How To Ask For A Testimonial From A Client

How To Ask For A Testimonial From A Client

I waited for weeks. My client said she loved my work, and promised to give me a testimonial, but she stopped returning my emails.

Putting aside my imposter syndrome, I looked at things from her perspective. She was an interview host by trade. The whole reason she hired me was because she didn’t want to write her emails and sales pages.

By asking her to volunteer her time to write a testimonial, I was giving her homework. That’s not nice to do, when you’re asking someone for a favour.

So I asked myself: what’s the best way to collect testimonials from a client?

The answer is: an interview.

How to Collect Customer Testimonials with Interviews

I called my client and asked her, “Can I interview you for about fifteen minutes, about what it was like working with me? I’ll take a lot of notes, and write up a short paragraph based on what you’ve said, and you can approve it or edit it to make sure it’s perfect.”

She was happy to oblige.

Lisa Garr The Aware Show“Caelan has a great way of taking your vision and making it a reality. He works really well with visionaries – I speak it, and he makes it happen! His website design for The Aware Show really captured my personality, and his project management skills kept my entire team on track. The beautiful summits he put together helped us to grow our list and expand our audience. Caelan is always positive and keeps a positive outlook on life!”

 – Lisa Garr, host of The Aware Show

She used the phrases and wording in this paragraph – I just plucked them out of our conversation, and put them in an order that made sense. I also made sure to ask her about specific things I wanted to include in the testimonial, as well.

By interviewing her about the experience of working with me, I took all the grunt work on myself, so all she had to do was chat with me. It was much more respectful of her time and attention, and when we are asking a client to do us a favour, we should be more respectful of them, not less.

Below I’ve listed answers to some of the most common questions I get about how to collect testimonials from clients. But first, if you would like to use my step-by-step process for collecting testimonials with interviews, then you should enroll in my 5-Day Testimonial Collection Challenge: 

Frequently Asked Questions about Testimonials

Can testimonials be anonymous?

Technically, yes, but they are not as effective. Ranking the types of testimonials in order of effectiveness, from most to least:

  1. Testimonial with name and headshot
  2. Testimonial with name and position
  3. Anonymous testimonial

Where should testimonials go on a website?

The first home should be at yourwebsite.com/testimonials. If I’m ever doing any sort of web design for a client, I always make this page if they don’t have it already. This page can serve as the storehouse for your testimonials, so anytime you are making a piece of marketing collateral – designing a new brochure, or writing a sales page – you know exactly where to go to find your master collection.

In addition to having a dedicated Testimonials page (you can see mine here), you can also put testimonials on your website:

  • Below the fold on your homepage
  • In the footer
  • In the sidebar

I do not recommend you put testimonials in a slider. (Read why sliders suck here.)

Who can give testimonials?

Anyone who has experienced a transformation because of you or your work can give you a testimonial. If you are just starting out on your entrepreneurial journey, ask your former co-workers, or anyone who has worked on a project with you to collaborate.

What’s a good testimonial email template?

Personally, I’ve found that asking for testimonials over email has limited effectiveness. It might get you a few nice words with little effort, but that’s generally what they provide you – nice words with little effort.

While I do recommend the testimonial interview process laid out in Testimonials 101, if you are going to ask for a testimonial over email, here’s a sample script:

Hey there, would you mind sending me a few sentences that I can use as a testimonial? I really enjoyed the work we did together, and sharing your thoughts on my work would help me to find more clients like you. I’d appreciate it if you could mention [TOPIC] or how I [QUALITY]. If you could please send me a short paragraph by [DATE] I would be very grateful.

How testimonials help your business

Studies have shown that 88% of people trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation. Even if they don’t know the person who gave the testimonial, 88% of people trust those strangers as much as one of their friends.

The social proof of having a good testimonials page can sway someone to make a buying decision in your favour.

What questions should I ask to get a good testimonial?

I have scripted my 6 best questions for collecting testimonials out in the free workbook that is part of Testimonials 101. Opt-in here:

About The Author

Caelan Huntress is the father of 3 kids, and in his spare time serves as creative director of Stellar Platforms. He is also a writer, digital marketer, multimedia producer, and a retired superhero. He blogs about his adventures on https://caelanhuntress.com.

NSA #Influence19 Conference Recap

NSA #Influence19 Conference Recap

I did not plan on attending the National Speakers’ Association annual conference in Denver, #Influence19. But opportunity knocked, so I went through the door.

Just another weekly client call

One of my clients happened to be the co-chair for this year’s NSA conference. Mike Rayburn is the world’s funniest motivational comedian who plays guitar and talks, and we’ve been working together for more than a year.

At the end of our weekly marketing call, after we had discussed some new web page designs, and he showed me the printed brochure I had designed to promote his online course, the What IF? Challenge, I asked him, “How’s the conference coming?”

That’s when he told me, “I had a presenter break her kneecap, and I don’t know how I’m going to replace her on such short notice.”

“What’s her topic?” I asked.

“Monetizing Your Thought Leadership. I don’t know anyone else who speaks on that topic, and you’re in New Zealand.”

“What if…” I asked, because I’ve been steeped in his innovation and creative thinking material for a while, “What if I hopped on a plane tomorrow?”

“If you fly up to Denver from New Zealand, the spot is yours.”

Making the trip to the US

I made 10 videos on this trip, roughly 1 per day. You can watch them in the playlist above.

I write a lot more about the cultural shock of coming back into America in a separate post on my personal blog; many of the stories overlap, so in this post, I’ll stick to the professional aspects of my trip.

Presenting at the NSA conference #influence19

I only had 3 days to put this talk together, but thankfully, I had a template slide deck ready, and I’ve also got a deep background in performance and improvisation. That helped frame my expertise quickly, and the topic is the sort of thing I work on all the time with my clients.

“Without a doubt one of the one of the most worthwhile conference sessions I have ever attended.  Thank You!”

– email I received the next morning

The whole ‘7-Steps to Turn Your Signature Speech Into a Signature Offer‘ idea was brand new, but I had a long flight to work on it. The slides came out good, and I got to pilot some new IP that I’ve been working on, about the 4 levels of a Platform, and how the Cornerstones balance each other.

This new content forms the backbone for my new 90-day program, so it was good to see it getting some traction before a live audience.

One of the case studies in my presentation was Peter Cook, of the Thought Leaders Business School. I told him while I was flying across the Pacific that I was going to talk at the NSA conference, and feature him as a case study. But, I forgot my book! The Thought Leaders Practice is the best business book I’ve read in 2019. (Read my Book Review here.)

Peter offered to send 20 copies of the book to members of my audience who emailed him with something special in the subject line. So I told my session, at the beginning, ‘There will be prizes!’

After featuring Peter as a case study, and describing how his 4 signature offers match the 4 Offer Brackets, I offered a printed copy of his book to the first 20 people to email him with ‘NSA USA’ in the subject line, and send him their shipping address. ‘Get out your phones, everybody!’ I said, and assured them that if they weren’t one of the first 20, they would still get a PDF of the book.

60 people emailed him from my session, and as I hoped, the Thought Leaders methodology is spreading to more thought leaders in America.

Meeting clients in person

There were a number of current and former clients of Stellar Platforms who were attending this conference. I’ve made it my business to focus on authors, coaches, and speakers exclusively for a number of years, and I was lucky enough to finally meet a lot of old friends in person, and meet some new friends, as well.

Hugs and old friendships

One of the things I liked so much about attending the NSA conference was seeing all the hugs in the hallway. Old friends that had not seen each other for years would reconnect, and hug, and laugh, all the time.

It was such a commonplace occurrence that I was convinced that the longevity of this community was part of the reason people returned year after year. It’s a good community of nice and successful people, and I see why people remain so close to this community for decades.

Here are some pictures of me with my new friends:

Your heroes become your friends

I was sitting in on one of my favourite sessions of the week, expert webinar sales trainer David Newman’s presentation ‘Webinar Sales Mastery,’ when he commented about how his membership in this community has affected him. “One of the best things about being an NSA member for so long,” he said, “is that your heroes become your friends.”

I could see this demonstrated immediately afterward, when he said, “I’ve never had the experience of giving a presentation with Patricia Fripp taking notes in the front row, and I am freaking out right now!”

This got a good laugh, and a good photo. I was also in the front row, and I leaned out to the side to take a photo of the two of them, and posted it on LinkedIn.

After the session, I found myself walking next to sales legend Patricia Fripp, and I introduced myself to her as I said, “We met a few years ago, I saw you give a presentation to the Oregon NSA chapter.”

“That’s a very nice chapter you have,” she said off-handedly.

“I really like Fripp VT,” I continued. “The tech behind your business communications training LMS is really solid.”

“Thank you, it’s nice,” she said as she looked through the crowd ahead of us. I realized she got these sorts of random compliments from strangers often, and she probably assumed I was starstruck.

Just then Mike Rayburn walked over, and Patricia tried to get his attention. “Oh, hi Patricia,” he said, and then he started talking to me about an idea he had.

While we were talking together animatedly, Patricia was waiting to get a word in edgewise, and then Hall of Fame sales and leadership keynote speaker Connie Podesta came over and said “CAELAN!” and we hugged, since this was our first time meeting one another in person.

I think it was then that Patricia realized that I wasn’t just a starstruck fanboy, and I was quite gratified when I received a LinkedIn connection request from her later.

As David Newman predicted, your heroes do indeed become your friends.

NSA and Selling from the Stage

I went on a side project during #Influence19, to discover the official position of NSA on selling from the stage.

One of my clients (who was not present at the conference) told me once, “I’m a CSP, so I cannot sell from the stage.” A CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) earns this designation from the NSA and agrees to abide by a series of ethical obligations. When he told me this was his position, I was surprised.

Also surprised: many professional speakers at the conference. “Who told him that?” one Hall-of-Fame speaker said. “That’s true at NSA events, but not when you’re talking for clients,” another CPAE said. “You can sell at NSA chapter events, but not if you’re taking a fee,” said another CSP.

I was fascinated, because everyone I talked with had a different answer.

So I started asking everyone, “What’s the official position of NSA on selling from the stage?”

Eventually, I found myself eating lunch with a table full of older and semi-retired speakers.

(Pro tip: when you go to a conference, start conversations with your elders. They have the best insight, and they make the best conversation.)

I posed my question to Barry Banther, who has been around the NSA for a long time, and has served in many leadership positions over the years. During our conversation, he gave me the best and the clearest answer.

“We don’t permit selling from the stage at our events,” he said, “and anything else is up to the speaker, as long as it’s ethical.”

This, I realized, was why every speaker had been giving me a different answer: they were all interpreting the question according to their own personal ethics. Nobody gave me an answer that was unethical, but they were all different, because everyone sees the ethics of this question differently.

New Hall of Fame speakers

There were three new inductees into the Speakers Hall of Fame this year:

There was also a special recipient of the Cavett Award, an honor bestowed once a year to “the member whose accomplishments over the years have reflected outstanding credit, respect, honor and admiration in the Association and the speaking profession, and whose actions (in terms of sharing, guiding and inspiring other members) most closely parallel the illustrious career of NSA Co-Founder Cavett Robert, CSP, CPAE.”

When Phillip Van Hooser was awarded this honor, it was amazing to see a professional speaker so lost for words at the podium.

Jason Hewlett shaves his beard

One of my fave performances was Elton John impersonator Jason Hewlett for more than his early-to-late-stage impressions, but because he shaved his beard onstage.

Shaving a beard, by itself, is not anything that momentous. But it’s a rare enough action that with the proper introduction, it can be a momentous occasion.

Watch Jason Hewlett shave his beard on YouTube or read his story here.

Mike Rayburn brings down the house

One of the best parts about having a rock star for a client is he really knows how to end a party.

Inviting up many of his friends and colleagues, Mike Rayburn led the NSA closing party in a jam session that was just what I needed after a long conference: an opportunity to dance the night away.

All in all, this trip was a big win.

I had to postpone the launch of my new group program, the 90-Day Profit Accelerator, but I was able to finish up the sales page on the plane back to New Zealand.

Now I’m back in the winter, and I’m planning to help a dozen thought leaders elevate their platform in Q4. If you’d like to learn more about my program, you can click here to learn about the 90-Day Profit Accelerator.

People First Project – June 2019

People First Project – June 2019

Working from home in New Zealand, I don’t get many opportunities to network with my peers – people who run online businesses, and support themselves through the content they put into the Internet.

So far in 2019, I have enjoyed my work the most when I get together with someone on Zoom, and we get to dive deep into their business, their plans, their goals, and the mechanics of making it all happen.

When I said, “I want to be doing that more!” my coach said, “why don’t you just do that?”

So that’s what I’m going to do.

I’m giving away 30 coaching sessions during the month of June.

Join the People First Project

30 Conversations in 30 Days

June 1 – June 30, 2019

The People First project is something I’ve seen many others do over the years – from Shenee Howard to Andrea Leda, among others – and it has always struck me as a wonderful way to collaborate with one’s community, and to make an offer of service that is valuable to both the giver and the receiver.

With my particular skillset – sales funnels, website design, social media, and content marketing – my coaching sessions tend to focus on the following topics:

  • What big projects do you want to accomplish over the next 3 months?
  • What steps do you need to take to get there?
  • Who else do you need to reach with your message?
  • How can you reach them?
  • What content have you already produced that can be working for you in a different way?
  • What are the specific steps in your Sales Funnel?
  • How could we make the journey from Stranger to Customer even easier?

I’ve been asking these questions for more than ten years now, helping people promote and sell their content online. The results have been pretty good.

“Caelan has a great way of taking your vision and making it a reality. He works really well with visionaries – I speak it, and he makes it happen! His website design for The Aware Show really captured my personality, and his project management skills kept my entire team on track. The beautiful summits he put together helped us to grow our list and expand our audience. Caelan is always positive and keeps a positive outlook on life!”

Lisa Garr

Host of The Aware Show

I’m opening my calendar for 30 one-hour conversations during the month of June. Once the 30 slots are reserved, they are gone, no waitlist.

There is no cost for this call.

I typically charge $200 per hour for my coaching sessions, so this call has a $200 value.

I will record the call (if it is on Zoom, my preferred communication method) and provide you with the recording after. You can re-listen to our conversation as needed.

I will ask you challenging questions about what matters.

Some people come to me with questions about which email marketing platform to use, and leave with answers about their target market and what they should be selling instead. Don’t be surprised if we shake your business up a little bit.

I will give you tools and templates.

Over the years, I have accumulated a virtual library of resources that I use to create and promote content widely and quickly. Depending on your situation and your goals, I may provide you with some of these templates and resources, to help you in reaching your goals.

I will show up prepared, and I expect the same of you.

All participants in the People First Project will need to fill out a questionnaire prior to our call, so that I can come to our conversation prepared with ideas.

We will hit the ground running, and make a big impact on your business.

Are you ready? 

Join the People First Project

30 Conversations in 30 Days

June 1 – June 30, 2019

“Caelan is a talented digital marketer who is always in beast mode – always zoned in, every pixel, every letter, every plugin, every line. He will help you discover the online success you’ve been hunting for.”

Andy Horner

CEO, Outstand

10 Great Homepage Above-The-Fold CTA Examples

10 Great Homepage Above-The-Fold CTA Examples

Attention is so scarce online, you only have a moment to convert. That’s why a good homepage CTA above-the-fold can be so powerful – in first moment that someone lands on your homepage, they should immediately know who you are, what problem you solve, and how you can help them solve it. This article has 10 homepage CTA examples that use their above-the-fold content in the right way.

What is ‘Above The Fold’ content?

The term ‘above the fold,’ according to Wikipedia, refers to ‘the portions of a webpage that are visible without further scrolling or clicking.’

If you remember reading that old media interface we used before the Internet – the newspaper – then you probably know intuitively what ‘above the fold’ means.

“Most newspapers were sold from sidewalk kiosks,” as they say on OptinMonster, “folded in half so passersby could see the top half of the front page. If what they saw didn’t grab them, they’d keep on walking, and sales would be down. That’s why it was crucial to put your best, most interesting content ‘above the fold’.”

And what is a CTA?

CTA = Call-to-Action. This is the message that incites your user to do something specific.

Here are 10 lessons from 10 great websites that use their above-the-fold section to frame their CTA really well:

https://susanpeircethompson.com

Homepage Example 1: Susan Peirce Thompson

CTA: Take the Quiz Now

Headline: My name is Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D., and I want to help you get Happy, Thin, and Free.

Susan has a program that helps you decide in the moment when you should or shouldn’t eat something, with clear, bright lines.

What I like so much about Susan’s messaging is its clarity. She has a very well-defined problem she solves, and you don’t have to spend any time figuring it out. If you are struggling with your weight, she speaks directly to your problems, and you know exactly what you need to do next (take the quiz!)

LESSON: Clearly articulate what you offer right away 

https://problogger.com

Homepage Example 2: Darren Rowse

CTA: Subscribe to Problogger Plus

Headline: Become a ProBlogger

If you’re a blogger and you want to make a career out of it, you want to be a ProBlogger. Darren has been helping people level up their blogging game for a long time, and his advice is always friendly and helpful. (Read my review of Darren’s talk at WDS here.)

This homepage has lots of CTAs – join the Facebook community! Listen to the Podcast! Subscribe and Follow! Look at all these orange links! – but unlike most other target markets, this works for bloggers. We are a hyperactive bunch, and we know how to open links in new tabs, so I think he breaks the rule of ‘one CTA at a time’ very nicely here.

LESSON: Break the rules when it suits you 

https://tim.blog

Homepage Example 3: Tim Ferriss

CTA: Click to Listen

Headline: 300+ Million Episodes Downloaded

This blog is a vehicle to the podcast. Everything above the fold here is to convince you to get to the podcast – he’s got tons of social proof, the title of the latest episode (twice! In two different colors!) and any competing options are barely visible.

Tim Ferriss’ website does not exist to convince you why Tim is awesome – he’s beyond that point. Now he’s directing his audience to what he wants them to do next. He doesn’t want new website visitors to hire him for coaching (yet), or to approach him with VC deals (here), or to subscribe to his newsletter. All he wants is for you to listen to his podcast, because that is the strongest cornerstone of his platform, and the entry point to all his other offerings.

Lesson: Direct the top of your funnel to one destination

http://grantbaldwin.com

Homepage Example 4: Grant Baldwin

CTA: Join our Online Training

Headline: Want to Learn How to Find and Book Speaking Gigs?

Normally, your above-the-fold CTA should not lead to another website. When someone lands on your homepage, why would you want to immediately take them somewhere else? In Grant’s case, he’s got good reason. He has a very clearly defined Customer Avatar – public speakers who want to get booked and paid to speak. His signature course is promoted in his free course, which you find by clicking the ‘Join our Online Training’ button here.

This is a good looking homepage, and it validates Grant’s credentials and authority. If you happen to match his Customer Avatar, however, he wants to get you into his funnel right away, and his CTA button is a great way to do that.

Lesson: Make a fast lane for your Customer Avatar

https://www.melyssagriffin.com

Homepage Example 5: Melyssa Griffin

CTA: Click Here to Sign Up

Headline: Get my bangin’ blog business plan workbook for free.

This homepage includes an extra feature, something I usually see just a step or two lower down in the sales funnel: segmentation! By selecting the group with which you most strongly identify, Melyssa is gearing up a different automation sequence for you after you subscribe. Normally this is done in a follow-up email (as I typically handle it in the Stellar Email Template) but here it works seamlessly as part of the sign-up process.

The design of this hero section is bold and minimalistic, which helps offset the large amount of text in the selection boxes. I especially like the various options she presents JUST below the fold, encouraging you to scroll a little further (and to self-segment yourself again).

LESSON: Segment your audience at all the natural decision points

https://therisetothetop.com

Homepage Example 6: David Siteman Garland

CTA: Sign up for free training!

Headline: I help experts create and sell online courses

The hero shot here is really personable and engaging – I just wish it didn’t cut off his head! While I like the clarity and simplicity of his message – if you are an expert, and you create and sell online courses, you know that you want what he’s selling – I’m not a big fan of the color palette, and I think the ‘Get My Free Cheat Sheet’ CTA just above the fold is more compelling than the ‘Sign Up for Free Training’ in the green button.

What this homepage does really well is bolding out the big result his customer wants – CREATE AND SELL ONLINE COURSES – in a way that makes his Customer Avatar sure to dig deeper.

LESSON: Focus on the specific outcome your audience wants

https://socialtriggers.com

Homepage Example 7: Derek Halpern

CTA: Click To Get Free Updates

HEADLINE: Get With the FREE Program, Will Ya?

This is such a clear and simple homepage that it should be framed. The confidence in this hero shot – that is the confidence that Derek’s customers want to have. (Having your imagery visually convey the experience your customers hope to have is on the first page of the Stellar Homepage Checklist.)

While this could have been a very bland CTA – ‘join our weekly newsletter’ is in the start of the subhead – he’s put a very good set of copywriting twists on it that are intriguing, and make you want to learn more. It even says ‘free updates’ in the upper right, instead of ‘subscribe now,’ and that’s a good pivot. I also like how this homepage doesn’t celebrate the logo, but the logo’s typography still frames the visual experience. Instead of the logo being the champion of this website, it’s Derek himself, and that’s a much more authentic expression of a personality-based brand.

LESSON: Your homepage is about you, not just your business

https://entrepreneurshq.com

Homepage Example 8: Liam Austin

CTA: Sign Up

HEADLINE: The #1 marketing tactics of proven entrepreneurs – delivered daily

Normally I find ‘Sign Up’ to be a weak CTA in this day and age, but on this homepage it works. There isn’t a hero shot confusing you with the personality of the author – contradicting the previous lesson with Derek Halpern – instead, there is just a clear and simple value statement, and everything is framed around the daily email.

Putting so much effort into content marketing means that Liam does not want to dilute his main message (‘Sign Up’) with competing calls-to-action. He may have plenty of programs to sell, and media to review – videos, and podcasts, and ebooks, oh my! – but he will pitch you all those things in good time, AFTER you have subscribed. This homepage is a lot like a landing page – its goal is to convert you into taking ONE action, and other subsequent CTAs don’t distract you from taking this entry into the larger funnel.

LESSON: Optimise for the one action you want people to take

https://leopoldblake.com

Homepage Example 9: Nick Stephenson

CTA: Get the Book

Headline: Your Free Book is Waiting

Nick knows his audience, and they are heavy readers. The prospect of a free thriller is going to be exciting to his target market, but not to people outside of it. If he can hook a heavy reader with one thriller, the likelihood that they will purchase the rest of his books is very high.

Offering a free book is a big giveaway, and I especially like that he does not answer a relevant question here – is this a free digital copy, or a free hard copy? Just wanting to get that question answered is enough incentive to get someone to click.

LESSON: Be a little unclear, so users have to click to figure it out 

https://lewishowes.com

Homepage Example 10: Lewis Howes

CTA: Sign up to learn these 3 simple steps

Headline: Make a full-time living doing what you love

At first glance, the headline seems to be ‘Become The Hero Of Your Own Story,’ but I don’t think it is. I think that’s the tagline. The real headline for this homepage, and the message that frames someone’s decision to enter Lews Howes’ sales funnel, is ‘Make A Full Time Living Doing What You Love.’ That is the outcome-based value statement that tells the reader what they are going to get.

The hero shot is excellent quality, and the tagline does more to draw someone in to Lewis’ brand than the headline would. In this instance, I think it’s a smart move to have the tagline overshadow the headline. Without superior design, this wouldn’t work, but this is a good examples of breaking the rules the right way.

LESSON: Inspire users to level up, through you

https://www.nerdfitness.com

BONUS Homepage Example: Steve Kamb

Headline: We help Nerds, Misfits, and Mutants Lose Weight, Get Strong, & get Healthy PERMANENTLY!

There isn’t really a clear CTA on this homepage above the fold, but the messaging is so clear, it deserves an honorable mention. Nerd Fitness, run by Steve Kamb, has a very clear message – so clear, that if you’re a nerd who wants to get in shape, you won’t need a big flashy button for your call-to-action – you’re willing to hunt it down, like the Easter Egg in the bonus level of your favorite video game.

The hero shot is great, the headline is visually compelling, and the before-and-after photos peeking up from below the fold demonstrate the results. Some of the top-level navigation links could technically be CTAs, but without a clear button, or fillable fields, I don’t think this page properly has a CTA – but as I said, it’s so well-targeted, I don’t think it needs one.

So, what do you need on YOUR homepage above the fold?

Quicksprout has a simple formula, and they go into much more detail in their post about what to put above the fold on your website:

  • A well-written USP
  • Some brief explainer copy
  • Your branded logo
  • Simple, intuitive navigation
  • Contact info – especially important if you’re running an e-commerce store

This is their formula for what to include above the fold on your homepage, and it’s pretty straightforward. However, don’t just follow the rules.

A Contrarian View

Don’t Put Your CTA Above the Fold

It must be noted, putting a call-to-action above the fold is not strictly necessary. As we see above with Nerd Fitness, it’s not essential. There are even some A/B tests that have seen a 20% increase in putting the CTA below the fold.

“If you just rotely put the call-to-action above the fold,” Marketing Experiments says on their blog, “you may be making ‘the ask’ before your potential customer sees the value in why they should act. Or, sometimes, before they even know what you’re asking.”

If you have a solid reason for taking a contrarian position with your homepage CTA – like some of the examples above expertly demonstrates – then do it. Just make sure, as Picasso supposedly said, that you “learn the rules like a professional, so you can break them like an artist.”

That’s why I like website design and sales funnel strategy – there is an art to it, and it’s an art that generates revenue – especially when you know which rules to break.

About The Author

Caelan Huntress is the father of 3 kids, and in his spare time serves as creative director of Stellar Platforms. He is also a writer, digital marketer, multimedia producer, and a retired superhero. He blogs about his adventures on https://caelanhuntress.com.

4 Ways to Research Your Ideal Customer

4 Ways to Research Your Ideal Customer

Why does a customer buy from you? If you can discover this golden reason, the journey from Stranger to Customer will be much easier to follow. In this article, I’ll share with you 4 ways you can research your ideal customer, to improve your ability to sell to them. First, let me ask you a question:

What do you know about your customer?

  • What’s bothering them?
  • How do they make decisions?
  • Where do they go for help?
  • What makes them decide to buy?

If you know the answers to these questions, you can guide people into doing business with you. If you don’t know…you’re guessing.

Here’s how you can cut the guesswork:

  1. Competition research
  2. Go to their forums
  3. Make Facebook Audiences to build your list
  4. Survey your customers

Are you selling, or are you marketing?

There is a difference between sales and marketing. Sales is when you convince one person in front of you to buy something from you, right now. Marketing is when you convince groups of people to buy from you, anytime.

The lines can blur between sales and marketing, which causes confusion about what you actually…do. Marketing often adds urgency, with a limited time offer, and makes it more of a sale. Making a sale, research tells us, can take 7 or more touches before the close, so it can seem to take the same amount of time as marketing. But they work in two distinctly different ways:

Sales is one-to-one, and Marketing is one-to-many.

The best marketers are good salespeople, and good salespeople are also good marketers. Find the best marketers and salespeople in your field, and you can discover what’s working, by doing what they do.

Next time, I’ll help you do some research one-to-one. Today, we’re going to research one-to-many.

Competition Research

Henry Ford had a tremendously difficult job to do. He introduced the first mass-produced automobile to the American market. “If I had asked people what they wanted,” he said, “they would have said faster horses.”

Creating a brand-new market is daring, perilous, and complicated. Don’t build a new market from scratch, unless you have successfully entered a saturated market a few times. For most entrepreneurs, you want competition in your field.

Competitors help you to identify trends, generate ideas, and harvest customer research. In most cases, you should be able to find someone who is already doing what you do, and doing it well.

If you are not pioneering a new market, and you can find 3-5 rock stars in your industry, pay attention to what they are doing. Follow them on social media. Subscribe to their newsletters. Read their content.

Take notes.

The most effective strategies I’ve implemented in my digital marketing agency are adapted from other experts. I pay close attention to people who are better than me (like her and like her and like him and like her), because they are investing time and money and resources into researching what works.

If these people do something clever, the result of six months of customer research, I adapt their tactics for my own business. The best part is, I don’t have to spend six months figuring it out.

Big Caveat: Don’t just cut and paste from your competition. It’s dishonorable, illegal, and lazy.

If you learn the difference between repurposing work and copying work, you gain a big advantage. You can model the successful systems of your predecessors – but be careful not to cut too many corners. Do the work.

As Kaleigh Moore says on the Shopify blog, “Keeping an eye on your competitors helps you anticipate shifts in the market, spot new trends and successful tactics, and stay on the cutting edge of what’s working within your niche.” They even have a competitive analysis template here

Once you know what your competition is doing, go to your customers.

Go to their forums

Reddit and Quora are treasure troves of newbie information. These forums don’t have a lot of spammy sales pitches, because the forum architecture naturally discourages them (thanks to upvotes and downvotes). This raises authentic content to the top of the feed, making it more likely that people will read posts relating to the topic at hand.

What does this means for you, doing your customer research? You can go into one of these forums, and search around on keywords related to your topic. What you will find are a bunch of newbies, all asking basic questions that you are uniquely qualified to answer.

This is valuable for two reasons:

  • First, you can answer these questions and make some connections.
  • Second (and more importantly), you learn how your prospects phrase their problems.

You can amplify the effectiveness of your marketing copy by using the phrases your customer uses to talk about their problems.

As James Mulvey says on the Hootsuite blog, “Reddit can help you observe what people really think about your industry and products, reveal what frustrates customers, and help you create marketing campaigns and content that kill those pains.” 

The comment threads on forum posts can be a goldmine of information for you. You can eavesdrop on people who are trying to solve the problems that you can solve, all laid out in a threaded conversation, on a free website.

When you read through these conversations you will see how they interact with their problem. They will talk about the types of solutions they try, and where they encounter obstacles. You can read the solutions that other people offer, and see how they react. You can make note of what works for them, and what makes them lose interest.

Forum research opens your customers’ minds up like a book. This gives you a deep understanding of how they are currently searching for answers.

Make Facebook Audiences to Build Your List

Facebook allows anyone with a minor amount of technical aptitude to create a ‘Lookalike Audience.’ Use their sophisticated demographic and behavioural data algorithms. You don’t have to be a social engineer, all you need is a list of your current customers.

Do you have a spreadsheet of customers? Does it have enough contact information (name, email address, zip code, and so on) that Facebook can identify their user profiles? If so, then you can enter one of the most sophisticated marketing research games in the world.

All you need to do is create a Facebook ad campaign. Upload your .csv of customer data, and Facebook can create a Lookalike Audience. This is a group of people who have similar interests, similar activity, and similar data collected about themselves.

Using this Lookalike Audience is limited to the Facebook platform – you can’t export these lookalikes and start cold calling them. But you can advertise to them.

As AJ Agrawal says on the Forbes blog, “I highly suggest running a series of low-budget campaigns to see which ads and messages work best. Only increase the budget once you find one with a low acquisition cost.” 

What messages make these kinds of people respond? Learning from your Lookalike Audience helps you hone your Ideal customer avatar template.

If you already have a working Sales Funnel, then you can advertise a Lead Magnet to these folks, and start filling your pipeline. If not, you can still use a Lookalike Audience for customer research, through surveys.

By asking similar people a series of survey questions, you gain valuable marketing intelligence. You can use this to sell to them in the future.

Survey Your Customers

Ryan Levesque is a master of customer research. He has worked with a Deep Dive Survey for years, and his book “Ask” is a wealth of information. He describes how (and why) asking good questions on surveys will lead you to copy that makes high-converting headlines.

Whenever he is entering a new market, Ryan will offer an incentive for people to take a detailed survey. The first question, all by itself – before he asks for their name, or email address, or any contact info – he asks, “What’s the #1 challenge you’re dealing with in relation to _____?”

He puts this question first because – it’s the most important question. If the user leaves the survey before completing all the questions, at the very least, he gets the answer here.

The responses to these questions are framed in the customers’ language, using the terms they use, and the way they think about their problem.

These specific phrases can become marketing copy, so when similar Customer Avatars see a headline with that specific phrase, they think, “This was made for me! I’ve got to get this.”

Remember, the ultimate goal of any piece of marketing is to make someone say: “Shut up and take my money!” If you can create that reaction, your marketing is a success.

Ryan uses many sophisticated techniques to gather customer intelligence. If you are planning to do a survey campaign, I highly recommend reading his book, Ask.

Setting up complicated surveys does take a lot of work. While it can reward you with qualitative data, the technical complexity to gather it might not be worth it.

That’s why many businesses prefer the old-fashioned, tried-and-true method. Gather customer research by interviewing customers one-on-one. I’ll talk about that in an upcoming article – subscribe to my newsletter to get notified when it’s ready.

About The Author

Caelan Huntress is the father of 3 kids, and in his spare time serves as creative director of Stellar Platforms. He is also a writer, digital marketer, multimedia producer, and a retired superhero. He blogs about his adventures on https://caelanhuntress.com.

Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

The awards for this contest, the Best Email Subject Lines of 2018, is totally biased and skewed. To even be considered for this award, you have to:

  1. Publish a newsletter regularly, to which
  2. I happen to be subscribed, and
  3. One or more of your subject lines has to make me go, ‘Wow!’

Last year I did a round-up of the 170 best email subject lines from 2017. Now that we’ve faced another New Year, I clicked the same Gmail label in my inbox to pull up a list of all the best emails that got my attention in 2018.

Email Subject Line Contest Judging Criteria

  • 3rd place – You show up in this list. Sometime, in 2018, you sent me an email with a subject line that made me say, ‘Wow, that’s good.’
  • 2nd place – You show up in this list more than once.
  • 1st place – You show up in this list more than anyone else.

Again, this is a highly subjective list, and it’s skewed towards digital marketers and salespeople (since they are the content creators I like to follow the most, and they are usually the best at writing subject lines that make you want to open the email) and the joy of having your own award show is that you get to award them however you please, so without further ado, here is…

3RD PLACE – Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

I kept this secret way too long – Mira Kelly

I never wanted to be an entrepreneur – Stu McLaren

DAMMIT DAMMIT DAMMIT – Kartra

Can we talk about getting you leads? – Dan Faber

Announcing major new services for your site. – Jetpack

How I Generated 800 Booked Calls With A Four Page Website – James Kemp

So, stop me if you’ve heard this one – Joseph Michael

How to get 10 paying Clients Now – Ted McGrath

New for you. The Mozart Pack is now ready. – Divi Den

The bad advice I followed at the start of my business – Melyssa Griffin

Full-time author within 12 months (how she did it) – Nick Stephenson

Question – Holden Qigong

did you miss it? – Jill Knouse

You are guest speaking on TED in 3 days (you’re ready, right?) – Dominika

Write me back if you want one of 7 test drives – Amber McCue

I know Keto is hot. Here’s a simple way to do it. – Pedram Shojai

Surprise! Unlock a Free Membership Upgrade When You Join Today – Trusted Housesitters

[pdf download] Get paid to share your message – Ben Kniffen

Why I love it when my clients are afraid – Laura Simms

Steal this sales email – Shenee Howard

You won’t believe who just joined the Naturopathic CE Faculty! – Naturopathic CE

I recorded a video for you – Fab Mancini

“That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard” – Vishen Lakhiani

You’ve acquired FIFTY PERCENT OFF 😉 It’s confirmed, CAELAN – Expedia

Can we put your name in the raffle? – Danny Iny

Day Six – “ABANDON SHIP!” (and other launch lies your brain tells you) – Kyla Roma

[Explosion noises] – Digg

Don’t buy this course! Guerilla Publishing is NOT for you if… – Derek Murphy

Your “Start Here ” Page – Pat Flynn

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN – Susan Peirce Thompson

Now I’m obsessed. – Nick Stephenson

Changes – SARK

do you believe me yet?- Cory Huff

Announcement : Introducing Unstoppable with Kerwin Rae – Kerwin Rae

You have a $603 credit – Michelle Shaeffer

The Productivity Hack That’s Made Me Millions – Bob Allen

Can I give you $1000? Two people are going to win…might as well be you. – Kelly Poelker

You’ve always wondered ….Now you can find out for yourself – Team Tony Robbins

The ultimate list building short-cut (PDF DOWNLOAD Inside) – Navid Moazzez

BOOM! This is how you make money from a tiny list – Meera Kothand

Something BIG is coming – Steph Crowder

Write better emails TODAY-Here’s how – Derek Halpern

You’re not in yet 🙂 last chance today! – Aaron Morin

Can you come as my guest? (VIP invite) – John Assaraf

did you hear the news? – Dustin W. Stout

Why do customers really buy? – Donald Miller

Did you see this? – Andrea Leda

10x your book revenue without selling another book – Ty Ward

Get my best speaker training tips! Here’s how… – Sage Lavine

do you need a raise? – Lisa Sasevich

The hardest decision I’ve made in my business this year. – Caleb Wojcik

Make Your Website a Well-Oiled Machine – Pia Larson


While some of these subject lines look like they were addressed to me personally, or seem to be a personal request, I can assure you, they are not. Some of these were so good because they insinuated a personal connection so well, but these were really all mass emails.

The email subject lines in this list – these are examples of really good mass emails.

2ND PLACE – Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

These authors showed up multiple times in my inbox this year, and more than once I said, ‘Hey, that’s a really good subject line.’


Wendy Weiss

Wendy Weiss, the Queen of Cold Calling

Wendy Weiss runs a sales training and coaching consultancy, with an expertise in new business development.

Wendy’s Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

  • Your message = your money
  • This will be your last chance

Eben Pagan headshot

Eben Pagan, Entrepreneur & Teacher

Eben Pagan teaches advanced strategies to grow your business to the 6 and 7 figure per year level.

Eben’s Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

  • Email me back
  • Did you still want this?

Jon Morrow, 7-Figure Blogger

Jon Morrow gives cutting edge advice about blogging to smart bloggers.

Jon’s Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

  • [Blog Launch Tookit] Please don’t pay full price for this
  • [FLASH SALE] The Ultimate Training Library for Beginning Bloggers

Benji Bruce headshot

Benji Bruce, Motivational Keynote Speaker

Benji Bruce shows an audience how to create a psychological advantage so they stay sharp and stay ahead.

Benji’s Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

  • Send me your pitch
  • Cancel my membership

John Lee Dumas headshot

John Lee Dumas, Podcaster

John Lee Dumas hosts the daily business podcast EOFire for the Fire Nation.

John’s Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

  • Secrets to selling from pages, stages, and webinars
  • Get ready to learn Facebook Ads!

Alan McKenna, Business Strategist

Alan McKenna is a sales & marketing strategist with over 20 years experience in turning companies around and exploding their growth

Alan’s Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

  • Can I send you $3000?
  • Wednesday March 21st-Add to your calendar
  • I changed the date of the meeting

David Siteman Garland headshot

David Siteman Garland, Online Course Creator

David Siteman Garland helps experts create and sell online courses.

David’s Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

  • (super time sensitive) Create Awesome Online Course is open
  • The biggest mistake I made in my business (plus deadline)

1st Place – Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

Marisa Murgatroyd headshot

Marisa Murgatroyd, Brand Builder and Marketing Strategist

Marisa Murgatroyd provides done-for-you branding, website design, and training on becoming the most bold, colorful, vibrant expression of who you are online.

Marisa also has one of the best platforms on the internet, IMHO. She’s got crystal-clear messaging, top-notch website design, excellent sales funnels and creates a TON of content. So it’s no big surprise that she showed up in this (highly subjective) list a total of NINE times.

Marisa’s Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

  1. Can we work together on your business?
  2. I hit 7-figures because I did this…
  3. what Luke Skywalker can do for your business
  4. this common product creation mistake can lead to zero sales
  5. this is not a trick question
  6. I’ve got an idea for you!
  7. {true story} How I hit zero….
  8. 2 inconvenient fact that should disqualify me as a coach
  9. {urgent} change of plans….

About The Author

Caelan Huntress is the father of 3 kids, and in his spare time serves as creative director of Stellar Platforms. He is also a writer, digital marketer, multimedia producer, and a retired superhero. He blogs about his adventures on https://caelanhuntress.com.

Follow Caelan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Youtube.