business owner has begun to optimize for humans. It’s evident when you look around. Facebook tells you when your friends have birthdays. Google shows you results based on the ones you clicked in the past. Amazon sends you emails based on your browsing history.

Even small companies are doing it. Emails have your name in the text, they remember your birthday, and you’re shown offers based on the content you interact with (at least that’s how it’s supposed to work).

Going further, service on the internet has begun to mirror service in real life. Organizations are reaching out to users to have real conversations. Like, they’re asking to schedule phone calls so they can figure out how to serve you better.

Net promoter score was implemented to figure out how people feel about your company and why.

It allows us to ideate, launch, and iterate in the blink of an eye. We’ve adopted an approach that allows us to create in the open. We share our failures and successes with the world. GE did it with their icemaker Opal on IndieGogo.

The end result?

Brands are humanized.

It’s no longer a big corporation calling the shots. Rather, it’s a hundred thousand individuals plotting the course iteration after iteration. If you, my customer, doesn’t like it, I won’t spend countless dollars trying to get you to like it.

Consumers have countless options in every field. They wield the power. It’s no longer enough to optimize for sales or search. Those things matter and they always will. You’re in business to make money.

The approach is what’s different.

We’re optimizing, first and foremost, for humans. When you put their wants, needs, hopes, dreams, and ambitions at the forefront then you’re better able to serve them. If you’re better able to serve, they’ll be more willing to pay premium prices.

The more happy customers you have the more you can acquire.

It’s a virtuous cycle.

It all starts with a decision – to focus your company on humans. To optimize communication, marketing, and products for humans.

KyLeads is a product focused on conversion rate optimization. It allows our customers to build opt-in forms and quizzes to get more email subscribers and generate more revenue.

It’s a tool.

If it’s used incorrectly then it won’t be worth the price of the subscription. It’ll be just another expense. If it’s used correctly then its ROI will be evident from the first day.

We’ve made optimizing for humans a way of life at our company. Everything from the way we design features to the topics we write about is focused on humans.

The next step is to empower our customers to do the same and reap the rewards.

Introducing Optimizing for Humansa blog on marketing, conversion rate optimization, growth, and startup lessons. You’ll learn about our wins and losses, how to spread your message the way people want to receive it, and everything in between.

Sometimes it’ll be a short piece on an insight we just gained. Other times it’ll be an in-depth post about a marketing strategy. At all times, it’ll take you further down the path of optimizing for humans and reaping the benefits that come with it.

Final thoughts

The web is changing – fast. Tactics come and go every week. What remains are the fundamentals. Humans like to be treated like humans. They’ll forgive almost anything else.

We’re dedicated to empowering you to walk the walk and talk the talk of putting your customers first. In the process, we’re opening all our doors and showing you what works, what doesn’t and everything in between.

Join us on the journey by signing up for our newsletter – a piece of humanity – to get exclusive content and a weekly article.

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