This is a formulaic representation of the factors that affect the conversion process as developed by the great guys and gals over at

Being a scientist by training and at heart I love a perspective like this,  as it not only exhibits all of the primary pieces involved, but also the relationship between them.  It is that interaction that is key.  When all factors are considered and addressed properly they are able to work in conjunction and bring about the end goal results converting your visitors.

Here’s the formula:


Now, let’s go through what each of these elements is and means:

 C = Probability of Conversion

This is just what is it says, the probability or chance of getting a prospect to take the step or action you desire from them.  In statistical terms, probability is the likelihood that a given (or desired) outcome will occur.

In marketing terms… the chances of getting an optin or sale.

 m = Motivation of User

This is also a simple concept… in short, how darned strong is the psychological push in the prospects brain to take the desired step. 

If the message to market match is good then you are offering something that the target prospects need or want.  We would then refer to them as "targeted" prospects.  If the message to market match is poor than you are asking the prospect to take a step that is too far out of their realm of natural possibilities. 

When thinking motivation ask yourself… wouldn’t it feel much better to have folks throwing their credit cards at you than having to club them over the head and drag them through the door?! 

v = The Clarity of the Value Proposition

Consider this statement for a moment… "The Clarity of the Value Proposition".  This is no reference to what the value proposition is or even its quality, but merely how clear it is to the observer.  If the prospect has to work too darned hard to even figure out what the value proposition is then you’ve probably lost them. 

i = Incentive to Take Action

 Now this is a factor over which you as the marketer have total control.

The easiest way to explain this factor is to demonstrate it.

Ask yourself this question:

Have you ever made a purchase in part for or

simply because of the bonuses being

offered with the primary product?

 Here’s another one… have you ever signed up for something or purchased a product by a specific date to avoid a stated price increase (think early-bird deadline!)?

This is the pushing of some basic psycho-emotional triggers at simple beautiful work.  This is the sort of stuff we see employed in sales offers both on and offline every single day.

 Yet another field in which this is employed online is in the "Free Gift" realm.  You know the ones:


Get a Free iPod!

Get this Free Gift Card!

Get a Free Laptop!

If you have an email address and have spent ANY time on the Internet you’ve undoubtedly seen one or more (probably more) of these offers.

In the example above they are incentivizing the prospect to "complete an offer (such as sign up for a credit card, or blockbuster online) and then get five of their friends to "complete an offer"… and once that is done they’ll send them an iPod.  They are using the incentive of the iPod to push people into taking the actions they want… in this case signing up for trial offers.

The examples I’ve just given are extremes but I think you’ll agree that they very clearly demonstrate the point.

The bottom line is that this can be powerful stuff and is an important aspect of the conversion process.

f = Friction Elements of Process

This element is a simple on in concept but is comprised of a million possible factors.

In short, this is an hurdle, be it psychological, physical, emotional or functional that may halt or slow the conversion process.  A classic example is a multi-step checkout process online as opposed to one that requires the user moving between a minimum of pages (steps).  The harder a prospect has to work the less likely they are to convert.

I just heard a new friend of mine, Perry Belcher of speak at Yanik Silver’s Underground Seminar 5 (absolutely fantastic event!) about a simple way that they bypassed sales cart friction.  Here’s the example:

It has become a relatively standard practise on the Internet for a customer to be delivered an up-sell or secondary offer on the thank you page after they make an initial purchase.  This is a proven way to increase sales per customer but there are some issues to consider.

Yes, by making that offer right while the customer is in the buying mood and in fact may still have their credit card in-hand you can increase the "probability" of conversion as compared to emailing the customer with a follow-up offer.  The problem or friction element here is that the customer is going to have to go through the entire purchase process again… the same one they just completed.

SOLUTION:  what if the customer only had to click a single button to add that back-end offer to their first purchase?

That’s it… that’s all they have to do is click a single button that says "Add This To My Order Please!"

Do you think conversions might go up?  We just removed the huge friction element that was having to re-enter all of their personal and credit card information.  Conversions go through the roof with a move like this!

That is exactly what Perry did (Sorry, I can’t share the script that does this he gave to those of us in attendance… or I’d have to kill you!).

Do you get the point though?

Here’s an example from the world of copywriting: Objections

These are the possible reasons for maybe not buying or the questions that a prospect may have that cause some level of disbelief:

  • Too much competition
  • This one looks like all the others
  • Why aren’t they doing it themselves?
  • I can’t do all of that myself
  • What if I find out it doesn’t work for me?
  • And a myriad of others.

The job of a great copywriter is to anticipate those objections (friction elements) that may slow or flat out stop the purchase process and then address the solutions or answers to each of them.

 And last but far from least…

a = Anxiety About Entering (or revealing) Information

For those of us who work on the Internet and have gotten quite used to filling out forms and purchasing things online this may not be an important factor…

But what about the vast, vast majority of Internet users for whom there are grave concerns of identity theft or just plain being ripped off?

This is a very real issue that must be addressed and can be resolved in many instances with a few simple tactics.

The key word here is really "TRUST".


In the earlier days of the Internet (2-5 years ago ) marketers generally tried to combat this factor by including anti-Spam statements and/or links to legal Privacy Policies.  These are still very good tactics and most definitely should be employed.

Let’s take things a number of steps further.  These days if you want most anyone to make a purchase from you online you must gain their trust.  You do this either by being an accepted authority or brand (,, etc.), by building a relationship with the prospect which takes serious time and effort (if not money), or lastly by borrowing trust from another source.

That third option is generally the easiest and here are some examples of such borrowed trust:


(here’s a recent one for my Exit Popup


Gotta love receiving impromptu stuff like that one!

Trust Symbols or icons:

These have been one of the smallest changes with the biggest impact for many ecommerce sites.  Here are a few examples:

Honeste Online (owned by my buddy Jimmy Sweeney)

HONESTe Online Member Seal Click to verify - Before you buy!

 Paypal payment processor


Or here’s yet another great one, McAfee’s HackerSafe logo


 There are other tactics that can be used as well such as consumer ratings, referrals, security statements etc.  The key is identifying the ways you can do it… and doing it!

 So there you have some further insight and explanation for each of the critical conversion factors identified by  If you haven’t yet visited their site you should as they have a tremendous amount of FREE research and resources that any marketer can use.

The Take Away

Now, the grand take away you need to get here is that there are a variety of very different factors that affect conversions.  Each of them has an impact on their own and should be attended to… However, like with any good marketing plan you really need to take a step back and look at things from a holistic perspective.  Consider all of the parts and how they work in conjunction.  Then start making changes and testing each one at a time.  Before long you will have made a difference in each and the overall result should be a dramatic increase in your conversions.

There’s a lot going on there to think about.  Any thoughts or comments about this post?  Any part of it ring home or touch a specific pain point?  Maybe you just simply slapped yourself in the forehead and said "Damn… so that’s why I ain’t selling anything!".  Regardless the reason or reaction, please share it with the rest of us below as a comment so we can all keep our businesses moving forward.

Onward & Upward!

Sam Knoll




If you’ve done ANY copywriting at all you should be acutely aware of just how important the headline is relative to the success of an overall piece.

The headline is the hook, the pull, the first interaction, and as such sets the tone while acting as the touch point the reader uses to decide if reading the balance of the piece is even worth their valuable time.

The following is a handful of 13 headlines I feel are among the all-time greats.  If you look around you’ll see that many variations of these are used in much of the marketing you see.

Here goes:

 1. "The Secret Of Making People Like You"

This headline drew many hundreds of thousands of readers into the body matter of a "people-mover" advertisement — one which, by itself, built a big business.  It speaks to people’s insecurities and general desire for approval.


2. "How To Win Friends And Influence People"

This headline helped to sell millions of copies of the book of the same title. This is a great examp[le of the classic "How to" headline format.  Again, it speaks to people’s desire to have friends (how do you think MySpace, FaceBook and the like have done so well) but this one also grabs on to the desire to rise above the folks around you.  Mind control at its finest (did I mean the headline or what it is selling?).

3. "You Can Laugh At Money Problems — If You Follow This Simple Plan"

This headline hits the reader with something pretty much everybody wants to be able to do.  After pulling you in with an almost universal desire (to solve an almost universal problem) it then hooks you with the offer of a "Simple Plan" you can use to solve the problem.  Emotional entry and strong hook.


4. "When Doctors "Feel Rotten" This Is What They Do"

This headline has got a number of elements at work.  First, it combines the instant authority of the Doctor with a familiar human issue of  "feeling rotten".  The reader continues into it because 1. An authority is speaking, and 2. That authority feels just like I do sometimes.  It is also unusual to think of a doctor not feeling good so that element grabs the reader.   It also suggests the existence of a solution to feeling rotten, and that solution happens to be what the authority on NOT feeling rotten does when he/she feels rotten.  It must be a great solution!

5. "Five Familiar Skin Problems — Which Do You Want To Overcome?"

This headline pulls you in just out of curiosity.  Just what are the five problems and do I have any of them.  It then speaks directly to you, making you answer a question.  Byopeningg that communication it hooks you into moving further into the ad.

6. "How Often Do You Hear Yourself Saying: "No I Haven’t Read It: I’ve Been Meaning To"

I’m about to use a slight variation of this one myself (stay tuned for This headline was part of an ad for a well known book club.  It speaks to a very large market as most people would probably be able to say it applies to them.    The words hit upon the emotional guilt button.  Variations of this headline have been used in all sorts of markets for manydifferentt products.

7. "Do You Do Any Of These TenEmbarrassingg Things?"

We are all afraid of embarrassing ourselves.  No one likes to be criticized, looked down upon, talked about, etc.  The reader is magnetically drawn in by the need to know just what the ten things are, to make sure they aren’t unwittingly doing any of them.  My god… maybe folks are laughing at me behind my back and I don’t know about it.

8. "Six Types Of Investor – Which Group Are You In?"

Interesting lead generation headline.  Even if you aren’t an investor you know you should be.  Just what are the types and which would you be?  This headline could be modified to fit almost any topic.  Rather than investor it could be Parent, business owner, teacher, marketer, etc.  The list can go on and on.  The curiosity factor hooks the reader and also preps them for choosing which group they fit – so they can be properly marketed to.

9. "They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano… But When I Started To Play!"

We see this one all the time. Americans especially love to see the underdog triumph.  It’s a lot like the old Atlas comic book ads that featured the 98 poundweaklingg getting sand kicked in his face.  We all loved it when that guy got pumped up and knocked out the bully.

This headline also uses the emotional issues ofembarrassmentt, dominance, victory, acceptance and a number of others.  We’d all like to have that feeling one would get when we surprise them all and triumph… especially beating the folks that laughed at us.

10. "Little Leaks That Keep Men Poor"

Again, the reader needs to know "What are the leaks?",  " Am I the victim of any of them?", "I don’t want to be poor.  He who has the most gold when he dies wins so how to I stop these leaks?"  Need I say more?

11. "To Men Who Want To Quit Work Someday"

This headline is pretty obvious.  It is speaking to men (a pretty large pool) first and to the fact that most everyone would like to be able to quit work.  Men also stress and worry over their ability to retire.  This one grabs its intended victim, and twists the knife as it drives it in.

12. "Imagine Me… Holding An Audience Spellbound For 30 Minutes"

Very effective combination of words.  It speaks to the reader.  It is humble which helps create acceptance.  It also speaks to an issue for sooo many people: public speaking.  There is also then an element of "shoot, if HE can do it surely I can".

13. "This Is Marie Antoinette — Riding To Her Death"

A straight "fascination" as Eugene Schwartz used to call them.  The headline is designed to make the reader feel they’ve got to take a peek at this.  The words paint a good picture while tickling our morbid sense of curiosity.  I love it.


That’s it for the 13 my friend.  Take a moment and read back through that list.  Then take another few moments and see how you might modify and adapt one or more of them for your own purposes.   Also look at the next magazine headlines you see from a different perspective.  You may just start to recognize variations of headlines you’ve seen before.

"There’s gold in them thar words… gold I tell you."

Onward & Upward!

Sam Knoll


Filed under Blog, Copywriting, General Musings by  #


One of the many skills I have had to acquire over the last 5 years of working in the Marketing world is how to write copy.

Now, I’m not talking the sort of copy one finds in magazine ads, brochures, or on information websites.  I had to learn how to write sales letters.

You know the ones, those long, long 20 to 30 page pieces designed with one purpose… to grab the reader, hook them and then draw them along through the story of my product or service.  Like any writing, there is a real art to producing these pieces that can take time to develop.

What I have for you today is an e-book on copywriting, but not from the same perspective everyone else usually gives you.

What your see covers no mechanics but rather gets into the root emotion that powers every person to sign up for a list or purchase a product.  It is different for everyone and every product.  Understanding how to cut away all of the surrounding BS and zero in on the true motivating element will put your marketing message miles ahead of most any competitor.

This is my gift to you.

Filed under Blog, Copywriting, Gifts from Sam, How To... by  #


We all know the headline is one of the keys to great copy.

It is the headline that pulls you in, opens your eyes, sets the tone and starts off the conversation.

Great headlines work all but forever.

Here’s one that I believe has to be one of the better ones ever:

Greatest Headline








Click here to see a larger image

Now work off of that and try creating a batch of your own headlines.

Onward & Upward!

Sam Knoll

Filed under Blog, Copywriting, General Musings by  #


Gary Halbert is undeniably one of the greatest copywriters/marketers around.

He is brash, ireverant, smart as you know what, seemingly afraid of no one, and also one of the keener, sneekier marketing minds.

The Gary Halbert letter is a resource that all to many people do not ever tap into.

Inside Gary lays it all out pretty darned openly.

As long as you can handle his use of "special words" you’ll learn a ton from his site.

Now, one of Gary’s claims to fame is a coat-of-arms business.  This business ran for roughly 30 years using the same ad over 600,000,000 times!

Yes, you read that right… six hundred million!

Gee, do you think it was working?

Well, what I have for you today is a look at the simple one page letter that did it all and an audio of Mark Joyner pulling how he did it from Gary.

You do have to refer a few friends to get it but in my book it is well worth it. 

Get it.

Read it.

Listen to it.

Listen to it while reading it.

Then use it!

Onward & Upward!

Sam Knoll

Filed under Audio, Blog, Copywriting, Ebooks, Free Resources by  #

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