Michael Aagaard at the Call To Action Conferenc 2016.

CTA Conference 2016: Michael Aagaard

This content is 5 years old. Please, read this page keeping its age in mind as SEO changes rapidly and while the past is useful to remember and reference, it often doesn't provide the best strategies to apply today.

DISCLAIMER: This post is written as a live blog from Call To Action Conference 2016. There may be typos and grammar to make my high school English teachers weep. Please excuse those … it’s a fast=paced conference with back-to-back sessions and no time for proofing or even proper writing.

Closing out the conference is Michael Aagaard.  High energy enters the room as he launches into an attack on th disconnect between ads and landing pages and confusing landing pages in general.  He illustrates with a page that has 107 links where the ad had only one pitch.

How Do We Avoid Creating This Experience …

To begin we need to look to psychology.

There are two fundamentally different modes of thinking:

  1. Intuitive thinking – if we are shown 2×2 you will see 4. (fast, automatic, emotional)
  2. Analytics thinging – 24 x 17.  You can figure it out but it will take time. (slow, effortful, logical, conscious)

We spend more of our time on system one (intuitive).

But What Does This Mean Online …

If we have a fast and difficult way of doing something we are programmed to the easy route.  Thus, the simpler we make a task the more likely a user is to follow it.

Landing pages need to focus the user on the task at hand.  They also need to avoid confusion.  They higher the strain on our brain (the more we need to think) we get literally tired from burning glucose.

You also need to think of your users, the device and the tools (fingers in the case of mobile).  Make sure you have built for them.


  • Walk through the funnel.  How hard is it?
  • Perform 5 second tests for understanding

Now he moved on to cognitive bias (or mental short cuts as he calls them).  Minor priming signals can have huge impacts on the way a human brain is prepped for the next piece of information.

Shaw does a great job on landing pages.  They offer one thing in an add (35% savings) and that’s the top content on their landing page.  You don’t have to think.

The intuitive framing is ripe for priming and then guides decisions when they are presented simply.

The second bias involves framing and perspective.  We can see this in words like “Order” vs “Get”.  Order had negative connotations where we all like to get things.  A great example is calling an item a “Best Value”.  It greatly impacts signups.

Framing makes your brain hurt less and makes decisions faster and without full processing.

Power principle: WYSIATI (What You See Is All There Is)

Remove obstacles and negative thoughts and the reality is what remains.

We need to know that’s not true but use it so our prospects don’t have to think.

He recommends to interview sales and support to identify questions and concerns to put hat information in front of them so they don’t have to think.  Use feedback polls to get specific insight.

He asks us to make sure we’re marketing right.  We market to the logical while they are making decisions in the emotional.  We need to bridge the gap and speak to them in a way that impacts their intuition in a way that meets our goals not analytically.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.