Why I stop taking marketing hot-takes seriously

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Why I stop taking marketing hot-takes seriously

Author Terence Leong

If you are in the marketing niche, it’s not hard to see motivating stories like these:

7 high-converting landing page hacks that will double your sales

10 Facebook Ad hacks that made me $1mil sales

Steal my Ad framework that sold $10mil of products & services

Bold claims and tips on how to achieve your million-dollar sales.

Previously, I used to read and watch this kind of content, but I gradually grew out of it.

Here’s why I stopped taking them seriously (and 4 hot takes we have tried but didn’t work for us).

Don’t get me wrong, some of these are good ideas, but in digital marketing, context and audience are everything.

The same tricks that work for one niche don’t necessarily work for others.

1. Inserting a tool (i.e. quiz or calculator) can help improve the lead conversion rate

We once saw a compelling case study on how a calculator or quiz can help improve 52-108% lead conversion rate.

We proceeded to implement some of these calculators and tools on our clients’ sites.

However, here’s what we found out – even though these tools are good at engaging site visitors (we do see some prospective customers play with the calculator first before submitting their information), they didn’t improve the conversion rate.


We were working with mostly wealth management specialists, financial advisors and property agents, so it could be possible that perhaps for a more complex decision-making process, such tools are not sufficient to offer greater clarity on the offer.

Things might be different from say a credit company offering a loan. If you know how much you want to borrow, it would be helpful if there’s a tool on the site that gives you an idea of how much your loan may cost, which is the main thing you want to know.

So fancy tools like these may not be as glamorous as they seem.

We find that placing a well-executed sales video above the fold has a better conversion rate for our clients.

2. ClickFunnel has the best sales funnel? Let’s copy them!

ClickFunnel is one of the most successful sales funnel builders.

Quite a number of top earners like this and this use them, so they must have the best sign-up processes, right?

That was what I initially thought when I first heard of the trial closes technique from Russel Brunson (ClickFunnel’s founder).

Basically, here’s what it is:


This is the reason why they have this button asking for your email first when you click it (small commitment), before leading you to a series of questions.

Except that it didn’t work for us.

Once we switched to a more traditional sign-up page, our lead submission rate actually improved by almost 100%.


We found that doing these moved the needle more:

  1. Improving the trust factor (like adding a line to assure personal data protection), and
  2. Changing the call-to-action button:

3. Scarcity sells!

1-2 years ago, scarcity tactics like this worked very well:

“I used to charge $xxx an hour for a 1-to-1 consultation.”

Writing something like this positions you higher in the eyes of customers and improves trust.

However, it stopped working late last year when too many people started using it.

We tried it too.

And in our case, instead of improving trust, it came across as non-genuine.

Of course, if you are really established and have many credentials to support your claim, you can still test it out.

If it has been working for you, stick with it.

4. You need to have a niche to stand out from the crowd!

This is probably one of the most tricky pieces of advice we have heard – because if taken out of context, you risk limiting your upside potential.

We previously wrote about positioning here.

However, even positioning has its limitations.

We once worked with an accounting client and tried to establish their niche as an accounting firm that helps e-commerce businesses.

But we got nowhere.

Facebook advertising cost was 2-3 times more expensive because we had a smaller pool of audiences to advertise to.

We gave up the e-commerce positioning after a month and eventually found a footing for them as an accounting firm that helps businesses save taxes.

By doing so, we managed to drive the lead cost down to under $10/lead.


Personally, I think establishing your unique positioning still has its merit, but it’s dangerous to spend too much time deliberating on too specific niches.

What formula? Trial and error works best

That’s all I can remember for now – the marketing hot takes that didn’t work for us in the past few months. I will add to this list as we progress.

But one common observation remains – the only constant and certainty in online marketing is change.

No matter how sound a piece of advice is, most of the time, it only works for certain industries or certain audiences. Sometimes, it might be overused.

There’s way too much uncertainty, and human decision-making processes are too wonderfully complex to depend on a formulaic approach.

The best way to find out? Throw it out into the real world and see how it fares.

Just like the stock market – we can say all we want about TSLA and how overvalued it is, but at the end of the day, it’s the market that defines how much it’s worth.

Every situation is different, and your customers’ actions are the best determining factors in guiding your marketing decisions, not other marketing gurus.

The same goes for this post too. I hope it provides you with some ideas on what to work on.

Feel free to share differing views too – I’m keen to hear from you.

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