This article was originally published in the MarketingExperiments email newsletter.
A new year. New hopes. New aspirations. And new marketing goals.
To power you with the insights you need to hit those goals, let’s look back at a four-letter word (well, technically four-number word, but you get the idea) – 2020.
The year 2020 could not be over soon enough for many marketers. Global pandemic. Economic calamity. Layoffs, furloughs, cut budgets, and hesitant customers.
But every year has its lessons that helps us do better next year. In this article, we’re focused on lessons learned from MarketingExperiments videos. We’ll take a look at specific clips from these videos that can help power your next great idea in 2021.
Here are my top lessons learned from our videos followed by lessons from your marketing peers. This year essentially had three key phases.
PHASE #1: BEFORE COVID-19
Before Covid-19, MarketingExperiments was conducting a well-received series of YouTube Live videos focusing on fundamental marketing lessons.
Lesson #1: It’s not what you believe; it’s what they perceive
In The Power of Perceived Value: Discover how a well-marketed banana & roll of tape produced a windfall, Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and Managing Director, MECLABS Institute, explored a fundamental concept that is key to successful conversion rate optimization – value perception (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingExperiments).
In this clip starting at 12:27, McGlaughlin discusses how a simple banana and a piece of duct tape could be truly worth $120,000 and what that means for the pricing of your own products and services.
“In some cases, you see this unique phenomenon – it’s almost magical – where perceived value becomes actual value,” McGlaughlin said.
Lesson #2: If you don’t organize your thinking, then you can’t supervise their conclusion
In Unlocking the Power of Incentive: Three keys to mastering perceived value differential, McGlaughlin gives messaging strategies for presenting incentives and explains how you can identify the best incentive for your offer.
In this clip starting at 13:07, he discusses the importance of framing your offer for the customer.
“If you don’t organize their thinking, then you can’t supervise their thinking. And if you can’t supervise their thinking, you can’t guarantee the outcome – an inevitable conclusion one micro-yes at a time,” McGlaughlin said.
AT THE START OF THE PANDEMIC
MarketingExperiments has been publishing content about what really works for two decades. The focus has always been sharing discoveries about the fundamentals of human decision making…discoveries that extend far beyond any single marketing industry fad or technology.
So we’ve very rarely covered the news of the day. But some events are too big to go unmentioned. As the Covid-19 global pandemic started rapidly spreading around the globe, we shifted our content to show how these same fundamental discoveries of human behavior could be applied to the daunting new challenges marketers – and humanity – faced.
Lesson #3: Ask, “does the message heard match the message said?”
On March 18th, 2020, McGlaughlin and the MarketingExperiments team went live with Marketers Stand Together: 3 powerful ways your marketing can combat coronavirus COVID-19’s impact.
In the clip starting at 39:37, McGlaughlin brings a messaging lens to a term that has been used cavalierly throughout the pandemic without a true, deep understanding of what that the phrase really connotes to people.
“Right now we’re going to have to come together as a community. I don’t like the concept social distancing. I don’t like the messaging. I don’t like the implication. And I don’t mind going on record saying so.
The last thing we need right now is social distance. Now don’t hear me wrong. We certainly need to maintain safe space and I get that, but the notion of social distancing puts my mind in the exact opposite place it should be at a time of great risk. What we need now is to come together, not move apart.
And the people who employ this word are not thinking properly about the core concepts we’re discussing right now. It’s the wrong message. What they mean is fine but what they’re saying is different than what they mean,” McGlaughlin said.
BORN OUT OF THE PANDEMIC – A NEW SHOW
“I never claimed that art cannot be produced without suffering, only that art produced without suffering is not likely to be very good,” Christopher Zara once said.
Of course you won’t find painting or sculptures coming out of MarketingExperiments – our art is helpful marketing content. The crucible of the pandemic gave rise to a new show, a new approach to help marketers.
The Marketer as Philosopher: Become a Force for the Good is meant to teach marketers how to improve their marketing skills while applying them to a worthy endeavor to benefit real people, right now. Each episode will include a free tool, like the free data pattern analysis tool that accompanied Episode 2.
Here is a lesson I found valuable from Episode 3.
Lesson #4: Great marketers do not make claims; they foster conclusions
In The Marketer as Philosopher, Episode 3 – The Conversion Heuristic Analysis: Overcoming the prospect’s perception gap, McGlaughlin uses a product tag and a pair of case studies to teach five practical ways to increase perceived value and achieve your marketing results.
In this clip starting at 17:20, McGlaughlin discusses the importance of helping your customers reach the right conclusion instead of trying to force an idea down their throats.
“Don’t push, rather guide. For every claim, ask ‘what is the credible fact upon which this claim is based?’ So if you’re making a claim on your site, ask yourself a different question – ‘why can I say that?’ ‘Why is that true?’
Then change that claim into a credible fact so that it supports the right conclusion. Help them arrive at the right conclusion. You do this because you have the right person and because you have the right offer for them at the right time,” McGlaughlin said.
YOUR TOP LESSONS
In addition to what I learned this year, I wanted to hear from our audience as well. What most surprised me was that their top lessons this year were from videos we didn’t even publish in 2020, but rather from previous years.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised – as I mentioned, MarketingExperiments has always focused its teaching on timeless lessons…on understanding deep human behavior and marketing truths that will help improve your results regardless of the current economic conditions or marketing industry tool flavor of the day.
MarketingExperiments videos have been viewed 592,230 times. Here are some of your peers’ top lessons from four of those views…
Lesson #5: It’s not enough to give your reader a reason; we must place them within a story
“In 2020, I learned a valuable copywriting skill; I learned how to match my writing to the thought processes of my customers. In my line of work, I write home warranty reviews for a living. The final published copy, while condensed and informative, can be a bit dry sometimes.
One video, titled Strengthen Your Copy in 35 Minutes, explains a strategic writing formula for increasing conversions. It explains writing sequences that include a rising action, climax, and resolution. It’s similar to what we’ve been taught in high school when writing a book report but refined to be geared towards copywriting.
This has helped me create review articles and home-related blog posts that are not only informative but also compelling enough for the reader to read in its entirety, as opposed to just quickly scanning the content. There is a greater gratification and sense of a takeaway when a post is read from start to finish, ultimately leading to more clicks of one or more affiliate links.
The meat of the video starts at the 3:48 mark.”
– James Surrey, Founder & Chief Editor, Review Home Warranties
Lesson #6: It’s not a webpage; it’s a signal set
“A very insightful lesson I learned was the concept of diagnosis without prescription. This was from the video The High-Performance Landing Page: 3 ways to maximize conversion with the power of coherence. I learned that for a landing page to be successful, it has to address both the customers’ pain points as well as a solution. Too often, landing pages address the pain point, but the reader has to click on another link or get to another site page for the solution. Both the problem and solution need to be presented upfront.
In the sports betting industry, bettors are looking to increase their winning probability. My landing pages need to address this and make it clear the solution I’m proposing. Once I presented both the diagnosis and prescription, there was an uptick in click-throughs, email signups, and purchases of our betting strategy combos.
The part of the video discussing diagnosis without prescription begins at 4:45.”
– Michael Kipness, Founder, Wizard Race and Sports
Lesson #7: The power of a brand does not come from the promise it makes, but rather from the expectation it creates
“My absolute favorite MarketingExperiments video is the one titled The Myth of the Brand Promise back in June 2019. It highlights the need for companies to be reminded that consumers do not pay for the branding, they pay for the quality of product and service they will get. It stresses the fact that a well-thought and high-budgeted brand does not guarantee high sale conversions, they’re merely the face of the company that attracts and lures in customers but it’s still the products and the company’s service that seals the deal.
Additionally, branding is also almost always just an egotistical representation of the company about itself. The truth of the fact is that if companies want their business to be loved and respected by its market, it must not be centered around the company’s views about itself but rather should illuminate what the company can offer to enhance the lives of its customers. At the end of the day, businesses exist to serve their consumers and so it will come across to its market more successfully if the market views the company as one of its own – by being the perfect embodiment of what they want or need.”
– Arnas Vasiliauskas, Chief Innovation Product Officer, CarVertical
Lesson #8: Adequacy is the enemy of excellence; if you compound learnings, you may compound your return
“I remember watching The New York Times landing page optimization on MarketingExperiments. I’ve learned a lot from this one.
It helped me to better understand the philosophy behind landing page optimization. It’s not directly tied to my field of work, but I believe every business owner should understand the basics of digital marketing. I was particularly fascinated by the long-form test (at 7:30 in the video) and how it impacted conversion.
This kind of research helps me to have productive conversations with digital marketing teams, and that’s the kind of dynamic I need to do my work well.”
– Aaron Haynes, CEO, Loganix