Cialdinism Digital Marketing Food for thought Uncategorized

Cialdinism #2 – The Rule of Reciprocation

This rule comes from Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence. The Rule of Reciprocation says that we should try to repay those who have provided us with something. This can be utilized to persuade someone into doing an act by giving them an item or gift. If someone sends us a birthday present, we should be sure to send them one back. If someone offers you tickets to the game, you should repay them somehow – buy them some beers will ya!

When someone gives you something, that is actually worth value to you (weather monetarily or emotionally), and you don’t pay them back you get this weird feeling in your gut. This feeling is caused by the Rule of Reciprocation. I first hand felt this feeling last week when I was down in Cabo. My wife and I were walking around the Marina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico when we stopped to check out the sea lions and seagulls that were by the boat ramp. After standing there for a few seconds one of the fisherman called us over and offered to us a few fish to feed the wild sea lion that was begging at the edge of the water, of course my wife jumped at the opportunity! She was able to feed him and pet him a couple times. We even got to witness the sea lion chase off a seagull that was trying to snatch the fish from my wives hand before she could give it to the sea lion. It was great!

Right after she got done feeding the sea lion we left… and I got this weird feeling in my stomach. It felt like I owed that guy something, he was probably expecting money, but I didn’t have any cash with me. I thought for the next several days on my trip about going back to the marina to pay him, but I never pulled myself to doing so because around that same time I read about this rule. It caused me to realize what that guy had done, he had created a highly profitable niche business in the harbors of Cabo. He was also utilizing a highly effective psychological tool to get people to willingly and happily give him money. A fish for him can’t cost much at all, he is a fisherman after all. It may have cost him $.20 for the 2 little fish he gave my wife, if I had cash I would have easily have given him $10 for the wonderful experience- those are damn good margins mi amigo!

Pay every debt, as if God wrote the bill. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

So anyways, the idea is to give your customers something for free so that they can return the favor to you in a way that makes sense for your business. I didn’t know about this rule when we did it, but we used it for one of our apparel brands a few months ago by giving away free shirts to our top 50 customers over the past year and the experiment has worked stunningly. Many of the customers we sent free shirts too ordered new shirts soon after.

Takeaway: Find a way for your business to use the Rule of Reciprocation to your advantage, weather it be sending your customers something for free unexpectedly or giving someone at the harbor a fun experience that costs you pretty much nothing. It will be worth it.

Cialdinism Digital Marketing Uncategorized

Cialdinism #1

Recently I’ve really been getting into Robert Cialdini thanks to Andrew, over at Mixergy. So I’ve decided to start doing “Cialdini-isms” because I’ve really come to enjoy his insights. You can learn more about Mr. Cialdini here if you’re interested.

Cialdinism #1 – Fixed-Action Patterns

So a fixed-action pattern is an automatic response to a certain stimuli causing an instinctual/automatic action/response. He gives the example of a mother turkey based on ethology, the study of animals in their natural settings. Mother turkeys are good mother’s, they take good care of their young chicks but it is when they take care of their chicks which shows their fixed-action pattern. The mother does notice their young’s’ smell, touch, and appearance, but the biggest thing that gets the mothers to care for their young is the “cheep-cheep” noise that they make. This is the main thing these mothers focus on. If their chicks aren’t making that noise they don’t take care of them.

A group of scientists decided to conduct a study to see if the mother turkeys would take to other animals  if that same “cheep-cheep” noise was present. So ,they decided to test this with a stuffed polecat, a  natural enemy to all turkeys, naturally you would think a turkey would be pissed about a polecat near its nest… and they were. If no “cheep-cheep” noise was present it was a war zone! But when they had the “cheep-cheep” noise playing from a speaker within the stuffed polecat the mother turkey invited it to dinner, for tea and biscuits. The mother actually treated the polecat like it was one of its young if the “cheep-cheep” sound was playing! Yea… I know turkeys are known for being stupid, but still that automatic response is intriguing.

He calls it ‘click’ and ‘whirr.’ Click and the appropriate tape is activated(cheep-cheep); whirr and out rolls the automatic sequence of behavior. (taking care of the polecat)

Does it work on us? After all we’re superior beings… “that microscopic turkey brain doesn’t compare to us… not a chance.”

Well… humans do have fixed action patterns –  

One example of this is shown in a Harvard Study where someone was trying to get to the front of the line. If one simply asked “Hey, can I go before you to make copies?” 60% of the time people would let the person go ahead of them. But if you were to ask “Hey, can I go in front of you because I need to make copies?” 93% of the time people would let the person go ahead of them. That’s a 33% better chance for simply giving a regular reason. That’s like being in line at Disney Land and snaking your way to the front of the line by asking “Hey, can I go in front of you because I want to ride the ride?” So – give reasons for why you’re doing things, or give people a logical reason to do something.

The second example is our association of “expensive = good” and the fallacy that comes with it. Robert gives the example of a small boutique owner who is trying to sell some turquoise jewelry that she has had for months on end that never sold. The store owner is about to leave for a vacation and leaves a poorly worded note for one of her employees. She meant for the note to read “cut the price of the turquoise that doesn’t sell for shit in half.” The employee read the note as “double the price of the turquoise jewelry because I (the store owner) am a fearless bastard.” So the employee doubled the price of the jewelry and made a new sign reflecting the updated price. The store owner came back after her vacation and all of the turquoise jewelry was sold! But not only was it sold, it sold at double the price she originally asked for it! (Wahhhh, I know right!)

The fact that the new price for the jewelry read as “expensive” due to its new price allowed people to have the fixed-action pattern of “expensive = good” allowing them to justify buying it. It gave them a shortcut, because it’s impossible to know everything about everything, especially in our current 24/7 world where we’re constantly bombarded with stimulus. Our minds need shortcuts.

Digital Marketing Food for thought Uncategorized

Year in Review

So every year on my birthday I like to do a little year in review, ya know… what happened in the past year type of thing to reflect on the past and prepare for the future. (doing it on New Years Day is way too cliché)


The past year has been pretty incredible to say the least. Some times life resembles a roller coaster of ups and downs but this past year was just up. I got married. Moved back to Wisconsin. Successfully launched a new company. Fell in love with Indian food. Looking back on it, I can’t think of anything negative that happened. (Revision: I did gain a few lbs., but who cares… I blame the Indian food.)


We really hit a homerun with our newest LSA company, Korked Baseball. (pun intended) Korked went from 0 – 100 real quick, as the kids would say. It started out with the entire Chicago Cubs team wearing our Try Not to Suck shirt then only grew from there. We ended up getting into 35+ stores, including every Lids in the Chicago area. (Kind of a dream for the HS me that wore hats all of the time) The best part was that we raised over $700,000 for charity over the past year, if you would have told me a year ago that we would have been able to do that I would’ve said you were full of shit. Seriously, I wouldn’t have believed you.


Marketing wise for Korked we learned a lot over the past year, eventually getting to the point where for every $15 we spent on digital ads we were making $100, that’s just the direct conversions not including the word-of-mouth sales. So with that we thought, well why don’t we start a new company to do marketing for other clients… and that’s what we did.


Last month we started a new marketing agency (still needs a name) doing marketing for a professional indoor soccer team, a marathon, semi-pro baseball teams, and more running events. So far so good. Over the next year we plan on growing it into something special.


With LSA over the next year we plan on adding a few more sports related brands and continue to grow Korked with an eye on exit. So far this year has been good, we have really been able to optimize our site and ads in a scalable way… I hope to be giving you another “I would’ve said you were full of shit.” stories again next year about the success of Korked and the other brands we build.


I’m really thankful for: my wife, for all of the support over the past year letting me work 80-90 hour weeks when needed. All of our customers. Our LSA partners Mike, Joe, John, Joe, and Joe. As well as the Cubs for winning the World Series, because if they didn’t last year could’ve been a different story.


Till next year,


Picture of the year – Never forget



Digital Marketing Uncategorized

MVMT Watches – Marketing Funnel

MVMT Watches Marketing

There are very few companies out there that I look at what they’re doing and think “Wow, these guys are good at digital.” But MVMT watches is one of those few companies.


To start with their website is ultra clean and user friendly; the kind of site that is effortless to navigate on both Mobile and Desktop. They use the same minimalist design they use in their watches on their website. Since it’s the Holiday season they offered a Holiday Gift guide for those who were looking for a gift for a friend or loved one, good stuff.

They also have a really clean blog with unique content from various influencers of their brand that showcases their watches then at the end of the posts showcases the featured watches from that particular blog. They also do a nice job of getting a users trust by showing they’ve been highlighted in Business Insider, The Chive, Entrepreneur along with others. (My guess is paid promotion but either way this builds trust in the buyer)

The website is good, but that is truly the tip of the iceberg. They could have had the prettiest website with the worlds greatest user experience but who gives a shit if you can’t capitalize on that. That’s like being the worlds greatest Golfer when your out with your friends but come tournament time you play like hot garbage; who cares.

MVMT has built an effective funnel to retarget and capture previous website visitors. I went onto their website and left to Facebook, within 5 seconds of being on Facebook I was hit with this after I just looked at their ‘Holiday Gift Ideas’ page –

Then I went on my way to read a Recode article and they display retargeted me with this on the Recode site –

This was a watch I had previously looked at, literally a minute before I went to the Recode article.  They are going to continue to shove these ads down my throat until I convert. Then I jumped back into Facebook to ‘see what my friends were up to’ (this was all a test to see what MVMT would do), and this popped up –

facebook marketing product catalog retargeting

Since I added that exact watch to my cart on their site they instantly targeted me with an automated ad with an offer of a ‘Limited Edition Gift box’ (Ooooo, lucky me!) to increase the odds of me buying the watch. This is what the lower end of the funnel looks like for MVMT, incentive based ads as they pushed site visitors from the Top of the funnel (Think of the people that come in via Entrepreneur, The Chive, Search, etc as the Top of the Funnel) all the way down to the bottom where they consistently bombard you with ads and incentives till you cave and buy a watch from them.

They have done a masterful job on their website and an even more masterful job on the bottom half of the iceberg creating a backend marketing engine that works and makes money. So many companies focus so heavily on the front end look of their website, but what matters and makes money is the engine that brings targeted customers back to the website to buy your products. Repeat visitors are more prone to buy; repeat visitors that have already shown interest, a la adding an item to the cart, are WAY more prone to buy and you should be targeting them with your ads accordingly. Give them that ‘Limited Edition Gift Box’ that only costs you an extra $1 or so to make, it’ll be worth it.

There are very few things MVMT could still do to make their site more effective – maybe having a better exit intent strategy, but overall they’re winning at digital.

Digital Marketing Uncategorized

What email marketers need to know about Gmail!

Another useful post I made for an old company I worked for, enjoy.

The email landscape is always changing; from the new introduction of anti-spam laws, new email applications, and new mobile technology, email marketing has never presented more challenges. Being an email marketer, it is paramount that you stay on top of all of the new technology coming into your arena so you can master your craft and increase your ROI.

We all know one of the major players in this space is Gmail, if you are in the B2C marketing realm; you are going to need to get your sending IP to be best of buds with the Gmail servers, you are going to want to make yourself the ying to Google’s yang to ensure your emails are delivered properly.

To Start…

Let us look at how Google looks at incoming mail- it sees incoming messages in two ways: Spam and non-spam. A spam message is instantly placed in the spam folder, while nom-spam makes it to the promised land of the inbox.

Once the message makes it to the inbox Gmail indexes it into the different tabs that the user has set up- these are Primary, Social and Promotion, by default, but the user can also add in an Updates tab and a Forums tab. The categories allow users to better organize and control their inboxes by helping them classify the mail as it comes in… but this can get complicated. If you are constantly sending out promotional information from your sending IP, Google will have a higher chance of marking your future messages as promotional, even if you are just sending out your most recent informational newsletter or transactional email. So it would be good for you to send your messages from different IP’s; have one for your promotional mailings and another for your quality content newsletters. (Hint- Use separate IP’s or Domains for your promotional/non-promotional emails)

How to make it to the Inbox

Gmail works hard to deliver all legitimate mail to the user’s inboxes, but it is highly possible that they will mark your message as spam even if you are not a ‘spammer.’ There are 2 important factors that will without doubt get most of your messages to the user’s inbox-

  • Having a user click ‘Not Spam’ to alert Gmail that your message is of legitimate value
  • Having your ‘From:’ Address listed in the user’s contact list

It will also help you to send fewer bounced emails to invalid Gmail accounts, the less emails that you send that bounce the higher your IP reputation will be and the stronger your relationship with the Gmail servers will be. This is why it is always recommended to scrub your lists quarterly so your email sender score can stay intact. For more tips on how to increase your overall email deliverability refer to step 6 on this post.

Get your subscribers to interact

I know what you are thinking… “This is obvious…” This is what every email marketer wants. We all want our subscribers to open our mails and click our links while never marking our messages as spam. Obviously it is important to us, but to Google this is a must for our campaigns to have continual success and make it to their user’s inboxes.

Be Consistent

It is important to consistently send from the same domain and IP address so you can build up a rapport with the Google servers. It is ok to have a different ‘From:’ addresses for your promotional emails and newsletters, but stay consistent with what you are sending with them.

It is also important to send out your email campaigns on a consistent basis. If you are sending out random newsletters and promotional emails, here and there, Google’s algorithm will likely view your message as spam as that is something that is inconsistent with reputable mailers.

Assure that you are not on any Black Lists

While Gmail doesn’t publicly note it uses blacklists, there is a high correlation of spam folder delivery when the sender is on a Real-Time Blacklist, or a DNS-based Blackhole List, which is based on domain names.

Spamhaus is one of the most widely used Blacklists and getting listed on it and other sites like it indicates problems with complaints and spam traps, which is likely caused from lack of permission, or lack of list hygiene over the years on your behalf. This is something that you will want to constantly be monitoring because being listed can absolutely ruin your campaigns. Here is a free black list monitoring tool that you can use to see if you are currently listed anywhere.

Ask your Subscribers to mark your message as ‘Not Spam’

This will alert Gmail that your recipients want to receive your messages, it is as simple as asking your subscribers to click a button.

Make sure Your Links Work-

Broken, incomplete or links that connect to websites overseas will all decrease the likelihood of your email making it to the inbox, double check all of your links to make sure they are working.

Other Things to know about Gmail

How Google Caches Images-

Not too long ago, Gmail began caching images for users that were checking their mail in a browser and in their Gmail mobile app. This allows the images to automatically populates instead of prompting the use to download the image. While, this is great for their users protecting them from harm, it makes it hard for all of us email marketer as it skews our data, in particularly what device is opening our mailings.

So let’s say a user is using their web browser or the Gmail app, the report will come back as the reading environment of ‘Webmail via Gmail’s image Cache.’ They all have the same response code! So whether someone is reading our email on their computer on their phone with the Gmail app, it will say the same thing. Only if the user is using one of the default email apps on their phone that they connected their Gmail account to it will it show that the email was opened via a mobile account and what type of device that opened it. (Android, Apple…)

Also with them caching images, many Gmail subscribers have noticed that the quality of their images quality has become degraded, some images are failing to load or even loading in the completely wrong spot.

So what do you need to do about Gmail’s Image Caching?

Though the device detection is less detailed, you should continue to optimize your emails across all Gmail inboxes types. (Gmail Apps, Browsers, Mobile Email Apps, Etc…)

You should also anticipate that not all users will see your images due to loading problems and work on having your emails make sense if the image is not there. Use different background colors and live text to help improve subscriber interaction with your emails just in case the image does not show up properly.

Automatic Image Downloading-

So shortly after the Gmail team started to introduce image caching, the team over at Google began to automatically download images. This has helped to skew the results of open rates for all email marketers over the past year and a half.

The tracking of email opens relies on an image, which is also known as a pixel, in your campaign to load when the user opened up the email. Every time the image got downloaded from the server, the ESP or tracking software that was being used would mark the email as opened. Gmail, much like what Outlook still does now, use to ask all of its users to download all images to view them; now all of the images are automatically being downloaded and displayed for Gmail users. What is the result of this? A net increase in the open rates of all Gmail users. (A skew in the data)

Statistics show Gmail open rates are up 70% in 2014, which is largely a result of image caching and automatic image downloads.

What do you need to do about this?

You should continue to optimize for the ISP’s that need users to click the download images button to see your emails as you want them to look. Gmail doing automatic image downloading is a good thing for you in terms of the design of your email since your subscribers will be able to see the email as you intended it to look, unless of course it gets cached incorrectly.


Emailing to Gmail is something that can easily get over complicated, but it truly does not have to be. Like most ISP’s, Gmail wants to make sure its users are only receiving emails that they want to receive and are subscribed for and not be them at risk of spam/phishing emails. By following best email practices the majority of your messages will make it to the inbox, but with these tips you can optimize your email campaigns with Google in mind and increase the overall ROI of your efforts.

Digital Marketing Food for thought Uncategorized

You bought the story. Why I bought beef jerky…

Think of your last purchase of something you wanted. I’m not talking about the groceries or the gas you just bought but that last thing you purchased that you didn’t need, what was it? Why did you buy it?

I often ask myself this question as a marketer- I also often ask my fiance this question but that’s an entirely different story.

My last purchase of something I wanted was as simple as beef jerky from a local butcher shop called Ray’s Butcher Shop. So why did I venture 20 minutes out of my way to drive to Ray’s to get beef jerky when I could have gone to any gas station or grocery store around my house to buy some? Sure, at Ray’s they make their own beef jerky but to be honest it isn’t that much better than what one can buy at the gas station or grocery store, not enough to go 40 minutes round trip to get it. Ray’s is also double the price of the jerky one can find at a grocery store. So why did I go there? Why did I want beef jerky?

The answer to both of those questions is  “I was able to tell myself a story I believed.” I get to tell myself that I am going out of my way to Ray’s to get my jerky because I care about helping out a small business. That I am doing what is right by the community as we don’t want to lose this ‘little gem’ that is one of the few mom and pop deli’s left in our area. But I am lying to myself, I’m believing the story that it is worth my time and extra money to purchase homemade jerky from Ray’s. It isn’t.

So why did I pick jerky? Was I hungry at the time? Not really. It was on father’s day and I was with my fiance and I felt like doing something ‘manly.’ So- what’s manlier than beef jerky??? Nothing I tell you! Is beef jerky good, well yea… but is it? Well… to be honest if you take away the teriyaki or peppered flavor it tastes a little cardboardy… well a lot cardboardy. It tastes like cardboard made love to a steak and had a tough/chewy baby.  But by buying and eating the beef jerky I was able to do something manly. I was able to eat meat with my hands, it’s very primitive if you think about it.

The story/lie I told myself of ‘Eating beef jerky will make me feel more like a man’ resonated with me. That’s why I purchased beef jerky from Ray’s Butcher Shop. So- what was your last purchase? What story did you tell yourself to justify the purchase?