Why Order Matters In Your Marketing – The “Bookend Principle”

Why order matters in your marketing

It’s really easy to just dive into things and pump them out. Heck, we all do it.  Writing a headline for a sales page or lead capture page (also called “squeeze page” by a lot of people) is something a lot of us take for granted and just throw them out there.

So, question… when was the last time you really looked at the order you put things in your marketing and tested swapping the order of words around in things?

For instance, the order of your…

… and a bunch of other stuff.

How Simple Order Changes Can Make Big Differences

When I’m talking about order it has nothing to do with changing up the content… just the order the content is introduced.  So, nothing else changes… all of the same words… same ideas… same messages… same calls to action… just introduced in the message at different times.

How much of a difference could that make?  After all… you’ve probably seen this cool little post on Facebook or in a forwarded email recently…

“fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too. Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghi t pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs forwrad it.”

Could you read it pretty easily?  Ya, most people can.  It’s pretty damn cool how the brain can figure out pretty easily what that says even though the letters in the words are all jumbled up. One thing you might have noticed is that the only thing that is jumbled up in those words is the inside letters… the first and last letter in the words aren’t jumbled.

Why? I’ll tell you why that matters BIG TIME here in a bit.

But, what if instead of just jumbling up the letters within words you jumbled up the order of the words themselves?  I can guarantee you that order would matter a whole heck of a lot then. Right?  It would be pretty much impossible to read.

Order Of Words Within A Message Can Change The Meaning Of Your Marketing Big Time

Marketing follows the same idea… the stuff at the front and back of your message (I like to call them the “bookends”) mean a lot to people understanding what you’re trying to tell them… the stuff in the middle is important but not as much… and if you get the stuff at the front and back wrong… it’ll kill your entire message.

Take for instance a real life test we ran after we rolled out the 49 Email Subject Line Swipes Report.

In one of the swipes we gave ya (go download it if you haven’t already… it’s killer stuff you can go and “swipe and deploy” in your own business) I talk about the order of putting things like “[Download]” when writing email subject lines.

In my online publishing company we’ve tested lots of stuff and for this particular market putting “[Download]” at the front of the email subject line tended to get a bit more emails opened.

But, we tested it recently to part of our Automize list and the results were CRAZY.

As you see, the only difference is that we swapped the word “DOWNLOAD” from the front of the subject line to the back.

These emails were sent at the same time using the Aweber split test feature (we use Aweber for our email marketing… love the heck outta it), the content in the emails was the same, everything was the same but the order of the word “Download”.

A 20% bump in your open rate is a big deal.

So, What If We Would Have Swapped The Order Of The Middle Words?

Great question.  We’ve tested that before too multiple times and we’ve found swapping the order of the middle words a bit doesn’t really do much of anything to our open rates at all.

Same goes for written sales letters.  It goes without saying that if you put the headline at the bottom of your sales page and the order button on the top things wouldn’t convert too well.  But, if you swapped the order around a bit of the internal elements of your sales letters it tends not to matter all that much.

A great analogy is if you think about bookends on a book shelf and 5 books squished between them.  You can change the order of the books in a bunch of different ways and things would still be fine… the books would still be on the shelf. But, if you move the bookends a bit… the whole stack of books could fall over. The bookends hold things together… the same goes for the front and back of your marketing messages… they hold things together and are often the most important parts of your entire message.  A slight shift and things could go down the drain.

How You Can Apply The “Bookend Principle” To Your Marketing

The really cool thing about the “bookend principle” is that knowing it exists actually makes your job easier. While your competition is out there worrying over testing all kinds of stuff in their squeeze pages, sales pages, emails, etc… wasting hours and hours over stuff that likely won’t give huge bumps in conversion… you can start with the highest leverage things first… what people read at the front and the back of your messages.

Here’s some things you can test this week:

  • Putting calls to action in your email subject lines (like “Download”, “Check it out”, etc.) and do simple swaps to try them at the front and back. Quick easy test and once you know how your market reacts to the order of specific things… you’ll know for next time.
  • Test your sales letter and squeeze page headlines and calls to action… nothing else…. keep everything else in the middle the same for now.  Test different words on the action button (like “Subscribe”, “I’m In”, “Add to Cart”, “Order”), different colors, and different headlines all together.  It’s really easy with VisualWebsiteOptimizer (which we use).

Just running some tests on those 2 things in your business can give you huge boosts that will continue as you learn more and more what your market wants.

Another Real Life Example Of A “Bookend” Test We’re Running Right Now

As an example, we’re running a test right now w/ our publishing company where we redesigned our blog to generate more leads… and the only things we’re testing right now are the “bookends” of the squeeze page… the headline and the action area.

We’re running 2 different headlines and 3 different action images in a multi-variable test to see what combination of “bookends” performs best.  So far we’re a couple weeks into it and there’s some huge differences… a full 7% difference from the best to the worst.

Again, just testing and tweaking the “bookends” and keeping the middle the same.


When you’re putting together your marketing campaigns (teleseminars, webinars, squeeze pages, ads… anything) and want to test some stuff… go easy on yourself and just test the Bookends at first.  That’s where you’ll see the biggest changes in conversions simply because of our human tendency to treat whats at the front and back a little more important that the stuff crammed in the middle.

15 Comments (Click here to leave a comment)

  1. Great stuff as always Trevor. That little nugget from the headline split test was amazing and I’ll be using it tomorrow. You’re so on point with split testing the bookends…I think that’s a huge reason to always include a ps in emails with the last thing being your CTA link.

    • Trevor Mauch

      Hey Josh, thanks man! Ya, we split test most of our emails… cool what you can gain just w/ your everyday emailing. Over time picking up that data on what your market responds to makes big differences. For sure on the P.S… I love P.S’s.

      Great to hear from ya man!

      - Trevor

  2. Great content and love the http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/ recommendation… going to use it for sure for our latest product home page.

    • Trevor Mauch

      Hey Nick, ya man… I absolutely love VWO. They have a great free plugin for wordpress too that makes it insanely easy to do tests on wordpress sites (you install the plugin once… and never have to touch the blog ever again to create a test).

      I’ll be doing some tutorials on how we use it sometime soon. Heck, here’s my fancy affiliate link for ya if you feel the urge to sign up through an affiliate link ;-)


      Have a great week man!

      - Trevor

  3. Good quality content here. Nice work guys! I indeed learned something new.

  4. Great information Trevor! Will be utilizing this information in my next mailing.

  5. Great content – thanks for the email subject lines i’ll deffo be puttin em into use –
    20% bump is HUGE for me

    Cheers Trevor :)

  6. Let me start by saying that Trevor, you sir, are a giver (bookend #1).

    Awesome article. Excellent advice. Masterfully stated. And also, flibby flabby flasm jasm (since the stuff in the middle doesn’t matter aso much)

    In conclusion, thank you for the awesomeness. (bookend #2)


  7. sure will man, loving the content –

    this week i’m signing up to your CallLoop program for a webinar i’m about to do on teh 28th on mobile marketing – so pretty excited to see how this helps with conversions my man

    keep it rocking!

    • Trevor Mauch

      Awesome, just hit us up if you need any help setting things up for CallLoop or if you have any feedback, questions, or feature requests. We’re rolling out a new User Interface and some new features in March so be on the look out for those.

      Good luck on the call!

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