Daniel Burstein

Conversion Rate Optimization: Building to the Ultimate Yes

April 30th, 2012

What does it take to get a customer to act? Several micro-yeses that lead to the Ultimate Yes.

This graphic illustrates the different factors at play in obtaining that Ultimate Yes – a marketing conversion. Even more important, this graphic illustrates the factors you can optimize to improve the probability that you gain that conversion.


Click to enlarge


“The funnel represents and should be thought of as a representation of what is the heart of marketing, and that is a series of decisions,” said Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS.

“Those decisions are key transitions; I would call them micro-yeses. There are a series of micro-yeses necessary to helping someone achieve an ultimate yes. The Ultimate Yes is the sale in most cases. At each of these junctures, we have to help people climb up the funnel.”

Let’s break down each element in the funnel and the role it plays in achieving a marketing conversion.


Ultimate Yes

At the top of that inverted final, Yu stands for Ultimate Yes … the conversion action you would like your customers to take. This is likely a purchase. For a non-profit organization, though, it might be securing a donation.



Leading up to the Ultimate Yes are a series of smaller decision points. Each of these decision points needs a micro-yes, denoted by Ym in the graphic, to get to the Ultimate Yes. If at any point along the process your potential customer says no, you will not achieve your goal.

So, for example, if your conversion goal is to get someone on your email list to purchase a product, the micro-yeses decision path might look like this:

  • Subject line (yes gets an open)
  • Email headline (yes gets the email read)
  • Email body copy (yes gets the reader down to the call-to-action)
  • Email call-to-action (yes is a click to the landing page)
  • Landing page headline (yes gets the landing page read)
  • Landing page body copy (yes gets the reader down to the call-to-action)
  • Landing page call-to-action (yes is a click to put the product in the cart)
  • Cart step 1 (yes is providing credit card and shipping info)
  • Cart step 2 (yes is the Ultimate Yes, verifying the purchase)

Note that, if your prospect had said “no” at any point by not acting, you would never have reached your ultimate conversion goal. For example, if the headline caused him to trash the email instead of reading the body copy, the recipient would not have bought the product.


Perceived value versus perceived cost

For each decision point, each step along the path that you are trying to secure a micro-yes, your prospect is weighing the perceived value of the action you’re asking him to take versus the perceived cost of that action (denoted by Pv and Pc in the graphic).


MarketingExperiments Conversion Sequence heuristic

Several factors determine how your potential customer perceives the cost and value of each step of the process. The patented MarketingExperiments Conversion Sequence heuristic is a thought tool that can help you optimize your decision points to increase the communication of value and decrease the perception of cost.

C = 4m + 3v + 2(i-f) – 2a ©

C = Probability of conversion
m = Motivation of user (when)
v = Clarity of the value proposition (why)
i = Incentive to take action
f = Friction elements of process
a = Anxiety about entering information

By better tapping in to your prospect’s motivation, more clearly communicating your value proposition, and offering the right incentive (when necessary), you improve the communication of value for the decision point. By reducing the friction and anxiety the customer experiences, you reduce the perception of cost.

As you improve the communication of value and decrease the perception of cost, you increase the probability of conversion.


Customer Theory

As the circle of blue arrows indicates, this is an iterative process. The best way to optimize the elements mentioned above is through continuous testing and learning. As you learn more about your customer, you can build and refine a customer theory to better tap into what your customer values and reduce those things that your customer perceives as being a cost.


Value Proposition

While each decision point in the process requires its own value proposition for the specific action you are trying to get the customer to take, you also need a value proposition for the Ultimate Yes to drive your customer up to the next decision point.

So, for example, if your Ultimate Yes is the purchase of a product, that product needs a value proposition. But if your funnel includes a pay-per-click ad as a decision point, that PPC ad needs its own value proposition. In other words, your customer must not only see the value of your product, but the value of clicking through on that ad to get to the next step of the buying process.


Related Resources:

The Marketing-Sales Funnel: Gravity is not your friend

Customer Value: The 4 essential levels of value propositions

Marketing-Sales Funnel Optimization: 3 questions to ask as you kickoff 2012

Post-Email Summit Workshop: 4 key ways small businesses can optimize their campaigns 

Daniel Burstein

About Daniel Burstein

Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS Institute Daniel oversees all editorial content coming from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the editorial direction for MECLABS – working with our team of reporters to dig for actionable information while serving as an advocate for the audience. Daniel is also a frequent speaker and moderator at live events and on webinars. Previously, he was the main writer powering MarketingExperiments publishing engine – from Web clinics to Research Journals to the blog. Prior to joining the team, Daniel was Vice President of MindPulse Communications – a boutique communications consultancy specializing in IT clients such as IBM, VMware, and BEA Systems. Daniel has more than 15 years of experience in copywriting, editing, internal communications, sales enablement and field marketing communications.

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  1. dkkauwe
    April 30th, 2012 at 06:09 | #1

    The inclusion of anxiety is brilliant.

  2. July 29th, 2012 at 09:42 | #2

    Having passed the marketing experiments online certifications this is all very familar and when I speak to my clients about CRO, I always emphasise the importance of tackling anxiety by inclusing reassurance elemsnts such as testimonials, awards and other such credibility factors.

  3. T Thomas
    December 6th, 2013 at 15:13 | #3


    Great article. Quick questions about Mirco yeses.

    I have a sales page with a: Headline, Copy, Photos and Add To Cart Button at bottom. The Add to Cart button redirects to a paypal page. Lately I have fewer sales and nothing has changed except for replacement of some traffic sources.

    If customers clicks on the “Add To Cart button” but does not go through with the purchase does that mean the problem (the Mirco-No) in my situation is the paypal page and/or price on paypal page?

    or is it still something with the copy, headline, and/or traffic source? Thanks

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