9 Keys to Increase Website Conversion Rate and Turn Visitors into Customers

by Eric Tsai

9 tips to effectively increase your website conversion rate

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you might remember a post I wrote recently called Why Attention is the New Currency Online. When I wrote it, I had been working to create a process to audit website conversions.

Ultimately it turned into an article about capturing attention online because without attention there would be nobody looking at your links, images, videos and compelling content.

And without people reading your content, you certainly won’t get any clicks. When people read your content online, links and clicks follow.

However; you don’t want just any click, you want qualified prospects clicking on your links, visiting your website and consuming your content.

Let’s be clear, getting attention is only part of the equation to help you increase conversions but it does not automatically equals to conversion.

For those of you who don’t know why qualified traffic is important, let me just say that if you want to increase conversions of your landing page or your ecommerce store, this is crucial.

What is a Conversion?

How does the value of a conversion relate to the return on investment of a marketing campaign?

Basically a conversion is an action a user takes on your site that has value to your business.

Typically it’s a sale but it can also be a newsletter sign-up, a download of a file, viewing of a video, or a request for more information.

If you know what a conversion is worth to you, and the percentage of traffic visiting your conversion page versus the traffic that do convert (the conversion rate), then it is easy to calculate your return on investment (ROI) for just about any marketing campaign.

Conversion Rate and ROI Calculation

From the calculations above, you may think that if you want to increase ROI, you just need to increase CR right?

You’re on the right track but that’s not the entire story here because conversion rates typically depend on two factors:

  1. Qualified traffic – The goal is to capture only traffic that’s more likely to convert. This is where direct marketing is heavily used to grab the attention of the visitors. A valuable piece of content, a paid search ad or recommendations from social media channels are just a few ways you can use to obtain qualified traffic.
  2. Landing page – A landing page is a specific area of your website where traffic is sent (via links from online advertisements, organic search results, social media or email) specifically to prompt a certain action or result.  And since a visitor usually lands on a page after clicking on a link, it’s important that the links you use to send traffic to your website is relevant to what that person is looking for. Once on your landing page, it’s basically a tactic of one-on-one selling so if it’s not what people are looking for, you will likely get a low conversion.

There are tons of strategies to get qualified traffic (paid search, SEO, email, display, affiliate, etc.), but today we’re going to look at things that you can do to your website to help you improve your conversion rate.

These tips are easy to implement and can start improving your results immediately.

9 Keys to Increase Conversion Rate

I’m going to give you my recommendations, I also want to share a few principles that I believe are crucial in building a website that attracts thousands of high quality links.

The following steps can also be used for your landing page audits.

Use a simple scorecard format to quickly determine what you may need to do to increase your conversion rate.

Here is an example of a score card (you can download the landing page audit scorecard here)

landing page scorecard

1. Know Your Audience

The most important thing that you can do to increase your conversion rate is to know who you’re targeting and tailor your content for that person.

When a new visitor lands on your site for the first time and clicks on a link or goes to your product page, and doesn’t buy anything (or fill out a lead form), then you’ve probably lost them for good.

In my own testing I’ve found that addressing your message to a specific demographic can give you a nice life in conversions.

In fact, when I tried to cover as much features and benefits as possible (thinking that’s just adding value), I tend to get less clicks and low conversions.

2. Focus on Positive User Experience

A landing page is tailored to fit the specific call?to?action (that you designated) and is often the first page a visitor sees when clicking on a link. The challenge is to ensure that you are optimizing an exceptional online experience for visitors and also producing high ROI.

So what is considered an exceptional online experience?

It’s basically providing visitors with accurate, relevant and useful information to meet their needs. But do it in an entertaining and engaging way to differentiate yourself.

None of the bait-and-switch tactics or hype that’s overpromised and under-delivered.

positive user experience ads

A positive user experience usually focuses on a single message with a strong call-to-action that are written in plain language with no more than 7-12 words.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to combine all the features and benefits of your offer, instead focus on the highest value outcome.

Once you have a clean and precise message, you can make it credible with branding elements such as logos and security icons (third-party verifications) or use stories and testimonials. This will give confidence to the visitor which can have a positive impact on conversion as well.

Perfecting, or at the very least improving, customer experience has replaced customer loyalty as the ultimate corporate PR and brand reputation.

Put yourself in your visitor’s shoes and ask: would I scroll down and read this?

Would I fill out this form and give my personal information?

Why would I click here?

3. Develop Your Value Proposition

A value proposition is basically your offer. What are the main selling points? Why should the visitor buy right there and then? It may sound obvious to you but a clear value proposition is the foundation to your conversions.

Your landing page should address the top questions and concerns prospects have about your offer. And it usually goes back to the four Ps of marketing: product, price, place and promotion.

Too often, marketers focus too much on “promotion” instead of combining the other three Ps.

You may find after studying the competition that increasing or decreasing your price is likely to result in better conversions, for example. Perhaps there is a distribution channel, such as the social networks or email marketing; you haven’t fully integrated into your marketing mix.

And with products, developing a new product or re-package an existing product may provide a lift to your overall conversion as well.

You are likely to increase the chance of conversion if you have a clear value proposition that pushes the visitor to take action with your offer.

Ask yourself whether your landing page is helping people to make their decision.

If it’s not, then why should people do what you ask of them? (Purchase a product, sign up for newsletter or request a demo…etc.)

Don’t forget to research your competition so you know how your value proposition stacks up.

The new consumer-led digital revolution is all about exceeding customers’ expectations via influence.

Simply put, influence is conversion rate.

4. Cater to Online Reading Habits

What doesn’t get read doesn’t get clicked on. This is a simple logic that many marketers failed to recognize that there is a fundamental difference between people reading online and offline.

Accordingly to Dr. Jakob Nielsen’s eye tracking studies, “People rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences.”

Unlike traditional media or what he calls “linear media” such as print and TV, people expect you to construct their experience for them. Basically readers are willing to follow the author’s lead.

However websites are considered “non-linear media“, where the rules reverse. Users want to construct their own experience by piecing together content from multiple sources, emphasizing their desires in the current moment.

In fact, Dr.Jakob conducted an eye-tracking study and found that people are read in F-shaped patterns when reading web content.

F-shape reading pattern

This is why you should use attention call-outs such as headers, subheads, paragraphs, and bullet points with words that users will notice when scanning down the left side of your content in the final stem of their F-behavior.

The idea here is to layout your content so the readers will WANT to read but keep in mind that the F-pattern should be considered descriptive, not prescriptive.

It’s all about giving you the highest chance of grabbing attention.

5. Create Compelling Copy with Clear Headlines

The first things a visitor reads after landing on your page is your headline. This is when you need to pass the smell test.

If your headline is anything less than clear, informative and compelling, you  will bore or confuse your visitors into leaving.

On the other hand, a well-written headline can drive your visitors to take a closer look even if it’s just text.

Have you noticed how some landing pages are super long?

These landing pages are called “long-form” sales letter that typically consists of a title, subtitle, bunch of paragraphs, images, testimonials and a few buy buttons on a plain-looking page that you have to scroll on and on.

Think about it, if it doesn’t convert well why would there be so many long-form landing pages online?

The truth is people only read what they’re interested in even if it appears to be too long!

The key is to do so in an engaging way that will connect with your audience, it can even be fun and entertaining.

One of my ways to start creating engaging copy is to use the five W’s and one H technique. Here is an example of this:

  • Tell them why they’re about to read the page
  • Tell them who’s it for
  • Tell them what’s in it for them
  • Tell them where they’re at or where they can get it
  • Tell them when they can get it (i.e. limited time offer)
  • Tell them how it works or how it relates to them

The goal is to focus on everything you think will push them one step closer to taking your converting and nothing more.
Make sure you get to the point with actionable content (tell them what to do next) that focuses more on the outcome rather than the feature.

You may want to check out the following articles to help you create compelling content:

How to Create Magnetic Copy to Maximize Your Content Appeal.

7 Ways To Elevate The Perceived Value Of Your Content.

If you know your customer well enough, you should know what they want.

Focus on wants at the beginning not needs.

6. Leverage Image or Rich Media to Direct Attention

Images, videos or testimonials can motivate visitors and trigger emotions. This can have a positive impact on viewers to want to read more about your product and explore the site longer.

Studies have showed that people perceived websites as more “professional” or “trustworthy” when they had images of people on the site.
However; you don’t want to just take any stock photos that relates to your message and load it up on your site.

Instead images can be used to effectively change visitor behavior substantially.

According to a study by Bunnyfoot, subtle changes such as using the right images can direct and guide the visitor’s eyes where you want them to go.

Visual Eye Tracking Study

I thought this was an interesting study and one that you should consider when adding images to your landing page.

When using images and videos, ask yourself whether that piece of content is drawing attention away from your persuasive message or adding to it.

7. Create Content with SEO in Mind – SEO Copywriting

A great tactic that you should put in practice is to integrate your copywriting with SEO (search engine optimization).

SEO copywriting is a technique that tries to optimize your site around a keyphrase that can send you organic search traffic. Done right you can even turn research-intent traffic into converting traffic.

The goal is to get search engine rankings for a relevant phrase around what you’re trying to rank for that can bring you “qualified” traffic.

For example, if someone is looking for “men’s running shoes review” and your online store happens to have a blog with articles comparing all the latest running shoes on the market, the visitor may read the article and decide to bookmark and come back later. Or better yet, the visitor reads the article ended up buying a pair of shoes from your online store.

Obviously you need to know the keywords that your audience uses in order to rank for those keywords.

You can get an idea on the competitiveness of your keywords by using Google’s Keyword Tool to see what phrases are popular and the volume of searches on them globally and locally.

Once you have those keywords, simply remember to use it in your content in addition to HTML areas such as the title tag, meta tags, anchor text in links, and permalinks.

Here is an example of my SERP result, notice the bolded words that highlights the keywords that’s in my title and descreption.

SEO copywriting title descreption

If you use a platform like WordPress (what I use), then all you have to do is install one of those All-in-One-SEO plugins and you’re set.

8. Test, Adjust and Repeat

The golden rule of any direct response marketing is to ensure you evoke a measurable, tractable response.

This means constant testing of your landing page using methods such as a/b split testing or multivariate testing.

The concept is simple.

You want to have variations of the page to be tested on an ongoing basis so you can improve conversion rate.

  • What is an A/B split test? A classic direct marketing tactic, A/B testing is a method of marketing testing by which a baseline control sample is compared to a variety of single-variable test samples in order to improve response rates It’s typically performed to determine the better of two content variations
  • What is a multivariate test?
    A slightly more complex test, multivariate test is a process by which more than one component of a website may be tested in a live environment. It can be thought of in simple terms as numerous A/B tests performed on one page at the same time.

By conducting tests on your landing page, you will be able to determine which headline is more effective or what layout works better.

Here is an example case of an A/B split test that I did on my email marketing.

The objective was to determine if removing the sidebar would result in a better overall performance. I also tested two different email subject line to see which one opens better.

split test email

The obvious winner here is the control version. The result indicated that the new version (without sidebar) has a higher open rate compare to the control version (email with sidebar), but the conversion rate was substantially lower.

Keep in mind that with testing you want to make sure you gather enough data (sample size) to ensure that your tests are statistically relevant.

Sounds complicated?

Well, thanks to Google, you can use their Google Analytics Content Experiments to conduct both of these tests for free!

Or for more advanced folks, you can try Visual Website Optimizer, UnbounceMonetate, or Sitespect.

When it comes to testing, here are some ideas you can use:

  • Test different headlines, sub headlines and ad copy
  • Test different version of the same logo, icons, layout of testimonials and even colors
  • Test different call-to-actions and buttons (i.e. try this vs. buy now)
  • Test different images or videos (swap image for video and vice versa)
  • Test different forms (embed in different areas of the site, reduce required fields)
  • Test different offers (use incentives to see how discounts or coupons work differently)
  • Test long versus short sales page
Checkout WhichMVT for a full list of reviews and comparisons on testing tools.
And for case studies and test ideas, visit WhichTestWon.

9. Track and Analyze Your Landing Pages

One thing that you can do to benchmark your landing page is to install Google Analytics. If you are using Google Analytics you will know that it’s an invaluable tool that’s again – totally free!

By using Google Analytics you will know the sources that deliver traffic to your landing pages from pay-per-click (PPC), email marketing, social media, organic searches or even offline advertising channels.

Knowing the source of your most profitable traffic is the key to increase ROI.

The more detail you get with where traffic comes and goes the more clear you will see how visitors reacts to your offer.

There are many ways to aggregate your website data from Google Analytics but if you want to focus on conversion rate, start by looking at the following areas (just to name a few):

  • Traffic source – where are people coming from? This is your channel acquisition strategy.
  • Visitor loyalty – How long do people stay? How many pages do they visit and how many times do they visit between two or more times.
  • Bounce rate – How relevant is your landing page? Bounce rate measures the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from where they landed on. The more relevant your landing pages, the more visitors will stay on your site and convert
  • Keywords – This shows you what queries (keywords) are mapped to your landing pages that sends you traffic. This is a good indicator of what keywords your website is ranked for and how search engines interpret your content.

There are so many important variables to consider when tracking your pages, you can also track clicks or heatmap on your layout and navigations via Google Analytics (In-Page Analytics section) or something like Crazy Egg, Click Density, Click Tale or Attention Wizard.

heatmap analytics

Last but not least, listen and learn from your customers to make sure what you’re tracking matches to the story your data is telling you.

It’s as easy as picking up the phone and call the customers yourself!

If you aren’t able to do that, try conducting regular online surveys or implement some type of post-sale customer feedback system.

The Take Away

In the era of engagement, consumers no longer separate marketing between in-store or online experience—it is the experience.

Whether you’re making a sale in person or receiving a conversion online, conversion rate is the vote of confident that creates personal relationships.

It is trust, likability, authority and ultimately, influence.

Nothing prevents you from trying to increase your conversion rate. If you do nothing, your conversion rate will normalize over time (stays the same).

However; while conversion is an important factor to the profitability of your marketing, you shouldn’t lose sight on the big picture – that’s building your brand equity.

When you have brand equity, you have top-of-mind recalls.

This means you command attention and your message will have a higher chance of cutting through the noise of the increasing irrelevant landscape of “push” advertising.

Conversion rate will eventually reaches the point of diminishing returns – when your investment yields progressively smaller profits.

That’s when you need to take your budget and put it into a higher ROI marketing vehicle.

Until then, keep testing.

 

How to Build Influence and Earn Trust via Enchantment: An Interview with Guy Kawasaki

by Eric Tsai

Information doesn’t sound like it’s worth a lot of value. In fact, most of the time information wants to be free and are free in the sense of accessibility. In order to make information so valuable that people will pay money for them, you had to turn organized knowledge (i.e. stuff you find on Google, Wikipedia or on the Internet in general) into insights.

That’s what most experts, gurus and teachers do. They sell insights in the form of ideas packed inside a book, a seminar, a podcast or any information products. The value of the information isn’t just in what you present, but how you present it.

Enchantment book

This is precisely what Guy Kawasaki did in his latest book “EnchantmentThe Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions.”

Guy took influence to another level by providing action steps, how-to guides, case studies and various examples to help you understand the power of social influence in the digital age.

What I particularly enjoy is the fact that the book is formatted in a way that’s easy to consume and gets the point fast with excellent use of headlines, subheadlines, bullet points and pictures were spotted on.

Here are some of the key parts that I found useful.

  • Chapter 1-3: Explains in detail what Enchantment is all about including likeability and trustworthiness.
  • Chapter 4-7: How to leverage enchantment to launch a business or a product.
  • Chapter 8-9: How to use market via push technology like presentations, e-mails and Twitter (or what marketers call outbound marketing) and how to use pull technology like Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn (inbound marketing).
  • Chapter 10-12: Tips on building relationships with your boss, employees and resist the enchanting wiles of others

It felt like the book is trying to get you to learn it instead of just jamming jargons down your throat. If you want to learn social media influence and persuasion, I highly recommend this book.

I’ve also had the pleasure of speaking with him about his new book recently. You can click below to listen to the podcast: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You can buy Enchantment from Amazon.

Interview with Guy Kawasaki – transcription

Eric: So, can you talk about the difference between this book and the nine previous books?

Guy: Well, some of the nine previous books are easy to differentiate. One was about funny definitions. One was about databases and one was a collection of interviews. But the meat of my writing has been things like “How to Drive Your Competition Crazy”, “Selling the Dream”, “The Art of the Start”, “Reality Check”.

And those books contain some similar material focusing primarily on evangelism. And I would say that “Enchantment” takes evangelism and persuasion and wooing and influence to another level that a lot of those techniques are for transactions.

You evangelize a Macintosh.You persuade someone to buy a Macintosh. You influence someone to buy a Macintosh. But if you are truly likable and trustworthy and have a great product, you can take it beyond the transaction. Beyond the one time purchase of a Macintosh and delight the person with the relationship that’s so strong and so permanent that they’ll not only buy a Macintosh, they’ll buy a Macintosh, an iPod, iPad, iPhone, i anything. And buy books from iBooks and movies and songs.

That’s sort of the goal of the book, to take it to that level.

Eric: OK. That’s great. So, in the book, actually, I had to read it really fast but you defined enchantment as more powerful than traditional persuasion, influence or marketing techniques.

How has the Internet changed traditional persuasion, influence and marketing techniques?

Guy: As opposed to changing enchantment?

Eric: Well, as opposed to, for example, before the Internet came along the way it is today, can people embrace enchantment?

Guy: Yeah. Well, first of all, I have sort of a…perhaps even somewhat contradictory response. On the one hand, if you are likable person and you are trustworthy and you have a great product or service, you could rub two sticks together and be enchanted.

Eric: [laughs] (totally agree)

Guy: OK? The flip side of that is if you are not likable and you are not trustworthy and you have a piece of crap, you could have the most expensive, extensive social media, Internet, digital technology campaign in the world and you won’t be enchanting.

So, it’s not so much that people are enchanting because of social media. It starts with the basics.

Now, if you got the basics, the trustworthiness, the likability in the product, then social media can just take you beyond. Faster, cheaper and easier than ever because you can reach so many people so quickly anywhere in the world.

Eric: OK. So, basically, would you say Internet allows you to build relationships in a mass scale, right? But are they authentic? Are they the same relationship that you would have (in real life) ?

Guy: Well, by definition, if you… with people’s time being finite, if you have a thousand relationships versus 10 and you suspect that the thousand cannot be as deep as the 10.

But having said that, I’ll tell you that in my personal case, I have relationships with thousands of people I could never have prior to the Internet. And so, it depends on how you look at it. Is the glass half empty or half full?

Half empty says, “Well, Guy, you have all these friends that you’ve never met face to face. You’d never have dinner with them. You don’t know what their kids look like.”

It’s very wide but very thin. That’s the half empty.

The half full is, “Guy, you know people in Istanbul and Moscow and everywhere in the world, Brazil.” So, these people you would have never known at all. So, half full is a wow, you have a lot more friends in the world. That’s the way I look at it.

Eric: I couldn’t agree with you more. In fact, I looked at almost all the photos that you took when you travel because I’m subscribed to your Posterous. (I was one of the first group of people to sign up and use Posterous and it’s got some interesting people o there.)

OK. So, in this book, you talked a lot about ways to influence others through actions, likability, trustworthiness and even got endorsements from the Godfather of influence himself, Robert Cialdini.

Guy: Yeah.

Eric: I mean he’s just an amazing guy. I love his book. I actually reference it a lot in my marketing. So, how important is influence in becoming enchanter?

Is it like celebrity fame where you can’t just go to the public anymore because people are just going to come up to you? Or is it like the Klout score for Twitter like where you have influence and it’s a number?

Guy: Well, I think that all enchanted is influential but not all influence is enchanting. So, the enchantment is perhaps purer form of the influence. And as I said, influence can be on a transaction basis. One time, temporary, whatever. Whereas enchantment, I think it is a more permanent relationship.

So, Cialdini is definitely the Godfather and created the foundation and I’m just taking it often in a slightly different direction. But yes, he did endorse the book which is pretty influential.

Eric: Yeah, when I saw that I was like, “It’s over. We’ve got to get a couple more copies of this book when it comes out.” So, which quality of persuasion is more important in order to enchant someone?

I mean is there one more important than the others? The ethical persuasion (techniques) like reciprocity, scarcity, liking authority, social proof, consistency?

Guy: Well, in that section, I list the techniques that you just described. And I don’t think it’s so situational that social proof could be very important if you are introducing a consumer gadget.

You want people to see that lots of people have iPods, so lots of people buy iPods. So lots of people see iPods so lots of people buy iPods, all right?

So, that social proof. In another circumstance, it could be reciprocity. You’re not trying to get thousands of people to reciprocate. You are just trying to get one person to reciprocate.

So, it’s like saying what’s the most important marketing technique? Well, it kind of depends on the situation and the product.

Eric: You provided some pretty specific entrepreneur strategies and tactics on creating, launching, and sustaining a business. In order to be successful, what’s the most important thing to master as an entrepreneur beyond having a marketable product or service? I mean obviously, you got to have product and service, right?

Guy: Yeah. I mean you say that as if it’s that easy. [laughs] But it’s not that easy. But let’s assume for a second that you do have that. I think there’s two things.

One is you have to plant many seeds. Today because the Internet has flattened influenced and persuasion. It’s not as simple as well, there’s this opinion leader and he writes for the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times or Business Week and if you get this opinion leader and he or she blesses your product then she or he is going to tell the great unwatched masses to just do what I tell you and game over, right?

That may have been true in the old days but that’s not true anymore. So, now, it could be lonelyboy15 that makes your product successful and he’s got 250 followers on Twitter. And he has a hundred friends on Facebook. How the hell did you know he was so influential and so powerful? Probably, he didn’t know he was.

But it’s all those people who add up that make a Facebook or make a Twitter, right? I don’t think it was because any industry guru declared Facebook and Twitter winners at the start.

Eric: So, how should a beginning enchanter, an entrepreneur, deal with tasks outside of his/her expertise?

Like obviously, everybody got dreams. Everybody talk about it. When it comes to actually doing it. “Hey, I’m just not good at writing copy. I’m not just good.” Obviously, you do that well. I see all the references to the people you give and how do you go about that?

Do you just pick up the phone and say, “Hey, I need help? Help me out.”

Guy: Well, I could tell you what works for me but I maybe an unusual case.

Eric: Well, you’re Guy Kawasaki, by the way. (just a reminder)

Guy: Yeah, well… But it’s not like I’m Nelson Rockefeller’s son or something, right? I didn’t come into this world with any special advantages.

So, in my career, I attribute most of my success to two things. One is I grind it out. I’m willing to grind it out. I’m willing to do an interview anytime you want, any way you want, and I answer my own emails. I do this kind of stuff. Well, most of them, anyway. And so, my secret is grinding it out.

The second thing is I really believe that life is win win. And so, in the book, I discussed that there’s two kinds of people. One is a baker and one is an eater.

And an eater believes there’s this pie and it’s fixed in size and I got to get a bigger slice of the pie as possible.
A baker believes that you can bake bigger and bigger pies. So, I’m a baker. I’m a baker on steroids. I believe that life is not a zero sum gain and I think that attitude… when people understand that’s where you are coming from, they tend to help you.

In this book, the creation of this book, you would be pretty amazed at how many people helped you.
I mean let me just tell you some ways. I need examples because I like to use new examples that Malcolm Gladwell hasn’t used yet, right?

Eric: Right. (now we’re talking!)

Guy: So, I post these kinds of questions on my blog and I say I need an example of this or I need an example of this or tell me your personal story of enchantment.

Every chapter has this personal story at the end, right?

Eric: Right. Love that.

Guy: There are 12 of them. And of the 12, I knew one before the book which is Garr Reynolds. Everybody else came through the woodwork in the Internet. And so, I got these stories from the Internet, from strangers in quotes.

People help me with my Power Point. I’m about to put out badges for the book. Two people did that for me for free just because they… I don’t know. They love me. I don’t know because they love the book and it just… I did a crowd sourcing cover contest and there was a thousand dollar price for that.

And the guy who won is an engineering student in like Singapore or Cambodia or Malaysia or something.

Eric: Indonesia. (Yes, I read the book)

Guy: Professional designer. I’m sorry?

Eric: Indonesia, I think.

Guy: Indonesia, yeah. And so, just time and time again, this kind of stuff just happens and I don’t have scientific proof for but it I think there is a karmic scoreboard. You help a lot of people, help comes back to you.

Eric: So this book has ways to be becoming enchanting as an entrepreneur as well as an employee which kind of what surprised to me when I was reading it towards the end.

What is your recommend for longtime employees who want to enchant on their own journey that lack direction?

Guy: Well, are you saying how to enchant your boss.

Eric: No, like let’s say you are working for someone and you kind of want to just break out of that and start your own thing.

But you don’t really have a direction. You have the passion. Maybe you are tired of it. Maybe you got an idea up.
Do I just buy this book and say follow the whole formula before that and it works.

Guy: Well, just to be accurate, this book presumes that you want to be enchanting, whether it is in your current job or future job, or a new company.

So if you want to learn how to quit and start a company, you should read another of my books called the Art of the Start. I am not to pimp myself too much. But that’s the book for that purpose.

Eric: All right, so make sure you get that book everybody. [laughs] OK, so you had a chapter on overcoming resistance. How should an enchanter deal with failure?

When things don’t go right, and maybe you lost a lot of money doing something, the software is not working…

Guy: Yeah, well first of all, as you get older I think you come to expect that lots of things will fail as opposed to this romantic notion that everything will succeed off the gate and you are the next Google after six months.
So part of that is just this realization that life is tough. And then it becomes a matter of your personality. Do you give up or do you keep going?

And that is one of the toughest decisions to make. I think one of the hardest decisions is when do you decide that it is not working and you should give up.

A very difficult decision.

Because you always hear these stories about the guy who founded FedEx he was on his last payroll and he went to Las Vegas and he made 10 grand. And he met the last payroll and then things turned around the next day.
So you love that kind of story. But for every one of those there is probably a thousand people who didn’t make the last payroll and died.

So you don’t read about those, right?

Eric: No.

Guy: So that’s the challenge. And when you face an adversity, of course it is easy for me to say because I am not facing your adversity, but you just have to suck it up sometimes.

I wish I could tell you that for $26.95 you can buy a book that’s going to fix adversity and prevent you from lot of failure because if that was true, that is a lot, and we’ll price the book a lot higher. And infinite copies would sell. I would wipe up all the forest in the world, cutting down trees to print this book, because so many people would buy it.

No book can do that. We could give you tips, we could give you insights, we can give you slightly better ways, we can even inspire you.

But at the end of the day man, you got to suck it up and you have to grind it out actually.

Eric: Well, one of the things that I’ve noticed about the book, I don’t know if this is the right way to say it, but it makes me feel I need to be a better person, or maybe there are other agendas behind everyone’s actions.
But it’s kind of like when you talk about social proof and when we talk about persuasion and stuff like that, it makes you question yourself.

It makes you question the things you do, that tactics that you use, and how you engage with other people.
And in a way I would say this is kind of similar to Robert’s approach to a lot of things except you kind of put that whole thing into Internet (marketing) strategy with Twitter, Facebook, social media and how to deal with people in general.

So I guess my next question is what do you think about improving yourself through the Internet or is it possible to do that, through building a relationship that you have with people over the Internet, does that help you?

Guy: Well, certainly it helps you. I think it can broaden your perspective; you can gain sort of a 360 view of the world, and of yourself.

And it brings diversity to you in terms of age, and color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, I mean you name it.
So, yeah compared to what, compared to an extreme where you are living in a forest area with no cable, [laughter] yeah absolutely.

I think it has been my experience and I travel all over the world. And maybe I don’t see every element of every society clearly I don’t. But people are more similar than they are different.

And basically people want to have a good life, and have a even better life for their children. It kind of boils down to that. And I have more similar than it is different around the world.

And I think partly, a book like enchantment can help you arrive at that because it helps you change people hearts, minds and actions.

I have a great deal of the book dedicated to the ethics of enchantment, because I think for enchantment to truly work and to truly last, you have to have a very high degree of ethics.

And just in case people encounter people who don’t have a high degree of ethics, there is a chapter though about how to resist enchantment. Which I felt was very important to put in.

Eric: So one last question about the title. Because I am marketing guy and I love book covers and stuff like that. Is that your idea to put your name at the top? It’s almost bigger than the word enchantment?

Guy: Well, we went back and forth about that. So one theory is as the person in a coffee shop tell you, people are going to be confused and think Guy Kawasaki is the title.

Eric: Well, it just happened. (I told Guy earlier that I was reading it at a coffee shop and someone saw the book and thought Guy Kawasaki was the name of the book.)

Guy: Yeah, so that’s not good. On the other hand more people who have heard of my name than they heard of the book by definition because nobody has the book yet. And so we went with the marketing decision that the initial recognition would be the name and not the title.

And we’ll see, what I am really trying to do is I am trying to make the butterfly an icon that, it’s like sort of easily recognizable.

I am trying to own the word enchantment, right. Tom Peters owns Excellence and Geoffrey Moore owns Chasm and Robert Cialdini owns Influence and Persuasion, and Malcolm Gladwell owns Tipping.

And I want to own Enchantment. And so the whole thing is with the butterfly and the red cover, everything is pushing towards that goal.

Eric: Right. I would expect to see your name attached to that when I go to the dictionary.com or Wikipedia.

Guy: Yes, certainly Wikipedia. [laughter]

Eric: One last tricky question. There is a story, really interesting story about you and Richard Branson in there. And I am just kind of wondering, do you ride Virgin more or do you ride United more right now.

Guy: Well, let me tell you something. As of Richard Branson, well just two things. One is Richard Branson. Because he just got on his hands and knees and started polishing my shoes, that’s a kind of leverage.
But the second thing is, this is a good institution of a gentleman. So he has likeability and trustworthiness. That’s two and a three.

But Virgin America is a great airline. The airplane is really nice. It’s WiFi on everyone. The flight attendants are nicer. The cabin is more beautiful, et cetera, et cetera. So if it was just Richard Branson, and he had a crappy airline, I would not fly it. But there is all three. And so I am global services on United, which is the highest level you can be.

And if I was flying to some place that United flew and Virgin flew, I would fly Virgin. And you know, that the way you get to be global services is you have to amass not only a lot of miles, you have to amass a lot of revenue.
Because if someone flies the cheapest coach ticket, a 100 or 150,000 miles a year, is not as good as someone who flies full fare first class a 100 or 150,000 miles a year, right.

So when you start flying other airlines, you risk your global services status. But I just like the plane better and in San Francisco where I fly out of, Virgin America flies out of the international terminal, which is cleaner, newer, cooler, shorter lines.

Because the international terminal is busy late at night, when everybody is flying to Asia and flying to Europe. And you fly at midnight; you get there at 7:00 am, that kind of thing.

So during the day, it’s not nearly as crowded. So you get through the line faster, and to my great sadness this service Clear, kind of died, it is coming back now. It is in Denver, in Orlando, but Clear was the great equalizer.
Because if we had a Clear card, it didn’t matter whether you had first class or coach or whether there was a first class or coach line, because there was always a Clear liner, that was always fast.

But Clear doesn’t exist in San Francisco right now. So it matters. And so for all these factors, yeah, I am a Virgin America.

Eric: It’s almost like they have a superior product in every way that you would not have discovered it had he not polished your shoes.

Guy: You know, that is kind of true. I think, eventually I would have taken it and figured it out.

Eric: I bet, but then you have already invested emotionally, financially into United. And so it is difficult thing, I got a lot out of that story because it is enchantment. He did that. And it doesn’t cost him anything. But that was incredible.

Guy: Yeah. It is also true that he might not do that for everybody, right? But still I can tell you a lot of people who would have done that for no one.

Eric: All right Guy, I really appreciate your time.

Guy: Thank you, bye.

Enchantment infographic
One simple diagram that explains the basics of enchantment.

Enchantment Infographic

Need more enchanting evidence? Check out these Enchantment slides and videos.

10 Reasons Why You Are Not Getting The Results You Want Out Of Your Marketing

by Eric Tsai

You spent countless hours crafting your marketing campaign investing money and hiring marketing experts to help guide you through the process. You get ready to push the launch button, waiting for emails and phone calls come pouring in, then…

Nothing happens. But what could go wrong?

You did the things that the marketing “experts” said you should do with your keywords, putting up blog articles day after day, uploading videos and sending out email newsletters.

Why?

Here are 10 reasons why you’re not getting the attention, buzz and most importantly – the sales conversion. Oh, and let’s assume you have an unbelievable product.

  1. Your marketing message is full of “I” and “me” instead of “you.”
  2. You didn’t communicate the “why” (from the “I” perspective)
  3. You didn’t communicate the “what” (again from the “I” perspective)
  4. You didn’t communicate the “how” (need I say more from which perspective?)
  5. You didn’t communicate the “what if” (as in what if “I” was to buy and use the product)
  6. Your marketing talks at people about your own expertise instead of showing them how your solution solves their problem.
  7. You make assumptions about your customers (because you already sold some products before or you just know because you’ve been doing it for 20 years, ok great continue to do that then) instead of focusing on fact gathering (read my last post on listening)
  8. You didn’t do enough testing on your products, services or marketing messages before you launch
  9. You use all your email and social media as a one way push advertising instead of two way conversation (to help you pre-test)
  10. You lack compassion and didn’t empathize with your prospects because you’re too focused on the bottom line – making money

The talk away: Don’t be all things to all people. You’ll have a better opportunity to convert sales (subscription, readership etc.) if you narrow down your target market because you’re a big fish in a small pond so just go after more small ponds! Don’t swim with the sharks in the big ocean because chances are, you’ll become their lunch.

Ask yourself if your marketing message is tangible, external, specific and measurable to your target prospect? And try NOT to use the word “I” or “me” in your message.

Here is one of my all time favorite (and world famous ad) created by the genius David Ogilvy. Notice how many “I” or “me” were used in this ad – none. Focus on the title and you’ll learn how this 1959 ad is still the foundation of today’s direct response marketing.

How To Get Inside the Minds Of Your Customers

by Eric Tsai


Over the past months I wrote about how to find your customers in order to improve your customer segmentation and gain better understanding of your niche market. Everything goes back to connecting with your audience so you can craft campaigns utilizing tactics such as email marketing, SEO and social media.

Then as more businesses learned the tools of the trade, I brought up the point of adding value on my last post because ultimately knowledge will be commoditized similar to most disruptive technologies.

The trick is maximizing the use of your knowledge (when it’s still valuable) to help you grow your business and become an authority in your domain expertise.

If there is one thing that technology won’t be able to replace (at least not easily) it would be the content of your communication.

Every business and individual are elevating the concept of the freemium model, publishing free valuable content on the social web, competing for clicks, eyeballs and engagement opportunities.

It’s what Seth Godin calls “permission marketing”, what Hubspot calls “inbound marketing” and what Joe Pulizzi of Junta42 calls “content marketing.”

However you like to label it, it’s basically creating content that communicates the value in which your target audience values then leveraging it as the bait to attract those in need of your solution (products or services).

This is a highly targeted approach like design thinking, social design and service design that truly serves up what’s going to solve a problem rather than just bunch of trivia concepts or random thoughts.

It’s also a validation on how your content is really worth on the internet where content is the new currency.

And to stay competitive and survive the ongoing challenges marketers and business owners are presently facing, they need to reassess the way they build and maintain relationships with customers.

A product or service is merely a means to an outcome. The real core value lies in the story attached and that is where marketing truly shines.

I don’t want to use a microwave – I want the ability to quickly eat hot food so I can get on with my life. I didn’t go to Home Depot to buy paint – I want a painted wall for my new living room.  I don’t want to use Google – I want answers to my questions now.

You see, you may be very good at what you do but your communication may not do you justice and as a result you end up with lame content that just sounds like everyone else.

And to make matters worse, if you don’t know how to market your content, your content will just sit on the web with little to no traffic.

Unfortunately this is not going to help you in translating how great your product is or how much value you can bring to the table.

In this article, I will explain what to listen for and how to take quantitative measures from listening so you can drill down to the minds of your customers. Then I will show you how to communicate effectively so your solution sounds exactly like what’s going to solve your prospects’ problem.

Step 1: Gather Information by Listening

Many people know the concept of listening and yet few are able to do it well (everyday I continue to practice listening). Listening is a form of information gathering which allows you to take in the data, process and abstract meaning out of the dialogue.

In a typical conversation people tend to wait for their turn to talk rather than actually absorbing the meaning of the words.

We all have some sort of attention deficit as the by product of all the distractions around us from cell phones to emails, from writing a blog article to meeting with your team, from preparing dinner to picking up your kids, we live in a fast pace society.

The trick is to unlearn your habits of making assumptions and let go of as much preconceived thoughts as possible and simply focus on what’s been said at the moment of the conversation.

Think of it as taking a training course and preparing your mind to get into the learning mode so you can pay 100% attention during the interaction.

Listen for key emotional phrases that are connected to a person’s problem. Typically it will sound like this: “my business is xxx” or “I want to xxx but xxx is xxx”, try to dig deeper and get the frustration and emotions out of the conversation.

This helps you to identity what that person values and where the connection points can be made. Take notes if you have to but avoid memorizing what you want to say (I know you want to help) because you will be interrupting the other person and stop listening altogether.

When you try to do anything but listen, you also break the flow of the other person’s thought and the energy of the dialogue making it harder to identify the key emotional points. Take notes and wait until the other person finishes.

Easy right? It takes practice.

Plus if you’re good at what you do, you should be able to provide instant feedback by looking at your notes.

Remember, people don’t care what you have to say unless you show how much you care about what they have to say and how they feel. Yes, how they feel is where the connection point can be made.

This is why great sales people always listen first and ask questions later allowing their prospects to fully emerge into an emotional output session.

This is a skill that takes practice so try it with your friends, colleagues or family as often as possible.

You may find that this will help you discover more about them and can also help them to understand you better. It all starts with listening.

Step 2: Pinpoint Signals Avoid The Noise

The key to forging a powerful connection with your audience is to first understand that people simply want to be heard and understood.

If you can describe your prospect or customer’s problem better than they can, they will automatically assume that you may have the solution to their problem (most of the time).

Even if you don’t have the exactly solution, it’s a great way to establish a common ground for the relationship you’re forging.

And why do we want to connect with others? It’s just how we build trust, the “wow, this person gets me…” or the “OMG, you know exactly what I’m going through!…” emotional connection.

Not everyone is good at communicating their problems, thus when someone perceives that you sound and looks like an expert, you may just become the expert that’s going to solve their problem (or maybe you are an expert? But are you just an expert in your own mind?).

Keep in mind that the focus is on validating your assumptions. Ask questions that helps to confirm their pain points, their vision of success or their desired outcome.

This requires a lot of critical thinking and again do not formulate conclusions from your assumptions unless you have enough information. Otherwise go back to step 1 and ask more open-ended questions so you can listen again.

This of course, applies to all form of conversations including blogging, social media and email exchanges.

The idea is to abstract the emotional triggers from the depth and tonality of the conversation so you can fully understand the opportunities to build meaningful connects.

If you ask the wrong questions, it just shows you don’t get it and you’re eager to sell yourself, your story and your products. You will get your turn but you must be able to distinguish the signals from the noises.

At this stage, you should still be more reactive allowing your customer to freely express themselves.

The most valuable information are those that are freely expressed without boundaries from your prospects. This is also the core value of surveying your customers so you can apply what you’ve learned to improve your product and services.

Step 3: Build Connections That Create Convictions

Once you’ve got solid understanding of the problems your customers want to solve, you then must learn to get into the minds of your prospects so you can turn them into customers.

This is the “I heard, I know, I understand, I believe and I do,” steps that lead to actions through the use communication.

Most people are good at passing through “I know and I understand” stage, but it’s the “I believe” stage that communication often fails to connect resulting in no action. You buy a product or change an unhealthy habit because you would only take the action after you become convinced of your decision.

Most people don’t realize that a desired action is often brought out through the use of specific communications tools from advertising to word-of-mouth testimonial, or via social proof endorsements. Simply put, people don’t just do what we want them to do because we want them to do it; they need to convince themselves first by having the right information.

And how do they know that it’s right for them? Well it’s by moving through each of these communications steps that people will take action.

So if the “I heard” part doesn’t resonate, it won’t move into the next step and in most cases it’s your professional jargon or the inability to identify what it is that your customer really values.

So your job as someone with the solution should be to help by facilitating them through that discovery process and not forcing your ideas upon them.

Again, it’s not trying to convince them, but helping them to convince themselves.

A great marketer knows how to unleash the power of communications and seeks to understand their target market needs, perceptions and how they like to receive information.

Is it how expensive (monetary value) your products are? Or how much time you’ve invested creating your solution? Perhaps it’s the work and labor you’ve put into your services.

Whatever it is, they must do the job of translating why they should take action to contact your or buy your product.

Step 4: Convert The Sale With Meaningful Communication

Once your prospect is convinced of their decision, there usually is no turning back as the human brain will attempt to rationalize that decision from the emotions of wanting to feel good about moving forward and the urgent need to solve their problem.

It’s indicative that most “modern” businesses realize that customers respond more to an emotional connection, thus it’s not about selling but educating.

And educating requires providing how you are going to make their lives easier from a more personal perspective.

This is the part where traditional business owners have a hard time letting go of what they perceive as high value in their knowledge.

It’s true that giving away your knowledge can feel like doing something for free that you usually get paid for, the key is figuring out where to draw the “free line.”

However; I’ve found in many instances, people simply won’t do it even if you provide detail step-by-steps.

For example, recently I wrote a detailed article on “how to use Goolge and Twitter to find your customers,” and have received many emails from people telling me that I’m stupid for giving out such high value content.

As a result not only have I gotten more leads and referrals but I was able to sign up clients while using it to make a case for content marketing, sort of proofing that this stuff works!

You must be able to paint the picture and hit home with what your solution looks like to your prospects, communicate the results they will achieve and the steps they will need to take in order to achieve those results.

Sounds simple but all too often I came across marketing messages full of features and benefits (especially for technology companies or specialty industries) that typically starts with “our innovative products are designed for xxxx,” “our company has xxxx technology that’s xxxx” or the ever popular “xyz company is the leader in xxxx and have xx years of experience…”

So what does it all sound like to the prospect?

It’s all about YOU, not them and that’s not going to take you far.

Businesses are quick to tell people what they have but forget that their prospects are in different stage of the buying cycle. It’s important to speak the language that they understand and values which is why you need to focus on their needs.

So what if you’re an innovative company or a leader in your space? Who isn’t innovative and a leader in their space these days?

The Take Away: The meaning of your communication is the response you get from your audience. If you don’t like the responses you get, you’re not doing a good job of translating your value.

If you can do step 1-3 well, you should have good amount of data to start writing great sales copies and headlines that gets inside the heads of your customers.

And by using what Robert Cialdini’s six “weapons of influence” (reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking and scarcity), you will end up with powerful communications that gets you phone calls and inbound traffics.

The worse that can happen is you actually don’t have a solution but you marketed as a solution, or your product sucks and it doesn’t solve any problem. In that case great marketing can only help you fish for a day because the fish will learn that your bait isn’t a real one.

What do you think? Are you communicating the right way?

Leave me a comment below or share your most effective marketing copy.

What Is Adding Value And How It Applies To Social Networking

by Eric Tsai

As a social media advocate I often discuss adding value to the conversations, to the communities or to the relationships. I guess I assumed everyone already knew what the term means and how it applies to them until I started to get questions from people.

So what exactly is adding value and how? Is it just an over-used marketing jargon? An illusion of a feel-good emotion? The more I use the term “value” the more I feel like it’s loosing its soul (I’m guilty as charge at times).

One of my favorite artists, the awesome Hugh MacLeod had a great piece about Adding Value with the quote, “The aim of “adding value” is a hard one to argue with… who doesn’t want to add value to their current enterprise? But it’s also utterly meaningless…”

Well, obviously there are many ways to look at it but here is how I perceive the meaning of adding value.

Let’s face it, most businesses wants to add value to the bottom line which means making sales and growing profits.

In sales, adding value used to mean networking in the best interest of your company or your career which is to sell, sell, sell!

Today it means helping people to make informed decisions, finding out their needs first and showing an interest to solve their problems not yours. The one way sales pitch broadcasting simply becomes part of the meaningless noise in a sea of noises.

The Meaning of Knowledge

In sales, either the product sells itself (more of an affirmation and emotional validation) or it’s selling via education (information and data).

A Porsche salesman don’t sell the 911 Turbo, they sell the experience of buying a Porsche (great products drives emotions). On the other hand, a Honda salesman sells the features and benefits against competitors like Toyota and Nissan (value proposition, more needs than wants).

In both scenarios, the goal is to ensure that the person feels good about the decisions that they’ve made (or going to make) on the purchase which leads to trust building. And trust is built on relationships from knowledge and actions.

The more knowledge you have, the less fear you have, the less stress you feel and the better you feel about your decision making process.

You could think of having knowledge as freedom from limitations and having information is empowerment. The ability to make your own decision is valuable because who wants to be pressured into buying?

Emotion Trumps Logic

Now you know the importance of adding value through knowledge transfer, you then need to know how to take actions with your knowledge.

Besides physically helping someone, the action part comes down to communication. And because emotions are the essence of the communication, marketers need to focus on the emotional needs of the customers at the time when feelings are vivid. This mean to empathize with your customers and truly focus on how to make their lives better.

You can not make people’s lives better if you don’t understand their lives.

When you solve someone’s problem, they’ll usually remember it not because of the facts but because of how they felt when it was happening. Simply put, memory is tied to emotions and emotions are more real than thoughts.

Now apply that to marketing and you’ll realize that providing useful and meaningful information does exactly that – it makes people remember you if you satisfy their needs by providing value!

This is why the increasingly Social Web is a great place to find those that are in need of knowledge (also why information product sells). When you need an answer, you want it now, you Google it (you can Yahoo or Bing it too of course).

The online conversation across all social networks are as authentic as it gets, besides the offline in-person engagements, because it’s taking place when people are still feeling the emotions dealing with their problems – what is, how-to, why is, who can…you get the point.

The rest of it is about the context of adding value, at the right place at the right time.

The optimal time to email your subscribers, the suitable LinkedIn group to contribute knowledge or the people you engage on Twitter – they’re all channels to add your value to the conversation within the communities to forge solid relationships.

Motives and Actions

The last point in adding value is the motives behind such actions. Why are you doing this? Why are businesses embracing the freemium model?

Most of the time the objective is to create brand awareness, build credibility and what I keep pounding the table on: to create social proof around the topics of health, wealth and relationships.

However; there is always a trade-off, you get free Gmail with all the awesome features of other Google Apps because Google advertises around your inbox.The same applies to most of the social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. You’re exchanging personal information to use their products.

My take is that if you’re honest about your intentions and focus on serving only those that matters to your business, you will attract the customers you want.

Like what Seth Godin wrote in his book Purple Cow, “the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” Well, he’s right, everyone is NOT your customers.

And the science behind motivation isn’t as clear cut as features and benefits or even monetary rewards. Checkout this video by RSA animation adapted from Dan Pink’s talk at the RSA on “The surprising truth about what motivates us.”

The take away: Identify your customer’s problem is where adding value starts. And listening when they talk is your opportunity to fill the value gaps.

Think of it as facilitating the process of buying on their terms not yours. You have to create the right environment that entices people, and if you do it well, then they will show up and join the party.

It is only by adding value you will be remembered, reciprocated and passed on (via word-of-mouth).

There are simply too much information and too little time. Marketing messages are everywhere and people have developed ad blindness, seeing doesn’t mean retaining.

Are you adding value?