Online Marketing



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


I believe one of the greatest hurdles for most small businesses is that they don’t know who THEY are.

It does next to no good to identify and try to sell to other businesses or consumers if you haven’t yet defined who you are and clearly developed your own brand.  I do a fair amount of work in Competitive Intelligence for clients and in all cases the first thing I make sure happens is that they know everything about themself that they would like to know about their competition.

I liken this to the idea that if you do not have a clear picture of your starting point followed by a clear picture of your goal… there is no way you can successfully navigate from one to the other.

So what exactly is a "Brand" and how does one define it?

Well, I have a gift for you today in the form of a presentation that I stumbled across on  I strongly urge you to take a few minutes and watch it below.  There is not audio (so don’t worry that your speakers are not working) but what you’ll see on the screen says it all.

Enjoy… Learn… Put Into Practice… I am.

 [slideshare id 28886&doc=the-brand-gap-14630&w=425]

 (Use the controls above to move through the presentation)


Let me know what you think after you watch it.  Your comments will help us all use this information.

Onward & Upward!


Filed under Blog, General Musings, Offline Marketing, Online Marketing by  #


Before I get rolling on this I feel I need to make an important distinction:

When attempting to affect the position in which a given page shows in the Search Engine Results there are generally two lines of work that are performed.

First we have SEO or Search Engine Optimization.  This is the work that is done ON a website (which in the Search Engines’ eyes is actually a collection of interlinked individual pages) to help guide the engines to associating pages with the topics we want them to.  This also includes designing pages so they are Search Engine friendly meaning it is as easy as possible for the Search Engines to move through a page and rapidly determine its focus.  This also includes a well designed linking strategy within a site’s pages to maximize and control the flow of page rank as it is passed from page to page.

This is an area that once upon a time was the key to ranking highly in the Search Engines results.  These days, the on-site work still needs to be done to maximize results but it is all that happens off of your site that is most important to the Search Engines.

Search Engine Marketing or SEM is the collection of tactics and efforts that take place off of your site for the purpose of increasing a page’s standing in the Search Engine results.  This can be made up of many activities but at the root of it all is linking.

In the evolution of SEM there was a time when simply having the most links pointing to a page got you the results you wanted.  It didn’t matter from where those links came as long as there were lots of them.  That can still be true to some extent today but the game has changed.

There are many factors that a Search Engine considers (at least the ones we are aware of) when determining its "opinion" of what a link does for your page.  These factors include:

  • The age of the domain from where the link is coming
  • The relevance of the page content from where the link is coming
  • The relevance of the link anchor text
  • The page rank of the linking page
  • The overall "quality" (a nice subjective view) of the linking page
  •  And a number of other factors

 Taking all of that into consideration the impact of fewer, high-power links as opposed to a ton of lower quality links would start to explain how some pages with seemingly low link counts (relative to the other ranking pages around them, are able to make it onto the first page of the SERP’s.

 Logic says then that website owners would serve themselves well to put their efforts into securing links from high PR, well respected sites (which can take some serious work) as opposed to going the easier route which is the acquisition of tons of lower quality links.

This leads to one more issue…

What the client expects.

I purpose that we as SEO practitioners and consultants owe it to our clients to explain the situation and shift their focus away from expecting to see a rapidly growing number of links over time to seeing instead the results they desire — top ten placement for their target search terms.

What’s your take on this?

Filed under Blog, General Musings, Online Marketing, SEO by  #


Here’s a video I shot right after I received my early copy of Yanik’s new Maverick Business Insider intro package.

Nothing flashy and you get a tiny peak at one end of my home office (more on that in an upcoming video).

I like clean, honest reviews and sharing so that is what you’re getting here.




There you have it. 

Nothing flashy, just a Real Deal first look at what you get.

I recommend you go and get in line for your copy now so you don’t have to wait for a second round of shipping.  You can sign up here:

 Maverick Business Insider by Yanik Silver

The cost to get everything I showed you in the video above is just $7.95 for shipping if you live in the US. 

Yanik is following in the trend of giving away massive value to introduce folks to his material.  I say take him up on it

Onward & Upward!

Sam Knoll

Filed under Blog, General Musings, Online Marketing, Product Reviews by  #


Here’s a quick dose of marketing common sense that has the potential to dramatically improve the ROI for most any marketing campaign… yet almost no one uses it.

Anyone involved in marketing knows that the more targeted you can be when selecting your list of prospects, the higher your conversion rates.  This is called matching the message to the market.

Demographics, geographics, and even psychographics are all ways of slicing and dicing a prospect list in an attempt to pair down the list to a group that has the best match for your message.  Demographics and geography are the two statistical characterizations that have been used the longest.  These involve filtering a list based upon the message recipient’s geographic location followed by variables such as income, age, sex, home ownership, etc.  Psychographic variables by contrast, are any attributes relating to personality, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyles. 

These three filters continue to be the standards by which most marketers determine their prospect lists.

Now let’s take things a big step even further.

Consider the following:

Let’s say I sell designer purses.  These purses are all made by high-end designers and are quite pricey.

When creating a target list I would probably use the following selects (Please note that I am simplifying this for the example.  This list could be drilled down even further in terms of demographics):

Gender – women

Avg Income – $100K+

Geography – I would limit this to larger cities in the US which could be selected by Zip code or a variety of other geographic designations

Age – 25 to 70

Travel – frequently

Hobbies and interests – apparel and fashion

And there are many more.

If we stop there we’ll most likely have a pretty large list with some very good prospects on it.  There is some potential to sell some purses to the resulting list.  I am not sure what the ROI will be but if my landing page and data collection process on the page are good I will add a healthy number of prospects to my own list, and will sell some purses in the near term as well as in the future.

Now, lets consider just one more important factor:

I happen to be selling my purses via a website. 

Does it do me any good to put my message in front of women who do not use credit cards?  How about women who do not shop online?  Even if they do use credit cards and shop online, how frequently do they do so? 

Those are just a few examples of behavioral targeting that can be added to the mix.  Think about how much more refined that list would become when you add the behavioral aspects to your list selects.

There are a growing number of behavioral targeting options ranging all the way down to very scientific data research that can asses a site visitor’s intent vs. interest.  This is pretty awesome stuff that You should consider adding to your marketing arsenal if you have not already.

Onward & Upward!

Sam Knoll

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