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Resort Site Optimization: Is Flint Right by Saying “Clarity Trumps Persuasion”

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Back in the day (you know, a few years ago), I used to attend MarketingExperiements webinars religiously. I love the fact that, unlike other sources of marketing “advice”, they were backing their findings up with statistically significant data. They’d test everything – copy length, button size, logo placement, image type, etc. – to improve the conversion of the landing pages they used in their experiments.

Flint McGlaughlin, the head honcho and voice behind the webinars, would often include quizzes before he released the data to test marketers’ intuition. The results were pretty clear – intuition isn’t very accurate.

Perhaps this was the reason for Article Three in their MarketingEpxeriments Creed that said:

“We believe that testing trumps speculation and that clarity trumps persuasion. Marketers need to base their decisions on honest data, and customers need to base their decisions on honest claims.”

That article (along with the rest of the “Creed”) has been hanging on the wall of my office for the last 3+ years. You’ve probably seen that I know and love the idea that “marketers need to base their decisions on honest data” (keyword being “honest”), but it’s the second part I want to focus a couple quick thoughts on. The idea that “clarity trumps persuasion.”

Tortoise & the Hare
Clarity and persuasion reminds me of the story of the tortoise and the hare. The moral of the story seems to boil down to this cliche:

Slow and steady wins the race.

It’s true, right? Well, yeah, I guess. As long as there isn’t someone in the race that is “fast and steady.” Fast and steady are not mutually exclusive and neither are the concepts of clarity and persuasion.

MarketingExperiements found that, when split tested side-by-side, copy that was written solely to be persuasive with all the bells and whistles we know can go along with that, performed more poorly than copy that was written with clarity in mind.

One Examples
Let me share one quick example of two headlines from their experiments:

PERSUASIVE: Searching for the most accurate mailing lists? Your hunt is over! (conv rate: 4.86%)
CLEAR: Get 500 FREE Leads Added to Purchase (conv rate: 14.65%)

Ironically, the “get 500 free leads” line was the subheader of the first example. Persuasion got in the way of the clear benefit this company could provide.

Find the Core
The funny thing is, clarity is persuasion. The next time you write some copy, instead of trying to be persuasive, try being clear first and let the persuasion follow. It may not change your end result that much, but I’ve found, time and time again, it helps me get the best performing copy easier and faster than any other approach.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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