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7 Neuroscience Sales Tips That’ll Skyrocket Your Sales



7 neuroscience sales tips thatll skyrocket your sales

Selling can be challenging because it involves s a complex process of human behavior and cognition.

More than likely, marketers who struggle to win customers either haven’t been prospecting the right way or aren’t putting in enough effort.

In this in-depth article, you’ll learn how to leverage the power of the human brain with neuroscience sales tips.

Whether you’re selling a digital product online or you run a brick-and-mortar business, these behavioral neuroscience principles will work for you. They’ll help you drive more visitors into your marketing funnel and convert casual visits into sales.

neuroscience sales tips - marketing funnel

1. Influence Drives the Value of Your Product

Influence marketing is here to stay, so you should embrace it.

Influence is your ability to persuade others to adopt your own perspective. You believe in your product (e.g., online course, ebook, software), so you naturally want others to believe in it, too.

Your ability to persuade others in this way by appealing to their emotions will increase your sales. Influence increases the perceived value of your products.


You see, influential people tend to sell more product. It’s not because they’ve created the best product — sometimes, that’s just not true — but because over the years, they’ve built credibility. People trust their opinions.

For example, in the digital marketing world, people trust Seth Godin. That’s because Seth Godin has written over 20 bestselling books. He’s a sought-after public speaker and social media influencer.

Seth doesn’t waste words. Most of his posts have fewer than 200 words, like the one below, but the social sharing and engagement for these posts is amazing.

neuroscience sales tips - saying versus doing

Remember that influence isn’t the same as popularity. They’re not interchangeable, though a lot of people regard them as such.

Brian Solis reports that one person responding to a survey he conducted with Vocus put it like this:

Popularity is just that people like you, influence is when they listen to you.

When you’re selling online, becoming popular shouldn’t be your ultimate focus. Spend time building your influence. It takes time, but it’s worth the effort.

In the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, author Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D., identifies the 6 factors that get people’s brain function to do something that they wouldn’t have ordinarily done.

neuroscience sales tips - info from robert b. cialdini

In my experience as a content marketer who’s built a loyal audience, influence can be achieved through consistently creating useful content for your target audience and forming relationships with influencers and readers.

If you’re a blogger, you’ve already cleared the first hurdle of building authority and influencing people. Macallan persuaded 32 people to do marketing for the company. This resulted in a huge increase in exposure and influence over an audience of 150,000 people.

neuroscience sales tips - macallan example

Next, give adequate time to content creation and building friendships. Reply to comments, answer questions, and, every so often, visit a reader’s blog and give them some free feedback or tips on how to improve their site.

Public speaking is another way to establish your personal brand and build a loyal following.

neuroscience sales tips - building your brand

2. You Have to Sell Yourself Before You Can Sell Your Product

Make no mistake: You’re a product; and like any product, you have to successfully communicate the value of that product. Until that happens, you’ll find it difficult to sell your actual products or services.

Geoffrey James put it best:

Before anybody is going to buy from you or your company, they’ve got to ‘buy’ the idea that you’re somebody worth working with. In other words, just like a job candidate, your first task is always selling yourself.

Email marketing is the most effective lead generation tactic, followed by websites/landing pages and then content marketing. But guess what? Each of these tactics will work better when you first sell yourself, then the product.

neuroscience sales tips - online tactics for lead generation

Selling yourself isn’t an insurmountable challenge. There are lots of opportunities in today’s world of marketing to appeal to the human brain. However, with many opportunities come an increase in competition.

neuroscience sales tips - standing out from competition

In a sea of writers, bloggers, freelancers, consultants, public speakers, etc., how do you stand out from the crowd?

It’s simple: Become passionate about your product.

When you’re selling yourself, you’re not concerned about the money. Your responsibility is to educate others’ human minds as you convey your brand’s core message.


HelpScout doesn’t just try to sell help-desk software. Instead, it also sells itself as a brand.

neuroscience sales tips - help scout example for personal branding

Learning how to sell yourself first is critical to your success. No matter what product you’re offering for sale, do your best to connect with and communicate your core brand values to your prospects.

neuroscience sales tips - sell yourself first

3. Build Interest with Features; Build Desire with Benefits

Sell the benefits, not the features.

Most people and companies think products and services sell because of their great features. That’s not the case.

Harvard Business School conducted a research study and found that products of all kinds sell because of their benefits. The benefits that drive sales aren’t always obvious from the customer’s perspective though.

Whether you’re selling via email, direct mail, or social selling, highlight the benefits as well as the features of your product.

Starting with the strongest benefits of your product will reassure customers that you care about them, not (just) their hard-earned money, providing social security.

Selling with benefits means that you’re transparent with your customers. That’s exactly what their cognitive function wants.


Copywriters know how to sell benefits.

For example, Dan Kennedy wrote sales copy that generated over $10 million in sales over the years. It’s the same with Eben Pagan, Frank Kern and several top digital entrepreneurs.

These people were successful because they focused on benefits, not features. Successful selling boils down to one thing: showing your customers how your offer/product meets their needs.

Kat Night agrees that quantifying the benefits of a product is more likely to result in a sale than describing its features.

However, in order to avoid misleading prospects and customers, you have to start by building interest with features. Then, you increase their desire for your product with benefits.

When people are searching for a solution to meet their needs, what their brain function is actually looking for is a future that appeals to them. According to BufferApp, “people don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves.”


Consumers are happy to spend money on products that’ll make their lives better. Before the iPod was invented, there were MP3 players on the market. So iPod sold the benefit: “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

What’s the difference between a benefit and a feature?

This is how the folks at User Onboard explain:

neuroscience sales tips - User Onboard quote

In a nutshell, benefits are what you (or your prospects) can do with a product. Features are what the product can do. They sound similar, right? Yet, they’re totally different things.

“You can get fit without straining your joints with an elliptical trainer” targets the benefit. “Easy-glide motion, timer, and adjustable intensity settings” are all features.

See the difference?

Customers’ cognitive functions are different depending on where they are in the buying journey. Their human brains all must first recognize a need, then seek potential solutions, evaluate the solutions, decide to take action, and finally make the purchase.

neuroscience sales tips - brain function through the sales journey

Use features at stages 1 and 2; benefits will work better on their brain activity when they’re actually making purchase decisions (stages 4 and 5).

Professor Albert Wenben from the University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted a study on the topic of “Consumer Values, Product Benefits and Customer Value: A Consumption Behavior Approach.”

He found that “from the customers’ perspectives, products are viewed as a bundle of benefits, not attributes” (features).

MBA Skool suggests that a product benefit is usually the answer to customer’s questions. You probably already know that questions are driven by the psychological phenomenon of an emotional desire to know more.

The level of satisfaction derived from a product will differ depending on human behavior and cognitive neuroscience. After all, two people may both need a product, but one can need it desperately, while the other could get along without it.

To get the best results, highlight 70% of your product’s benefits, and 30% of the features.

neuroscience sales tips - features versus benefits and how they affect the brain

Let’s look at an example in the world of marketing consulting services and products.

For most retailers with optimized and high-functioning websites, SEO and email marketing are more beneficial than a Facebook page. That’s not always true for other retailers.

neuroscience sales tips - efficacy of b2b lead generation tactics

If you help businesses set up a Facebook marketing campaign (including a fan page), you need to sell with benefits while targeting your ideal customers (e.g., those without a functional website or with low-performing sites).

People buy products emotionally, and justify the purchases logically. When you use brain science to build interest with features and create strong desire with benefits, you’re meeting your prospects where they are and giving them the social security and social proof they need to feel confident in the purchase.

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When you evoke the appropriate emotions, customers may not even know why they’re responding to your product. But they’ll buy it.

Remember that benefits are the things that you can do with a product, while features are what the product can do. Let’s look at a few real-world examples:

Twitter is a unique micro-blogging platform. It helps you update your timeline in real-time. It all began from their value proposition, based on the platform’s benefits: “start a conversation, explore your interests and be in the know.”

neuroscience sales tips - using twitter has a unique value proposition that simply and strongly projects the core benefit of its software.

neuroscience sales tips - using value propositions

It’s your responsibility to study your product and know its features, benefits and advantage over your competitor’s product.

4. Sell the Results by Painting a Clear Picture

Are you selling your product’s results?

If you don’t do that consistently, you’ll likely struggle to acquire qualified leads and increase conversion and revenue.

neuroscience sales tips - from lead to repeat customer

These days, most of us are selling to a new generation of customers: the millennials.

Millennials are a unique set of people born between 1982 and 2000 and making up 26% of the world’s population. Over 23% of millennials hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, making them the most educated generation in history.

neuroscience sales tips - millennials percent of population

Even if today’s consumers haven’t graduated college, they do know what they’re after in a product. They want results and they won’t let their human brain function be swayed by fancy copy that doesn’t give at least a sneak peek of the results that they can expect.

To market successfully to this group of consumers, you need solid research and data.

A study conducted by Harvey Research on “How to Sell with Ad Readership Studies” found that “one of the primary reasons for conducting an ad readership study is to obtain research which will help your organization sell advertising.”

When this research is documented and the data shared with advertisers, it becomes a marketing partner.

In advertising, the result is the data — that is, the actionable metrics. If your product helped a customer increase lead generation by 27%, that’s a metric that you can use to win more clients.

Have you ever wondered how introverts successfully sell products? An introvert is a person whose motives, actions, social preferences and human brain functions are directed inwards. Introverts generally don’t enjoy the human behavior associated with convincing or negotiating.


They’re reserved. Selling is not their preferred task, yet many of them end up becoming top salespeople and industry power players.

Brian Tracy was an introvert, but by studying consumer psychology and cognitive science and learning what social signals prompt people to buy, he’s become exceptionally successful through neuroscience principles of sales.

One of the sales secrets that the introvert masters know is that it’s much better to sell the results of a product, instead of the product itself.

Selling the result can be likened to painting a clear picture of your target in an ideal future setting — a point in time where they’ve conquered their challenge or solved their problem successfully — and displaying it on a shelf.

People who know that person will be captivated by the promise of the painting.

In the same vein, when you paint the picture of your product’s results and show people how easily they can use it, you’ll build interest and inspire action in them.


According to Tara Gentle,

People aren’t looking for your service (or your product, or your program). They’re looking for results.

In other words, your product isn’t the selling point, so why make it the focus? For example, instead of writing your copy headlines using your product name, focus on the product’s results.

A few ways to sell results instead of products are:

Lead with the value of the product, not the title: If your product helps people cut 5 hours off their workweek, lead with that. It’s your competitive advantage.

If your offer (e.g., service, program, online course, etc.) helps people lose 10 pounds in 60 days, let your copy focus on that core benefit.

Derek Halpern sells the result of his online course, “Yes Engines.” See the captivating title?:

neuroscience sales tips - name product after value instead of product

Showcase before and after results: Fitness trainers know how to use “before” and “after” pictures and videos to improve self-esteem, inspire action, and improve positive cognitive function.

If you’re looking to lose weight, would you be excited when you see amazing case study results from people like you and then find out you can do the same?

The same thing applies to makeup products or tutorials. If you’ve been searching for a makeup training program and you came across the before & after pictures below, would you want to know more?

neuroscience sales tips - before and after makeup look

In selling the results of a product, rather than the product itself, you’ve got to use visuals that allow your customers to see themselves getting the results they want. Don’t just describe what the end result will look like; represent it with visuals.

Even scientists are in sales. How do scientists sell brain science, cellular neuroscience or experimental psychology to the public? The public isn’t naturally interested in subjects such as developmental neurobiology, computational neuroscience, functional magnetic resonance imaging, or neural systems.

Also, difficult and upsetting subjects such as Alzheimer’s disease, brain damage, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other mental health issues can be difficult to sell to a reader.

Are there any typical results they have to show, the way a blogger who created an online course on how to “get 1000 email subscribers” would?

More than likely, the scientists don’t have visual results to show. Instead, they sell the validity of a case study and its importance to appeal to the reader’s cognitive psychology.


A study by Vanderbilt University concluded that scientists sell scientific data and ideas by convincing their peers and colleagues of the study’s validity and importance.

Since the population usually can’t fully understand all of the wide range of implications of scientific data, a scientist’s “pitch” is often translated by the news media into something that a lay audience can understand.

In many niches, before you can sell a product you need to first acquire leads, nurture them, and convince them to buy.

Selling isn’t a one-way street. Several factors play a vital role. The platforms where you generate your leads matter. Most people have generated more leads through Facebook ads than Google Ads.

On the other hand, the quality of leads of Google Ads tends to be higher.

When it comes to giving people value for their time and money, Google leads the pack. Google sells advertising, not search results.


That is why paid ads in Google are clearly marked and set apart from the actual search results. When it comes to displaying the right results, here’s what Google says:

Google search results take into account who links to a web page as well as how relevant the content on that page is to your search. Our results reflect what the online community believes is important, not what we or our partners think you ought to see.

As you can see, Google sells advertising on its search engine, but it delivers the most relevant, valuable, and helpful search results in its organic listings. Site owners can neither pay to stay at the top of the search results pages, nor manipulate their rankings (at least, not for long).

neuroscience sales tips - organic listings

Google is the leading digital advertising company because first, it understands what people want, and second, it’s committed to providing the best search results.

5. Credibility Depends on Trust and Expertise

You are more likely to make sales when you have built credibility.

You can build credibility in a number of ways, including by providing top-notch customer service.

Customers want to reach an agent who can help them resolve problems quickly. They also want to interact with real people and gain access to information to resolve issue themselves.

Trust + expertise = credibility.


You can’t succeed in business if you lack credibility. Top brands can boast about their products, because over the years they’ve become known and are credible, offering social security.

That’s why it’s difficult for a new marketer, organization, or company to dominate the marketplace.

Customers’ cognitive functions are scared to trust you or your product. After all, you might take their money and vanish. Customer service is the hallmark of credibility. It builds credibility from the ground up.

The viral effect of bad customer service is alarming. More people share negative experiences than they share good ones. 66% of customers who experienced negative (bad) customer experience want to discourage others from buying from that company.

neuroscience sales tips - effect of customer service on your business

86% of people completely stopped doing business with companies over bad customer experiences. It negatively affects their human brain functions.

Every day, I wake up and ask myself a question: “What’s the best thing I can do for my customers today?”

It’s a simple, slightly dramatic exercise that reinforces for me the importance of building trust in prospect’s minds. People won’t trust you unless you’ve proven yourself and delivered immense value over a period of time.


How do you establish credibility when you’re an online business owner?

Stanford Web Credibility Research compiled 10 guidelines for building the credibility of a website. This can be applied to your product, personality, and brand.

neuroscience sales tips - credibility guidelines

Most local businesses know how to build credibility. They use sentiment to affect human behavior. While others are struggling to earn a customer’s trust, local businesses donate to schools, sponsor children’s sports teams and participate in community events bulletin boards.

Be willing to work hard. People respect people who work hard. But, don’t make it all about yourself. Credibility is best earned by looking out for the interests of other people.

Here are a few simple ways to improve your credibility:

Answer questions correctly: Trust and transparency are just as important to corporate reputation as the quality of products and services. If you give incorrect answers it will damage your reputation.

When people ask you questions, if you don’t know the right answer, then say so. Offer to do some research and get back to them.


Whatever you do, don’t spout off with something you’re not sure of just to sound intelligent. The more you answer questions correctly, the more people will trust you.

neuroscience sales tips - build your credibility by answering questions

Produce valuable content regularly: There is no shortcut to content creation. You either do it yourself or outsource it to a knowledgeable freelance writer.

Always publish new content that helps people achieve their goals more easily. Your credibility level will increase.

Don’t just create generic content. Instead, focus on creating custom content that will be relevant to your audience and in sync with your goal.

Offer to solve relevant problems: If you have unique skills, you can offer to solve relevant problems for your target audience.

For example, if you’re a website developer, you could offer to help readers tweak their WordPress themes, or show them how to do it easily themselves.

Build relationships: We all need to treat others fairly, recognize their inherent worth, and respect them.


Don’t let your human behavior be solely consumed by the amount of money you can make. Instead, now and again, help people for free. Brenton Hayden recommends that you follow a few specific strategies if you want to up your credibility:

neuroscience sales tips - how to build your credibility

In today’s marketplace, brands and products disappear as quickly as they appear. Most of them won’t stand the test of time.

It’s obvious that the way to improve your credibility is to build relationships with prospects and customers and earn their trust.

You can also build credibility by showcasing customer success stories. If you don’t have any authority at all, it may be hard for people to trust you. The best approach to appeal to their cognitive functions is to show that your product really works.

Drew Manning, founder of Fit2Fat2Fit, knows how to showcase real-life results. He discovered that most people who sell fitness programs and products are athletic, fit people who have never been overweight.

neuroscience sales tips - building credibility, Fit2Fat2Fit example

How can they possibly understand the human brain functions behind the struggles that overweight people endure and what that feels like?

Drew Manning did things differently. He spent 6 months gaining over 70 lbs. He then spent another 6 months taking the weight off.

This transformation was a source of confidence to potential customers. They thought, “If it worked for him, it’ll work for me, too.”


6. Sales Is a “Give and Give” Relationship

Giving usually comes into focus during the holiday season.

neuroscience sales tips - giving gifts/offerings

In The Science of Giving: Experimental Approaches To The Study of Charity, author Daniel M. Oppenheimer estimated that Americans donate over $300 billion each year to charity.

When you’re selling a product online or offline, giving should be in the form of value.

For example, you could give 1 – 10 GB free to customers who register your cloud storage solution, as pCloud does.

neuroscience sales tips - free offering for new customers, pCloud example

If you’re an author, you could give away the first two chapters of your book for free.

Giving is what I do on a daily basis because it’s the only way to build a sales relationship with potential customers.

I spent $30,000 on content creation; and instead of selling it, I gave the content away for free.

neuroscience sales tips - giving away content for free

Your customers are your best salespeople. Before they can recommend your product to other prospects, you need to make up your mind to give and give. That’s the relationship between you and customers.

According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, there is a way to sell that is rewarding, positive, and even enjoyable. It’s called relationship marketing and it’s a message Dale Carnegie started delivering over 80 years ago.

When you first establish a relationship with prospects, it affect their neural development and becomes easier to sell to them. The best salespeople are the best givers.


Contrary to what most people think, it’s not a “give and take” relationship, because you’re not taking anything from your audience.

If you love your customers (of course you should), then look for ways to give them as much value as possible and let it be more than what they’ll pay for.

Even though they may buy your product, that doesn’t mean you’re taking from them. The value of your product/service is expected to be higher than the price they paid for it.

Don’t get tired of giving. It’s your life as an entrepreneur, whether you run a brick-and-mortar business or are an online marketer.

Creating relationships that drive sales is critical to your business. That’s how top brands like Amazon, Zappos, Home Depot, and the like thrive in this competitive age.

The existing brain science research in psychology, economics, and neuroscience exploring the benefits of charitable giving has been largely correlational. Does it cause more happiness and fulfillment? Or is the connection between happiness and giving just a happy accident?


Happiness is a positive form of emotion, the province, and function of the limbic brain region.

To sell more products, give more value for free. According to Dunn and Norton, a study on happiness shows that the most satisfying way to use money is to invest in others. This might explain why so many people donate to charities that work in developing countries.

You can learn from two of America’s leading billionaires: Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Buffett donated 99% of his wealth to help charitable causes, saying “I couldn’t be happier with that decision.”

neuroscience sales tips - charitable donations bring happiness

Both billionaires give quite a bit to the world. Yet, here they willingly moved themselves down from being billionaires to millionaires. Heartfelt giving brings more into your life and your business.

Successful internet marketers who generated 6 or 7 figure incomes when they launched their products online followed this strategy.

They first started by giving tremendous value, well before selling. Eben Pagan, Frank Kern, Jeff Goins, Bill Baren and others launched their products in this manner.

For example, before Brian Dean opened his premium course “SEO That Works,” he first taught the best way to get top rankings for free in a blog post. I’m subscribed to his email list, so I can tell you that the value he provided made purchasing his online course a very simple decision. because he had already created tons of value for me.


If you don’t have a product to sell at the moment, it shouldn’t stop you from giving a richer experience to your prospects. Create high-quality content consistently.

I’ve been blogging for over a decade. Since that time, I’ve been creating 3 – 5 in-depth, relevant and valuable pieces of content for my audience each week.

That’s why you see huge traffic spikes in my blogs and a growing customer base for my software businesses.

neuroscience sales tips - give away free stuff to have a shot at selling stuff later

New studies prove that giving is beneficial not just for the recipients, but for the givers’ health and happiness. Giving promotes cooperation, positive human behavior, and social connection.

This is what you need to boost sales.

A study by sociologists Brent Simpson and Robb Willer showed that “when you give to others, your generosity is likely to be rewarded by others down the line—sometimes by the person you gave to, sometimes by someone else.”

7. To Close More Sales, Stop Selling

Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko and SEO That Works, understands how to persuade people to sign up for his online course.


Even though his online course is closed, he still sells by requesting that you join the waiting list.

neuroscience sales tips - stop selling so you can start selling (brian dean example)

Why does he do this?

Well, when people join his waiting list, they get quality advice and case studies of people achieving first page rankings, etc. By the time the course re-opens again, subscribers who joined the waiting list will be desperate for the online course.

The majority of them will eagerly enroll. After all, they’ve already received tremendous value, free of charge.

In other words, stop pushing your products to the target audience. Instead, push high-value content. Answer questions and show the results of your services or products.

One company that sells its products quite successfully without sounding too salesy is BlendTec. BlendTec took a novel approach way back in 2007 with its “Will It Blend?” series.

The founder, Tom Dickson, understands that what people are looking for in a blender is the blade’s sharpness and the motor’s strength.


In each video in the “Will It Blend?” series, Tom tests his blender by blending anything from cell phones to wooden rakes.

neuroscience sales tips - blendtec as an example of selling something without being too salesy

Don’t try to push sales too much. Instead, educate more. Become a teacher. Become passionate about helping other people.

Brian Clark, the founder of Copyblogger, discovered early in his content marketing business that “Teaching Sells.

When he started teaching instead of selling, he turned his blog into a multi-million dollar software business. He also went on to start another new business called

neuroscience sales tips - example of teaching instead of selling

When you teach, you’re giving away value that people can’t find elsewhere. If you continually educate and inform your target audience, you’ll sell more products or services in the process.


If you can tap into how your customer’s brains works at different stages in the purchasing process or lead funnel, you may be able to drive more sales with less effort.

The neuroscience sales tips we’ve provided should help you get started thinking about how you can leverage the power of the human brain in your own digital marketing strategy.

If all of this sounds intimidating and you want help enacting these principles, let us know. Our team of experts are ready and waiting to partner with you to create a stellar SEO or marketing plan that drives sales by considering how your customers think.


Which of these cognitive neuroscience principles have you applied to increase your product sales online?

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5 Psychological Tactics to Write Better Emails



5 Psychological Tactics to Write Better Emails

Welcome to Creator Columns, where we bring expert HubSpot Creator voices to the Blogs that inspire and help you grow better.

I’ve tested 100s of psychological tactics on my email subscribers. In this blog, I reveal the five tactics that actually work.

You’ll learn about the email tactic that got one marketer a job at the White House.

You’ll learn how I doubled my 5 star reviews with one email, and why one strange email from Barack Obama broke all records for donations.

→ Download Now: The Beginner's Guide to Email Marketing [Free Ebook]

5 Psychological Tactics to Write Better Emails

Imagine writing an email that’s so effective it lands you a job at the White House.


Well, that’s what happened to Maya Shankar, a PhD cognitive neuroscientist. In 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs asked her to help increase signups in their veteran benefit scheme.

Maya had a plan. She was well aware of a cognitive bias that affects us all—the endowment effect. This bias suggests that people value items higher if they own them. So, she changed the subject line in the Veterans’ enrollment email.

Previously it read:

  • Veterans, you’re eligible for the benefit program. Sign up today.

She tweaked one word, changing it to:

  • Veterans, you’ve earned the benefits program. Sign up today.

This tiny tweak had a big impact. The amount of veterans enrolling in the program went up by 9%. And Maya landed a job working at the White House

Boost participation email graphic

Inspired by these psychological tweaks to emails, I started to run my own tests.

Alongside my podcast Nudge, I’ve run 100s of email tests on my 1,000s of newsletter subscribers.

Here are the five best tactics I’ve uncovered.


1. Show readers what they’re missing.

Nobel prize winning behavioral scientists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky uncovered a principle called loss aversion.

Loss aversion means that losses feel more painful than equivalent gains. In real-world terms, losing $10 feels worse than how gaining $10 feels good. And I wondered if this simple nudge could help increase the number of my podcast listeners.

For my test, I tweaked the subject line of the email announcing an episode. The control read:

“Listen to this one”

In the loss aversion variant it read:

“Don’t miss this one”


It is very subtle loss aversion. Rather than asking someone to listen, I’m saying they shouldn’t miss out. And it worked. It increased the open rate by 13.3% and the click rate by 12.5%. Plus, it was a small change that cost me nothing at all.

Growth mindset email analytics

2. People follow the crowd.

In general, humans like to follow the masses. When picking a dish, we’ll often opt for the most popular. When choosing a movie to watch, we tend to pick the box office hit. It’s a well-known psychological bias called social proof.

I’ve always wondered if it works for emails. So, I set up an A/B experiment with two subject lines. Both promoted my show, but one contained social proof.

The control read: New Nudge: Why Brands Should Flaunt Their Flaws

The social proof variant read: New Nudge: Why Brands Should Flaunt Their Flaws (100,000 Downloads)

I hoped that by highlighting the episode’s high number of downloads, I’d encourage more people to listen. Fortunately, it worked.


The open rate went from 22% to 28% for the social proof version, and the click rate, (the number of people actually listening to the episode), doubled.

3. Praise loyal subscribers.

The consistency principle suggests that people are likely to stick to behaviours they’ve previously taken. A retired taxi driver won’t swap his car for a bike. A hairdresser won’t change to a cheap shampoo. We like to stay consistent with our past behaviors.

I decided to test this in an email.

For my test, I attempted to encourage my subscribers to leave a review for my podcast. I sent emails to 400 subscribers who had been following the show for a year.

The control read: “Could you leave a review for Nudge?”

The consistency variant read: “You’ve been following Nudge for 12 months, could you leave a review?”


My hypothesis was simple. If I remind people that they’ve consistently supported the show they’ll be more likely to leave a review.

It worked.

The open rate on the consistency version of the email was 7% higher.

But more importantly, the click rate, (the number of people who actually left a review), was almost 2x higher for the consistency version. Merely telling people they’d been a fan for a while doubled my reviews.

4. Showcase scarcity.

We prefer scarce resources. Taylor Swift gigs sell out in seconds not just because she’s popular, but because her tickets are hard to come by.

Swifties aren’t the first to experience this. Back in 1975, three researchers proved how powerful scarcity is. For the study, the researchers occupied a cafe. On alternating weeks they’d make one small change in the cafe.


On some weeks they’d ensure the cookie jar was full.

On other weeks they’d ensure the cookie jar only contained two cookies (never more or less).

In other words, sometimes the cookies looked abundantly available. Sometimes they looked like they were almost out.

This changed behaviour. Customers who saw the two cookie jar bought 43% more cookies than those who saw the full jar.

It sounds too good to be true, so I tested it for myself.

I sent an email to 260 subscribers offering free access to my Science of Marketing course for one day only.


In the control, the subject line read: “Free access to the Science of Marketing course”

For the scarcity variant it read: “Only Today: Get free access to the Science of Marketing Course | Only one enrol per person.”

130 people received the first email, 130 received the second. And the result was almost as good as the cookie finding. The scarcity version had a 15.1% higher open rate.

Email A/B test results

5. Spark curiosity.

All of the email tips I’ve shared have only been tested on my relatively small audience. So, I thought I’d end with a tip that was tested on the masses.

Back in 2012, Barack Obama and his campaign team sent hundreds of emails to raise funds for his campaign.

Of the $690 million he raised, most came from direct email appeals. But there was one email, according to ABC news, that was far more effective than the rest. And it was an odd one.


The email that drew in the most cash, had a strange subject line. It simply said “Hey.”

The actual email asked the reader to donate, sharing all the expected reasons, but the subject line was different.

It sparked curiosity, it got people wondering, is Obama saying Hey just to me?

Readers were curious and couldn’t help but open the email. According to ABC it was “the most effective pitch of all.”

Because more people opened, it raised more money than any other email. The bias Obama used here is the curiosity gap. We’re more likely to act on something when our curiosity is piqued.

Email example

Loss aversion, social proof, consistency, scarcity and curiosity—all these nudges have helped me improve my emails. And I reckon they’ll work for you.


It’s not guaranteed of course. Many might fail. But running some simple a/b tests for your emails is cost free, so why not try it out?

This blog is part of Phill Agnew’s Marketing Cheat Sheet series where he reveals the scientifically proven tips to help you improve your marketing. To learn more, listen to his podcast Nudge, a proud member of the Hubspot Podcast Network.

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The power of program management in martech



The power of program management in martech

As a supporter of the program perspective for initiatives, I recognize the value of managing related projects, products and activities as a unified entity. 

While one-off projects have their place, they often involve numerous moving parts and in my experience, using a project-based approach can lead to crucial elements being overlooked. This is particularly true when building a martech stack or developing content, for example, where a program-based approach can ensure that all aspects are considered and properly integrated. 

For many CMOs and marketing organizations, programs are becoming powerful tools for aligning diverse initiatives and driving strategic objectives. Let’s explore the essential role of programs in product management, project management and marketing operations, bridging technical details with business priorities. 

Programs in product management

Product management is a fascinating domain where programs operate as a strategic framework, coordinating related products or product lines to meet specific business objectives.


Product managers are responsible for defining a product or product line’s strategy, roadmap and features. They work closely with program managers, who ensure alignment with market demands, customer needs and the company’s overall vision by managing offerings at a program level. 

Program managers optimize the product portfolio, make strategic decisions about resource allocation and ensure that each product contributes to the program’s goals. One key aspect of program management in product management is identifying synergies between products. 

Program managers can drive innovation and efficiency across the portfolio by leveraging shared technologies, customer insights, or market trends. This approach enables organizations to respond quickly to changing market conditions, seize emerging opportunities and maintain a competitive advantage. Product managers, in turn, use these insights to shape the direction of individual products.

Moreover, programs in product management facilitate cross-functional collaboration and knowledge sharing. Program managers foster a holistic understanding of customer needs and market dynamics by bringing together teams from various departments, such as engineering, marketing and sales.

Product managers also play a crucial role in this collaborative approach, ensuring that all stakeholders work towards common goals, ultimately leading to more successful product launches and enhanced customer satisfaction.

Dig deeper: Understanding different product roles in marketing technology acquisition


Programs in project management

In project management, programs provide a structured approach for managing related projects as a unified entity, supporting broader strategic objectives. Project managers are responsible for planning, executing and closing individual projects within a program. They focus on specific deliverables, timelines and budgets. 

On the other hand, program managers oversee these projects’ coordination, dependencies and outcomes, ensuring they collectively deliver the desired benefits and align with the organization’s strategic goals.

A typical example of a program in project management is a martech stack optimization initiative. Such a program may involve integrating marketing technology tools and platforms, implementing customer data management systems and training employees on the updated technologies. Project managers would be responsible for the day-to-day management of each project. 

In contrast, the program manager ensures a cohesive approach, minimizes disruptions and realizes the full potential of the martech investments to improve marketing efficiency, personalization and ROI.

The benefits of program management in project management are numerous. Program managers help organizations prioritize initiatives that deliver the greatest value by aligning projects with strategic objectives. They also identify and mitigate risks that span multiple projects, ensuring that issues in one area don’t derail the entire program. Project managers, in turn, benefit from this oversight and guidance, as they can focus on successfully executing their projects.

Additionally, program management enables efficient resource allocation, as skills and expertise can be shared across projects, reducing duplication of effort and maximizing value. Project managers can leverage these resources and collaborate with other project teams to achieve their objectives more effectively.


Dig deeper: Combining martech projects: 5 questions to ask

Programs in marketing operations

In marketing operations, programs play a vital role in integrating and managing various marketing activities to achieve overarching goals. Marketing programs encompass multiple initiatives, such as advertising, content marketing, social media and event planning. Organizations ensure consistent messaging, strategic alignment, and measurable results by managing these activities as a cohesive program.

In marketing operations, various roles, such as MOps managers, campaign managers, content managers, digital marketing managers and analytics managers, collaborate to develop and execute comprehensive marketing plans that support the organization’s business objectives. 

These professionals work closely with cross-functional teams, including creative, analytics and sales, to ensure that all marketing efforts are coordinated and optimized for maximum impact. This involves setting clear goals, defining key performance indicators (KPIs) and continuously monitoring and adjusting strategies based on data-driven insights.

One of the primary benefits of a programmatic approach in marketing operations is maintaining a consistent brand voice and message across all channels. By establishing guidelines and standards for content creation, visual design and customer interactions, marketing teams ensure that the brand’s identity remains cohesive and recognizable. This consistency builds customer trust, reinforces brand loyalty and drives business growth.

Programs in marketing operations enable organizations to take a holistic approach to customer engagement. By analyzing customer data and feedback across various touchpoints, marketing professionals can identify opportunities for improvement and develop targeted strategies to enhance the customer experience. This customer-centric approach leads to increased satisfaction, higher retention rates and more effective marketing investments.


Dig deeper: Mastering the art of goal setting in marketing operations

Embracing the power of programs for long-term success

We’ve explored how programs enable marketing organizations to drive strategic success and create lasting impact by aligning diverse initiatives across product management, project management and marketing operations. 

  • Product management programs facilitate cross-functional collaboration and ensure alignment with market demands. 
  • In project management, they provide a structured approach for managing related projects and mitigating risks. 
  • In marketing operations, programs enable consistent messaging and a customer-centric approach to engagement.

Program managers play a vital role in maintaining strategic alignment, continuously assessing progress and adapting to changes in the business environment. Keeping programs aligned with long-term objectives maximizes ROI and drives sustainable growth.

Organizations that invest in developing strong program management capabilities will be better positioned to optimize resources, foster innovation and achieve their long-term goals.

As a CMO or marketing leader, it is important to recognize the strategic value of programs and champion their adoption across your organization. By aligning efforts across various domains, you can unlock the full potential of your initiatives and drive meaningful results. Try it, you’ll like it.

Fuel for your marketing strategy.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business: Part 2



2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business: Part 2

2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business

Before we dive into the second way to assume power in your business, let’s revisit Part 1. 

Who informs your marketing strategy? 

YOU, with your carefully curated strategy informed by data and deep knowledge of your brand and audience? Or any of the 3 Cs below? 

  • Competitors: Their advertising and digital presence and seemingly never-ending budgets consume the landscape.
  • Colleagues: Their tried-and-true proven tactics or lessons learned.
  • Customers: Their calls, requests, and ideas. 

Considering any of the above is not bad, in fact, it can be very wise! However, listening quickly becomes devastating if it lends to their running our business or marketing department. 

It’s time we move from defense to offense, sitting in the driver’s seat rather than allowing any of the 3 Cs to control. 

It is one thing to learn from and entirely another to be controlled by. 

In Part 1, we explored how knowing what we want is critical to regaining power.


1) Knowing what you want protects the bottom line.

2) Knowing what you want protects you from the 3 Cs. 

3) Knowing what you want protects you from running on auto-pilot.

You can read Part 1 here; in the meantime, let’s dive in! 

How to Regain Control of Your Business: Knowing Who You Are

Vertical alignment is a favorite concept of mine, coined over the last two years throughout my personal journey of knowing self. 

Consider the diagram below.

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Vertical alignment is the state of internal being centered with who you are at your core. 

Horizontal alignment is the state of external doing engaged with the world around you.

In a state of vertical alignment, your business operates from its core center, predicated on its mission, values, and brand. It is authentic and confident and cuts through the noise because it is entirely unique from every competitor in the market. 

From this vertical alignment, your business is positioned for horizontal alignment to fulfill the integrity of its intended services, instituted processes, and promised results. 

A strong brand is not only differentiated in the market by its vertical alignment but delivers consistently and reliably in terms of its products, offerings, and services and also in terms of the customer experience by its horizontal alignment. 

Let’s examine what knowing who you are looks like in application, as well as some habits to implement with your team to strengthen vertical alignment. 

1) Knowing who You are Protects You from Horizontal Voices. 

The strength of “Who We Are” predicates the ability to maintain vertical alignment when something threatens your stability. When a colleague proposes a tactic that is not aligned with your values. When the customer comes calling with ideas that will knock you off course as bandwidth is limited or the budget is tight. 


I was on a call with a gal from my Mastermind when I mentioned a retreat I am excited to launch in the coming months. 

I shared that I was considering its positioning, given its curriculum is rooted in emotional intelligence (EQ) to inform personal brand development. The retreat serves C-Suite, but as EQ is not a common conversation among this audience, I was considering the best positioning. 

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She advised, “Sell them solely on the business aspects, and then sneak attack with the EQ when they’re at the retreat!” 

At first blush, it sounds reasonable. After all, there’s a reason why the phrase, “Sell the people what they want, give them what they need,” is popular.

Horizontal advice and counsel can produce a wealth of knowledge. However, we must always approach the horizontal landscape – the external – powered by vertical alignment – centered internally with the core of who we are. 

Upon considering my values of who I am and the vision of what I want for this event, I realized the lack of transparency is not in alignment with my values nor setting the right expectations for the experience.

Sure, maybe I would get more sales; however, my bottom line — what I want — is not just sales. I want transformation on an emotional level. I want C-Suite execs to leave powered from a place of emotional intelligence to decrease decisions made out of alignment with who they are or executing tactics rooted in guilt, not vision. 


Ultimately, one of my core values is authenticity, and I must make business decisions accordingly. 

2) Knowing who You are Protects You from Reactivity.

Operating from vertical alignment maintains focus on the bottom line and the strategy to achieve it. From this position, you are protected from reacting to the horizontal pressures of the 3 Cs: Competitors, Colleagues, and Customers. 

This does not mean you do not adjust tactics or learn. 

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However, your approach to adjustments is proactive direction, not reactive deviations. To do this, consider the following questions:

First: How does their (any one of the 3 Cs) tactic measure against my proven track record of success?

If your colleague promotes adding newsletters to your strategy, lean in and ask, “Why?” 

  • What are their outcomes? 
  • What metrics are they tracking for success? 
  • What is their bottom line against yours? 
  • How do newsletters fit into their strategy and stage(s) of the customer journey? 

Always consider your historical track record of success first and foremost. 

Have you tried newsletters in the past? Is their audience different from yours? Why are newsletters good for them when they did not prove profitable for you? 


Operate with your head up and your eyes open. 

Maintain focus on your bottom line and ask questions. Revisit your data, and don’t just take their word for it. 

2. Am I allocating time in my schedule?

I had coffee with the former CEO of Jiffy Lube, who built the empire that it is today. 

He could not emphasize more how critical it is to allocate time for thinking. Just being — not doing — and thinking about your business or department. 

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Especially for senior leaders or business owners, but even still for junior staff. 

The time and space to be fosters creative thinking, new ideas, and energy. Some of my best campaigns are conjured on a walk or in the shower. 


Kasim Aslam, founder of the world’s #1 Google Ads agency and a dear friend of mine, is a machine when it comes to hacks and habits. He encouraged me to take an audit of my calendar over the last 30 days to assess how I spend time. 

“Create three buckets,” he said. “Organize them by the following:

  • Tasks that Generate Revenue
  • Tasks that Cost Me Money
  • Tasks that Didn’t Earn Anything”

He and I chatted after I completed this exercise, and I added one to the list: Tasks that are Life-Giving. 

Friends — if we are running empty, exhausted, or emotionally depleted, our creative and strategic wherewithal will be significantly diminished. We are holistic creatures and, therefore, must nurture our mind, body, soul, and spirit to maintain optimum capacity for impact. 

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I shared this hack with a friend of mine. Not only did she identify meetings that were costing her money and thus needed to be eliminated, but she also identified that particular meetings could actually turn revenue-generating! She spent a good amount of time each month facilitating introductions; now, she is adding Strategic Partnerships to her suite of services. 

ACTION: Analyze your calendar’s last 30-60 days against the list above. 

Include what is life-giving! 

How are you spending your time? What is the data showing you? Are you on the path to achieving what you want and living in alignment with who you want to be?


Share with your team or business partner for the purpose of accountability, and implement practical changes accordingly. 

Finally, remember: If you will not protect your time, no one else will. 

3) Knowing who You are Protects You from Lack. 

“What are you proud of?” someone asked me last year. 

“Nothing!” I reply too quickly. “I know I’m not living up to my potential or operating in the full capacity I could be.” 

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They looked at me in shock. “You need to read The Gap And The Gain.”

I silently rolled my eyes.

I already knew the premise of the book, or I thought I did. I mused: My vision is so big, and I have so much to accomplish. The thought of solely focusing on “my wins” sounded like an excuse to abdicate personal responsibility. 


But I acquiesced. 

The premise of this book is to measure one’s self from where they started and the success from that place to where they are today — the gains — rather than from where they hope to get and the seemingly never-ending distance — the gap.

Ultimately, Dr. Benjamin Hardy and Dan Sullivan encourage changing perspectives to assign success, considering the starting point rather than the destination.

The book opens with the following story:

Dan Jensen was an Olympic speed skater, notably the fastest in the world. But in each game spanning a decade, Jansen could not catch a break. “Flukes” — even tragedy with the death of his sister in the early morning of the 1988 Olympics — continued to disrupt the prediction of him being favored as the winner. 

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The 1994 Olympics were the last of his career. He had one more shot.

Preceding his last Olympics in 1994, Jansen adjusted his mindset. He focused on every single person who invested in him, leading to this moment. He considered just how very lucky he was to even participate in the first place. He thought about his love for the sport itself, all of which led to an overwhelming realization of just how much he had gained throughout his life.


He raced the 1994 Olympic games differently, as his mindset powering every stride was one of confidence and gratitude — predicated on the gains rather than the gap in his life. 

This race secured him his first and only gold medal and broke a world record, simultaneously proving one of the most emotional wins in Olympic history. 

Friends, knowing who we are on the personal and professional level, can protect us from those voices of shame or guilt that creep in. 

PERSONAL ACTION: Create two columns. On one side, create a list of where you were when you started your business or your position at your company. Include skills and networks and even feelings about where you were in life. On the other side, outline where you are today. 

Look at how far you’ve come. 

COMPANY ACTION: Implement a quarterly meeting to review the past three months. Where did you start? Where are you now? 


Celebrate the gain!

Only from this place of gain mindset, can you create goals for the next quarter predicated on where you are today.

Ultimately, my hope for you is that you deliver exceptional and memorable experiences laced with empathy toward the customer (horizontally aligned) yet powered by the authenticity of the brand (vertically aligned). 

Aligning vertically maintains our focus on the bottom line and powers horizontal fulfillment. 

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Granted, there will be strategic times and seasons for adjustment; however, these changes are to be made on the heels of consulting who we are as a brand — not in reaction to the horizontal landscape of what is the latest and greatest in the industry. 


In Conclusion…

Taking back control of your business and marketing strategies requires a conscious effort to resist external pressures and realign with what you want and who you are.

Final thoughts as we wrap up: 

First, identify the root issue(s).

Consider which of the 3 Cs holds the most power: be it competition, colleagues, or customers.

Second, align vertically.

Vertical alignment facilitates individuality in the market and ensures you — and I — stand out and shine while serving our customers well. 


Third, keep the bottom line in view.

Implement a routine that keeps you and your team focused on what matters most, and then create the cascading strategy necessary to accomplish it. 

Fourth, maintain your mindsets.

Who You Are includes values for the internal culture. Guide your team in acknowledging the progress made along the way and embracing the gains to operate from a position of strength and confidence.

Fifth, maintain humility.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of humility and being open to what others are doing. However, horizontal alignment must come after vertical alignment. Otherwise, we will be at the mercy of the whims and fads of everyone around us. Humility allows us to be open to external inputs and vertically aligned at the same time.


Buckle up, friends! It’s time to take back the wheel and drive our businesses forward. 

The power lies with you and me.

Disruptive Design Raising the Bar of Content Marketing with Graphic

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