June 25, 2019
How To

Value Sequencing: A step-by-step examination of a landing page that generated 638% more conversions


For marketing success, it’s not just what you say, it’s when you say it.

Successful marketing helps guide a customer through a series of decisions, giving them the information they need to choose whether they should act on a conversion ask.

After publishing the value sequencing decider graphic through MarketingSherpa’s sister publication, MarketingExperiments, a reader emailed us asking for an example.

So, in this article, we take a step-by-step walk through a specific experiment to help you optimize the thought sequence for your brand’s landing pages and other marketing.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

The customer thought sequence is easy to overlook in marketing. We marketers are too familiar with our product, and we’re investing oodles of money in driving traffic to our landing pages, so when customers get to a landing page our knee-jerk reaction can be to just ask them to do something already.

To help marketers understand how to have successful conversations with customers on their website and through other marketing, we published Value Sequencing Decider Graphic: What do your customers need to know, and when do they need to know it? on MarketingSherpa’s sister site, MarketingExperiments.

That article led a reader to email us and say (edited for brevity) …

Very helpful article. This made me think. Sometimes you guys give such great information but trying to apply it practically is difficult because we don’t have your brains and skill level in applying it. 

Managing the thought process of a person buying something online or offline seems to be the general theme of all MECLABS and the job to be done.

So I was thinking what if you took the value sequencing decider graphic and chose one path in it with a previous test case. 

So much of learning is visual and seeing what you’re referring to in the article is really powerful to internalize that understanding. I realize there are so many scenarios and you’re trying to give people an understanding of when and where to apply knowledge. I was wondering if this would help people practice the skill you’re trying to impart. We get the knowledge but how do we practice the skill to know we’re applying properly? 

OK reader. Let’s do it!

For this example, I will pull from a previous MarketingSherpa case study — Landing Page Optimization: How Aetna’s HealthSpire startup generated 638% more leads for its call center — and walk through the graphic step by step. (The test was run before this specific graphic was created, but the graphic is just a new way of communicating a tried-and-true methodology that helped to pioneer the conversion optimization industry.)

Here is a small thumbnail of the value sequencing decider graphic. You can click on it to enlarge it. If you would like to print it out, here is some advice from reader Jared K, “For those looking to print this, I found that printing the PDF version via Adobe Reader in ‘Poster’ mode at 55% zoom in portrait mode with 0.01 overlap works pretty well. It makes it 5 pages long and the content is page-width.

Click on image to enlarge in a new tab

The Control

For the control, the team did what many marketers would. They tried to keep the page short and get to the point quickly. The call-to-action was above the fold. However, that led to an almost instant ask with little (if any) value communication.


The Treatment

A much longer landing page generated 638% more conversions by better sequencing the value.

As you can see in the full case study, there were two treatments in the experiment. But to try to keep this inherently complex concept as simple as possible, we are just focusing on the highest-performing treatment.

Here is that page:


Now let’s take a step-by-step look at how value was sequenced and communicated on the winning treatment. Please note, this isn’t the approach you should take for every landing page. That is the benefit of the value sequencing decider graphic; you can use it to “choose your own adventure,” so to speak, and find the most effective approach to your landing pages.

Here is the step-by-step approach for this specific page.


Step #1: Is the purchase decision on this page?

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The decider graphic begins by asking you to pick your page. The first question asks, “Is the purchase decision on this page?”

For the HealthSpire landing page, the purchase decision was not on the page.

Step #2: Is the page before or after the purchase decision?

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The purchase decision happened with a TeleAgent, and the conversion goal of the page was to get potential customers on the phone with a TeleAgent. So this page was before the purchase decision.

Step #3: You need to direct cognitive momentum

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Here’s why those questions are so important. Many landing pages like this make the mistake of selling the product purchase. But visitors to this page really aren’t weighing the actual product purchase at this point. They are determining whether they want to have a call with a TeleAgent. This is a process-level value proposition (one of the four essential levels of value proposition.)

So this page articulates the top claims of value — in this case, for both the primary value proposition (the specific brand of plans being sold) and the category (Medicare Advantage plans in general) but does not get deep into those value claims.

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However, the main value communication of the page, what the page is truly doing, is directing cognitive momentum toward the point of purchase. So, in this case, most of the value being communicated is about the TeleAgents in order to encourage customers to want to get on a call.

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Step #4: Is your target audience prospects or previous customers?

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For this page, the target audience is prospects.

Step #5: Are these customers new to the brand?

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These customers are new to the brand. HealthSpire is a startup within Aetna.

Step #6: Do customers understand the value of this product type?

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The product type is Medicare, a commoditized product sold by many brands. Customers to this page do not need to be sold on wanting Medicare. They come to the page already having that motivation.

Step #7: Do customers understand the value of your company?

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In this case, HealthSpire was a fairly new company, so customers did not understand the value of the company.

Step #8: How risky is the purchase?

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A Medicare Advantage plan, like most insurance products, is perceived as a high-risk purchase by most customers. The downside risk of picking the wrong product and/or company can be quite large.

Step #9: Your primary testing focus is to relieve anxiety

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For the purposes of communicating this methodology in an article, we’re walking through the decision-making process in a step-wise manner.

However, the previous decision flow (where the page sits in the buyer’s journey), as well as this decision flow (who the target audience is), are not independent before-and-after steps. They are conjoined.

So in the case of this page, considering who the target audience is along with the need to relieve anxiety is what ultimately produced the lift in this test.

The page seeks to relieve anxiety by adding some credibility from the company’s value prop as well as the product’s value prop (in this case, parent company Aetna) …

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But it focuses mostly on the process-level value proposition. One way to reduce anxiety is to tell customers what will happen if they engage in a process. After they fill out a form, what will happen? After they click on a button, what will happen? In this case, if they get on a phone call, what will happen? Some examples from this page.

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Another way to reduce anxiety for the process-level call-to-action is to build credibility for those next steps (whatever they may be).  It could be that your travel search engine typically reduces costs by 37%. It could be that the white paper was written by a specific expert in the field and includes a bio. In this case, anxiety needs to be reduced so the customer doesn’t feel like they are getting on a call with a pushy salesperson, but rather, helpful and knowledgeable TeleAgents they want to talk to on the phone to help them get the right Medicare plan.

One way this is done is through the copy on the page, for example, letting customers know they will get “A customer-first team who can offer advice on your medical insurance needs.”

But just saying something doesn’t make it true or necessarily mean that customers will believe it. So another way anxiety is reduced is by showing and introducing potential customers to the actual TeleAgents. This breaks down an artificial wall and reduces the mystery of who customers will be talking to on the phone.

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The result from this better value sequencing was 638% increase in leads.

Hopefully this article gives you an idea of how to sequence value in general and use the value sequencing decider infographic specifically for your landing pages, advertising and other marketing collateral.

Related Resources

Conversion Marketing Training – Learn from on-demand certification courses covering Value Proposition Development, Landing Page Optimization, Online Testing and Email Messaging.

How The Micro-Yes Sequence Can Help You Generate More Leads and Sales

Effective CTAs: How the thought sequence of a call-to-action affects landing page performance



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