A few things that made me think this week…

One Trick Ponies Get Shot. A gut-punch of a dissection of the way most digital agencies work and a better way to do things, how to create an actual marketing strategy and overcome the diminishing marginal returns of channel-specific tactics. I was going to write up all my thoughts on it, but you should just read the whole thing.

The Bulletproof Executive podcast. Well, more listening than reading. The podcast is fantastic, especially the interviews with doctors that discuss Candida, gut health, and other related issues and phenomena. The body is one complex system and the more I think about it, the more I see a parallel between marketing and biohacking. I started the Bulletproof Coffee this morning, although I add cayenne pepper to mine. If you think putting ghee in your coffee is crazy, well, prepare to open a door into a whole new world of health that you never imagined.


I posted my thoughts and impressions on Opticon 2014 up on envisionit media’s blog: Nerding out on CRO at Opticon.




From FlowingData.com via Marginal Revolution.


For my first case study, I’m going to talk about Trunk Club’s homepage because:

a) I love the company,

b) it’s a cool Chicago startup, and

c) I love clothing.

Caveats and Considerations

  • I don’t have access to their analytics or any other data that’s not publicly available.
  • I’m guessing that the smart marketers at Trunk club are already thinking about this stuff and have tested a lot of different ideas.
  • I’ve seen them post jobs for conversion optimization specialists before so it’s quite possible that they’ve already considered the things I’m suggesting and have found them to be not optimal.
  • They have Optimizely code on their site, so it’s also possible that I’m seeing a test variation and not the baseline version of the page.


Overall, I really like their homepage. At first glance, it’s a clean design and although I can’t un-know what I already know about the company, my impression is that a new visitor would easily be able to figure out exactly what they do in fewer than five seconds and how it works in under 10 seconds.

By the way, I’m not a Trunk Club customer, although I almost was–their HQ is close to my office in Chicago and I went in once for a consultation. I’m probably not their exact target market because I actually enjoy shopping for clothing. But I was impressed that the stylist recognized my winter coat–an English hunting coat that I found down the street at Haberdash and couldn’t find anywhere else online.

I don’t know if that was just luck or what, but I was like OK, they definitely hire stylists that know what they’re talking about. I’ve been meaning to go back to actually try their shopping experience in person but just haven’t gotten around to it.

Initial First Impressions:

  • The writing is clear and easy to understand.
  • The images help to communicate the value proposition.
  • The design is easy to digest and scroll-friendly.
  • What the company does is clear and easy to understand in 5 seconds or less.
  • There is one clear call to action.

Breaking Things Down 

Lets’s have a look at their homepage. You can click the image to view it in a new window.

Trunk Club Homepage


Testing the Low-hanging Fruit

1) I would try switching the product image with the headline/CTA, using an image that draws the eye to the right, towards the headline/CTA.

2) Test headlines or sub-headlines that convey the value proposition. Unless they’ve already tested that headline extensively, I would bet good money that a different variation would increase conversion.

3) Test different button colors. Any time the main CTA matches the site’s overall color scheme so closely, there’s a strong possibility that using a more contrasting color will improve the click-through rate.

Going Deeper: Focus on the Benefits and the Value Proposition

There’s a lot of text about the features and how the service works, but not a lot about the benefits. For instance, while I think having “clothes handpicked for you by a human” is something many men would like in theory, they don’t wake up thinking “I wish someone would handpick my clothes for me.” Unless they’re developmentally stuck in 4th grade and pining for the days when mom took care of that.

My theory is that men think about clothing as a way to present themselves to the world as an expression of their personality, and by that I mean to express themselves as someone who other people want to sleep with (kidding, sort of).

A quick stab at defining their target market(s):

One is men that already dress well but just don’t have the time to shop. Much easier to pay a little extra and save time by having clothes delivered to them. For them, they’re going to look just as good as normal but the benefit is the time savied, which is worth more than the cost of higher-end clothes or the Trunk Club markup (I’m not sure that they do mark up their clothes any more than a normal retailer would).

Another market is men who do not know how to dress themselves. Which of course reminds me of this scene from The Wire:

McNulty: “You know what they call a guy who pays that much attention to his clothes, don’t you?”

Bunk: “A grown up.”

For this group, the service is handpicked clothing. But that doesn’t speak to their pain. Their pain is that they feel incongruent. They want to be seen as successful, rich, artistic, attractive, sexually desirable, intelligent, hip, whatever, but their clothing doesn’t communicate that to the world.

The benefit for them is not about time or money, it’s about the feeling they will get when they are well dressed. The feeling they get when the world sees them the way they want the world to see them. Just my theory, but I think I’m close to the heart of the matter.

Beyond the feeling is their belief that if they are dressed well, that they will succeed in life more. Succeed in attracting women (or other men), impress their peers, earn more money, be more likeable. Or appear to the world as someone who does succeed, someone who appears to the world as a man. It’s not about the clothing, it’s about identity, about feeling like a man, about the story they tell themselves when they get dressed in the morning or when the Trunk Club box arrives at their door.

Now, I could be completely wrong here but this is how I would approach the testing of their messaging. And I’m not talking about copy that says “get moar chicks w/ our clothez!!!” It’s a sophisticated audience and the communication would have to be subtle. But subtlety doesn’t preclude copy that sells well.

Social Proof and Quotes

I would also like to test the addition of quotes from happy customers describing how much they love the service and a mention of how many happy customers they have. If other people are doing it already, then I’m more likely to want to.

Social proof is a powerful way to increase conversion. If you can identify the objections that some prospects have when deciding to move forward with the service, quotes from happy customers are a great way to address those objections.


Need to take a screenshot of an entire page? The Webpage Screenshot plugin for Chrome is perfect. I love that you can also use it to mark up the image, take notes, etc. A great little tool for picking apart a page.


Connect more, collect less

May 11, 2014

I read this on Seth Godin’s blog the other day and I think it fits nicely with last month’s post on the What, How, Why approach to analytics: Without a doubt, the ability to connect the dots is rare, prized and valuable. Connecting dots, solving the problem that hasn’t been solved before, seeing the pattern […]

Read the full article →

How to Do Keyword Research with AdWords

April 24, 2014

So I saw this post at GrowthHackers on how to measure brand advertising and I remembered that I posted about that a long time ago on my old SEO blog (now defunct). It’s a great thing to think about because a) you can tie it back to your awareness efforts (online or offline) and b) […]

Read the full article →

Workshop on Understanding and Optimizing Conversions for Social Media

April 22, 2014

I’ll be speaking with my colleague and social media whiz, Nicole Emerick, at The Social Media Strategies conference in Chicago on April 29. We’re running a workshop on how to apply conversion rate optimization techniques to social channels, how to measure and improve the bottom-line value of social media efforts, and we’ll do a brief […]

Read the full article →

The What, How, Why Approach to Conversion Rate Optimization

April 16, 2014

This is a simple way to model your thinking about how to approach a website and breathe life into your analytics numbers. It’s how I approach things and I don’t think it’s terribly original, but I wanted to clarify my thinking on my approach, so here we are. Let’s say we’re looking at the homepage […]

Read the full article →

The testing mentality

April 7, 2014

The testing mentality is a philosophy that can be applied to much more than websites and really to any facet of life, whether it’s productivity, new habits, health and nutrition, sleep patterns, art, comedy, etc. For me, the testing mentality consists of four basic tenets, subject to revision: 1. We are often ignorant of why […]

Read the full article →