The Marketer as Philosopher, Episode 3
The Conversion Heuristic Analysis: Overcoming the prospect’s perception gap


UPDATE 8/6/2021: This video was part of the testing and development process for MECLABS’ new, free conversion rate optimization course set to be released in the Fall of 2021 – Become A Master At Creating And Optimizing High-Converting Web Pages. Here is a quick excerpt – How to Create High-Converting Landing Pages: Ask this important question.

We have kept this video live because it still has helpful content. And now, more about this video…

Some marketers try to discount their way to success. But sustainable marketing success doesn’t come from endless incentives – marketers succeed when they are able to help the customer accurately perceive the value in the products and services they sell.

That is no easy task. Because there is a natural gap between marketers and customers, between how we perceive the value of our products and how an external customer views the product.

Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and Managing Director, MECLABS Institute, uses a product tag along with a pair of case studies to help you close that gap. Watch this episode now to discover how to see conversion opportunities through the mind of the prospect and learn five practical ways to increase perceived value and achieve your marketing results. (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingExperiments)

Here are some key points in the video:

  • 4:45 – Which treatment do you think performed the best?
  • 5:55 – Test results for those treatments
  • 7:01 – How to see a conversion path through the mind of a prospect
  • 8:57 – Case study #1: Homepage experiment
  • 13:48 – Three ways you can use your marketing skills to help artisans in developing countries pull themselves out of poverty
  • 14:33 – Case study #2: Landing page experiment
  • 15:42 – Five practical ways to apply what you’re learning

Related Resources

The MECLABS Conversion Heuristic – Improve your Marketing Collateral with a Proven Methodology

The Prospect’s Perception Gap: How to bridge the gap between the results we want and the results we have

The Marketer as Philosopher Episode 2 – The Data Pattern Analysis: 3 ways to turn info into insight

The Marketer as Philosopher, Episode 1: Become a Force for the Good

Get Your Free Simplified MECLABS Institute Data Pattern Analysis Tool to Discover Opportunities to Increase Conversion

Data Pattern Analysis: Learn from a coaching session with Flint McGlaughlin

5 Marketing Lessons From a Unique Nonprofit That Sells Products (and why the world needs marketers today more than ever)


This transcript provided by GoTranscript:

Flint: Marketer, how do we improve the performance of this product tag? The answer could help rescue 3,500 small businesses suffering through this current pandemic, but it could also help you. It could help you transform the results in your own marketing. I have an unusual answer, but to even understand that answer, we’re going to have to challenge our current paradigm. For this, we need a single Lego brick. There it is. As implausible as it may sound, the way we think about this brick can help to open a doorway in your mind that will enable us to achieve a whole new level of marketing and conversion performance.

Consider this question, how much of reality do you and I truly perceive? Let’s simplify. How much of what you see is really there and how much of what is there do you really see? It’s a vital question for a philosopher, but it’s a vital question for the marketer as philosopher as well. So, reflect for a moment on this thin multicolored line. Did you know that the full electromagnetic spectrum is equal to the distance from New York to Los Angeles? Yet your eyes can only see or perceive a span equal to the width of this tiny dime. Not this width, but as I turn it sideways, that width. What’s going on here? I mean, the obvious conclusion is that we see very little of what’s really going on here. And that brings us to a capital problem.

Marketer, we see less than a 10 trillionth of what is truly out there. But numbers of this magnitude are impossible to fathom, so let’s return to the Lego brick, and just imagine this. Imagine that we built half of the skyscrapers in the entire world out of Legos. Visualize it. Now imagine that we select one building and we select one Lego brick from that building, that would approximate a 10 trillionth. It’s staggering. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. This simple illustration demonstrates how little we see and how little we really perceive.

I run a research lab. We’ve conducted 20,000-plus treatment tests, and we’ve invested over $130 million in research partnerships. All of this was so that we could understand how to overcome problems such as this one. Indeed, the whole point of this illustration is only this, value must be perceived before it can be believed. That’s a statement that requires reflection.


I am Flint. This is Episode 3 of the Marketer as Philosopher. In Episode 1, we challenged you with a powerful new idea. A new kind of teaching series. A way for marketers to come together, grow their skills, and apply those skills to help 3,500 small businesses struggling amidst this global crisis. In Episode 2, we taught you how to use the first in a series of thinking tools, the data pattern analysis. It is just one in a set of at least seven tools we’re going to give you. In Episode 3, we’re going to introduce you to the next thinking tool that will enable you to overcome this challenge. It’s called the conversion heuristic analysis.

Value must be perceived before it can be believed. Indeed, clarity trumps persuasion. We do not fail because we do not discount enough. We fail because we do not communicate value well enough. Let’s consider two concrete examples. One from a large multibillion-dollar enterprise and another from a small scrappy entrepreneurial startup, but let’s do it in the form of a challenge. Let’s stimulate your neurons. So, take a look at two versions of a page. We’ve numbered them, one and two. Tell me which one of these pages do you think will produce the highest conversion rate.

It’d be good to put your answer in the chat feature down below, but pick one and then go a step deeper and say, “And what is the reason I choose this over that?” Because that reason forms the kernel of a hypothesis. And later we’ll learn all about these. In subsequent episodes, we’re going to teach you how to formulate and test the hypothesis.

Okay, you’ve got your first answer. Let’s now go to our second. Here we are. Two versions, both pages look good, but which one produces the highest conversion rate? Which one would get the most yeses? It’s important to really make a choice. Engage and you learn more. So, let’s then review the results. So we can see that treatment two, that is number two, which was actually cell B in our test, outperformed the control by 84%. That is- that’s powerful. It’s almost miraculous. When you think about it, all you’re doing is changing some signals on a page. You’re not changing the offer, you’re not changing the price, you’re not changing a or adding a bunch of new money to your marketing budget, and yet, you see a huge increase in performance. Something important is happening.

Let’s look at the second one. Here again, you see a 30% difference in favor of version 2. That was actually the test cell B in our experiment. Now, something powerful is going on here and we must detect it. If you don’t get anything else out of this episode, learn to see these pages in a new way. And to do that, I’m going to take you backwards from the result, through the mind of the prospect. Think with me. This is very important. The conversion, this is what we all talk about, the yes. That’s the transformation from prospect to customer. In Greek, we call it the metanoia. The conversion was preceded by something else. What was that? A decision.

Had they not made the decision, of course they wouldn’t have become a customer, but the decision was preceded by a conclusion. Before they chose, they made a tentative conclusion about you and about the product. About the company and about the product. It takes both. But this conclusion was preceded by another process we call observation. That is their interaction with your marketing collateral. That is their reading of your literature or their viewing of your video. That is how they interact with the signals that you put in front of them. So, there’s an order here, observation, conclusion, decision, conversion, but let’s keep going ’cause this is where it gets interesting.

The observation was only possible because we, as marketers, craft a signal set. And this is the only part of this process you really control, so you’ve got to get this right. There is a signal set, which is zeros and ones, pixels, turned on and off that produce an illusion on that screen. And that illusion impacts your mind in so many ways that we still can’t understand fully. I don’t know why I find myself crying in a theater looking at flickering images that aren’t even about something true, and yet the emotional impact is remarkable. In the same way, think with me, and I’m going to show you a different narrative, a different story. It’s like going in the theatre. Let’s go in the theater of this- of this sales funnel. And let’s look at two versions of a page.

I’m going to unpack this a little bit more now. So you see the test protocol number and you see the setup for the experiment, our library is full of these. Now, as we get to the two pages side by side, you should start to notice there’s something very different in the approach to the calming. What is that? What is that primary difference? Well, let’s-let’s drill down on that for just a moment. This is powerful because, you know, in effect, we’re answering a simple question, what changed in the signal set that produced a different observation, and that’s a different conclusion, and that’s a different decision, and that’s the 34% conversion increase? And the answer can be seen if we get more careful in how we view and think about the page.

So here is the control. Boost your energy and metabolism, improve digestion, and detoxify and alkalize, save time and money. This is a classic approach. Here’s the approach that won. Made from 75 whole foods, contains probiotics and enzymes, carefully formulated by doctors and nutritionists, 10 plus years of research. Marketer, stop. Don’t watch a show, don’t think YouTube, don’t think Flint McGlaughlin. Just for a moment, put 100% of your energy into thinking about the difference between the structure of these statements and the structure of those we just looked at on the control. What is it? Can you detect it? Can you see a change in the underlying psychology? Here’s the key. One version is claim-driven and the other is a conclusion. And in the words of one of my favorite poets, Robert Frost, that made all the difference.

Now coming up, I’m going to show you another example and I’m going to teach you five practical ways to achieve this transformation in your results, but first, I have shown you a Lego brick and I have shown you the first half of a web page. Now I’m going to show you a strange moving video clip. Trust me, it connects.

This is a woman learning to sign her name. It’s moving, but why is it so important? As I answer that question, I’m going to bring all of these different elements together. You’re watching Episode 3. This is a new series designed to teach you how to transform your marketing results. But in Episode 2, and this is really important, we discovered how to drive an additional $1 million in new business for this remarkable not-for-profit group.

We found the answer hiding in the data. That’s what Episode 2 is all about. Through a careful analysis, we discovered that by optimizing the label on this product tag, we could get thousands of people who purchased a product in the brick and mortar places like Disney to come to the website and purchase again. This is found money, but we’ve got to get this tag, this label to communicate in the way that it should. We have to change the signal set.

Every product has this tag and every tag has the signature of the person who made it. And through a remarkable breakthrough in technology, when you purchase one of these products, you can actually communicate regularly with the person who made it. You can speak to them directly. This is powerful. It enables that person to earn a living and transform their family and eventually their village. We see it over and over again, but it also enables you to communicate with the person who made the product you purchased to encourage them and to build a genuine friendship.

Listen, we need to sell more of these baskets and products. We need to help more of these people. We talk about that in Episode 1. Right now, I’m inviting you to help us optimize this product tag and to drive tens of thousands of people back into the store and help Ten by Three, that’s the organization, make up for the losses it’s experienced during this global pandemic.

In a few moments, I’m going to go back to the earlier case study and show you five ways to influence conclusions. But first, I’m going to outline three ways you can help Ten by Three. You’re a marketer and your job is important. And you can lift your head up high because you are just as important as a caregiver. And in fact, in the right circumstances, you can influence behavior and save lives. Put one of these banners that you’re going to see at the end of the program. Put one of these banners on your website. Drive traffic to the Ten by Three eCommerce site. That’s one way. Two, analyze this product label.

Now please take time in the chat below to give me three key ways to improve these stats. Finally, invite more marketers to become part of this community. They need to subscribe and participate in new series because as a team, we can do way more together than any one of us can do alone. We’re going to help lots of people in situations just like this, using the skills that we learned together.

All right, now let’s go back to the final case study, and that’s learn these five keys. This is test protocol 1457. This is a tax preparation, uh, group that offers payroll and business consulting services. They want to improve landing page conversion. So we’ve talked about the two treatments, we’ve seen the results. Here’s the control, here’s the treatment again. You can see them side by side, and you may think, “Now, okay, what is different in this treatment?” Think of it as a signal set. What is different in this signal set that produces the different set of observations, and thus a different set of conclusions, and thus a different set of decisions, and thus a higher rate of conversion?

If you’re trying to sort of get your mind wrapped around that, I’m a teacher, that’s all I want to do. I want to learn and teach. Let me help you any way I can. So, I’ll do that right now by giving you five things that we’ve observed in running these experiments that might help you figure out not only how and why this page worked better, but how to get that label working better for Teresa, she’s the CEO of this not-for-profit group or/and for your own business.

Your number one, don’t ask, tell. Use your headline to capture tension and convert it into interest. Don’t start the top of your page with a clever looking question. I didn’t come so that you could ask me questions, I came to get my questions answered. Tell me what I need to know. And then as you do, remember 0.2, don’t talk at people, talk to them. There’s a big difference in mindset. Even now as I’m on this broadcast with you, I’m trying to talk to you, not at you. Forgive me if I get too pragmatic and sound too patronizing. I don’t mean to, because I know that on the other side of this communication, uh, relationship is somebody that is investing energy in order to solve a problem, and I wanna help you do that, but we often talk at people. You say, “Well, how do I keep from doing that?” Well, let’s finish that point. Substitute declarative and imperative sentences with explanatory sentences.

Now, if you don’t know what those are, look them up on Google. We learned them in grammar school. There’s a type of sentence called a declarative, and then there’s an imperative. An imperative is a sentence that’s like a command. “Do this.” “Send it now.” But it’s funny, when I asked marketers to explain a confusing page to me, they use normal language and they do a good job and most of the time, they write superb copy, but they don’t even know they’re writing copy, they’re just telling me what they’re trying to say.

Well, if you have to do that, then you’ve got the page wrong to start with. Do it on the page. Use explanatory sentences and talk to me. 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’t 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 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.

Here comes the fourth piece. Don’t brag, share. If a statement isn’t quantitative, and thus more believable, then let someone else say it for you. But don’t brag on yourself. That doesn’t work in polite conversation and it doesn’t work in marketing either. We just don’t believe you. This brings me to the fifth point. I’m almost done. Don’t stack sequence. Many of our pages are just stacks of information. We’re not sure which one matters or which one actually influences conversion the most, but we know it’s good so we sling it on the page, Apple style. Don’t copy Apple. Unless you’ve copied their design genius, it doesn’t work to copy their marketing approach, but that’s a different conversation.

Don’t stack sequence. Never ask for a right decision before you have won the right conclusion in the mind. We often ask too soon, we make demands, we speak in imperatives, and we dehumanize our communication. It becomes this mess that sounds like sales and-and hype. It feels like a political speech instead of a human being talking to another human being. But if you can get your tone right, if you can get your voice right, then you can communicate what they need to know, so they can conclude what they need to conclude, so they can decide what they need to decide, so they can convert from prospect to customer.

As marketers, we need to learn to overcome our number one vulnerability. If it’s- if you’ve heard me and you’re starting to get this, but you’re not sure you totally- you totally understand how to do it, that’s what the next episode is going to do. We’re going to talk about overcoming your own blind spot. We’re going to transform a powerful heuristic into a tool that you can download and use to help you get your communication just right.

So, thank you, number one, for investing time and energy, being with us this far. And then pay close attention to this conversion heuristic up on the screen because it’s going to be the key. We’re going to teach you element by element what it means and how to use it. And finally, thank you again. Thank you for participating. Thank you for helping Then by Three. Most of all, thank you for your trust.

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