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There’s More to Life than Analytics – Why Ignorance of Conceptual Models is Costing You Money

I’m a copywriter on a quest for the most conversions.

I sit surrounded by data that my agency uses to raise landing pages high on the search results page. Titanic resources ensure these pages are well optimized with tight-coding, clean links and sheaves of search insight that explain what’s been done and what’s on deck.

It works – our cauldron smolders with all the right compounds for SEO that raises traffic and converts.

But I see one oversight…

…Analytics don’t close a sale.

Since time immemorial sales have hinged on empathy – knowing what your prospects care about – so you can offer them true benefits and remove real doubts about your product.

Sales still remain the goal of search marketing for business.

That’s why online direct response spend outpaced branding dollars by 59.1 percent in 2014 and digital advertising, in total, eclipsed $50 billion dollars according to AdAge.

You’d think we’d try to get our money’s worth.

Over-reliance on the backend of SEO hurts your sales…because selling happens on the front end, in the space between a screen and your prospect’s mind. Keywords and images alone don’t enter a soul’s world to motivate, inspire and cajole that person to do something hard like dial a number, click a link or share.

Only the right words make people do hard things.

Tracking the elusive long-tailed key phrase tells you what people are searching for but it can’t tell you why. If you don’t know why someone buys, how are you going to write words on a landing page that sell?

But if you do know why:

  • You can devise new lists of prospects and enter more markets.
  • Maximize the use of your key terms.
  • Craft copy that will convert better
  • And increase profit.

How do you discover more about why people buy?

Conceptual Models.

These are mental treasure maps that show you where to dig into your products and your prospects. They guide your thoughts. Conceptual models are old fashioned analytics, an aid to creative expression that give you more data about your product, who’s interested in it and why.

The information that you learn from conceptual models helps you craft prospect minded copy that sells…

…And that’s the goal of SEO.

The following techniques are taken from the Copy Workshop Workbook, by Creative Director Bruce Bendinger.

The FCB Grid

Our first treasure map is called the FCB grid, which was named for the agency Foote, Cone and Belding. Also called the Vaughn Grid, it helps us to define how intensely people think and feel about products.

the fcb grid

There are four options:

  • Low to High Involvement – the Y axis
  • Thinking to Feeling – the X axis

Insurance is a high involvement, thinking purchase in Quadrant 1, the upper left.

A luxury cruise is a high involvement, feeling purchase in Quadrant 2, the upper right.

Detergent is a low involvement, thinking purchase in Quadrant 3, the bottom left.

Twinkies are a low involvement, feeling purchase in Quadrant 4, the bottom right.

Once you know where your product sits on the grid, give it a dot.

High involvement purchases usually require more copy to elicit a sale, but they could be rational or emotional buys. If your product is high involvement now you’ll know if your copy should slant emotionally or rationally.

But in fact either side of your brain may work, as we’ll see from the next step, which is called “exploding the dot.” This means to think about your product from the point of view of all four quadrants at once.

Say the product is a Tesla.

Use the grid to devise new pitches for the electric car – each one targets a different buyer by emphasizing one quadrant over another. You can even write these pitches like long tail key phrases, making them the subject of new landing pages:

  • To a corporate client: “Get Business Leasing From Tesla.” (High involvement, high think.)
  • To a bachelor: “What Owning a Tesla Tells Her About You.” (High involvement, high feel.)
  • To a household: “Tesla’s Roomy Interior Fits a Month of Groceries.” (Low involvement, low feel.)
  • To a parent: “Put Your Kids AND In-Laws Behind You with Tesla’s 7-Seater.” (Low involvement, high feel)

So the FCB grid can work in two ways:

Product to Prospect: It becomes your own key phrase designer, helping you deduce from your product the thoughts and feelings of people who buy it and how to approach them.

Prospect to Product: The grid also lets you induce how thoughts and feelings influence what people buy. High, rational thought can apply to an emotional product, and high emotion can apply to a highly rational product.

With that information you can uncover the facets of an assigned key phrase and fill a page with innovative benefits. You can explode the dot and find the emotional story behind the mortgage, and the quadrant three, rational and low intensity story behind the Tesla….“Make Financing the $105,000 P85D Easy as Buying Dishwasher Soap.”

These tricks snag new consumers you’d never consider without using the FCB grid prior to writing.

The Learn-Feel-Do-Circle

Learn Feel Do Circle

Once you’ve defined how to market your product and to whom, you’ll have to write something to get them moving. The grid just gave you a guiding concept. Your job is to lead someone from that concept to a sale.

This next conceptual model helps you do that.

It’s the Learn-Feel-Do-Circle, which broadly defines the three ways a customer experiences a product and lets you decide the order that will happen.

Your prospect can only do one of three things:

  1. learn about your product
  2. feel something about it
  3. or do something with it.

It’s up to you which one they do first, second and third. That’s why the model is a circle – there’s no single way around – giving you six orders of persuasive technique:

  • learn feel do
  • learn do feel
  • feel do learn
  • feel learn do
  • do feel learn
  • do learn feel

Something Bruce loves about this technique is being able to keep your strategy even as you travel around the circle. This requires marketers and copywriters not to get lost in ruts, which are holes of learning, feeling or doing.

Writers spend the most time educating people about products and services, which means we’re stuck using Learn.

We can’t forget Feel and Do.

  • A real estate site grants your desire to see home prices (Do), then it tells you how to choose a broker (Learn).
  • A plumbing company opens with a compelling video (Feel), then it follows with the left brain copy (Learn) to a contact button (Do).

Think of the “Oh Chuck, I Blew My Cash” campaign for Charles Schwab, masterminded by Mekanism in San Francisco.

The goal was to make Schwab more human. The strategy was to show Chuck Schwab kindly life-coaching foolish spenders (Feel) which led to a contest (Do) and poised Schwab as the company for easy financial information (Learn) even for non-Rockefellers.

If your campaign is based in Learn, you can switch to Feel while you keep the same strategy. When you combine this with the information you’ve gained with the FCB Grid, you have a powerful tool…

…Say you’re dealing with the highly involved emotion of buying a Tesla. You’ve chosen to reach deep into the guts of your prospect…but how are you going to do that?

You’ve got three options. Tesla’s homepage uses just two.

tesla homepage screenshot

It hits you with a picture of a blue Tesla driving alone on a forested highway. That’s Feel. Then immodestly, without a word of Learn, Tesla invokes Do by nearly forcing you to click “Order” or “Test Drive” to get any information.

That was smart.

This is a highly involved purchase that demands information (good copywriting) to create the sale. But Tesla uses emotion to create a thirst for information it doesn’t slake until you’ve already clicked the order button.

They draw you into the site to find the Learn experience.

Now imagine if they’d gone to Learn and put free information on the homepage with the CTA last. The copy would need to be compelling enough to make people click for the Feel experience.

That’s possible. It’s just harder to do. Learn is what typically converts, not a fancy video, however Learn converts best when it’s not your only weapon.

You’ll get the best response when you use the entire Learn-Feel-Do-Circle. Break the circle and look what happens:

  • Either you write too much information without emotion
  • Puff up emotion without information
  • Create enough information and emotion without a single call to action
  • Or make a senseless call to action that’s missing information, emotion or both.

Use the Learn-Feel-Do-Circle in any order.

But if you want conversions know that you’ll only get every job done once you’ve logically used all three parts.

Laddering

Now that you’ve discovered the perception of your product in the minds of customers and how you’ll guide visitors through your webpage, you’ve got to figure out what information to give them.

So we’re going to break your product into categories:

  • Description (Product Attribute)
  • Product Feature
  • Product Benefit
  • Customer Benefit
  • Consumer Value

It’s a ladder – climbing from the qualities and benefits of your product up to the qualities and benefits your product gives the customer.

  • Description: Tesla’s model S has a 85kWh battery.
  • Product Feature: It can travel 300 highway miles on one charge.
  • Product Benefit: It takes less charging than other electric cars.
  • Consumer Benefit: You’ll save on gas and be able to drive farther.
  • Consumer Value: You’re better for saving time, money and using less gasoline.

There’s a difference between each rung of the ladder:

The lower you are the more you’re talking about the product, and the less you’re talking about the customer. The higher the rung the more you’re talking about the customer, and the less you’re talking about the product.

You’ll have to decide where to focus.

To use the ladder well, take the features of your product up the rungs and choose which rung (or rungs) carry the most impact. There’s no right answer.

Bruce Bendinger recommends that we ask: “How does the benefit within the product manifest itself within the consumer? And what aspect of the sequence is “ownable?”

Here’s my take:

“…If the 85kWh battery (Product Attribute) saves you 300 miles in gasoline (Product Benefit) – that’s $40 dollars you’ve pocketed (Consumer Benefit) and 12 gallons of fuel you’ve stopped from combusting into smog (Consumer Value).”

You’re a smart hero…because Tesla can own: “Green Machine.”

You could devise a page about any of the rungs – but one (or more than one) may differentiate the brand better or elevate the consumer higher…

Choosing the rung is up to you.

Your Map to Buried Treasure

Now you’ve seen three conceptual models that move the power of crafting copy, videos and media strategy from digital tools – into your head.

Because SEO is about more than data.

It’s about sales, conversions and getting people to have the experience you want, which only happens fully when you really understand people.

And Google doesn’t do that for you…

…yet.

About the Author: Joshua Bains is a Content Marketing Specialist at Eclipse Web Media in Atlanta, Georgia. With an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, he produced video news features for the English desk at InfoliveTV in Jerusalem, and writes for Ami Magazine. He speaks about better content writing and video on the Small Business Samaritans show with Phillip Saxton, part of the Wall Street Business Network.​

  1. Joshua – I’m thrilled to watch you grow so quickly as a writer and contributor to digital marketing on a global level. This article should be shared and reshared as it has ubiquitous application throughout content, print, and broadcast marketing. Well done sir. Looking forward to more…

  2. Great article! These conceptual models give real insight into crafting landing pages that can persuade a prospect to fulfill your call to action. You need to develop the proper fundamentals before you obsess with your batting average.

    • Thanks, Ed. These are just three models that help me – in my source material they’re presented as individual techniques along with another 3 or 4. Through using these I’ve found they tend to apply to different consecutive parts of the creative process and I’ve integrated them as three connected steps.

  3. Joshua thanks a lot for the bringing this up. It was going in my mind from a very long time.

    Yes SEO is more than data being into Search engine marketing from many years, I totally agree.

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