Conversion Triggers with Susan Bratton and Lee Odden
Susan Bratton

Episode 214 - Conversion Triggers with Susan Bratton and Lee Odden

In this tables turned episode, Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing interviews me about my Conversion Triggers SES Keynote.

Find out about the 4 realms of persuasion marketing and how you can apply copy writing, story telling, neuro-marketing and structured communications to your marketing to increase conversions.

Go to: to see the full presentation and download my cheat sheets, free book excerpts and get my list of recommended programs and reading to learn how to be a high-converting, empathic marketer.



Susan Bratton: Welcome to DishyMix. I’m your host, Susan Bratton. Hey, the tables are turned today. This episode is an episode where I’ve got the opportunity to be interviewed by Lee Odden. Lee is the founder and CEO of a company out of Minneapolis called Top Rank Marketing, and Lee is an expert in the intersection of search, public relations and content marketing. And I’ve had him on the show a number of times, and he’s interviewing me for my keynote speech at Search Engine Strategies San Francisco. And I thought, “All right, I’m getting interviewed, maybe you’d want to hear that because I’ll tell you that this new speech that I’m doing, Conversion Triggers, it’s probably the most important learning that I’ve had in a long time in the realm of marketing. It’s me explaining the four elements of persuasion, which are copywriting, storytelling, neuromarketing, neuorpsychology, psychological triggers, things that motivate as humans and then the fourth is structured communications. And so I’ll be speaking at SES and Lee’s interviewing me about my keynote, and so this is today’s DishyMix. So I’ll let Lee take it away from here.

Lee Odden: Hey everyone, this is Lee Odden, CEO of Top Rank Online Marketing and editor at Online Marketing Blog. Today with me I have Susan Bratton, who is the CEO of Personal Life Media. She’s also host of the famous DishyMix podcast, and chair emeritus of Ad Tech Conference.  Personal Life Media is a multi media lifestyle brand that provides entertaining and authentic personal content to socially conscious adults. And as a publisher of direct to consumer online information products, Personal Life Media provides automated platforms for information product publishing to serve experts who deliver workshops, downloadable training programs and support systems through blogs and with audio, video and e-books, and you can find her at and Welcome Susan. It’s great to finally turn the tables and have an opportunity to interview you.

Susan Bratton: How fun is it to be interviewed Lee? Thank you so much. I love being interviewed by you, ‘cause usually it’s the other way around. You’ve been on my show a couple times so I like this.

Lee Odden: Yeah, and you know, you’re a master interviewer, so I hope I can live up to just part of your skills. So coming out here very quickly is SES San Francisco. It’s probably one of the largest search marketing conferences in the world, and it’s you’ll be doing the opening keynote Tuesday, August 16th at 9 AM. And the topic, Conversion Triggers: Persuasion Strategies for Digital Marketers, and that’s a really engaging and really interesting and compelling topic to me because a lot of what we talk about on our blog and our consultancy is empathizing with customers and understanding, you know, what their pain points are, what is it that they need, and what kinds of things will inspire them to do what you want them to do. So I’d like to talk a little bit about the role, if you will, of persuasion marketing. What is it? What might it mean to an audience of a couple thousand people who are used to things like keywords and SEO and link building?

Susan Bratton: Yeah, I can’t think of a better audience to present the concept of persuasion marketing to than a group of SESers because, you know, everybody in that audience lives and dies by choosing the right keywords and keyword phrases and reaching an audience that way. So they already have a solid foundation of understanding of how important it is to get the words right. So I feel really lucky to be able to be a keynote for them, and I’ll tell you what I’m really doing. Lee, you know, you’re like me. You said, before we got on the interview today you said, “I’m a constant, I’m a lifelong learner,” and I’m with you. We’re both like that and so many of the people who follow us are. They want to know what we’re doing because their lifelong learners too. And then the last, since I started the Personal Life Media business and started creating these information products, all of my products are sold direct to consumers online. In my keynote I’m actually going to be presenting a case study where I’ve applied what I’m going to, I’m going to tell you what persuasion marketing is and then I’m going to show you how I used it. I’m literally today right in the middle of a four-day product launch for a brand new product. You’re going to laugh when you hear the name of it. It’s called Revive Her Drive. Revive Her Drive. And it’s…

Lee Odden: Awesome.

Susan Bratton: It’s so awesome. I mean pretty much every man whose been in a relationship for more than a couple of years is interested in taking his intimate life with his woman to the next level. And a lot of times over time it goes down instead of getting better. You know, you think the more you do stuff the better you get, but a lot of times life gets in the way, right? And so I’ve written over 30 websites in the last two and a half years in my business selling these online information products, and Lee they weren’t converting. They were not converting well. I didn’t know what I was doing. But I really studied the information product marketers because those guys know how to get someone to land on their page and make a purchase better than anyone else that I’m aware of.

They are – remember how we used to say, you know, the adult world used to be like the leaders of technology and if anybody could figure it out, they were the ones that did? Well I don’t think that’s true any longer. I think it’s the information product marketers. So I’ve been studying, you know, how they do landing page conversion and with Google constantly changing what they want and, you know, tier one traffic sources being very difficult to get, you know, you can’t do squeeze pages and long form sales letters anymore. It’s a constantly changing landscape. But the net net of it is that these – and they’re not all, they’re not all men. I’m just going to call them guys generally, ‘cause certainly I’m a woman doing this. These guys, they know how to speak to their customers in a way that no matter what the landing page looks like, no matter what Google’s making you do today to buy traffic from them, they know how to speak to their customer in a way that’s riveting, that connects, that grabs them by the guts and say, “I need this thing.” And that’s what I wanted to learn, and that’s what I wasn’t getting right.

So for the last two and a half years I’ve been going to school. I’ve found my mentors, and I’ve said, “Please gurus, tell me what I need to know. What should I be reading? What should I be learning?” And over the last two and a half years, catch as catch can, I went through, I read a ton of stuff, I took a lot of online training, and so what I did for SES was I pulled it all together and I said, “All right, now that I look back in retrospect and see everything that I learned, here are the ten, you know, basically ten or 12 big things that I’d recommend you put your attention on and probably in this order so that you didn’t have to do it catch as catch can like I did.” And what I realized in looking back at all of the things that I learned is that persuasion marketing to me is really four key elements and I’d never understood this in, Lee, 30 years of marketing. I celebrated my 50th birthday this week, and I’ve been…

Lee Odden: Congratulations.

Susan Bratton: I’ve been a tech marketing chick for 30 years now, and I’ve written a lot of bullet points and, you know, brochures and one sheets and landing pages and web pages and things in 30 years, and I never knew this. I never figured this out until now, and that is that if you understand these four basic areas, I think this has more impact on your conversion rates than really anything you can do because really everything else is jus a short-term tactic, whether you’re learning how to make Facebook pages convert or you’re learning the latest in search marketing strategies or you’re learning whatever it is, those are tactics that come and go. I certainly know that from programming so many sessions at so many conferences for so many years.  This year it’s search, next year it’s email, the next year it’s video, next year it’s this. It’s always something new. It’s an arms race for technologers in the marketing arena.

But the fundamentals of understanding how to viscerally emotionally connect with your customer so that they think to themselves, “This brand gets me,” that is a fundamental skill. And so I look back at everything I did and I said, “Okay, there seems like there’s four key areas of knowledge that you need to know that all kind of fit together, you know. They’re synergistic. I’m using that word again. I’ve decided it’s a good word again. I’m not back on paradigm yet, but I’m starting to use synergistic. And the what I call the four realms of persuasion marketing. The first one is neuromarketing. Neuroscience, you know, with the advent of the MRI, we’ve really learned a lot about how we behave, how the human operating system works. And so I’ll tell you if you’d like me to go into that, I’ll come back to it, but there’s neuromarekting, the psychological triggers of influence and persuasion and action that we can get people to take as marketers in a good way, right, because we want to serve them, we want to help them, we want to not waste their time, we want them to find us and if their our person, we want them to know they’re our person and then we want to create a relationship with them and support them in whatever it is that we do for them.

The second piece is copywriting, and that’s where the SES people have a massive competitive edge over any other kinds of marketers because they understand how important words are. And they understand semantics. They understand the value of all of that. The third realm is storytelling, and that’s where you go from “These are my features and benefits” to “Here’s a person who used my product or service and how we changed their life,” and we tell it in story and in dialogue, ‘cause you know, we all love a good story. When someone says, “Let me tell you a story, your ears perk up. And then last but definitely not least is this notion of structured communication. Now you could think about it as the sales funnel, but it goes a lot beyond that. If you don’t think about it as a funnel but instead you think about it as a series of emotions a customer goes through before they make a commitment to you. And what do you need to tell them in general order before they’re going to be a yes to what you have to offer? That’s structured communication, and I can tell you lots more about any one of these, but that gives you the idea. So I’ll just go over them again – neuromarketing, copywriting, storytelling and structured communication and they work together beautifully and each of them has their own disciplines and logic, but and easy to learn, not hard, that work together to create something that when a customer experiences it it’s compelling.

Lee Odden: And it’s compelling what you just said. I mean in terms of the model to go by, my interest is really peaked here.

Susan Bratton: Thank you. Thanks Lee.

Lee Odden: So, you know, you talk about storytelling, and that’s something that’s sort of, has been a mean for recently, increasingly I should say, and it reminds me of something I learned a long time ago in some sales training I took, and that was facts tell but stories sell.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, that’s so true.

Lee Odden: And so I really appreciate you talking about that, and also the assumption of having empathy and understanding for customers and the emotions that they go through or that they need to go through before they can make a commitment. I mean that’s really powerful stuff.

Susan Bratton: Well, you know, I want to tell you something about that. I texted one of my gurus. I have a couple of guys that I really rely on to help me find my way through this learning, and one of them is a guy named David Garfinkel. I love his name, and I called him Guru Garf. He’s my guru. And he has a product called Fast Effective Copy, and I use it all the time. It’s an online training program, he has a new module every week that’s fabulous, and he does a lot of templates. He gives you templates so everything’s template driven, so you kind of fill in the templates. It’s a way you can learn the structures of effective copywriting, and I texted him yesterday and I was like, “Garf, how do you manage” – because what I’m struggling with right now with Revive Her Drive is that I’m holding all this emotion in my body like to really, really understand what a man goes through, it’s a highly considered purchase. When a guy says to himself, “I’m going to buy a product to learn how to reconnect intimately with my woman,” that’s a big step for a man, to not only admit that he has a problem and that he wants to do something about it, but then like to enter into like the emotional stuff that might have to occur for him to flip it from going down to getting better and better.

So I joke that it’s more of a considered purchase than the car or the house that he’s going to buy, you know, because it’s a hornet, it could be a hornets nest and I teach him how to not make it a hornets nest, but it’s very considered and it’s a very emotional thing for a guy, and I have interviewed 800 men online and I’ve had intimate interviews with nearly 50 guys in the last year to understand what it’s really like for them in their world. I’ve gotten into their world. And so I hold, when I’m writing I hold all this emotion for them, and I actually feel like it’s hard on me. It’s like emotionally difficult to evoke, to hold and evoke all this emotion on their behalf. And it texted Guru Garf yesterday and I was like, “How do you manage yourself with this, you know, when you’re getting like really emotionally connected to your customers so you can connect with them and write to them? How do you manage holding all that emotion yourself?” And he called me back but I was busy, and I haven’t gotten the answer, but I’ll let you know what he says, but you really do, you have to feel your person, you know?

Lee Odden: Yeah. And, you know, it’s in the world of SEO or search marketing at large, [inaudible] search or organic, the way in which those online marketers are trying to understand consumers – besides collecting data and looking at web analytics and the other data that’s collected as far as the buying cycle – is this notion of keyword research right. And, you know, what words are in the mind of the searcher, and the way I like to characterize it is what does your customer care about, you know? What do they care about, and then that manifests as an action, right, and they go to a box and they search for stuff. And it’s an interesting thing to think about how powerful it would be for a search marketer to tap into, you know, the neuromarketing aspect of what you’re talking about and the copywriting and, you know, they’re sort of storytelling but at the same time being keyword relevant I think is very compelling.

Susan Bratton: Well what Garf taught me was that you should enter into the conversation that your prospect is having in his mind. So when you’re writing to him or her, you should be, the words you should be using are the same ones that he or she is having in their head. That’s perfection right there. And so you going and looking at keywords is one really good place to start, but there are a lot of other strategies, which I’ll outline at SES, and I’m going to show how I use those strategies to create Revive Her Drive.

Lee Odden: Awesome. So people are going to walk away with these tactics. I mean they’ll get the ‘why’ but they’ll get, you know, actionable types of information.

Susan Bratton: Yeah. Exactly. Oh and I should tell you too that what I did was I made a website. It’s called Conversion Triggers. And I took my SES presentation and I did a cantasia of it so that people who couldn’t make it to SES or wherever, you can just go to and I’ve walked you through my entire presentation. It’s like 35 or 45 minutes where I explain every single thing in every detail of what I did, not only the four realms of persuasion but how I applied them to creating and then launching Revive Her Drive. And then I also put all my cheat sheets on that website, and I also put book excerpts. Like I went to Guy Kawasaki and I said, “Trust is the most difficult thing that a marketer can create a connection with their customer. That’s the hardest thing is to create that trust.” Other things are easier; trust is the hardest. And Guy has a new book out called Enchantment, and he gave me the excerpt from How To Create Trustworthiness Of Your Brand for that site.

Lee Odden: Awesome.

Susan Bratton: Sally Hogshead gave me an excerpt of her book Fascinate. Nancy Duarte has a book called Resonate. This is required reading, you have to read Resonate.

Lee Odden: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: You have to read Fascinate. You have to read Bob Cialdini’s book on persuasion and influence, which you’ve probably already read. So these are the ones I’m saying go read these books. This is where you’re going to get, of all the stuff I’ve read, I mean I’ve literally, I have a stack of books taller than me Lee and I’m 6 feet tall. And so I netted it down to like read these books and then I got excerpts from a lot of them and video clips from a lot of them, and they’re all on that site. So I want people to feel like, “Oh, there’s not enough information here.” There can never be enough information in a single interview. It’s a study, you know, but I put it all there. I just was like I’ll just gather it all up and stick it all in one place for the people who really want to follow the path of learning this.

Lee Odden: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. You know, it’s thanks to you that I saw a, I mean I have a [inaudible] book and I’ve looked through it a little bit – not as much as I should – but it was because of you and the link that you provided that I saw her video explaining how she created a spark line.

Susan Bratton: Yup, the spark line, that’s the quintessential piece of her book that’s the most important is the spark line.

Lee Odden: And, you know, that few minute video was very – and you give so many links to other things that it’s awesome. You’re a very information rich resource, and…

Susan Bratton: Yeah, I’m just writing down what I’ve done.

Lee Odden: Awesome. Okay, well so coming, this is about two weeks, August 15th through 19th is actual the dates for SES San Francisco. It’s part of a connective marketing week, so it’s actually a convergence of different conferences all coming together to really be a Mecca of online marketing information. And SES is really the core of it, and really looking forward to your keynote on Tuesday the 16th in the morning. Any parting resources, tips or thoughts you’d like to share?

Susan Bratton: Yeah. I think the thing that I could tell you right now, it would be more about that kind of neuromarketing piece of it. The way to think about neuromarketing is to think about a human body and brain being an operating system, and it responds in certain ways to certain influences and triggers, certain things that, conditions, right. And Robert Cialdini is a really good guy in that he teaches you standard sequences of human behavior, and he teaches you principles like the principle of contrast, you know – “Normally this sells for $17.95, but today and for today only we’re going to give it to you for $7.95 and here’s why.” So it sounded like a really expensive thing that you’re going to get for cheap. Or the rule of reciprocity or the rule of obligation or the power of consistency, which goes to trustworthiness. These are principles that you can learn that are ways that humans typically behave when given these conditions. Those are really important to understand, as are Joe Sugarman’s psychological triggers, like we have a desire as humans to belong. We have a desire as humans to collect things like, “Collect all five,” you know, like the little Chevron cars or whatever it might be, Matchbooks cars or Matchbox cars or whatever. We collect things like crazy.

Also objection raising and objection handling; you can’t start by overcoming peoples objections when you first connect with them. That comes later in the structured communication. So you start to not only understand what we respond to as humans, but where it goes in the funnel of their emotional evolvement, you know, like as they’re becoming more involved with you, as the relationship is evolving you’re going to need to deal with as a marketer these different components and they go in many cases in certain places depending on what you’re promoting, what you’re selling.

So those are some things that I think are really important to learn that I just wanted to kind of bubble up, that there’s not only the way we respond and the words and pictures – by the way pictures, semantics are what words mean, semiotics are what pictures mean and different pictures mean different things to different people, just like words do. So there’s both the study of those two things, and then there’s the process, the way that you lay that in when you’re communicating to people. So it makes sense that you kind of start at the core understanding with the neuropsychology, and then you think about the pictures and the words. And then in addition to that you tell stories instead of just bullets, and you put it in a proper order. So I hope that clarified it as well that there’s like a way to learn this and a way to lay it into your work.

Lee Odden: Definitely, and I think people that are increasingly educating themselves about the realm of content marketing will see some familiar concepts, but more in depth and what it is that you’re going to be presenting at SES. I can tell that right now.

Susan Bratton: Tell me what the concepts are in content marketing that you notice have a parallel here.

Lee Odden: Well so the notion of, I mentioned empathy before, and a lot of search – and I’ll contrast this with SEO a little bit – a lot of search marketers will identify opportunities simply by doing keyword research and looking for those terms that are most popular as a reflection of a product mix or services mix. Then they go to existing content and they optimize that content and they get links to it hoping that it’ll increase visibility in search.

So it’s a little bit of a informed crapshoot that people will be searching for those terms and they think that they will because they’re highly popular. But in the content marketing world – and that really was born on a B2B where there’s longer sales cycles and more of a romance that needs to happen before the actual purchase occurs. There’s more understanding of customer audiences, segmentation and profiles or persona development. So there’s these acts of empathy that occur in trying to get in the customer’s shoes in terms of where their pain points are and, as you talked about, what a customer has to go through to make a commitment, and translating that information into an editorial plan.

And an editorial plan – you know, to get into the tactics of it – you know, it might identify topics and content types, you know, case studies, white papers, you know, info graphics, video and whatnot, and then what you’re going to do with that content to promote it and how you map how that content is going to help the customer in their journey to go from prospect to customer, and then even afterwards, during the entire customer lifecycle, that they become, you know, an advocate and an evangelist for the brand as a satisfied consumer. So those are some of the maybe not direct, but those are some of the similarities that I see in the [inaudible] of empathy and being very customer centric in the content and the information you’re providing.

Susan Bratton: Do you have that documented anywhere?

Lee Odden: Well, you know, there’s a book I’m writing.

Susan Bratton: Tell us about your new book Lee.

Lee Odden: Wait a minute, you’re interviewing me. That’s awesome. Well I’m writing a book, I just signed a deal this week with Wiley and it’s called Optimize, and it’s how to win more customers through integrating search, social and content marketing. And the, you know, those landing pages that they put up on Amazon and Barnes and Noble will come up here in the next week or so, but that’s really where I’m documenting it very much in depth, but in the meantime folks can go to where I’ve written about that whole process, that whole content marketing, I call it content marketing optimization, and that’s what I’m talking about at SES in San Francisco in a couple of weeks.

Susan Bratton: I’ll be at your session.

Lee Odden: That would be incredible. That would be great. Well super. I really, really appreciate your time Susan, and I think everyone’s going to get a lot out of not only what we’ve talked about here or what you’ve shared here, but also at, where there’s a deep, deep library of podcasts, and certainly where folks can get a preview into a lot of what you’re going to be talking about. So thank you very much, and I’ll see you in a couple of weeks.

Susan Bratton: Thank you Lee. It’s my pleasure to talk to you. Every moment is pure pleasure.