My Mean Boss Wants You to Know About this Sale has done a great job with their email marketing. Check out what they emailed me (the subject line read “My Mean Boss wants you to know about this sale”):


Instead of your typical marketing speak, Moosejaw uses the Likability tactic by adding humor to their messaging, and as a result, their potential customer is now aware of a “big sale”. They might even feel inclined to visit and see what that big sale is all about.

If Moosejaw had gone with a more conventional approach, chances are that the email’s receivers wouldn’t have even read their messaging. The lesson? Show your personality, even in your email marketing. People buy from people they like.

Everyone Likes a Robin Hood

I recently came across—a site dedicated to finding the lowest ticket prices for flights. This site uses a number of conversion tactics and it uses them well. From the screenshot below alone you can see Personality (Likability), Clairvoyance (Serendipity), Confidence (Assurance), and Credibility (Assurance):


What is perhaps more prominent and the most successful is this use of Likability. is so likable because they are taking advantage of our association of airlines with aggravatingly high prices. is, in a sense, a Robin Hood site as it “exposes loopholes in airfare pricing” at the expense of large airlines. They’ve positioned themselves this way with their subheading: “Our flights are so cheap, United sued us… but we won.” People love to root for the underdog, especially when the underdog’s best interests are their best interests. It’s no mystery that has had over 1 million visitors in a month. United doesn’t need to be reminded.

All companies should show their authentic self, and the results can be measured. I know it sounds risky.

What if my buyers don’t like my quirky side?

Valid concern. So run an A/B test on a high traffic site landing page (landing page because that’s where new people see you for the first time). On this page show people what you’ve always wanted to say but been scared to. If you’re really nervous set the test to 10% of incoming traffic. You may just discover shoppers like your authentic self way more.

What radical (but mission aligned) idea would you test on your landing page?

Getting Better Quality Reviews

Let’s look at these 2 reviews:

A: Generic and just adds cognitive load:


B: Specifically addresses shopper concern about mattress delivery to buildings (Narrative Control):


Which one do you like better?

Instead of sending out a generic post-purchase email that says, “Hope you are enjoying product X, please write a review” study the product and the reviews you have already collected. Is there a feature that isn’t talked about enough? Is there a feature that is unfairly criticized by a tiny minority? You can identify 15 such scenarios specific to you.

Now that you have the most promising ideas craft a review request email.

Look at an example CAMINO CARRYALL 35 on is marketed as a rugged bag. But most of the reviews don’t talk about that feature. So what can one do? Simple, send an email to people who purchased the bag in the last 6 months. Here is my example email:

Subject: Camino Carryall is rugged, right?

Hi, Steve.

You’ve had your Camino Carryall for the last 6 months. We hope you’re using the heck out of it. We also hope you’ve been rough with it because ruggedness is a feature engineered into the bag. But you know what? We have 853 reviews and only 6 talk about the ruggedness of the product. That sucks because we went through 38 prototypes just to maximize ruggedness.

If you’ve taken the bag through the paces we would love your feedback on the ruggedness of the bag.

[review link]

We need your help, Steve.


This email works for a number of reasons:

A: We’re asking Steve for a very specific thing
B: We’re challenging Steve to tip the balance of ruggedness reviews (they’re just 6 right now)

Ethical Line of Persuasion

If you don’t like watching videos here is the written version of the article. The things I do for my readers 🙂

Marketing has become incredibly powerful. Whenever you go to a website (whether it’s CNN or, often times anonymous aspects of our data are sold in the marketplace. The goal of this is to not release personal information but to instead stitch together certain aspects to determine purchase intent. We can use this information to market products effectively.

However, there is an ethical line that no marketer should ever cross because once you cross that line the whole point of marketing is lost. Let’s talk about it.

So what is the ethical line? The truth is we aren’t even fully sure what it is. There are certainly black and white aspects of what is wrong and what’s right, but there is also a gray area that makes it ever so challenging to determine the morality (i.e. can you blame Budweiser for an idiot who drank 20 beers and then drove extremely fast on the highway?).

I’d like to share a more black and white example that happened to me while on I saw an Outbrain ad and decided to click on it. The ad brought you to a website called SmartConsumerToday where they were marketing a CPAP machine.

Image 1.png

After reading the article I wasn’t particularly impressed with it (as a marketer I am always thinking skeptically). However, what did impress me is that they had 347 comments and that seemed like a strong social proof element:

Image 2.png

When looking at this comment interface you can immediately see the similarities to Facebook. Scrolling through the comment you can see that people were replying to comments, there was a top commenter, and even a follow button for each person. This is where the curiosity began:

Image 3.png

The “347 comments” (seen in the first image of this article) is not actually a clickable element, meaning you can’t sort the reviews. Even worse than that, the comment box was literally just a screenshot, so you couldn’t even leave a comment if you wanted to! The buttons at the bottom of each comment (reply, like, follow post) aren’t interactive and the timestamps for each comment aren’t correct (I viewed this article in the morning and it’s now the afternoon, much more than 13 minutes ago).

Seeing this fake customer comment interface left me absolutely flabbergasted. This is a clear example of crossing the ethical line. Remember to be mindful of all the tools we have as marketers and make sure we are using them ethically.

Treat others how you want to be treated.


Make Sure Your Test Element is Visible

When people run experiments, they are simply looking at the outcome of the experiment and determining if it was a success or a failure. This can be a problem.

We started adding tracking to see how many people were actually clicking on our test elements. Turns out, the number is low. If people aren’t seeing our test element and interacting with it, it’s impossible for the test to predict the positives and negatives of our experiment.

To illustrate our point (because we can’t show actual client examples), we’ve picked a typical example closely related to a real experiment we have tested to show you the process.

Costa is a premium sunglasses retailer that is relatively known…but they are in a very highly saturated and competitive market. With companies such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, Versace, and many others, why would the user choose a less known brand such as Costa over these others?  Below is the default Costa product page without our idea implemented:

Costa Control.png

In this instance, we are creating a call-to-action that expresses why the user needs to choose Costa for their next pair of sunglasses. When the user clicks on the call to action, a message will be displayed to them. Here is the design (the red arrow is not part of the design):

Costa Default 1.png

This element might be completely overlooked due to its location (away from the add to cart) and how similar it is to the “view all options” button. Since the element is somewhat hidden shoppers will not interact with the popup message and as a result, the test would not move the needle. The idea would be scrapped as a dud.

One of our core tactics is Visibility and a super important element of Visibility is importance hierarchy. Importance hierarchy is making sure the most persuasive elements on a page have the most visibility. It doesn’t matter how great our content is within this experiment, if no one sees it then what’s the point? We decided to change the location of the button (placing it right by the add to cart button) and made it stand out more. Here is the second design (CLICK ME! text is part of the design):

Costa Activated 2.png

Copy reads: When we started Costa in 1983 we had one goal, create the best sunglasses possible. We spent over 24,469 hours creating the best frames and lenses for whatever the situation. Whether you need glasses for driving, fishing, or everyday activities, you’ll find a Costa product for you. However, we didn’t stop there. We want to truly make a difference in the world and that means preserving our water. From removing plastics from our beaches to using old fishing nets to create frames, it’s more than sunglasses at Costa.

Not only is this button in a better location (directly below the add to cart), the color makes it stand out from the mostly white background. More people will notice it and be curious about what the contents are, and that’s where we are able to capitalize on the story of the company.

If the Survey Request Sucks No One Will Participate

After a recent visit with a local ophthalmologist, I received this Voice of the Customer survey request:


I doubt this survey request was successful for a number of reasons. The heading has no personality and it is visually bland. If any patients decided to continue reading, they would have been met with similar copy that provides no incentive for completing the survey. Next time, L.O. Eye Care should try something more like this:


Notice how the doctor’s image is used in the heading. This is an example of the Novelty tactic because the image of someone the reader knows is unexpected and increases the likelihood that they’ll stop to read the email. Another thing that’s great about this heading is that it is personalized for the receiver. Lastly, the email’s body provides an incentive for the reader to complete the survey—complete the survey and L.O. Eye Care will “create better experiences for you in the future.” Overall, this version of the email incorporates the Likability tactic much more than the control, which in combination with the Novelty tactic can contribute to more patients completing the survey.

The lesson? If you want more Voice of the Customer data, show your customers that you care. Don’t make survey requests seem like a chore for you or the customer.