How We’re Making Cheat Sheets Better for You (What Do You Think?)

Posted on Mar 31, 2012 - 11:00 AM PST

By April Dykman

We want to make Mixergy’s new Cheat Sheets even more useful for you, so we asked Nick O’Neill, founder of StartupStats, for his advice. Today we’re sharing his tips so you can see what we learned.

Nick's Cheat Sheet Advice

“You need to improve your titles,” he says. Here are his suggestions on how to do it:

  1. Use fewer words. “I’m not sure having ‘Cheat Sheet’ at the beginning of the title helps at all,” says Nick.
  2. Make it accessible. “Because you have ‘Zaarly’ in the title, I instantly think, ‘Oh, it’s Zaarly, of course they can do it. I’m not them, though.’”
  3. Just provide the juicy details. “Here’s the key: what matters is what your title claims to provide. If you can back that up with quality content, readers won’t be frustrated.” Nick suggested a few alternate titles for this post, such as:
    • 7 Steps To 100,000 Users In 3.5 Months
    • This Guy Got 100,000 Users And $1.5 Million In A Few Months, Here’s How…
    • WARNING: These 7 Secret Marketing Tactics Will Possibly Crash Your Servers

Tip: Nick likes using the number 7 in his titles. “I don’t like 5, so I used 7 because I’ve found it tends to perform better,” he says.

What do you think about Nick’s advice? How can we make the Cheat Sheets more useful for you?

  • http://doddcaldwell.com/ Dodd Caldwell

    Andrew:
    It could just be me but I actually prefer your title. Here’s why:

    1) Cheat Sheet tells me exactly what I’m getting. I’m not getting a long article or a long video that’s going to take 30 minutes to 1 hour of my time. If you don’t tell people they’re getting the Cliff Notes version, how will they know?

    2) I think your title sounds more real. You’ve put it in context – this is how the founder of Zaarly did something. Without context, the 3 suggestions that Nick gave you just came across as too get-rich-quick sale-sy to me. I like that your title is tied to the real world. I would think most of your readers are sophisticated enough startup folks that they don’t like the get-rich-quick-esque titles of the 3 suggestions. 

    Just my thoughts. 

    Dodd

  • Manspaugh

     This is EXACTLY what I was thinking right off the bat too!

    1. When you don’t place the founder’s company in the headline, it makes it less personal.

    2. The titles he suggested (with all due respect) are what EVERY sales/marketing campaign is trying to do. You want to be different. These types of headlines that were suggested work (for now), but they definitely push me away faster because I don’t wanna hear another 7 reasons why I can make more money and blah blah blah.

    3. You don’t necessarily need “Cheat Sheet” in the title, but it does make it stand out as something different than and interview. If I was expecting an interview and got a cheat sheet, then I would probably be disappointed.

    Just my thoughts (but they’re right). Haha! Jk.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks for this feedback. As you can see I’m dying to make this useful. Thanks for helping me.
    1) fair point. Maybe we can make that part less prominent.

    2) Wasn’t the Zaarly reference intimidating? When I posted the interview, I got a lot of YEAH. GIVE ME A RICH MOVIE STAR INVESTOR AND I’LL DO IT TO.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Not “just” your thoughts. This is very helpful.

  • http://doddcaldwell.com/ Dodd Caldwell

    It’s actually not intimidating. Maybe it’s just me but I expect to get a nugget or two out of any of the premium stuff or your normal interviews. I don’t expect everything to be relevant to me. No, I don’t have a famous investor but I can learn some stuff who are more successful than myself. I’d rather know the advice is coming from somebody who knows what they’re talking about rather than just some random “7 Ways to Market Better Advice.”

  • Niels

    I completely agree with Dodd. The “cheatsheet” bit makes it very clear what is and also makes it easy to find back later.

    The “zaarly” reference doesn’t intimidate me at all. All your interviews are with ppl much more succesful than I am, yet I still get at least one actionable idea out of every interview I’ve listened to (you rock Andrew!).

    As far as I’m concerned, Your subject lines were spot on Andrew…

  • Anonymous

    I LOVE THEM as they are! plus I can’t believe they are SO good for FREE!

    I like how cheat sheet in the title helps differentiate these posts from other content, they
    have been gems in a nutshell, a 5 min read one wouldn’t want to miss, fresh and valuable for
    Mixergy fans.

    The company or related authority just gives more value! It shows the kind of people that
    you have access to and how you have made their knowledge accessible to whom just takes
    of their time to watch / reads you!

    Good stuff! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/mhardenbrook Michael Hardenbrook

    Andrew, cheat sheet is copy of “instant clarity.” If I was a first-time visitor, I would know exactly what that is. It’s a recap of an interview/course. For me, you can delete it and it won’t make a difference to a member, but for new visitors, I think you should keep it. 

    I also think name dropping get’s me interested over juicy details. There are juicy headlines all over the IM sphere, and I just ignore them. I am drawn to credibility, and that comes with a recognizable name. 

    imho

  • raj

    Andrew,
    The way you have been doing the headlines are fine and they absolutely work. The suggestions sound very gimmicky and personally I avoid reading content written like that. 
    About the people who say give me moviestar and they can do it to are probably the type of people who never take action and always give excuses. 
    Thanks for the great info you put out.
    Raj

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Yup. Free. I think they actually cost me more to make than anything else at Mixergy, but once we get them right, I hope they’ll become one of the most valuable parts of the site.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I’m shocked by this reaction to the phrase “Cheat Sheet.” I’m so glad we published this post. I didn’t realize people cared this much.

    Thanks, Michael.

  • http://twitter.com/iapprovethismsg Ben Donahower

    Yes! Since you provide information in long form video and in cheat sheet form, I think it’s important that you are distinguishing between them!

  • http://twitter.com/iapprovethismsg Ben Donahower

    Have you split tested these ideas? What were you results? Personally, I like your title for the reasons already mentioned by commenters.

  • http://www.launchbreak.net sergio raya

    This is why it works for me: I’m very busy with work, family, and launching my biz just like most of you and honestly, the fact that it reads cheat sheets on top helps me decide “okay, I can read main points now and watch the interview/course later if it’s relevant.” I like to also curate what I learn before I forward to friends and family. You have made it easy for to do that without having to sift through copy.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks. Bob Hiler has an idea for how to show you that the post is a cheat sheet, without taking attention away from the headline. He coded it up over the weekend. I should have it on the site soon.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I see. Thanks.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks Raj.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    No. I love split testing and we have enough traffic to give us meaningful data, but I’m not sure how to split test headlines in WordPress.

  • Sandra

    I understand his points about the headline but using “Cheat Sheets” makes it easy to search and find them.

  • http://twitter.com/mreoinocarroll Eoin O’Carroll

    Split test with Actions rather than just Clickthroughs. I’m already a premium subscriber so there’s no need for the title to be salesy as I’m unlikely to convert further. 

    I like mixergy and I like to be educated. If it errs on the side of selling more than telling me what I’ll get when I click through there is a danger you’ll annoy your existing customers more. Again I’m putting a bit of bias in this so Ben’s suggestion of A/B testing is probably the best approach.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I agree. I don’t want the Cheat Sheets to increase sales. I need them to be useful.

  • http://twitter.com/mreoinocarroll Eoin O’Carroll

    Eep missed your response Andrew before replying to Ben. 
    I think you will need to edit your template with the GWO code. For a multivariate test you’d probably do the following, with the tracking script of course. Test before going live though.

    < [?] [php] single_post_title('Current post: '); ?>

    Added square brackets as the comments hide php

  • Robbjorklund

    Andrew, I don’t love these changes, here is why:

    -I like that it is clear its not an interview or course video, for example today I clicked on the Lewis Howes sheet expected to hear an interview.

    -When you include the name of the company that tells me it is something that I want to pay attention to.  It lends credibility to the story.  Just stating an outrageous claim, even if it is true, sounds like spammy sales copy  to me.

    Thanks for making mixergy 

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Do you think we should use the company’s logo instead of the guest’s picture?

  • Ml

    I tend to agree with Dodd’s above comments as well. Keep up the great work.

  • EJ

    I would click on “Cheat Sheet: Nick O’Neill”  ;) before anonymous how to’s with promises of incredible results. Except …  I’d click on both if they were found on Mixergy !  Answer: it depends. Maybe make “Cheat Sheet” less prominent (smaller font ? ) – have it there for those who want to differentiate from interviews but not distracting from title’s main attraction which is the lessons offered. I’m not intimidated by guests who start out with advantages – long careers, skills, right connections, large social networks, funds… but can be frustrating when don’t have those to start. Usually interviews are so well done from a scrappy startup perspective I can get something of value. If not, I tuck lessons away for when I do have those advantages – the entrepreneurial journey doesn’t end after the scrappy startup stage.  
    EJ
    ps enjoyed and learned a lot from Nick’s interviews
      

  • Ron Story Jr

    Is there a link to the cheat sheets in the members area? I can find the courses and interviews easily in the members area but not the cheat sheets.

  • http://marshalljonesjr.com/ Marshall Jones Jr.

    Yeah, I’m going to agree with everyone in this comment group too. I like Andrew’s original title better. What struck me, though, is that even though Andrew’s sound better to me right now in analysis, this might not actually be the best option for getting click-throughs and readers.

    Like I hate pop-ups that try to get me to signup for email lists or whatever. In every survey I’ve even been given on that question, I’ve answered the same way. Yet taking a look at the subscriptions I’ve signed up for in the past, I realize that a good portion of them were a direct result of a popup.

    In other words, even if we hate something, the psychology behind it might still be what’s required to prompt a certain action. (I’d be interested in seeing how an A/B test on the two types of titles would pan out with the Mixergy audience.)

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nick-ONeill/7403766 Nick ONeill

    Just getting to this now but definitely interesting feedback from your readers.  I would test it though.  I know what people say in the comments, but I also regularly write posts that get large amounts of traffic thanks to the titles.  I then have people even comment on the titles to me in person.  

    As for the people who want “Cheat Sheet” in the title, it doesn’t need to be there … I stand by that.  They’ll click through because there’s a compelling offering and they’re your dedicated readers (just like myself).  Your goal isn’t to convert your active readers, it’s to expand beyond your existing subscriber base.  I’ll read you now matter what titles you put … not necessarily the case for your non-readers…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nick-ONeill/7403766 Nick ONeill

    I should add … pretty much everybody who wrote comments here are completely biased: they all love your site.  Don’t ask for feedback, look at the numbers!!!

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks. I’m obsessed with improving this.

    And “improving” = more useful.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I would click on Nick’s name too. In fact, I did that the other day when one of his stories was on Techmeme. I think that’s something I have to keep remembering as I tinker. The most important thing isn’t getting another click or two. It’s about doing good work so you’ll trust it even if I screw up my presentation or distribution or anything else.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Not yet. It’s still in beta, so I’m making them available to everyone (though Premium Members get a more detailed breakdown of the content).
    Once we get a rhythm going, we’ll break them up better for Premium Members. Bob Hiler has a few ideas on that that I think you’ll find useful.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I think we can do that. We’ll publish every step of our thinking and process as we improve the Cheat Sheets (until people complain that it’s distracting).

    The important thing for me is to make sure it’s *useful* more than to ensure it’s *popular*.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    You’re right.

    I also think that what we say we’re drawn to is different from what we’re really attracted to. For example, if you asked me if I prefer a headline that says, “9 ways to…” I would probably tell you no, but I click on headlines like that all the time.

    I need to find ways to measure.

    The thing is, that I care more about effectiveness than I do about hits. So I need to find a way to measure utility too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/artmuseums Aladine Vargas

    1) Andrew – an image speaks a thousand words.  What about creating some mixergy content icons?  Video, Cheat sheets, Audio etc.  I would volunteer my time and skills to creates them for you.

    2) I agree with Dodd 100%.

    3) Part of your brand is a COMMUNITY of ambition start ups. So like at a social event  – we’ll call …  Mixergy :)  You, the host, are introducing us to influencial guests. How rude is it to introduce them by their benefits. Removing the name from the title and only focusing on the benefits “WE” get – is much more like a pimp pimping Candy the hooker … instead of a trusted friend introducing us to Sally Happysmith, potentiality our future wife and mother to my children.

    Honestly to me — to remove their names is to remove part of the community experience.

  • http://www.facebook.com/artmuseums Aladine Vargas

    Yeah – I hate that we call Lewis Howes — “this guy”
    How This Guy Used Webinars to Make $6,300/Hour

    It should read:  How did Lewis Howes use a Webinar to make $6,300/hr

  • http://www.facebook.com/artmuseums Aladine Vargas

    NO!!!!!!!   You are selling HUMAN STORIES!  not companies.  We are connecting with the failures and successes of people we see as the same as us.  The company is not important.    Mixergy is nothing with out the story of Andrew Warner and the hundreds or thousands of stories from viewers like me.  That relationship bonded in our belief that you will extract gold aka really freak’n useful information … from your guest is the life blood of Mixergy.com  At least that’s how I see it.  

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I like the way you’re thinking. We’re talking to Adarsh Pallian about some icons. He’s the guy who created the Mixergy design.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I agree. The headline’s goal should be to get people to read what the course leaders have said. To give it other goals would overburden it and add clutter.

  • http://twitter.com/SDMcPhee Steve McPhee

    What an interesting thread of comments. I think the issue with deciding if these are ‘better’ or ‘good’ changess is difficult because of the lack of a clear objective in making these changes.  Better for who? existing readers or new readers? Better at what? Getting people to click through and read, or better at being easy to find when someone is searching for this type of content.  Your objective making them ‘useful’ is noble, but unclear… i always try to use the logic from the oldie but goodie, SMART goals [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_criteria]

  • Nicole Elmore

    Great post, but I must agree with the other comments: I prefer your title Andrew, However you could integrate both ideas and create a third title that will still keep the important note of being a “Cheat Sheet”, which informs the readers that it will be something quick and easy to follow. I would agree though, either drop Zaarly’s reference or move it to the end of the title.

    People like to read “how-to articles” if they can identify with the person who has successfully accomplished a task – if they see a name of someone they respect, but feel that is “out of their league”, it just becomes a story and it will be read by significantly less people.

    Please let me know if you, as readers, have any suggestions for the titles (design, layout, etc.) on my blog. http://myblog.nicoleelmore.com 

    Nicole Elmore.
    Entrepreneur. Artist. Writer. Business Woman. Friend. Designer. President and CEO of Elmore Marketing. 
    My Blog: http://myblog.nicoleelmore.com  Providing readers with tips, tricks, deals, and reviews in areas of Lifestyle, Shopping, Deals, Health & Beauty, Business, Travel and MoreProviding readers with tips, tricks, deals, and reviews in areas of Lifestyle, Shopping, Deals, Health & Beauty, Business, Travel and More

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    We should keep emphasizing that the goal is to make the Cheat Sheets (and everything else here) actionable. So the question is, “Does this format help you use what’s in the program?”

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