Tips, W.I.P. and The Link You Can’t Click

Friends and colleagues,

It’s Jack Trout Bobblehead Day. This will be followed by Michael Porter Bat Day. And W. Edwards Deming Cap Day. Who are these folks? Well, Trout is a master of the art and science of positioning. Porter teaches us the importance of building and sustaining competitive advantage. And Deming showed us how to measure everything we do and find truth in numbers.  We try to consistently honor the simple wisdom of these marketing pioneers and their colleagues. They remind us that the development and implementation of strategy involve rigor and thoughtfulness. And that there’s no shame in eating more than five Ballpark Franks at a game. Ok, maybe not that last part.

Time to step to the plate and extend this metaphor.


  1. Try the “Hey (insert name)” test.  We recently re-tested the use of personalization in email subject lines. The result for three different clients? Over 50% increases in open rates. The lesson: we’re vain; we respond to our name, not “hey you.” Obvious, right? Then why aren’t more of you personalizing both digital and offline communications? The cost to do so has dropped like, well, an infield pop fly.
  2. Use HTML “lite.” The brand folks love rich media and graphic-rich HTML. The direct marketers know that text can be surprisingly effective. The really sharp and good-looking agency folks (that’s us) say split the difference and utilize what we call HTML lite. It means using graphics more selectively, embracing white space, faster load times and yes, higher click-through rates. Ask me for examples.
  3. Test cut and paste. Your team has written some clever headlines and subheads. The accompanying copy is as good as sheet music. But there’s a problem. You’ve failed to differentiate your product or solution. When you cut and paste your competitor’s name into those heads and subs you love, it works well for them, too.  Here’s the finger-wagging admonition you knew was coming: that shouldn’t happen if you’ve really worked hard to establish your points of difference.
  4. Total recall. Put your site design, new brochure, email, whatever important piece of marketing communication you’re evaluating in front of small groups of folks in your office or in your neighborhood. Best if they approximate your target audience.  Give them just ten seconds to look at the piece. Then show them comparable work from a competitor. For each piece ask them to tell you what you sell and why they should buy. Compare and contrast. I urge you to try this low-cost, self-serve research. I guarantee the results will surprise, if not shock, you.
  5. Try Google’s “Ad Extensions.” This is the option that allows you to include 4-6 extra links when you are in top placement. You can also include a trackable phone number and/or product images. We’ve seen huge increases (like 10x) in click-through rates on keywords where we are able to show the extra site links.  So get your Google on!
  6. Drive to phone for the complex sale. The prevailing wisdom has been to drive prospects to a web site or sitelet; it is supposed to be a less expensive way to convert to sale. But hard experience has shown that some products and solutions require not only a human, but a highly trained one at that. The higher conversion rate will likely cover the additional cost of the call.

The Link You Can’t Click:  Forbidden link.

All the best,


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