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CXL Website Optimization Minidegree – Week 3 Review

Week 3 of my CXL conversion optimization minidegree study was as disappointing as last week’s was exciting.This week’s topics covered include:

  • Social Proof
  • Intro to Neuromarketing
  • Developing & Testing an Emotional Content Strategy
  • Influence and interactive design
  • Influence and interactive design

Overall, this week of lessons has been the most disappointing of them all. Not sure if that’s a commentary on how good the course on Messaging is, or on how bad the majority of these lessons are.

Let’s start with Social Proof…

It could be argued that social proof is one of the most important aspects of online business today.

Between Amazon reviews, and Google reviews, buyers have become accustomed to seeing the familiar five stars that assure them that they’re making the right buying decision.

I was excited to start this course, but disappointed by the content. It covered all the bases, but wasn’t as involved as it could, or should be.

The longest video in this course is 3:19. No specific topic can be covered in depth when using videos that short.

In addition to short content, it was missing some important info … or at least information that I would have liked to know as a person who will be selling CRO services. Specifically…

  • How do you get buy-in from management to spend significant time and money on interviewing clients, and customers to build extensive case studies?
  • What are the components of a detailed case-study?
  • What does a good case-study look like? Give some examples.

Overall, this course content was very basic. More specific content can be found on YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31Uc5TA8ntA

Next we have Intro to Neuromarketing

This course had some interesting content. One of the things I found most interesting was the story of JC Penny and how their move away from discounting prices almost cost them their business.

The concept of the slide made it easy to remember the concepts discussed but so much of this course was blah, blah, blah.

Take the video on EEG, Biometrics, Eyetracking, Facial Coding for example…

  • How many companies actually use this? I don’t know.
  • What value does it have to me as someone selling CRO services? Don’t really know.

The speaker talks about expressions, and micro-expressions. Honestly, I learned more about this by watching “Lie To Me” on Netflix.

In the lesson title, “How do I know this isn’t bullshit”, gives the impression that the science isn’t BS, but as you listen to the video, he states that it neuromarketing is still a world divided in its claims. And in fact, one of his two takeaways was to rely on established science, and testing.

Developing & Testing an Emotional Content Strategy

This course presented by Talia Wolf had some interesting content, but again was light on content, and gave just a superficial look at the subject.

Take, for example, the lesson on developing an Emotional Content Strategy based on your competitive analysis and SWOT test…

The video is just 1:40 long. How can you really do the topic justice?

I would have loved to see real-life case-studies and examples of this in action. Yes, she uses the dating industry to make her general points but even at this stage in her 3-step process, she doesn’t give an example of how it would look. She just talks about what your content should accomplish.

The first case study showing how they increased sign-ups at a dating site was interesting, but the second case-study about increasing sign-ups for the magazine site was short on info. They could have done better by watching the YouTube video linked to above on how to do case-studies. I came away from this video feeling like it was nothing more than a thinly-veiled ad for her company.

I’m going to stop writing now because I don’t think the summary of the course should be much longer than the actual course.

Influence and interactive design

Another really disappointing course. Very superficial information. Much of the same stuff has been covered in other sections.

For example, the video on directing attention. The little bit of information he conveys here could be found in the gian list of cognitive biases written by Peep in a previous course.

The only thing I got out of this course that I really found interesting was the example of how Amazon displays their prices and discounts. It uses anchoring to make it appear to be a good deal. Anchoring, by the way was covered in the section called Cognitive Bias last week.

In closing…

In closing, this week’s topics were an utter disappointment and could probably be removed or covered in other courses – if they haven’t already been.

The exception is the course on Social Proof. I really believe in the power of testimonials and case-studies to improve conversions for a company.

I would love to see a more in-depth course on the subject.

Below I’ve included my notes of each course.

I look forward to next week’s topics, which include Google Analytics, and Landing Page Optimization.

Social Proof (Joel Klettke)

What is social proof?

Social proof is any third party, unbiased proof that’s outside of a claim your company would make.

Examples include:

  • Case studies
  • Reviews
  • Testimonials
  • Company logos

Writing Case Studies & Testimonials

  • They help the customer self-select.
  • Establishes empathy – that you understand their struggles.
  • Can act as an interest point (lead generation).

Case study needs…

  • Relatable subject
  • Includes before, during, and after states
  • Gives specific results

Conducting Customer Interviews

  • Choose a customer that is representative of your target market.
  • Always ask open-ended questions.
  • Never go in with a “set script”. Keep things fluid.

Where to include Social Proof

  • Near the top to support your headline.
  • On the pricing page
  • Anywhere you make a specific claim
  • Don’t use video exclusively for testimonials – be mindful of the visitor’s time, and give them just enough to get them on to the next step.

Negative Social Proof

Negative reviews can make the rest of the reviews more “human” or believable – especially in e-commerce.

How to Keep Social Proof Fresh

  • Have a system in place for collecting testimonials, and building case-studies.
  • People use social proof to make decisions. This will never change.

Intro To Neuromarketing

Schools of thought

  • Digital marketers are measuring desired action
  • Two main spectra:
  1. Behaviour -> Neuroscience
  2. General -> Specific

The Persuasion Slide

  1. Gravity
    1. Initial motivation
    2. Needs
    3. Wants
    4. Goals

When you ask your visitor to do something, you are asking the visitor to fight gravity. Focus your messaging on how you will help the visitor meet their goal.

  1. Nudge
  • Call-to-action
  • Phone call
  • Subscribe
  • Email
  1. Angle
  • Conscious motivators
    • Benefits 
    • Discounts
    • Features
    • Gifts
    • Discounts
    • Prices
    • Specs
  • Unconscious motivators
    • Emotions
    • Psychology
    • Biases
  • JC Penny decided to stop marking up prices, and stopped offering weekly deals. Nearly bankrupted them. They returned to the discount strategy as their primary method of motivation.
  • Non-conscious motivators, unlike conscious motivators, are free to implement. Can be reflected in the copy of the page.
  • Social proof, scarcity, hidden text in descriptions, can all improve the angle of your slide.
  1. Friction. Friction can be real or perceived.
  • Real friction
    • Form fields
    • Steps in checkout process
    • Instructions
    • Steps in conversion sequence
  • Perceived friction

*The default choice is the minimum friction choice. Organ donour participation is highest in countries where people have to opt OUT rather than opt IN to be a donour.

Don’t focus on motivating someone to do X. Focus on making it easier to do X.

If your visitors have difficulty reading your site, they’ll have difficulty making a decision, and will perceive it to be more difficult. So when you want someone to take action, make it easy-to-read, and easy-to-understand.

Developing & Testing an Emotional Content Strategy

What is emotional targeting?

We don’t buy a product, we buy a better version of ourselves.

Emotional targeting for mobile

Responsive design kills conversion.

270% gap between conversions on mobile vs. desktop.

We act differently on mobile devices vs. desktop.

  • We don’t feel as secure
  • We don’t focus as much

Step 1: Emotional Competitor Analysis

Study 10-15 competitors and judge them on 4 criteria:

  1. Messaging – what is their messaging
  2. Colour – what colours do they use?
  3. Images – what type of images are they using and why?
  4. Emotional triggers – how are they trying to make people feel?

Step 2: Emotional SWOT Test


  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Perform a SWOT analysis on your 10-15 competitors

Step 3: Emotional Content Strategy

Look at the weaknesses, and threats. Then address them using content. What emotions do you want the prospect to feel after they’ve consumed your content?

Step 4: Testing

Test 5 emotional elements

Influence and interactive design

Direct Attention

  • Use design principles to grab attention
    • Things that break patterns stand out.

Educating Customers

  • Marketing must contain a combination of features and benefits

*That was a lame section. What a waste of 3-min.

Evoking Emotion

  • Loss aversion = what we avoid
  • Incentives = what we need/want to survive

Decision Making

Rational vs irrational decision making…

Irrational dm includes:

  • Emotional feelings
  • Cognitive biases
  • Logical fallacies
  • Heuristic decision making
  • Thinking fast (not slow)
  • Behavioural economics

Most of persuasion comes from rational appeals – Value proposition is the main driver.

Amazon uses anchoring by displaying:

List Price: $79.99

Price: $69.99

You save: X %

Trust & Credibility

People buy from businesses, they know, like, and TRUST!

Credibility is made up of:

  1. Expertise in one’s field
  2. Honesty: Integrity and ethics

This course was the biggest waste of time. All things covered were very general. No real good specific examples of how his framework could be applied in the real world.

I think this course could be eliminated from the overall minidegree and nothing would be lost.

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Curtis Penner

Curtis Penner

Curtis Penner is the man behind the sheep ... ahem ... well, he helps service-based businesses harness the power of online marketing to become the lead sheep in their markets. Cause if you follow the herd, all you get is sheep $#!t on your shoes.

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