Daniel Burstein

Hidden Value: What buried treasure are you ignoring in your marketing?

April 24th, 2014

Earth Day was Tuesday, which is a great time to remind you that it isn’t eco-friendly to use disposable plastic water bottles. What if you carried a reusable bottle with you everywhere instead?

This type of bland pitch to take care of the Earth’s resources doesn’t tend to be very effective. Sure, you may get the true believers to take action. But the vast middle segment of the population who somewhat care about the environment, but are lazy, likely won’t do anything different. Or, they might try it once or twice and then give up.


Shining a light on the hidden value of reusable water bottles

When I spoke recently at the University of North Florida, I noticed a marketing tactic so simple, yet so brilliant, that I wanted to share it with you today as the perfect example of revealing hidden value. Here’s a water fountain I saw at UNF.



Now, I admit, I haven’t really kept up on water fountain technology. But you’ll notice how this water fountain is different from when you and I went to college: It has a feature that allows students to refill water bottles with filtered water. But here’s the really brilliant part …



I learned that this model of water fountain is the Elkay EZH2O Bottle Filling Station. There is a counter on each water fountain (which the company calls the Green Ticker) that says, “Helped eliminate waste from 35,403 disposable plastic bottles.”


What is hidden value?

This is the perfect example of revealing hidden value. Hidden value is value that your product or service offers a customer, but they don’t know about it because you either:

  • Don’t communicate it
  • Communicate it through your marketing, but it is buried and de-emphasized
  • Don’t track or compile the data at all

I believe that revealing this hidden value, which would have literally just flowed down the drain if the company didn’t track and message it, helped Elkay with two audiences:

  • Water fountain users – By quantifying and showing the amount of trash that was saved, users clearly see how the effort they are making as a community (in this case, university) is actually making a difference. It also adds some social proof, showing that others are taking this action. For example, Elkay has a case study about how a campaign built around this water fountain reduced plastic water bottle consumption by 92% and 350,000 fewer plastic bottles were sent to landfills.
  • Water fountain buyers – A water fountain is a B2B sale. Someone at UNF (and every other institution) had to decide to buy and install these water fountains. By quantifying a number that would have been lost, the purchaser is likely to be able to make an easier case to purchase more of these fountains, essentially showing the ROI to sustainability committees.


Now that you have a better understanding of hidden value, here are three ideas for revealing it more effectively in your marketing.


Idea #1. What value is buried in your marketing collateral?

Go on a treasure hunt. Sometimes the important elements of value are hidden in your marketing.

For example, by moving the number of members in a physician-only social network from a throwaway line out of the eye-path to the headline of the email, we were able to more than double conversion. You can see the control and treatment emails in “Email Messaging Test: 104% increase in conversion from rented list.”


Idea #2. What is the value of the next step in the process?

Another reason value is hidden is because prospective customers don’t know the value of the action you’re asking them to take; they only understand the costs.

This is especially true for product purchases, in which videos or images of the product in use and customer testimonials can help. You need to answer the question, “What’s it like to be a customer of your service or owner of your product?”

But it’s also true for something as simple as clicking a button. In this case, you need to answer the question, “What happens after I take this action?” In the email test I shared above, another element that helped increase conversion was changing the call-to-action button copy from “Get Started” to “See How [Product Name] Works.”


Idea #3. What value do customers not know they’re already getting?

Ever talk to someone who works at a company of a product you use, and they tell you all about the background information of the product, and this leaves you thinking, “Wow! I didn’t know it could do this”?

A great example is an experience I had with the folks who sell Acuvue contact lenses, which I wear. They had a booth at the Gate River Run here in Jacksonville, so I stopped by. They can’t sell contacts from the booth, you need a prescription. But they said the main reason they had the booth was simply to let people know that Acuvue contact lenses have UV protection, a hidden value most customers didn’t even realize.


You might also like

Transparent Marketing: How to make your product claims credible … not incredible [More from the blogs]

Lead Generation: Perceived value and cost of free incentives [More from the blogs]

Display Advertising: 4 common mistakes marketers make with banner ads [More from the blogs]

Email Messaging Tested – A recent experiment reveals the two words that increased email clickthrough by 13% [Web clinic replay]

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Daniel Burstein

Email Marketing: Using A/B tests to challenge your assumptions

April 21st, 2014

Dan Ariely has a Ph.D. in business administration.

He also has a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology.

I can think of no better description of a high-performing marketer. Someone who understands management and organizations, yes, but who also can provide unique insights into mental processes (i.e., the mind of the customer).

We were honored to have Dan as a keynote speaker at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014. While there, he stopped by the Media Center to discuss email marketing, human intuition and rationality (or the lack thereof) with MarketingSherpa Reporter Allison Banko.


As Dan discussed, if we approach marketing as a three-step process …

  1. Doubting ourselves
  2. Having a bit more humility
  3. Testing

… we can use email marketing as a quick feedback loop to gain a deeper understanding of the cognitive psychology of what headlines, subject lines and offers will get a customer to act (and which ones will not). By doing this, ultimately, we can improve business results.

“You have to try things that you think won’t work out,” Dan said. “If you try only the things you think will work out, you will never learn.”

This is a perfect explanation of Web optimization, which is the focus of our next Summit.

At Web Optimization Summit 2014 in New York City, one of our featured speakers will be Michael Norton of Harvard Business School, a colleague of Dan. They conducted research together on The “IKEA Effect”: When Labor Leads to Love. They discovered a cognitive bias in consumers – people tend to place a disproportionate value on products they help to create.

That bias prevents you from seeing the marketing campaigns and landing pages you create the way customers experience them. You helped create it, so you place disproportionate value on it.

But as we’ll explore at Web Optimization Summit, A/B testing is helping marketers see with new eyes –the eyes of the customer.

Read more…

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Jessica Lorenz

Lead Generation: Customers are looking for a solution to their problems

April 17th, 2014

At MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013, Jon Ciampi, Vice President of Marketing, Corporate Development, Business and Strategic Accounts, CRC Health, recounted his challenges with PPC ads and how using A/B split testing helped him better understand his customers and use his marketing budget more effectively.

Jon and the team went through the arduous process of purging a majority of the 3,000 keywords the company was bidding on in an effort to optimize the PPC campaign for one of its rehab facilities.

“[Customers] are not looking for a value proposition,” he said.

Rather, he continued, they were looking for a solution to a very real problem – alcoholism, drug addiction or eating disorder rehabilitation. When the tests were analyzed, he saw that customers weren’t searching using the words that the company used. For example, customers might use the word “clinic” instead of “facility.”

The first step in this process was getting the customer and the company to speak the same language. Customers were not clicking through to the value proposition – Jon knew that the conversation had to change.


Although CRC Health had something very valuable to offer, Jon realized that he couldn’t “change the conversation” from what motivated customers to the value proposition “until [he started] the conversation” with customers by using their motivations.

Jon found the most effective way to start this conversation was to group keywords together. Rather than bidding on high-traffic words like “rehab,” – a very competitive and highly trafficked word – the team tied several words together, such as “methamphetamine rehabilitation facility” to find the highly motivated customers. This separated real leads from the users trying to find out which celebrities checked into rehab that week.

“The value proposition isn’t the motivation of the buyer, the motivation of the buyer is actually driving their decision,” Jon explained.

In order to get customers into the sales funnel from a search, he first had to address why and what the customer was searching for. Using PPC ads, he could assess, test and optimize his campaigns to discover and understand his customers in a low-pressure environment.

See his entire presentation from Lead Gen Summit 2013 in the MarketingSherpa Video Archive.

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John Tackett

Lead Generation: Great results don’t always have to be complicated

April 14th, 2014

To discover what works best for generating leads in your organization, at some point, you eventually have to do two things:

  • Wade through enough trial and error until success is the only destination left
  • Keep the process as simple as possible on that journey to reach success

For Shawn Burns, Global Vice President of Digital Marketing, SAP, keeping the company’s testing simple was instrumental in helping SAP reach some of its goals of maximizing the ROI on existing marketing.

“We can complicate everything,” Shawn explained, “and when you’re in a testing environment and you start to think about navigation, templates, images, copy, colors and buttons, you just have to sort of stop and say ‘whoa’ – clear away the madness, take it step-by-step, do simple things and see what has an impact.”

simple-cta-testShawn’s focus on keeping SAP’s testing simple was also influenced by a need to apply those discoveries to growth in areas like mobile marketing. A simple testing approach and the lessons learned from the process would be highly beneficial in aiding SAP’s efforts to optimize its marketing in what is literally a pocket-sized medium.

“There are 2 million smartphones being activated every day on the planet, so all of us as marketers are having to deal with this incredibly [physically] tiny media channel,” Shawn said. “And so, you start to look at testing as, ‘how simple can I be?’”

In this brief excerpt from Shawn’s MarketingSherpa and MarketingExperiments Optimization Summit 2013 presentation, “5 Optimization Discoveries from the SAP Website Test Lab,” you can learn  how small changes can make a big difference in your testing and lead generation optimization efforts.

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Selena Blue

Online Testing: 5 steps to launching tests and being your own teacher

April 10th, 2014

Testing is the marketer’s ultimate tool. It allows us to not just guess what coulda, woulda, shoulda worked, but to know what actually works. But more than that, it gives us the power to choose what we want to know about our customers.

“As a tester, you get to be your own teacher, if you will, and pick tests that make you want to learn. And structure tests that give you the knowledge you’re trying to gain,” said Benjamin Filip, Senior Manager of Data Sciences, MECLABS.

So what steps do we take if we want to be our own teacher?

While conducting interviews about the live test ran at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014, I recently had the chance to discuss testing processes with Ben, as well as Lauren Pitchford, Optimization Manager, and Steve Beger, Senior Development Manager, also both of MECLABS. The three of them worked together with live test sponsor BlueHornet to plan, design and execute the A/B split test they validated in less than 24 hours.

Read on to learn what they had to share about the testing process that marketers can take away from this email live test. We’ll break down each of the steps of the live test and help you apply them to your own testing efforts.


Step #1. Uncover gaps in customer insights and behavior

As Austin McCraw, Senior Director of Content Production, MECLABS, said at Email Summit, “We all have gaps in our customer theory. Which gap do we want to fill? What do we want to learn about our customer?”

What do you wish you knew about your customers? Do they prefer letter-style emails or design-heavy promotional emails? Do they prefer a certain day of the week to receive emails? Or time of day? Does one valuable incentive incite more engagement than three smaller incentives of the same combined value?

Think about what you know about your customers, and then think about what knowledge could help you better market to them and their needs and wants.


Step #2. Craft possible research questions and hypotheses

When forming research questions and hypotheses, Ben said, “You have to have some background info. A hypothesis is an educated guess, it’s not just completely out of the blue.”

Take a look at your past data to interpret what customers are doing in your emails or on your webpages.

Lauren wrote a great post on what makes a good hypothesis, so I won’t dive too deeply here. Basically, your hypothesis needs three parts:

  • Presumed problem
  • Proposed solution
  • Anticipated result


Step #3. Brainstorm ways answer those questions

While brainstorming will start with you and your group, don’t stop there. At MECLABS, we use peer review sessions (PRS) to receive feedback on anything from test ideas and wireframes, to value proposition development and results analysis.

“As a scientist or a tester, you have a tendency to put blinders on and you test similar things or the same things over and over. You don’t see problems,” Ben said.

Having potential problems pointed out is certainly not what any marketers want to hear, but it’s not a reason to skip this part of the process.

“That’s why some people don’t like to do PRS, but it’s better to find out earlier than to present it to [decision-makers] who stare at you blinking, thinking, ‘What?’” Lauren explained.

However, peer review is more than discovering problems, it’s also about discovering great ideas you might otherwise miss.

“It’s very easy for us to fall into our own ideas. One thing for testers, there is the risk of thinking that something that is so important to you is the most important thing. It might bother you that this font is hard to read, but I don’t read anyway because I’m a math guy, so I just want to see the pretty pictures. So I’m going to sit there and optimize pictures all day long. That’s going to be my great idea. So unless you listen to other people, you’re not going to get all the great ideas,” Ben said.

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Daniel Burstein

Web Optimization: How to get your customers to say heck yes!

April 7th, 2014

For e-commerce marketers, and many marketers with a subscription-based business, the value of the products they sell on the Internet is intangible when the purchase decision is made.

So who better to gain some conversion optimization advice from than an A/B tester who specializes in nonprofit marketing, the industry that must communicate the most intangible value of all – goodwill.

We brought Tim Kachuriak, Founder and Chief Innovation & Optimization Officer, Next After, into the studio and discussed:

  • The power of the value proposition
  • Creating a scarce resource
  • Commitment building
  • The value proposition train

I’ve known Tim for several years through his attendance at MarketingSherpa Summits, and am glad to have him as a featured speaker at the upcoming Web Optimization Summit in New York City. In fact, his Web Optimization Summit session was one of the things we worked on while he was in Jacksonville, Fla.


Below is a full transcript of our interview if you would prefer to read instead of watch or listen.

Read more…

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