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Marketing With No Budget: Things That Work What You Need To Know About Marketing and Strategy How To Set Internet Marketing Goals and Objectives 3 Ways to Increase Online Sales The Key to Customer Loyalty How and When to Use Sex to Sell More


Conversion Optimization 101

What You Have to Know About Conversion Optimization The Ultimate Guide to Increasing E-Commerce Conversion Rates Ridiculously Effective Technique for Online Lead Generation How To Increase Sales Online: The Checklist How Images Can Boost Your Conversion Rate How to Use Video to Increase Conversions How To Build A High Converting Landing Page 3 Hard Truths About A/B Testing 53 Ways to Increase Conversion Rate

Table of Contents




Design Like Jagger Eight Universal Web Design Principles You Should Know First Impressions Matter: The Importance of Great Visual Design How To Design A Homepage That Converts

Website Credibility Checklist Factors How To Design User Flow Intuitive Web Design: How To Make Your Website Intuitive To Use


Understanding Users

How To Use Behavioral Design For Boosting Converstions Using the Fogg Behavior Model People Comparison Shop, Stupid 10 Useful Findings About How People View Websites Mobile Internet Users And Their Shopping Behavior Why You Shouldn’t Assume How Users Feel About Your Site

Great User Experience UX Leads to Conversions How To Identify Your Online Target Audience and Sell More Are You Providing Answers to Magic Questions?


Email Marketing

How To Creative Effectvive Email Drip Campaigns How To Generate More Sales From Your Email Marketing Campaigns 7 Mistakes That Hurt Your Email Relationship Building Efforts Lead Magnets: Email List Building On Steroids



Writing Copy

Writing Homepage Headlines For The Modern World:3 Formulas That Work

How To Get People To Believe What You Write What To Call Your Call To Action

Value Proposition Examples 7 Principles of Effective Sales Copy Copywriting Based on the Science of Persuasion Click Fear and How to Avoid It



10 Principles of Effective Pricing Pages Invent A New Category, Charge More Pricing Experiments You Might Not Know But Can Learn From Product Pricing Strategies and Techniques




Marketing with no budget—a familiar story for most small businesses and startups. When there’s no money, there’s usually time. Time is unfortunately also limited, so the question is—how to convert that time into money most effectively (get the biggest bang for the hour)?

You could come up with hundreds of free online marketing ideas, but in order to get results, you should focus on the few that really make a difference.

Note that these methods ain’t quick fixes, but will make a significant impact if you stick with it.


Blogging is one of the most effective marketing tools out there. It won’t do much in the short-term, but you’re probably in it for the long run. A great blog builds an audience that is looking forward to your messages, and that is invaluable. A year from now you’ll wish you had started today.

If your website does not have any content besides your product information pages, you will never have large amount of free traffic via search engines. The more content you have on your blog, the more natural traffic you get. A large amount of the people who get to your blog via search are your target market. That’s pull marketing at work. A study of 2,300 HubSpot customers revealed that businesses that blog witness their monthly leads rise by 126 percent more than those who don’t.

Search engine optimized posts

Your blog can be your most effective SEO provider. In order to make your posts rank on Google and Bing, make sure to do these three things:

The title of your post has to be worded in a way someone might use while doing a search. Do your research first on Google Keyword Tool.

Marketing With No Budget: Things

That Work


Mention the same phrase as you have in your title one or two times in the body copy, too—depending on the length of the post.

Have clean URLs: “” is better than “ id=123”.

What to blog about?

“Instead of trying to out-spend, out-sell, or out-sponsor competitors, try to out-teach them," say the guys over at 37Signals (see the video here), and they’re right. This captures the essence—use your blog to teach and educate your prospects and customers.

Use a casual tone in your blog. Nobody wants to read boring academic texts. If there’s a sentence you wouldn’t say while talking to your friend, don’t use it.

Goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway—there is no substitution to great content and writing, so make it good. Further reading: 5 Ways to Make Your Blog Posts Outstanding. Getting success through a blog takes time, so make sure you have persistence and patience.

A great way to speed things up is guest blogging on popular blogs. Check out a few insightful videos about guest blogging on Any post you write, submit them on social bookmarking/news sites like Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon, Sphinn, or Hacker News. Where to submit depends on your field and target audience.

Create an online tool

You might not have money, but perhaps you have programmers in your company or your best friend can code. If that’s the case you can create a useful or fun tool to drive traffic and generate leads.

Hubspot, an internet marketing company, created a free tool that assesses your website. The tool claims to have assessed close to three million sites, and your score on the 1-100 scale represents the percentage of those sites that your site tops. Now that’s a pretty cool tool, and it’s free. It has gotten Hubspot a ton of fame, inbound links, and leads.

Online tests are tools, too

You don’t necessarily need to create a sophisticated tool. It can be as simple as a test— and people love tests.


The One Question, a website helping people find their purpose has created a simple life purpose test, which helps people reflect. They get around 100 people per day joining their mailing list through that test.

Gemstone Shoppers has created a test where people find out what their gemstone is. Once they get their result, they can embed a banner with their personal gemstone onto their blog or website. The banner links back to the website and so the test serves also as a link building tool.

Note: Make sure your tool can capture users’ emails or generate leads in some way, don’t waste the traffic.

So think—what useful tool can you create that would benefit your prospects?

Participate in relevant forums

It’s likely that people in your target audience are already talking about your field in some sort of forums. It might be an old school bulletin board or a group on some social media network such as Facebook or LinkedIn.

Your job is to join in on the conversation and start adding value. This will help you build relationships and show off your expertise and position yourself as an authority in the field. Don’t ever spam your product or trash the competition—that’s the quickest way to turn the community against you. You have to become a member of your community, and you can do that by acting like one. What goes around, comes around. You can have a link to your website in your profile and signature, but don’t go around posting your link on random forums.

If you’re a hosting company, you might want to participate in Web Hosting Talk. Sell infoproducts? Check out WarriorForum.

Go to Google now and find all the relevant forums and discussion groups.

Join Twitter and/or Facebook

Get on the social media bandwagon. Create your Facebook page and sign up for Twitter. Depending on your field, LinkedIn and YouTube might be great matches, too.

Remember—social media is for building relationships, not selling. You should only rarely shout “buy my product” on Twitter or Facebook (unless it’s a special campaign and it’s between a lot of great content). Make friends, follow great people (your prospects), and re-tweet their stuff. This helps to boost the relationship.


Relationship bank account

If you ever read Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People," you might

remember the term “emotional bank account”—similar to a bank account, you can make deposits or withdrawals from each of your relationships. This principle applies on social media, too. I called it the ‘relationship bank account,’ and it’s the key principle to understand if you’re ever to get success on social media.

Every time you share something useful, entertaining, or in other ways value-adding on Twitter or Facebook, you make a deposit on to your relationship with the followers. Every time you ask for a sale or issue any other kind of self-oriented request, you withdraw from the relationship.

Make sure you deposit enough before making a withdrawal: share useful content (can be links to your blog), link to great articles out there, give tips on how to use your products. It’s okay to ask for a sale every now and then, but share at least 10 pieces of great content for every time you ask for something. Nobody wants to talk to people who only want to sell them something.

How to market on social media? There’s a ton of great content out there. Check Social Media Examiner as one of the best resources out there.

Pitch your story

If you have a great product unlike any other (or slightly different), you can try to pitch it to the media and popular blogs/websites.

I’ve compiled a list of more than 36 places you can submit your startup for some coverage.

There are also online press release distributors such as,,, and many others like that—but these won’t actually get anyone to read your press release. They are useful for link building though.

What you can do is try to identify journalists that write on the field of your product and shoot them an e-mail. Don’t pitch your product, but the story of why it matters.

Have an affiliate program

Help others help you. Somebody might come across your product and see that it’s a perfect for their audience (blog readers, newsletter subscribers, existing clients, etc).


They might recommend it anyway, but they’ll push it harder if there’s something in it for them. Hence it’s a good idea to have an affiliate program where you pay commission per every client referred.

Don’t be stingy—if it’s a digital product, a commission under 30 percent isn’t gonna cut it. Have it at least 50 percent—most likely your margins will allow this. It’s money you

wouldn’t otherwise earn at all—better half than nothing. Think long term—how much money you might make off of a client in the long run. The hardest sale is always the first one.

So there you have it—if you were looking for a silver bullet, sorry to disappoint you. You better hear it from me—it doesn’t exist. There are no shortcuts and there is no substitute for hard work (and some luck).


Anyone can create a product. That is not the hard part. The hard part is selling the product.

It is imperative that you understand key concepts of marketing before you start to market your product, or before you even start creating your product. The way you

market it needs to be integrated to the product itself—it sets the tone for the whole thing. The business world is full of competition. There’s a good chance that the market you want to enter already has some players in it, and you need to take that into account. Here are the most important things you need to know about marketing and strategy.

Understand Your Customer

Success starts with understanding who your clients are and what they need. This is crucial for two main reasons:

1. In order to create a product that truly delivers, it needs to address the needs of the buyer.

2. To sell your product successfully, you need to know your client demographics, their values, aspirations, and reflections of themselves.

When you know who your customers are, you will be able to better leverage your time, energy, and resources to pursuing the right customers. You can focus your advertising efforts. Especially if you are a one-person business owner, you need to reevaluate your customer relationships and make choices about how to maximize and effectively use your limited time and resources.

To cater better to the needs of your clients, ask yourself the following questions:

1. What does your client need and want?

This is the basis of everything. Your product needs to really address the needs and wants

What You Need To Know About

Marketing and Strategy


2. Why does your customer buy from you?

It is important that you know what customers consider most valuable about your products or services. Ask and talk to your customers to find out. Once you have a list, ask them again if you are indeed delivering what they want. These two questions—what does the customer value with regards to your products and services; and how well do you provide that value—will determine the relationship that you will have with the customer.

3. What does the customer expect after the sale?

The hardest part of the sale is after the sale is made. It is the make or break period: the customer’s expectations will either be realized or failed. It is the time where you will know whether the level of activity, delivery, customer service, and commitment to promises made all supported the sales effort.

Do you know what is the emotional value they are looking for? What is the emotion in them when they are using your product?

When people buy a Volvo, they buy safety. When people buy Versace, they buy glamour and wealth. Ask yourself what is the emotional need your clients seek, and communicate that in your sales copy and advertising messages.

Another thing is that you need to understand their demographics. If your buyers are women between ages of 20 and 30, it would be a very bad idea to show pictures of old men on your website. Show a picture of a person that is representative your of desired customer, and it helps others customers to connect with your business. People in

different stages in their lives have different needs. Men and women have different needs. You might think that as you know a lot about your business, you know the needs and motivation of your clients anyway, and you don’t need to ask. But here’s the thing: all people make decisions differently from one another. And the thing that persuades you is unlikely to be the thing that persuades the next guy. Our personal outlook is a lousy indicator of what works for anyone else.

When thinking of what your clients want, here are things you can count on:

They want you to really listen to them and not go on and on about yourself or your product.


They want you to be a knowledgeable resource so you can guide them through the process.

They want to know you will charge a fair price for a product. They want to know you will stand behind what you sell.

They want to know you won’t fade away as soon as they’ve made the purchase. More than anything else, prospects and customers watch what you do more than they listen to what you say.

Offer a unique high value product

You want your product to stand out from the crowd, and you want people to really benefit from what you’re doing. If you can’t do it, save your time and don’t go into business. The best things you can do for yourself is to create something that is both of high value to customers and that few others are doing.

Let’s look at this graph below. It’s a matrix, with two parameters: value to the customer and uniqueness. This will teach you the most important things about marketing and product design.

Your business can be in one of the four quadrants. Let’s start in the bottom left corner: this is when you provide a product or service that offers very low value, and there’s a ton of other companies doing the same stuff.

The quadrant in the bottom right corner is when you provide something of great value to the customer, but so are 10 other companies. When there is almost nothing different about you and your competitors, or the differences are very subtle, you always compete


on the price. Customers will usually buy the cheapest product.

The upper left corner is a place you will most definitely want to avoid. It’s where you provide something totally unique, but it offers no value to the customer and thus nobody wants it. You are the only one doing this pointless thing, and soon there won’t be any as you’ll go bankrupt.

The place you want to be is in the top right corner, where you provide a unique product that delivers great value to the Customer. Now that sounds easier than it really is—so many businesses fail to do that. The uniqueness can be a multitude of things: features, design, price, location, business model, you name it. Figuring this out might not be easy, but it sure as hell is worth your time investment.

Be remarkable and worth recommending

When you look at most of the internet businesses out there, then it seems that almost everybody’s strategy is to be a little bit better than the other guy… while being mostly the same. Sameness is the predominant strategy. And that’s stupid. Mediocre things will not get you anywhere, but will crush your business instead.

Create products that people will want to buy by building the marketing into the product experience itself, not by trying to come up with marketing after the product is done. If you fail to do so, you will struggle to find the time or money it takes to make your offering successful. If you make average products, you’re going to fail.

The most reliable way to succeed today is to stay away from the average and the mediocre. Your product should raise eyebrows and get people talking about it (which is what being remarkable is). You want it to be so different in some way, that it will make people want to tell their friends about it.

This is the best way you can do advertising for yourself as the time of conventional advertising is over.

People are becoming more and more resistant to advertising. Unless you’re Coca-Cola or Procter and Gamble, who can throw a gazillion dollars at advertising, this is not the game you want to play.

So how to build this remarkability into your product?

A good way is to go to the extreme with an aspect of your product. Cost. Give everything you know away for free. And charge for support or live


seminars. Prince—the singer—gave his new albums away for free. Every concert that followed sold out to the max for a very high price. Or do the opposite: price is so much higher than anything else on the market that it will intrigue people.

Design. Make it look ultracool, or go out of your way to have no design at all. Being

just average or good enough won’t cut it.

Service. Go out of your way to provide excellent service to your customer. Or treat

the VIP customers significantly better than others, so that the desire to become one increases.

Go beyond core features. Whatever your product does, it has a set of core

features. These are things people expect a product to do. What if you would do much more? A training company could offer personalized coaching for participants.

Change your target customer. Repackage your product/service and target a

non-conventional target group. Handbags for men. A chiropractor who offers his services to companies instead of individuals. Construction tools for women.

If you can figure out a way to make your business so unusual, different, and unexpected that people can’t help but say something (good or bad, doesn’t matter!), you have made it and saved yourself so much money. You’re either remarkable or invisible.


One of the hardest things for any internet marketer is to figure out what to focus on. Marketing is overwhelmingly broad, and you could pretty much do 10,000 different things. How to set internet marketing goals and objectives? What’s most important? Answer: building marketing assets.

What are marketing assets? The terminology was created by Seth Godin, who talks about marketing assets here. In his words:

“For a marketer, an asset is a tool or a platform, something you can use over and over without using it up. In fact, it’s something that gets better the more you invest.

Running an ad is an expense. Building a brand people trust is an asset.

Buying a trade show booth is an expense. Having a permission-based marketing list of people who want to get anticipated, personal, and relevant emails from you is an asset.” The answer is right there. Your marketing goals and objectives should focus on building the following:

building your reputation and brand,

building your (permission-based) mailing list and building the relationship with the people on that list,

building your blog/Twitter/Facebook/etc. audience, both in quality and quantity. Now every time you ask, “what should I be doing?", you can take action based on whether an activity helps you build a marketing asset or not.

How To Set Internet Marketing

Goals and Objectives


There are three ways to grow sales—online and offline both. Only three. However, most companies focus only on one—and are missing out on revenue opportunities.

So what are these 3 ways to increase online sales? increase the number of customers,

increase the average order size,

increase the number of repeat purchases.

#1: Increase the number of customers

This is what most businesses do and try to get better at.

You do this by solving a real problem, being remarkable, driving relevant traffic (free and paid), boosting conversions, using referral programs and so on. It’s the most expensive part of increasing sales.

#2: Increase the average order size

They say the most profitable question of all times is “Would you like fries with that?” And that captures the essence of this point.

When you get people to that stage when they’re ready to buy from you—you can ask them to buy more things, and there’s much less friction. The reason being that getting customers to that buying point is the hardest part of the sales process. They need to trust you and believe in the value they’re getting, they need to convince themselves they need or want it, and that it’s the right thing to buy at this moment.

Once they’ve reached that step and made a conscious decision to give you money— they’re also giving you their trust. So in that moment you are able to sell them more.

Upsell a product that costs ~60% less

Question: When somebody buys a shirt, should you upsell them a tie, or the whole suit?


The right answer is “tie”—it’s (usually) cheaper and hence seems like a small thing to add. If you’d try to upsell something more expensive, you’d counter the same kind of friction as you did with the initial product (doesn’t mean it can’t work, it’s just harder). The time-tested 60×60 rule says that your customers will buy an upsell 60 percent of the time for up to 60% of the original purchase price. Any upsell you offer must be congruent with the original purchase. This means that when they buy shoes, you offer to buy shoe care products, not a key chain.

Ever registered a domain name through GoDaddy? Let’s see how many things they’ll try to upsell you:

Here’s the list:

1. different extensions (.net, .info etc), 2. domains you searched previously, 3. “variations you might consider”, 4. premium domains,

5. country/region specific domains,

6. “add 5 more domains and get bulk pricing”


8. email plan.

Yes, that’s 8 attempts to upsell you! I agree that GoDaddy is excessive, but it’s been working for them. You should at least try to upsell 1 thing.

Quantity discount

Buy more, save more!

Vistaprint does this:

Offer an upgrade

Remind people that for just a little more $$$ they can get a fancier product.

Most people won’t need more than 16 GB in their iPad, but “just in case” and “it’s just $100 more” helps Apple make more money.


Offering something to go with the initial product for a special price is a great way of increasing the average order size.


Notice how in addition to offering the bundle, they’re also pitching the Amazon credit card (upsell!).

I throw marketing seminars each time I go to Europe—and whenever I offer an online marketing course to go with the seminar fee (for some extra $$$—but a very good deal), around half the people take the offer. Bundling ftw!

Complementary product

“Do you need batteries?” Sometimes you can get the extra sale by reminding them of a new need they will have because of buying the product they have already decided on. This can be an easy sale because it is rational, “makes sense.”

This is how the Phoenix Pendant does it, on the page that appears after the customer has clicked the buy button:

One interesting thing they do here is tell you not to buy it if you don’t need it. This can reduce friction—if a customer is expecting to go straight to checkout and then they get smacked with an upsell suggestion, it’s nice to word it in a way that makes them feel


under less pressure and more in control. The people at the Phoenix Pendant tell me that 60% of customers take the upsell.

Longer commitment

Charge monthly? Get them to sign up for a longer time period. GetResponse lures with a 18% annual discount:

Extended warranty

If you’ve ever bought a gadget, you’ve been probably offer an extended warranty for a price. Even though statistically speaking it’s a bad deal for the buyer, it provides peace of mind.

Amazon example:

Add-on services

Ever go to Chipotle? You can get a good burrito for a decent price, but they offer to add tasty guacamole (right in front of your eyes) for $1.80 more.

Get customers to add small things to their order for a small fee. They might just add up if you know what I mean.


Here’s how PSD2HTML does it:

Expedited delivery

If you sell physical products or do custom work (be it software development or engraving jewelry), you can get people to pay more for faster service.

HP ships your purchases faster if you pony up additional $39:

#3: Increase the number of repeat purchases

It’s much easier to sell to an existing customer than to get a new one. You’re spending a ton to acquire them—it’s much cheaper to keep them than to go off finding new ones all the time.

You don’t want to keep all of them—just the profitable ones. So you need to be able to identify which ones are costing you, and which ones are bringing you bacon. (Some you might want to offload because of the emotional cost of servicing them, i.e. difficult customers that you spend a lot of support hours on).


Offering promotions and reminding customers of what you offer

Send targeted follow-up emails to customers offering them a related product or service (you can do this automatically with a good email autoresponder and shopping cart). Notifying them of deals is also great.

Wine Library is constantly sending me wine offers over emails (’cause I’ve bought before). Every now and then I’ll take it:

Companies do this with email marketing, but also all social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)—get customers to follow you on one of these and offer special deals for just the followers.

Here’s an example from Modcloth Facebook page:

Free shiping for a year (locking customers in)


(+ some other benefits). Free 2-day delivery is nice, and so are free streaming movies. Appearently more people used the 2-day shipping now than their free Super Saver Shipping. People like it.

However, by giving you this deal they’re essentially locking you in. Why buy from anyone else if Amazon ships it for free (get it in 2 days)? does the same thing:

If your customers buy frequently the kind of products you sell, come up with an incentive to keep buying only from you.

Offer coupons with the order

Do you know what’s the open rate of transactional emails? Three times higher than commercial email!

According to Experian’s Transactional Email Benchmark Report

The average revenue per transactional email is 2-5 times higher than standard bulk mail

Transaction rates are 8x higher than bulk mailings for order confirmations and 4x higher for shipping and returns/exchanges

Customers tend to open transactional emails repeatedly

So when customers place an order with you and receive the “Thank you for your

purchase” email—make sure you include some marketing in that email, such as a coupon code.


code with an expiry date is a better idea than offering an additional product (you should have offered that as an upsell before completing the purchase).

I bought a gift for a friend, and the confirmation email had a coupon in it:

Save credit card details

I shop on Amazon all the time. The few times when I don’t buy something from Amazon is when I’m after something specific and Amazon doesn’t have it.

Of all the reasons I prefer Amazon, the biggest one for me is that my credit card details are already stored there. If I’d go buy from an online store I’ve never visited, I’d have to enter all the payment and shipping details—all over again! No, thank you—Amazon it is! No it is not just me talking—data shows a sharp jump in per account spending (and the trend is upward):


(Note: don’t copy Amazon blindly. What works for them, will not necessarily work for you.

They can get away with a lot of crap.)

People are inherently lazy. Your job is to make buying from you as easy and convenient as possible.

Customer experience

People remember experiences. If the experience your website provided sucked, they won’t come back. Investment in user experience pays off.

Somebody on Quora suggests that provides a great experience. I did a search on Twitter and it could be true:

Service is the new selling

This is directly related to the last point. Once you get the customers in, provide a superior support and service experience. You can always impress people with excellent service since the average is very low.

Once you provide excellent service, people not only recruit new customers for you, but they’ll be sure to repeat the experience.

Release a new, better model every year

iPhone, anyone?


When trying to increase your online sales, don’t forget the other two ways besides getting new customers. Optimize for all three ways and enjoy growth thanks to untapped


If you want to double your results, you can either double the number of visitors (very expensive), double the conversion rate (possible, but increasingly harder as there’s a max limit to your conversion rate) or double repeat purchases—loyalty.

Jakob Nielsen has mentioned that 2010–2020 will be the loyalty decade. Investing in loyalty is as important as investing in usability and conversion optimization.

If you plan to be around with your business, you have to plan for loyalty.

Shared values before interactions

A common narrative shared online is that you build loyalty by interacting with customers (sending them emails, social media, etc). It is only true when a critical criteria has been met first: shared values.

If you don’t form relationships, your customers will just want discounts. If consumers share values with your brand, you can spend less on messaging, less on discounting, and you’re less affected by the turbulent economy.

In a study of 7,000 consumers in the U.S., the UK, and Australia those who said they have a brand relationship, 64% cited shared values as the primary reason. That’s by far the largest driver.

Do you stand for something?

In order to have shared values with your customers, they need to know what your values are. If you’re running a vanilla company trying to please everybody, you’re not touching anyone’s heart.

In 1983, Harley-Davidson was almost going out of business. By 2008 the company was valued at $7.8 billion, being one of the top brands in the world. Central to the company’s turnaround and success was Harley’s commitment to building a brand that stands for something. Its customers organize around the lifestyle, activities, and ethos of the brand.

Shared values lead to loyalty


What are consumers really loyal to? People at Corporate Executive Board were looking into this for over a year.

Long story short, what they found out was that people are not loyal to companies.

They’re loyal to what the companies stand for.

We saw that emotional attachments to brands certainly do exist, but that connection typically starts with a “shared value” that consumers believe they hold in common with the brand.

—Aaron Lotton

Real thing, not stick-on emotions

If you’re successful and/or original, your products, prices, and marketing messages will be copied. Those things are not your unique competitive advantage, nor will they create loyalty.

The companies who focus on values, community building, and relationships are building assets that can’t be easily replicated. The best and most sustainable way to create emotion and build relationships: mean it.

You show hot women in your ads or feature happy families on your website, but those are merely stick-on emotions. The real thing is something intrinsic about your business.

A great example: Toms Shoes. You buy a pair of shoes, they give a pair to a child in need. The company has been around only a few years, but has become a known brand people love—because they’re the real thing.

Patagonia has a following. As does Harley-Davidson and Whole Foods. They stand for something real.

Here’s a good article on the real thing vs stick-on emotions.

People will buy from you if who you are aligns with who they are. So make it known who you are and what you stand for.


Sex sells—everybody knows. Or does it?

A fifth of all ads use sex

According to the book Sex in Advertising: Perspectives on the Erotic Appeal, around 20% of all ads use sex (a good collection here). Of course you already knew this.

Open any magazine and sexy ladies (and men) will sell you anything from shampoo to chainsaws. Some say that fitness marketing is almost soft porn these days. Most big companies have used sex to advertise. Even Apple—even though it doesn’t allow sexual apps on their appstore.

Why are there so many ads using sex? Is it cause it’s really boosting sales? Here’s the real explanation for this.

“If you look at most of the Fortune 500 companies, who are they run by? Men. So, you’re their advertising agency and you’re pitching these ideas to these men. Well, men have a very specific idea of what’s beautiful.”

—University of Florida advertising professor Robyn Goodman (source)

Perhaps sex doesn’t sell, after all

According to one study an overwhelming 61 percent of the respondents say that sexual imagery in a product’s ad makes them less likely to buy it. Interestingly, 53 percent of respondents surveyed said they are more likely to buy a product that is advertised using the imagery of love.

Another study made by AdWeek and Harris poll showed that more than half of Americans (56%) say they are bothered by sexual imagery in ads they are exposed to, a quarter are very bothered and the rest are somewhat bothered.

Of course, these surveys were asking people how they would behave. People rarely know.

How and When to Use Sex to Sell



Sex doesn’t sell movies

A study on sex in the movies—that examined more than 900 films released between 2001 and 2005—concluded that nudity and explicit sex scenes don’t translate to success for major motion pictures.

Contrary to popular belief, sex and nudity failed to positively affect a film’s popularity among viewers or critics and did not guarantee big box office receipts. The top-grossing films in the study contained mostly minor to mild sex and/or nudity.

Women turned off by sexual ads?

There are thesetwo studies which show that women are bored by ads using sex—even when they were made for and appeared in fashion magazines aimed specifically and uniquely at female consumers, including Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Allure.

The studies don’t reveal exactly what the women don’t like about these ads. When I shared the study about women disliking sexy ads in magazines with a lady friend, she suggested it might be because of envy. The goal of those ads in those magazines is not to make people relate to them, in fact the opposite is true. They’re aspirational.

Sex reduces brand recall

MediaAnalyzer Software & Research explored how men and women look at sexually themed ads and what effect that visual behavior might have on the ads’ effectiveness. Long story short, men’s brand recall was worse for the sexual ads than for the nonsexual ones. An average of 19.8 percent recalled the correct brand/product for the nonsexual ads; for the sexual ads, 9.8 percent did. Strong, sexual visuals reduced the attention a brand was getting by 50%.

Men liked the sexual ads, but couldn’t really remember what company was advertised. Women did not like the sexual ads, and interestingly their brand recall was more than 50% worse.


I think Reebok Easytone is a good example where sex is being sold way more than the product itself. The shoes are completely overshadowed by ass. In the end, you want sex, not the shoes.

And it’s not just about the brand recall, it’s about noticing the brand to begin with. A viewing observation study revealed that men hardly pay any attention to the ad copy or products on sexy ads.

So when does sex sell?

Sex has a proven track record. The Wonderbra ‘Hello Boys’ campaign is a great example. Its billboards stopped traffic and aroused the attentions of men, but it put women in the driving seat. Seven units were sold every second in its 1994 heyday—1.6m in that year alone.

An interesting tidbit: 73% of sexual ads in magazines contain a sex-related brand benefit. Common themes follow the “Buy this, get this” formula. If you buy our product: (1) You’ll be more sexually attractive, (2) have more or better sex, or (3) just feel sexier for your own sake.

Axe and Old Spice body sprays make a lot of money, and they’re positioned as sexual-attractant enhancers. For over 30 years, sex in one form or another has been a mainstay in Calvin Klein ads. Their annual revenue in 2010 was $2.5 billion, up from $1 billion in 2005. Ads continue to be as edgy as ever.

Victoria’s Secret is all about sex. The company has grown from three boutiques in San Francisco to the most successful intimates brand in the world. So clearly, being all about sex can be good business.

So I’d suggest you use sex in your branding if your brand is about sex. It seems to work.


Scientists claim they have discovered exactly why sex sells. Researchers found seeing an attractive man or woman in an advert excites the areas of the brain that make us buy on impulse, bypassing the sections which control rational thought.

“These results suggest that the lower levels of brain activity from ads employing NI (non-rational influence) images could lead to less behavioral inhibition, which could translate to less restraint when it comes to buying products depicted in the NI advertisements.”

—Dr. Ian Cook, a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA

Basically this means that seducing consumers can be a more effective way to sell products than persuading consumers. Even better, combine both.

Similar findings were confirmed by other studies.

Belgian researchers conducted a series of tests on 358 young men, showing some of them sexual images or objects, and showing the others non-sexual images or objects. The sexy imagery did not work on all men all the time, but as a group, men with sex on their brains were more impulsive and valued immediate gratification more than the controls.

“I observed in my studies that men are more likely to pick a smaller immediate reward over a larger later reward. Hence I do think that men might spend money on something they might otherwise not purchase. Men would become more impulsive in any domain after exposure to sexual cues.”

—Bram van den Bergh, the study’s lead author

Another study received similar results. They found that men who viewed photos of women judged to be attractive became more attracted by short-term rewards. Add here the research by George Loewenstein of Carnegie Mellon University and Dan Ariely of MIT, who found that sexually aroused men would do all sorts of things they might not otherwise do.

When aroused, more men (compared to non-aroused) found women’s shoes sexy and wanted to take part in a threesome. Aroused men narrow their view of the world. When they’re thinking about sex, that’s all they think about and that leads to impulsive,

irrational behavior.


If you want your customers to think short-term and go for immediate satisfaction (impulse purchases), using sexual imagery is a good idea.

I would think a time-related scarcity would boost any sexy offer even more—taking advantage of their irrationality while they’re turned on.

Using sex to sell more online

Offline advertising is one thing (even though a racy ad can be a fantastic link

building tool), what about using sex online—banners ads, landing pages, websites and so on? (I’m talking about non-adult industries).

There was a successful auction on eBay where a guitar was sold using sex. Unfortunately we won’t know what the result would have been without the sexy photo.

And Shoemoney conducted an experiment on Facebook and discovered that ads with boobs get the most clicks (and lower CPC thanks to higher CTR) and they even convert. This was his winning image:

Of course, you have to be careful when using such imagery—it will surely attract tons of clicks (and more cost) from people who have no intention of buying your stuff.

Virtual cleavage works (for men)

How would you increase conversions when targeting hardcore social gamers, male, ages 18-40? With breasts, of course.

Ion Interactive was testing a landing page for a video game. Two variations of a female vampire image were be tested to determine whether a head shot or body shot is more effective at driving game sign ups.


Image source

Results: Version C kicked butt! For PPC traffic, landing page C resulted in a 95% increase

in sign ups over landing page A and a 35% increase in sign ups over landing page B. For Affiliate Marketing traffic, landing page C resulted in a 39% increase in sign ups over landing page A and a 30% increase in sign ups over landing page B.

However, this doesn’t mean that sex sells more video games. In fact, less sex sells better. Some say it’s because there are more women playing video games than ever. Even Lara Croft has been reduced to more anatomically feasible proportions; her breasts and lips have shrunk in recent years. Newer versions of the game have sold better than the earlier ones.

Untapped potential

The truth is that there’s little data available on using sex to boost online conversions. It seems that it’s not a widely used approach. I would think that there’s some untapped potential here and some people will make good money using it.


Researchers followed up on earlier research that has demonstrated that women exhibit negative reactions to explicit sexual content in advertising.

Their hypothesis was that women’s attitudes toward sexually oriented advertising would improve if ads reflected devotion and commitment.

“Findings from our initial experiments were supportive of this hypothesis. Experiment one illustrated that commitment-related cues in the ad itself (for example, positioning the product as a gift to a woman from a man) boosted women’s attitudes.”

So if you want to appeal to women, show love and commitment instead of purely recreational sex.

Maybe you’re already selling sex, you just don’t know it

That smartphone in your pocket? That’s for sex. So is the car you drive and the clothes you wear. Everything you own is about sex and attracting more of it. This is what evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller says in his book Spent.

Pretty much every purchase decision and acquisition of personal goods is motivated by the primal desire for procreation, pleasure or both—he claims.

If that’s true and you can figure out how your product or service can help buyers get more sex, maybe it is a good idea to test using sex in your ads and website. Just bear in mind that including sexuality in your advertising and/or web visuals will almost certainly alienate some of your audience (but that might be okay).

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This section will make you money. It will teach you about conversion optimization—how exactly to do it, based on all the best research and experiments.

Why do conversion optimization? It is the cheapest, quickest way to increase sales online. Think about this: if you’re currently converting at 1% (1% of your visitors buy your stuff), but can increase that to a mere 2%, you’ve doubled your sales.

Conversion optimization is the method of tuning websites or landing pages with the

goal of converting more visitors into customers. The higher the conversion rate (%), the more sales (sign ups, subscriptions, etc) you get.

Conversion optimization is about testing. Most companies are not happy with their online conversion rate, says Econsultancy. Companies who were happy with their conversion rates did on average 40% more tests than those companies who were dissatisfied.

Why don’t you test?

3 likely reasons:

You don’t really know what conversion optimization is or how to do it, You think it’s too complicated,

You figure it takes too much time.

It’s not that complicated nor that time-consuming. Your business exists to make money, conversion optimization makes your business more money. If that’s not worth your time, I’m not really sure you got your priorities straight.

How do you know if your conversion rate is high enough?

It depends. It depends on what action you want people to take, how much your product costs, where the people are coming from and so on.

What You Have to Know About

Conversion Optimization


Send spam to 100,000 people with your offer and you conversion rate will be 0%. Send an email to your in-house email list that has been nurtured for years, and you might sell to more than 10%.

The average conversion rate for purchases is commonly believed to be 2%, but don’t get stuck on that. If you’re doing more than 2%, it doesn’t mean you’ve reached Nirvana and should stop optimizing. A good conversion rate is the one that’s better than your current one!

Note: Bear in mind that overwhelming majority of people will NOT buy anything on their first visit to your site. Hence, don’t try to sell to everybody right away. Instead “sell” them the idea of coming back—ask them to join your email list, subscribe to your rss feed, follow you in Twitter, and so on.

A quick refresher on testing methods

Create multiple versions of a web page (such as home page, product page, landing page, etc) or even a part of a web page (such as headline wording, call to action button size, email capture box location, etc) and see which version converts better—which version gets more people to do what you want them to do.

Customers often behave unexpectedly. This is one reason we need to test. The second reason is that you are not your customer, hence thinking customers use your site like you do will leave you in the dark.

You don’t know what works until you test it.

A/B testing

There are 2 ways to test. A/B testing (or ‘split testing’) is when you create two versions of a page (page A and page B). 50% of the traffic is showed page A, and the other 50% is taken to page B. This division is done automatically by software (see the end of the article).

If a user lands on page A, a cookie is placed on her computer, so that when she comes back later, she will always see version A. This ensures that people won’t really notice that you’re conducting any testing on your website.


Technically you could also do A/B/C/D etc testing, but the more versions you test at the same time, the more time it takes for you to know which one is the best. You need

statistical significance. There’s a significance calculator spreadsheet in Excel you can use. Google recommends at least 100 conversions per page before deciding which version is best. The exact amount actually needed is a matter of debate. I say sometimes 25 conversions is enough to spot a winner (exact conversion rate requires more time). If you test more than two pages against each other, it will take you much more time to find the winner. Speed of testing is also important, so I say skip the Cs and Ds.

Multivariate testing

Multivariate testing enables you to test more than 2 combinations at the same time, and the combination of different combinations. Let me explain.


Let’s say you’re testing 2 versions of a headline, 2 versions of a call to action text on a button and 3 different images of the page at the same time (as on the picture above). So the winning combination could be:

headline 1, button 2, image 1 headline 2, button 1, image 3 headline 1, button 1, image 2

… etc, etc. Lots of possibilities, and you’d need a lot of traffic to find the winning combination.

Only do this if you have a ton of traffic. Low modest traffic websites should stick to A/B testing.

Structured approach

According to the conversion optimization report , companies that have a structured approach to conversion are twice as likely to have seen a large increase in sales. So don’t just throw spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks; have a “structured approach.”

Let’s go over some frameworks you can use for your conversion optimization.


You can download a white paper on the structured approach advocated by RedEye and Econsultancy (who conducted the conversion study mentioned above).

The approach they recommend is a 4-step loop (Measure-Analyze-Test-Optimize):

1. Measure. You can only improve what you can measure, so measure everything. Be

clear on your business goals, benchmark your competition for ideas, dig in your web analytics data, conduct customer surveys, analyze search behavior on your site.

2. Analysis. Once you know your goals, it’s time to figure out what’s working well, what’s

not and why. Analyze your content for relevancy and clarity, figure out if it matches user needs, do usability testing and analyze user paths/journeys on your site.

3. Test. A/B and multivariate testing are the two most valuable methods for companies

to improve conversion. Prioritize tests by potential value and cost.

4. Optimize. After conducting tests, implement successful design and content changes.

I suggest you download the white paper and read the whole thing.

Invesp Conversion Framework

Invesp has 8 principles in their conversion framework.

1. Build buyer personas and focus on a few select personas when designing your

layout, writing copy, and so on.

2. Build user confidence, make them trust you by using all kinds of trust elements. 3. Engagement. Entice visitors to spend a longer time, come back to visit, bookmark it,

and/or refer others to it.

4. Understand the impact of buying stages. Not everybody will buy something on

their first visit, so build appropriate sales funnels and capture leads instead, and sell them later.

5. Deal with fears, uncertainties, and doubts (FUDs). Address user concerns,

hesitations, doubts.

6. Calm their concerns. Incentives are a great way to counter FUDs and reduce



and test them and improve their performance.

C = 4m + 3v + 2(i-f) – 2a

This is not a lesson in physics, but a conversion formula developed by Marketing Experiments.

Luckily you don’t need to solve the formula above, it’s actually a helpful tool to keep at arms length (like print it out and stick on your cubicle office wall). This is what the characters mean:

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

Translation: The probability of conversion depends on the match between the offer and visitor motivation + the clarity of the value proposition + (incentives to take action now – friction) – anxiety. The numbers next to characters signify the importance of it.

Friction is defined as a psychological resistance to a given element in the sales or sign-up process. Anxiety is a psychological concern stimulated by a given element in the sales or sign-up process. Reduce these as much as possible and do what you can to increase the users’ motivation and incentive and clarify the value position.



This framework has value proposition as vehicle that provides the potential for the conversion rate. It’s the basis of it all. Relevance and clarity boost conversions, while anxiety and distraction kill it. Urgency is what propels people to take action right away.

Ingredients of a successful test

Not all tests are equal. Here’s what you need for successful conversion testing: A hypothesis: testing is not there to prove an idea works, but to assess whether it works.

Don’t test your site by showing a different version at different time periods (e.g. one week one design, second week another design), the results will NOT be accurate. Don’t be afraid to fail: In testing & optimization, failure is success. Too many times, I have seen the uglier, poorer cousins convert better.

If you don’t have huge amounts of traffic, don’t test too many variations at once. Also, if you do A/B testing, it’s worth testing one change at a time—otherwise you won’t know which thing made the difference.

Don’t end the test too soon, make sure results are statistically significant.

Avoid “meek tweaking”—in other words, making changes that are never likely to have a significant effect. (See below)

Testing should never end. Decide what to test, test it, make a change and test again.

What are the most important things to test?

We could test everything, but let’s test the 20% that makes 80% of the difference. Now let’s look at each area separately. I’ll showcase some cool recent experiments you


Value Proposition

Value proposition is the main reason a prospect should buy from you.

(If you’re struggling with yours, here’s a worksheet (pdf) to guide you through the process of effectively communicating your value proposition.)

Can you find a value proposition here?

Didn’t think so. Stating your company name as the first thing and throwing around superlatives like “finest quality” don’t convince much.


This makeover version brought 145% increase in conversions.

Marketing Experiments recommends you test your value proposition via PPC ads first, and only then test the winning versions on your landing page:

Images from Marketing Experiments


“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money. The headlines which work best are those which promise the reader a benefit.”

—David Ogilvy, ad guru

A good headline can make the difference. It’s kind of nice when just changing the wording of your headline increases your results by 127%.

A headline is the first thing a visitors sees and reads on your website or landing page. It’s the very first thing you say about you. If you start out with “Welcome!”, you’ve already lost.


message from the ad; utilize persuasive momentum.

If you’re split testing article headlines or email subject lines, remember the 65 character rule. Google only displays 65 characters in its search results, email clients such as Gmail will truncate long subject lines and Twitter doesn’t allow too much for tweeting your headline.

CityCliq: 88.9% improvement

The winning headline is the one on the right.


A confused mind always says ‘no’, goes the old direct marketing adage.

The offer is the deal you’re presenting to your visitor. Make it clear and concise. Nobody will try hard to understand what is it that you’re offering.

The offer is not a “call to action,” that comes later.

Call to Action buttons

The most important part about CTA buttons is that they’re clearly visible, above the fold and there’s ideally just one per page. The more choice you give, the harder it is to decide. People’s attention span is limited. They don’t want to figure out what buttons that say “submit” actually do. Buttons without the word ‘submit’ convert better, tests show. Steve Krug was right: “don’t make me think.”

The word ‘free’ on the other hand seems to be quite magical. For instance Firefox improved their conversions by 3.6% (over 500 more downloads per test) when they changed their button text from “Try Firefox 3″ to “Download Now—Free.”

What about the color of the button? Big orange buttons are all the rage these days (think Amazon), but there are still some other colors in the world. In this test red kicked greens


butt and converted 21% better (orange was not tested):

Image: Hubspot

Larger sized buttons usually do better. Hubspot found that a good button size is around 225px wide and 45px high.

Oh yeah, never ever have a “reset fields” button. Nobody fills a form to clear the field in the end. If they do, they won’t bother to start over.


Whenever there’s somebody asking for a sale, there’s friction! Reducing friction produces a disproportionately high return on invested effort.

Friction consists of two components:

Length: fatigue, irritation, or aggravation caused by forms or processes that ask for more time or information than feels reasonable


Difficulty: poor usability, asking questions people don’t know the answers to, insufficient product information, etc.

Absence of trust is also friction—a visitor will not convert if he doesn’t have confidence or trust in you.


This was the treatment:

The optimized form requires only one choice, and the call-to-action is simply a “Confirmation,” thereby minimizing difficulty-oriented friction.

By including the offer price on the landing page (which also removed one page in the order process) and minimizing friction by reducing the level of decision making difficulty on the order form, free-trial-signup conversion rose by 65%.

Another one:


Here are some things that reduce friction:

Testimonials and/or customer reviews, Case studies of previous customers,

Third-party references such as media mentions or reviews, Easy to find company contact info, employee photos and bios,

Trust marks that communicate your site is secure and that confidential data is handled with care,

Short forms (whenever you add an input field to your form, ask yourself, “Is this additional information worth losing sales?”),

Clarity: focus on what the user gets and needs to do to get it,

Distraction removal: the offer page doesn’t contain anything not related to converting the user,

Use language that is familiar to your target audience—avoid jargon and corporate speak,

Guarantee: offer a guarantee on their purchase such as a 90-day risk-free trial; 100% money-back guarantee; or a 100% satisfaction guarantee,

Beautiful design: websites that are more attractive create a greater feeling of trustworthiness and professionalism in consumers.

Unfortunately you cannot eliminate friction 100%—it is a natural part of selling. If you want to people to buy something, you must eventually ask for a credit card number, address, and other information.

Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab’s web credibility guidelines is a must-read for all.


The right pricing can really help you boost your conversions. Read our article on pricing experiments.


This is when you go beyond testing one element to create an all together new and different version.

Great examples (click on the links of each case study to read the specifics):

SEOMoz: 52% improvement in sales and $1 million dollars increase in revenue

Image: Conversion Rate Experts

How they did it:

created a web page long enough to tell the story

infused the headline with curiosity rather than overt “buy me” language explained precisely what customers would get at each level (plan)

showcased things customers cared about but SEOmoz had taken for granted augmented the message with video

lowered the risk by offering free subscribers a 30-day full-featured membership for just $1

Highrise: 2 radical changes, 37.5% and 102.5% improvement in conversions

Image: 37Signals


You really need to test: A long form page had a 37.5% increase in net signups compared to the original. The “person design” converted better than the original. Then they added more info under the person design page, and it converted worse. Big photos of smiling customers work (but the specific person didn’t quite matter)

Performance Based Design book: 131.2% improvement on landing page

What they learned:

Engaging visitors through appropriate copy improved sign ups by 100%+

Sometimes you can overthink. The winning design was thrown together very, very quickly, yet outperformed the more formally ‘designed’ landing page with more than double the conversions.

Conversion optimization tools

There are quite a lot of tools available, lists 39. I’m going to skip expensive enterprise tools and list some of my favorites that are easy to use and easy on the wallet.

Google Website Optimizer—The best part of GWO is that it’s free. Most people can do most testing with it, but it requires you to be somewhat tech savvy. Google does

provide handy video tutorials that help, but they’re somewhat outdated, and the sound quality on some is plain horrible.

Visual Website Optimizer and Optimizely. Great services for entrepreneurs—both easy to use. VWO’s cheapest plan ($49) comes out to $0.0049 per visitor. Optimizely’s cheapest plan ($19) comes out to $0.0095 per visitor. Here’s how they compare to each other.


ConversionDoubler seems to be in the same ballpark, but I haven’t used it myself.

Zentester has a forever free plan, but the catch is that your test results are public.

MaxA/B is an easy to use WordPress plugin for A/B testing. I’ve had some issues with it in the past, but for the most part seems to do the job.

What worked for them, won’t necessarily work for you

Just because something worked on somebody’s site, doesn’t mean it will work on yours. For instance take this case where reducing the size of call to action and removing urgency elements actually increased the conversion rate.

No website is the same and no users are the same. The trick is to understand your users and target them in the most appropriate manner. Customers are influenced by a range of activities before they convert; website content, website usability, online and offline advertising all play a role in whether or not the consumer will make a purchase. You have to test.

Excellent libaries of case studies

There are several good conversion optimization case study resources.

WhichTestWon claims to have the world’s biggest library of A/B & multivariate testing case studies (164 at the moment of this writing). Offers paid membership for in-depth information on them.

MarketingExperiments blog has a ton of case studies. Not all of the posts in the link are case studies, but a lot of them are.

Visual Website Optimizer has a user-friendly database of case studies. Free. All kinds of tests. Upload your own test results.


If you run an online store, you’re always trying to boost your sales. Here’s how to increase the conversion rate of your ecommerce site.

What’s the conversion rate I can be happy with?

Don’t worry about “average” rates. A good conversion rate to strive for is better than the one you have right now.

There are just too many variables that affect conversions, so it’s very difficult to have apples to apples comparisons between different sites. Quality of the traffic is a major contributor.

Rates around 1 percent and 2 percent are fairly common.

Quality Product images

If I’d have to pick one single thing that would sell a product online, it’s images. You could technically have an e-commerce site with just images, and no product descriptions (I don’t recommend it). It wouldn’t work vice versa.

People want to see what they’re getting. The grandfather of boosting e-commerce

conversion rates is having high quality photos of your product. The more the better. Show the products from different angles, in context, make them zoomable. gets it right:

The Ultimate Guide to Increasing

E-Commerce Conversion Rates


Extra credit for the “view this in the dressing room” feature. Check it out.

Great product copy

Product descriptions matter. The role of product copy is to give buyers enough

information, so they could convince themselves this is the right product for them. Clarity trumps persuasion. The best sales copy is full, complete information. No hype needed. How long? You should offer both, the concise version and the long version. The shorter version should capture the essence: who’s the product for, what will it do, and why is that good.

The longer version should give so much information that the user will not have a single question left. If they read the whole thing and still have questions or doubts, then you have a problem. If they’re convinced only half way through, they can just skip and continue to checkout.

Let’s look at the same product on Home Depot and Amazon. The Home Depot version sucks:


They cram the text inside a stupid iframe, only provide you with three sentences of information and a bunch of technical info in bullet points.

The Amazon version has proper text for humans, turns features into benefits and even provides a comparison table. Technical info is provided too.

If you sell stuff you don’t make, don’t just repeat the manufacturer’s canned descriptions. Add your personal touch and recommendations—tell the customer why you personally recommend this product and how it will help them.

Recommended reading: E-Commerce Copywriting: The Guide to Selling More

Product videos

Images are good, but everything indicates that video is the future. Photos have their limitations; video is the next step before actually touching and feeling the product. If you’re not doing product videos yet, do them for at least part of the inventory and see if it makes a difference.


Zappos has videos for almost all of their products, such as this:

Customization creates ownership

People like to customize stuff. It’s fun, has a game-like element to it and creates a feeling of ownership. Once you’ve spent minutes configuring a product, it feels like your own. Back in 2008, I needed a new laptop and went to I played around for like 30 minutes customizing my laptop. At the end, of course, I bought it. It ended up being much more expensive than any of their standard sets.

If your business is up for it, you can do mass customization, like Dell or Timbuk2—using efficient manufacturing (the labor contents of every Trimbuk2 bag is only 30 minutes). Here what Timbuk2 bag customization looks like:




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