Embrace Variety! Increase Opt-ins with Tasty Super-Targeted Content

Keith Perhac
Founder @ SegMetrics

Imagine for a moment that instead of selling a course, you’re selling ice cream. (Mmm, ice cream.)

You first decision is what, exactly, to offer your customers. Which approach do you think will be more successful:

Selling only vanilla ice cream…
Or, selling ten different kinds?

It’s pretty obvious to anyone that you’ll be better off selling a variety of flavors instead of just one. People like different things, and not everyone likes vanilla. If you’re only selling vanilla, you’re only reaching the 10% of the population who really love vanilla.

When you add chocolate to the mix, you’ll increase your customers by another 10%. Add strawberry and you’ll see an 8% increase. Peanut butter, 14%. Mint chocolate chip, 12%. And so on and so on.

You need many different flavors on your menu to get a larger piece of the conversion pie. (Mmm, pie.)

Add “flavors” to your marketing to reach more people.

What works for ice cream also works for marketing your courses.

We’ve talked quite a bit about the power of using carrot content to entice new opt-ins. You give interested folks a small piece of content, like a PDF, checklist, or mini-course, in exchange for their email address. It’s a fantastic way to collect data and show your value to new customers at the same time.

Let’s translate our ice cream shop into the world of carrot content. Which marketing approach do you think will be more successful:

Offering only one flavor of carrot content…
Or, offering ten different flavors?

You guessed it: ten is better than one.

Why is that exactly?

Just like with ice cream, people have different tastes. Some people will be interested in one topic, others will be interested in something else. If you only offer one carrot, you’re missing out on those people who would have easily opted in, if only you gave them something slightly different. That can be a big loss.

You can also think of it this way:

Carrot A + Carrot B + Carrot C + Carrot D will always equal more than Carrot A all by itself.

How do you add variety to your marketing materials?

Here’s a great example of flavors in action.

We worked with a customer who was marketing courses about travel. To entice new students, he created a carrot about how to avoid common travel mistakes. The information was applicable to travel of all kinds; it wasn’t aimed at any certain kind of traveler in particular.

It performed well, but he knew he could do better.

Embracing the idea of flavor variety, our customer created an entire suite of carrots. Each one contained travel information aimed at super specific target markets:

  • Travel safety tips for women
  • Teaching English abroad
  • Travel tips for Europe
  • Travel tips for Asia

The change from one broad topic to several niche topics was a huge success. Opt-in rates increased in every category: Women signed up in droves for his safety tips. People looking to teach English signed up to learn about teaching abroad. And travelers interested in going to Europe and Asia signed up for those carrots.

Don’t think of flavor marketing like an A/B test.

Something important to keep in mind when you’re building out your targeted topics:

Adding flavors to your carrots is not the same as running an A/B test.

A/B testing is designed to show you which thing all of your customers generally prefer over the other — for example, a funny email subject line vs. an information-oriented email subject line. From that, you make generalized assumptions about what your customers like, and you adjust your future email subject lines (or other content) accordingly.

But enticing customers with tasty carrot flavors isn’t about finding what performs best overall. It’s about using smart targeting to improve your reach within segmented markets. The goal is to see increases across many different audience types.

Why do people like variety? Shouldn’t you just create one really awesome product that everyone will love?

As much as you might want to pour all of your energy into creating One Carrot to Rule Them All, we recommend you don’t. You’ll have greater success trying to please one person than a thousand people.

There are three psychological factors that back this up:

We like feeling like we belong.

When a prospect sees that you’re offering a carrot aimed specifically at college students – and they’re a college student – they’ll immediately feel that they’re in the right place.

A colleague of ours proved this point by altering his sales page to reflect the industry of each page visitor. So, instead of reading “10 Account Tips,” the page header would dynamically change to say “10 Account Tips for IT Professionals” when an IT pro visited the page.

This immediately gave them a warm, fuzzy feeling — they were in the right place, and they belonged there. It’s no surprise that conversion rates increased when the visitor’s industry could be identified and included on the page.

The generic page message didn’t stand a chance.

We are drawn to people (and things) like us.

Our good friend Patrick McKenzie shared a story to illustrate this point at BaconBiz conference.

Some background: Patrick’s Bingo Card Creator is aimed primarily at female, middle-aged elementary school teachers.

Its website included an incredible testimonial from a male user, but Patrick had a hunch that a woman’s perspective would go farther with his target audience. So he swapped out the fantastic male testimonial for a less exciting testimonial that was written by a woman.

Even though the content of the testimonial was inferior, female visitors to the page trusted the message more because of who was delivering it: someone just like them. The testimonial made a stronger impact and performed far better than the previous one.

We like feeling unique and special.

Customers are savvy. They know the difference between mass communication and communication aimed at them specifically, and they always prefer the specific over the general.

Instead of trying to please a thousand potential prospects, try to please just one. Imagine your ideal prospect as one person in a room, and write in a way that will appeal to that single person.

Like we said before, don’t ever try to make one thing with the goal of appealing to everyone. It’s impossible, and it will make your prospective customers feel like one lousy cow in a herd of cattle. Would that make you feel like signing up for something?

Show your targets something that will appeal to them and them alone, and we promise they’ll pay attention.

Put your flavors into action.

As you’re setting up your carrots, we want you to remember:

  • Targeting is powerful.
  • Offer variety.
  • Be specific.

And of course, make sure your flavors are delicious!

Keith Perhac

Founder @ SegMetrics

Keith is the Founder of SegMetrics, and has spent the last decade working on optimizing marketing funnels and nurture campaigns.

SegMetrics was born out of a frustration with how impossibly hard it is to pull trustworthy, complete and actionable data out of his client's marketing tools.

Related Articles