YPMS Episode 3: Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and Split Testing with eCommerce Master Justin Christianson

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Show Notes

Casey Stanton
You’re listening to your perfect marketing strategy, the only podcast to teach you what marketing tactics are working right now, how to know which tactics are right for your business, and the immediate steps you can take to deploy those tactics to grow your business today. Hey, this is your host, Casey Stanton from https://cmox.co, the fractional Chief Marketing Officer company. And I’m joined by my friend down in Austin, Texas, Justin Christianson, who is the founder and CEO of a company called conversion fanatics. And for the last, I don’t know, 10 years, Justin’s helped over 200 companies add over 100 million dollars in additional revenue through conversion rate optimisation.

Hey, Justin, thanks for joining me.

Justin Christianson
Thanks for having me.

Casey Stanton
Yeah, man. Good to have you here. I’m excited to talk about CRM because I feel like it is an under understood tactic. Most people think if I build it, they will come. Tell me why that is just a terrible thought right now.

Justin Christianson
Well, I mean, yeah. That can happen. But if you’re not making strides to continually improve how you are perceived in the marketplace and how your message and your marketing is received by your target audience, it’s going to be very difficult to scale the business to any kind of significant level. So, you know, some of this kind of like build it in, just do whatever and kind of anything, everything in the beginning is okay. But once you reach kind of that, you know, approaching maybe the million dollar mark in revenue, then it really becomes important to kind of fine tune and dial it in. And it allows you to quickly adapt and evolve quickly because the market is constantly evolving and changing. So this allows you to really fine tune what Ladies, you’re doing very quickly for you to adapt, you know, we just are coming through, you know, something that’s a lot of businesses had to adjust, you know that the, the hot topic was everybody is pivoting you

Casey Stanton
Just from COVID you’re speaking So, okay, go ahead

Justin Christianson
You know, we’re coming through COVID. And you know, we’re kind of seeing that the tail end of it businesses opening back up online is obviously thriving and a lot of, you know, different niches. But the key word was pivot, but there was a lot of businesses that could not pivot. But like our clients, very few of them have many issues. We just lean into it a little bit. And now, everybody is having record months, you know, literally we’ve got clients that are blowing their benchmarks out of the water, we’ve got clients do a million dollar weeks, you know, it’s like, absolutely bonkers. Because we were able to just quickly tweak a few things and move it and without mean, like,

Casey Stanton
Tweak a few elements in the sales funnel or tweak a few things inside of their marketing process?

Justin Christianson
Yeah, it was just it was literally just slightly tweaking the message, you know, leaning into what’s happening. setting expectations back ended up with social proof doing some of the things that we already knew that were big drivers to the audience. And we just literally just made a few adjustments, and then they were able to pivot and adjust and change very quickly versus having to completely revamp or start over or, you know, see the big falls. You know, we saw clients go like this, and then now they’re like this. Sure,

Casey Stanton
yeah, small decreases, but then they’re kind of coming back because we’re seeing what it post COVID like, are kind of in COVID into COVID, because we’ll never really be post COVID until we have like a vaccine but you’re seeing that businesses are bouncing back and consumers are buying at similar or even higher rates. Are there more numbers, smaller card sizes, what do you say?

Justin Christianson
Everything. I mean, we’re seeing bigger. I mean, it’s we’re seeing numbers that are beating Black Friday, Cyber Monday

Casey Stanton
On daily sales or weekly sales?

Justin Christianson
I don’t know how to explain it in a lot of cases. I mean, and we’ve got clients that aren’t even doing promotions It’s, it’s, it’s off the charts on some of them. Like I said, we literally, I had a call last week was one of our clients and they were on pace to do like $700,000 last month. They did 900. You know, it’s, we’ve got clients that are, you know, selling that we’re selling 1000 units a day are now selling 2500 and no promotions like Like we’re not

Casey Stanton
I mean, there’s some talk here that Facebook ad cpms are a lot cheaper. So you’re able to deliver ads to more people do you think that their same ad spend is now precipitating increase in buyers,

Justin Christianson
um, it is but we’re also seeing cpms go back up again. Now. That kind of gravy train is a little bit over from kind of what we’re seeing. There’s still some markets that are allowing it but a lot of people are flooding back into the marketplace where everybody was cutting their ad dollars. So they had to do something and now we’re seeing it go kind of the other way back to go a little bit more normal than what we would kind of seen pre you know, maybe even January, February. You know, March and April, were obviously just super cheap and just pour dollars on on the fire and see what happens. You can spend dollars fast enough. But um, yeah, I mean the last 30 days, we’re seeing a little bit of slip back in Again, I was just looking at a client right now we’re down about 15% on conversion rate, and revenues down slightly. But I think that’s just the adjustment in the Facebook algorithm and, and some Instagram ads and you know, trying out some new channels, but for the most part, we’re able to easily tweak and adjust and move, you know, steer the ship much easier because we’re understanding of what the visitors likes and dislikes are.

Casey Stanton
Sure that makes sense. So So can you summarize for me, what is conversion rate optimization? How do you define it?

Justin Christianson
So, when most people think conversion rate optimization, they immediately think split testing, and split testing is only part of it. split testing is the vehicle in which we use to prove or disprove the assumptions that we might have. So we have an idea. We have a hypothesis, we have a question we need answered. We run a split test to confirm it. In the effort to raise all of the marketing metrics, but sorrow in and of itself is really just understanding the behaviors of a visitor. So how a visitor interacts with a site? Where are they at? Where are they going? Where are they falling off in that user journey from once they click that ad to they make a buying decision? What is that journey? What friction points are in that journey and think about user experience or user interface? And it’s really us understanding their likes or dislikes, what they’re paying attention to what they’re ignoring where they’re falling off in that process. What questions are, do they have that we’re not answering in our marketing? And how do we position that throughout that journey, either adding or removing stuff to alleviate friction and conversion, when you say sorrow, it has conversion rate in the name, but it’s really a much bigger broader picture than that, at least in my eyes. You know, we have companies come to us all the time, it’s like, hey, you’re gonna run some split tests and you’re gonna, you know, magically make me a bunch of more money because you guys are the experts when conversion rate is a relative number, so it fluctuates as the markets change and as advertising changes, and it’s it doesn’t infinitely grow, doesn’t matter how good you are. So we have to look at the true scalability of a business and the true kind of exponential growth cycle rather than a change the button color and race are lowered my conversion rate or I added a checkout timer or something trick tactic gimmick that are out there that are not long lasting, you know, you have to take the fluctuations and not solely base it on your conversion rate. But the the answer to that is it’s really just using data to understand you know, both qualitative and quantitative meaning, your hard facts, your analytical data, and then your survey your questionnaire you’re here Map kind of data to understand what the heck the visitors want, and then using split tests to, to further prove that. And so wizards boats rise in the tide.

Casey Stanton
I think that this is interesting because you’re talking about what is the visitor want not? What kind of visitor to do, do I want to that a certain outcome happens? It’s like you’re focused on the intent or the behavior of the people that you already have, instead of wishing or hoping or trying to get other people. Is that true?

Justin Christianson
So yeah, I mean, the Facebook algorithms and the the advertising algorithms are very sophisticated right now. So where you’re kind of finding and you, you may be able to confirm this, but we’re seeing that just let them do the work. And not necessarily try to fine tune specifically who that target audience is on the ad level, but rather, let your marketing message filter that, you know, and let the actual customer intent be the driver. So we’re seeing a lot of broad targeting. And then we just kind of work with what is coming to the site where they’re coming from, to improve the outcome of which we’re looking at. So yeah, we can take a different approach. But I’m a holistic guy. Yeah, I’m not an ads guy. But I understand the marketing process from A to B. And I’m just a small piece of it. And I’ve got to take those visitors across the finish line at a higher rate. And to do that, I have to understand them. If I just if us as marketers assume something is going to work, we’ve immediately lost because what you were I think, doesn’t matter. It’s what the people with the credit card out that want your product or service? Are they voting with their dollars, and it’s our job to make that process a lot easier.

Casey Stanton
Yeah, so to that, what you’re saying is like we can lead as marketers with our own ideas of what we think the system or the process or the funnel or the offer should be, and that’s fine, and we can roll that out. And at some level, our intuition gets a little stronger over time and we have a better gut and we can produce something that works. But we can’t scale that without looking at what the audience is doing. What the audience truly Once you do that by looking at the data, and specifically what data you’re looking at, you’re looking at heat maps. So you’re looking at like click data.

Justin Christianson
So a couple fold. I’m I don’t overcomplicate it, I make it about as simple as you get. So Google Analytics, that’s about as fancy as I get, maybe Shopify data or some CRM kind of analytics. Um, you know, whatever your lead generation stuff is, but I just look at what my demographics are, what my mobile desktop tablet breakdown is, my origin of country. Then I look at the specific pages that they’re interacting with, and then the flow. And then I look at specific click in scroll data on mobile and desktop. That’s really it if I and then I’ll do some exit polling, to kind of ask specific questions when I need more data, but I’ll figure out very quickly, it’s like, okay, they’re not scrolling down on the page. They’re not seeing this particular element or they’re not getting Clicking on what we think they’re clicking on, or where we want them to click. So what? How many, you know, why is that? And I just asked question, why a bunch? And literally, that’s it. And then I try to answer the question why? And there could be 500 reasons why. So I test all of those reasons. And then I just, it’s just like building a block, I’ll test one reason why and say, oh, that didn’t work or that kind of worked. So what can I use to, you know, take a piece off that block and then move on and just keep kind of stacking bricks based on that data as I’m collecting it.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, that makes sense. Like a lot of this data is in Google Analytics and it’s nice to know that we don’t have to have like some fancy additional analytics but you did say exit polling, do you do that with hot jar or another tool?

Justin Christianson
Yeah, hot jar just does it on a paid account with hot jar we just that’s our go to. That’s our go to tool. We literally set it up for every every client. And you also use the heat mapping in hot jar. Yep, heat map. Heat mapping scroll map, we do screen recordings occasionally. But that’s only when we really need something specific because nobody wants to sit and watch a bunch of screen recordings.

Casey Stanton
That’s a really great point. So the analytics that you look at are like spreadsheets of data, not screen recordings, because screen recordings take, however long the screen recording takes multiplied by however many screen recordings and that can be an all day adventure, right?

Justin Christianson
I mean, you can get 10,000 all you know, it’s like, I don’t have time to go watch 10,000 videos that are even 2000 or even 100 at a minute and a half piece to realize that somebody’s scrolling way down the page. Sounds good, but nobody’s got time for that. So right I look at the very basic analytical data. I can I call it my 16 minute exercise. The first time I ever did it, as I explained it to my staff was took me 16 minutes. Literally, I had a sales kind of game plan a strategy for a client in 16 minutes. It’s like okay, we’ve Got women aged 45 to 54. We’ve got, you know, primarily mobile, a little bit of tablet because they’re a little bit older. They’re falling off on the product page, or they’re falling off on this certain page. And they’re all US traffic. So I like okay, here’s where I’ve got it, you know, bounce rates here, they’re not interacting something as an engaging, we need to focus in on this particular page, then I just go mobile, to the site, look at it from a user interface perspective, and come up with all the reasons why there can be potential friction. And what aren’t we answering until I get the qualitative data, you know, the quantitative paints a pretty good picture, at least to start and that’s where a lot of other companies kind of, I think, fall a little bit short is they overanalyze their data and they never take action on it. You know, I see a lot of clients all the time. We had one that got lucky essentially and, you know, created a multi million dollar business didn’t even basically have analytics set up. And there’s a lot of companies that never even log into it or look at it from that basis. So we just help them leverage that data. And just try not to oversimplify it. And the more you analyze it, without actually trying to answer the questions is why the data is saying a certain thing. With your sweat testing and your optimization. It’s just a waste, because you can assume based on the data, and we can have meetings all day long about the data. But if we’re not testing to make it better, you know that a lot of that’s where I differ from a lot of CR o companies is they spent two months analyzing the data. But I spent two months two months testing as to why that data that initial data is telling me and I’m going to get them a lot further because I just test more. I guess that’s it. I just tested a bunch more right? He is and happen to win a lot.

Casey Stanton
So tell me what elements you start testing. What do you think? Like if someone is saying, Okay, I know I need to do testing, first of all one software to test with? And then secondly, what elements to test with? Or do you test on first?

Justin Christianson
Yeah, so my go to software is convert calm. So convert experiences, that’s my go to. I’ve used them all. Primarily, it’s just ease of use for that and cost benefit is there. And then elements, it really depends on where the data is pointing us so but I try to keep it as simple as possible. Usually I try to test any elements that’s higher leverage. So is it explaining the benefits of the product? is it doing anything with social proof? is it helping the visitors experience the product Through imagery, you know, lifestyle shots, all of the things that come along with it, you know, you got to get the visitor, you know, subconsciously seeing themselves using the product. You know, trust is another one that we look for, and then a clear, strong call to action.But if it was up to me at any given time, I just test headlines all day.

Casey Stanton
But the biggest propensity to drive an increase in conversion,

Justin Christianson
Well, you think about it in most most companies don’t want us to do this, but this is the copywriter in me that if you test enough headlines, you’re gonna see a 20% improvement. Almost guaranteed. It might take you 540 headlines to do it. But you’re going to see it because it’s the first thing that people see on a page. It’s the the first interaction they Have it’s the 16 words or less to get them to know like and trust your brand and get their attention. And we have very short attention spans. So if your headlines week, you know, I was looking at a client right now today I’m coming up with some strategy after we’re off the phone. It’s been a client of ours for a few months, but we need to test through kind of a little bump in the road. And one of the things that’s like, man, we haven’t tested enough headlines here, like that headline is so weak. So yeah, I mean, I really just look at kind of those top five things and then we can get further into the user experience user flow, like where’s the call to action on the page and the selection process of the product and the options and you know, the number of form fields and all of those things and labels and it really go down the rabbit hole, but I just focus literally we have a template First, we have to have them for different types of clients, but six or 12 ideas, and it’s literally trust, social proof, security headlines, and then a couple key other leverage points. And it really just depends on which page in that process you’re focusing on. You know, if it’s checkout or if it’s you’re starting on a homepage, or you’re starting on a landing page, or you know, it’s actually a long form sales letter or webinar registration page, or wherever that key friction point, and drop off is happening and needs most attention. That’s where I’ll put the focus, but I just really figure out why is the visitor not doing what I want them to do on this page? and answer the question, and it could be adding something to the page could be removing something from the page, it can be just changing an image around and we just use that constantly. to evolve and grow and scale. And I go back to an example of, we had a client that had product that smelled that scent to it and had a bunch of different senses, targeting men. And they had all the information, a scent guide on the page. And the glaring result from our exit polling was I don’t know which scent to choose. So all we did is above the fold of the page where they selected the option we just said it smells like XYZ, and it increased their mobile conversion rate over 30%

Casey Stanton
Something that was already on the page, you just change the location of it to make it easy for someone to understand.

Justin Christianson
We left it where it was at we just added an element up literally simple tested about three or four different variations of it and narrowed it down. It literally said when you selected the drop down it said smells like whatever cedar and pine or whatever their particular sense work and mobile conversion rate shot up like 30 plus percent.

Casey Stanton
That’s awesome.

Justin Christianson
So just because we were answering that question, they had a big objection on that page, which we saw a big drop off on that page. We just solved the problem. And we assumed that the visitors were seeing that because it was on the page, but we asked them, and they clearly were not just make it easy for the visitors. And that’s really I just, I see so many companies overcomplicate things. And I’m very fortunate to see a lot of businesses and under the hood of a lot of businesses. And you’d be shocked to know how many very, very simple setups do way more revenue than the ones that are trying to overcomplicate it and have 50,000 products or absolutely trying to be the next so and so or, you know, they’re trying to cram so much stuff into their pages. I mean, I’ve got clients doing a million dollars a week right now and their setup is So simple. It’s it’s just mind boggling.

Casey Stanton
I think that like I think of Da Vinci when he says that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. as marketers, we want these complex funnels, we want these upsells and down cells, we want these email triggers. And then we want if an email gets opened, this other thing happens and that stuff is sexy when you want to complicate things. And what you’re saying is, it’s simple. It’s the headline will give you 20% improvement, and then focus on social proof. I mean, Gary, Ben’s, Ivanka says, if he’s gonna write a, he’s a direct response copywriter. For those who don’t know, he says, if he’s going to write a package to try to beat someone else’s package, like a mailing package, he’s just going to double the social proof. Like that’s a secret. That’s how he’s won forever, just double social proof. Benefits

Justin Christianson
on mention Gary, and I actually had the pleasure of chatting with him in one of his companies a few months ago, and I remember what like literally it was like, you know how you get starstruck. But yeah, oh my god, you’re Gary Ben’s manga. And I’ve like, I’ve like paid five grand for your book, you know, type thing and learned a lot from him. But yeah, that’s the same thing. It’s it’s, I mean, I just, I’m so sick of automation. I mean, I’ve been doing this 20 years and it’s the principles haven’t changed, the mediums just change and everybody says, you know, you just need this new cart and you just need this new evergreen, whatever and automation and Zapier and I’m so tired of it that just strip it down to the basics. I’ve got a client right now that’s doing $350,000 a month in revenue. Handful of products. The simplest, the least designed site that you possibly understand. I mean, it is Simple and it is so refreshing to see that it’s like the out of the box. Simple. It’s not even. There’s no fancy plugins, there’s no fancy apps, there’s none of that. And it’s really refreshing to see and optimize something like that. Because it’s so easy and so simple and so easy to adapt. And I think a lot of companies just strictly overcomplicate it you don’t it’s probably the ego of the marketer. Would you agree? Oh, there’s a lot of that. I mean, yeah, I’m there’s a lot of flexing going on, and a lot of ego that comes with it. And everybody’s a Facebook ads expert, and everybody’s got the latest, you know, hack, and it bores me. I mean, I’m so numb to it. And and I do this, I do martial for a living, but I’m just, I’m over it. And I’ve done it for so long that it’s when somebody comes to me and it’s like, you know, I’ve got a client right now that’s got 60 something apps on their on their site, you know, plugins and widgets and stuff and it causes God like begging to break. Yeah. Oh, it does. You you fix one thing and 50 more break. And I get a message from him all the time. And we this is kind of a running joke to he and I He’s like, I’m like, you’re ready to delete some apps yet? Like you’re ready to He’s like, I think I have it narrowed down to 35. I’m like, Okay, let’s delete those. And he’s like, well, not yet.

Unknown Speaker
And that’s causing bloat on the site that’s increasing page loads, time. It’s like, and it’s like putting the business at risk for one software update or an employee clicking the Update button and breaking everything and yeah, that’s a that’s a dangerous

Justin Christianson
Why isn’t my hero image showing the way it is? I’m like, Whoa, did you change You know, it’s like I can’t even begin to go down that rabbit hole of fixing it, you know, because it could be an Apps not supported anymore. It doesn’t play nice with an update on so and so app. And it’s um Yeah, I just see that all the time. I spoke at a mastermind to to go kind of down the the b2b rabbit hole. I know I’ve been kind of speaking to the b2c a little bit but I go down the rabbit hole of the b2b side and I spoke at a mastermind or was kind of a guest expert at a mastermind, a friend of mine last year. And one of the members is like, Oh, yeah, I’m the leader in such and such market in the UK. industry was b2b. And she said, Well, I just need this webinar funnel, and I need all of this and I’m spending all this time I said, What’s your what’s your wheelhouse? What’s your core? And she said, Well, I do X, Y and Z. I said, Well, why not? Don’t just continue doing X, Y, and Z. But then just add this one element. I said your It was a coaching, consulting training kind of environment for b2b for a specific niche. I think it was for realtors or something in the UK or whatever they’re called in the UK. And I said just had a $25,000 package. I said, Well, I need a webinar, and I need this funnel and I need these ads and I need these stuff. And I’m like, you have a very small market. You’re already the leader in that market. You want to grow and scale. You already have all the customers selling more stuff. And her mind just like you could see the light switch, just flip and she’s like, Oh my God, I’ve been trying to automate this and make all of this craziness. When all I needed to do was just add something more expensive to the package. It worked. You know, for she

Casey Stanton
That’s an incredible story I think this plays into, yeah, ego and like this belief that it has to be harder than it is. It’s really refreshing to hear that, like, just beating headlines will get you a 20% improvement.

Justin Christianson
Yeah, it’s almost guarantee. Almost, if I would bet money on it, I would, you know, I would win more times than not.

Casey Stanton
Yeah. In okay. Talk to me about what do you test in a b2b business?

Justin Christianson
The principles are really the same. You know, it’s really just the intent of the buyer. So I get the question all the time. It’s like, oh, have you worked in such and such industry? It’s like, the answer is yes. Are you selling to people?

Casey Stanton
Are like totally. Have you said this exact widget before to atomic, you know, engineers? It’s like, I’ve sold the scientist I guess, but two people. Yes, absolutely. Right.

Justin Christianson
Yeah. And that’s, that’s the thing is you You say b2b, it’s still b2c

Casey Stanton
Totally agree.

Justin Christianson
And that’s where it just gets a little bit more complex because you have, like, think of it as a SAS, for example, you’re going to use acronyms, and you’re going to speak to different language. And you’re going to use industry, slang and terms and things that are specific to your market. Like look at enterprise software, for example, I’ll go into an enterprise software set and be like, I have no idea what you sell. Like, because it’s just above my paygrade for sure,

Casey Stanton
Right? It’s a SAS CRP, right, that your CFO is going to work on with you.

Justin Christianson
And I have no idea what that means. In my simple mind, it’s fine, whatever. But I break it down for people is you’re selling the CMO who’s a person who has wants and needs and desires and buying habits and decisions. He’s got budget constraints from you know, CFO He’s got all of these responsibilities, shareholders, if you’re doing public, all of these aspects, but at the end of the day, he’s a father, he’s a husband. You know, he’s a brother, he’s a son, or you know, vice versa for the female executives. And they have wants and needs and desires, they have problems in that business that you need to solve, and you speak to them as a human. And you just follow the same data. But it’s a lot simpler in the b2b world than it is the b2c and you’re working with an e commerce store that has, you know, 10,000 product skews. You’ve got a very linear path. You know, you’re getting them sign up for a free trial. You’re getting them to sign up for a webinar or download a white paper. You know, whatever solution you’re selling, you know, we worked in merchant services for While and a lot of stuff in finance, it’s very simple. It’s like you give them a very few small stepping stones. To get them to take the desired action. In this case, they were even asking for full applications with social security number, the whole works online in that funnel. And then it just comes down to trustworthy and proof. You know that that it is in security, like, Hey, I’m not giving all my social security number to some unknown company that had never done an ad. But we got them to do it, because we were able to understand where their pain points were, and where their resistance was. And I just figured out every reason why they wouldn’t want to enter their social security number besides just you know, the security aspect of it. So it gets a lot simpler than that, but I don’t like to look at it from a b2b b2c scenario. It’s just the mediums and the journey are slightly different, but The end of the day, sure which people?

Casey Stanton
Yeah, totally agree with you. And I think that marketers put on this hat like, Oh, I’m talking to business. So my email subject line needs to be, like, announcing new webinar. Like, it’s just, it’s so info are so formal. And that whole mentality of I’m selling to a business, so therefore, I have to be formal, I think is really dated and stupid. You agree?

Justin Christianson
Oh, it’s completely stupid. I mean, you and I are both business owners.

Casey Stanton
Right? And if you sent me an email like that, just it’s going in my spit. I’m not even deleting it. I’m spamming it, right.

Justin Christianson
Log into LinkedIn right now and look at your inbox

Casey Stanton
Full of shit.

Justin Christianson
It’s terrible. And it’s all like, oh, I’ve done this and this for this so and so business. It’s like, hey, Casey, you’ve got X, Y and Z pain problem. This is going to help you, you know, fix it. My wife kind of jokes with me. She’s like, well, I don’t like the way you guys are being so super sarcastic on social media. Isn’t that Gonna portray you know onto your business and stuff um, I look around my business a good you know, the last sales calls that I’ve had Are you know the last sales calls that I had are very sarcastic I’m just being me. I’m a very sarcastic person by nature. Hell we’ve got a no assholes policy on our website. It literally says that and I’ve had prospect call me out on it be like, Oh my god, that is so funny. Like, you know, I literally have that and because I’m more real because I’m more and this goes down the b2b rabbit hole because I sell b2b. The more real and the more personable and the more joking and casual I can be. The more my prospects trust me, with my expertise, it’s like I make I think it makes it seem so much simpler in house I explain what we do. Because I’m not being formal. If you notice, I haven’t used any acronyms. I haven’t used any crazy frameworks or protocols or any of that stuff. Because I don’t have it. You know, I don’t like the complicated. I don’t like the formal. You know, I’m literally wearing shorts and flip flops. You know, it’s not you know, I I’m not the suit and tie. It’s not that kind of mentality anymore.

Casey Stanton
It doesn’t have to be, that’s for sure. Right?

Justin Christianson
No, we have the freedom to do what we want going down that that path is a couple years ago, I was on a whim, I reached out to a very high profile CEO that just had moved to town and started a second business, stepped down from the board on a company he started that did billions of dollars was publicly traded was crazy. And he said yes. So I went to lunch with him and I showed up in a suit Thinking superstar CEO, right? He goes, I walk in and he’s wearing flip flops and shorts. I walk into his business into his CEO Office of this big company. And he’s wearing shorts and flip flops. He’s like you’re overdressed. So this is Austin. I was like, you’re right. And I said, This isn’t me. And I’ve just kind of fallen into that, you know, I wear cheap t shirts and, you know, flip flops, and I’m not formal. And, you know, if I speak on stage, I might wear a suit, but I look around, I mean, the tech hub, you know, there’s a lot of business here. You know, we’ve got everything, you know, Facebook, Google, Apple, the whole works, and nobody is. You don’t see very many suits run around here.

Casey Stanton
Yeah, that makes sense. I have. I do that. It’s a really good point. And I want to talk to some more Sarah stuff. So specifically, what is your take on like SEO implications of split tests? If you’re split testing a homepage that is getting SEO traffic? What is there a downside to that?

Justin Christianson
Long term? No. It’s long as we keep the SEO integrity. So how we approach split test? So I’m not, I guess, let me back up. If you’re, I don’t do very many split URL tests.

Casey Stanton
So the key people on one URL, and he changed elements like the multivariate.

Justin Christianson
Yes. So and there’s that that word too. I know multivariate is misconstrued to in a lot of ways. I call it multi element if I’m manipulating the elements, okay, versus multivariate, which is means mix and match and hope to come to God to get the right combination, which I don’t believe By the way, but we can that’s a different story is I don’t do a lot of split URL tests, because that is one aspect of it. And I don’t believe I believe that can actually give you skewed data when you’re splitting them from a URL, you know, page leg and redirect leg and all of the things that can happen and latency and you know, all the geek stuff that comes with it. So I like to just manipulate the elements within the page. So I can literally make a page look completely different without actually changing the URL.

Casey Stanton
And that’s with smart Comm. Or , some of these other tools,

Justin Christianson
all these kind of editors, the software’s that spent the millions of bucks doing it. Who what else Optimizely those kind of tool Optimizely there’s monitor state there’s Adobe target there’s

Casey Stanton
Do you ever use Google Optimize,

Justin Christianson
modify have to Unless I mean, if I don’t have to I won’t.

Casey Stanton
You don’t like it even though it integrates like just natively with analytics.

Justin Christianson
So that’s the problem is, then you have no secondary data. So I’d never if you’re relying solely on Google Analytics, what happens if you get a false positive? Or if you have questions in that data? That’s your only data. Oh, interesting. So I use convert, set up split tests, I’ve got to convert data. I’ve got the heat map data on the various variations. And then I also have custom dimensions within analytics. So I can see it’s like, okay, version B of this test perform this way, in convert. Is that actually the case within analytics, so I can confirm whether it’s actually performing or not. So I always like to have secondary data, but Google Optimize is clunky to me. And the second data, yes, it’s free. If you’re just starting out, maybe you’re, you know, zero to a half million bucks in revenue, you don’t have, you know, all that much traffic, or maybe you’re in a b2b environment, that’s, you know, you only get a handful of free trials, you know, a month or you’ve got a higher enterprise, you know, ticket product. Google Optimize, it can work. It works. It’s just when you get more sophisticated in executing on that data, I like to have more and that’s about as complex as I get. I know I said keep it simple, but that sounds super complex, but it really isn’t. It’s just, I just want as much. Oh, my God, what happened? How do we verify that support that I can? It’s planned for the worst, you know, it’s top for the best plan for the worst and we don’t use it often. yeah, we just keep the hierarchy. So all the meta tags, all the keyword density, all of the things. We just went through this with one client where I completely redesign their homepage. And I went to their SEO team and I was like, this one by a huge margin, before we implement this, what’s the structure need to be like, what did we mess? And we changed around a handful of things that I felt comfortable with, because it was such a dramatic change. Literally, it was a brand new homepage, so we had to remove some elements and we really simplified it. So we had to kind of stuff some keywords back in there and change around some some text to make it function.

Casey Stanton
For our subscribers. Right now there’s like cringing at the word of stuffing keywords. But if the web page doesn’t have relevant keywords in it, it is no longer relevant page for Google like we have to play the game right?

Justin Christianson
Yeah, I said it. I said stuff. keywords tongue in cheek, you know, obviously, it’s not the old days where you can just load up a page, which How many times can I say the keyword? Black tech black background, put that on the bottom of the page? Do it in the smallest possible. I love that.

Yeah. Tag it as an h1 when it’s not really an h1, right? All of those fun things but no, it was just naturally flowing. It’s like okay, this sentence could this subhead can be changed to incorporate this particular word or phrase a little bit easier. So it was just naturally flowing. It wasn’t like you know, we wrote it and you know, you know, content spinner or something like that.

Casey Stanton
Got content spinner. It’s like well back back in easy and articles right, man, that was like yesteryear.

Justin Christianson
Just change it by 20% and spit out 100,000 articles.

Casey Stanton
And then what Google Penguin came and ruined everyone’s day.

Justin Christianson
Yeah. game the system. You get caught

Casey Stanton
Yeah, you do for sure. So okay, so this has been really helpful. One last question here, which is, what’s the tripping event? Like? What’s the event someone needs to understand in their business? It’s like, Yes, I need conversion rate optimization. I’m getting, you said a monetary amount. But also some people might like be stuck, they might be getting the traffic but not the sales. So when do they start?

Justin Christianson
So it’s kind of a double edged sword, because it really depends on what you’re selling where you’re selling. So I was talking to a business the other day that gets about, you know, they do about 600,000 a month in revenue, but their average order value is super high. They get very few conversions. So we can still optimize it, they get enough conversions, but generally, I’ll look at it from a traffic perspective. So at least 30,000 monthly unique visitors. Okay, and usually 10 conversions a day. So whenever I look more towards conversions, And then traffic, but you have to have eyeballs in order to convert it. And you know, it’s kind of the chicken or the egg there too. But I look for at least 10 conversions a day, whether that be leads, free trials, demo requests, you know, purchases on an on a store. And then I look at kind of the customer value breakdown to make sure that we can, you know, ROI from a particular standpoint. But I’m just really trying to make sure I can get, you know, statistically sound results within a couple weeks, because the last thing you want to do is set up a split test and let it run for two months in hopes that you’re going to win. So I look for usually Can I get that result? Most of our split tests that show promise will run 10 days, up to I mean, we will let them run for a month in some cases, but I want to be able to determine that Data usually within seven to 14 days.

Casey Stanton
That makes sense. And with that, what do you typically see through conversion rate optimisation? Are you? I mean, I assume you can come in at projects at different stages of maturity or optimization. But do you typically see like you’re able to increase conversion rates by 20% use it with headlines, so, that average 30% like, what do you guys typically get?

Justin Christianson
Well, depends on if you’re looking at it from a strict conversion rate standpoint. You know, I’ve got clients that their conversion rate hasn’t changed, or it’s only gone up 5% but their revenues up 70 Okay, you know, you’re so larger offers are, well, you look at it from a scalability factor. You know, I have a client that came to me the other day, and it’s like, oh, my God, my conversion rate is down. 18% It’s tanked. What happened? We lost all the gains we did in the last few months and I look like you have 135 percent more traffic in the last two weeks. And your revenues up 60%. So when you’re scaling, some metric has to give. And it’s our job as optimizers to mitigate how far that metric gives us scale 135% in a very short amount of time, or one guy that I was talking to the other day just started driving Tick Tock traffic.

Casey Stanton
Not all traffic is created equal.

Justin Christianson
Yeah, you get 10,000 eyeballs from Tick Tock. The intent there is completely different than the Facebook campaign that you’ve been running for last two and a half years. Yeah, totally No. So it’s sending a lot of junk traffic and might send a lot of bot traffic, it might send a lot of things that aren’t directly correlated to your conversion rates. You got to look at the bigger sample size, so the longer period of time. I happen to have some data up here right now that I’m looking at it If I look at it from a, I’ll just give you a good example of this. From right from a client. So if I look at today compared to yesterday, this same time during the day, this client’s down on revenue 22%. Okay then versus rates down 21%. Okay, average order values the same total orders are down 14% traffic’s up 5%. But that’s only today. Now tell 10:30am Central time, So but if I look at it from a last 30 days perspective

Casey Stanton
You’re looking at a larger window to provide more statistically significant data, right? So it’s like making these decisions on a short term like, hey, it’s lunchtime and conversion rates tanking. It’s probably not a good use of time. You should probably like just take a take a chill pill.

Justin Christianson
Yeah, like I look at this now and I look at a seven day window and average order value is up 3% over the previous seven days revenues up 23% conversion rates up 14. But I looked at it today and it looks like oh my god, everything’s terrible the world’s falling now. I definitely like so.

Casey Stanton
Like, it’s not even really a leading indicator like partial days. It’s like it almost feels inconsequential.

Justin Christianson
No, I look at it from a month over month perspective, a quarter or quarter or a year over a year. And I had a call with a client on Friday that did the same thing. It’s like the last call that we had, you know, a few weeks prior the month over month data didn’t look so hot. They were scaling but their conversion rate was down like 18%. But I didn’t freak out because their revenue, their average order value, their traffic was way up. And then do it again two weeks later, and now their conversion rates up 9% but those other numbers are still good. So it’s inching your way up, because your conversion rate doesn’t infinitely go up. In, you know, I would love to say that I can take a conversion rate from 1% to three to four to five all the way up. But you’re going to hit that law of diminishing returns, we helped a very well known company, scale 300%, one year in revenue. I mean, it was big, if I’d name them, you know where they were. But it was kind of when they were big ish, to when they really became big. But their conversion rate we took it from like two to 3%. Then they started scaling and their conversion rate back down to 2.1. And the CMOS like, Oh my god, what did you guys do? Nothing’s right. I’m like, well, you have 70% more. at a higher rate. What happens if we weren’t optimizing? Where would that conversion rate be? You’re probably wondering half percent. Yeah, we know this is working at downward spiral. And there’s also other things you can’t quantify from from CRL. Like customer support tickets and cost per acquisition and lifetime value. And you know, we just look at the immediate sale, when I’ve literally seen clients where they have a 20% reduction in customer support phone calls. Because we were able to answer a question on site. Yeah, and alleviate that friction point, or CRM is not just about action. So what you’re saying is that

Casey Stanton
CRM isn’t just about increasing conversion rate. It’s also about decreasing ancillary conversion, or ancillary costs associated with conversion like customer service, if you have less support tickets, and you can do that with a good split test. Like that’s a very valuable addition to the business.

Justin Christianson
Yeah, like a b2b example or b2c? I guess we had a cleaning company, a very large cleaning company that we’re doing stuff A national one. And we allow them to eliminate their phone room on weekends. Literally eliminate humans,

Casey Stanton
That’s huge staff right there, right? The cost of those at least 15 an hour. plus plus plus, I mean, that’s a lot of money

Justin Christianson
You know, you don’t see it, we just see the hard facts and the hard numbers. And we don’t look at it from a compounding effect. And this is something that I’ve preached for a long time because I still get companies coming to me, it’s like, well, my conversion rates crap. And then they’re like, Well, why is my conversion rate up? It’s like, well, you got to look at all of the other numbers, your conversion rate stayed. You know, this one claim we were converting at like two and a half percent. Now we’re back down to like 1.8. But they went from $250,000 a month in revenue. 750,000 in the last three months. Some metrics gotta give ya good. Yeah. But what happens, you probably would have been on a 1% if we hadn’t been fixing all of these things along the way. Totally. So yeah, they’re not all created equal. And that’s the frustrating part about the term conversion rate optimization to me. Yeah, it’s a big hammer to swing. But it’s also not specific to one metric. And I see that time and time and time again, especially with longer buying cycles. And even in b2b where you might have a 45 6090 day buying cycle. It’s a quality over quantity, it’s understanding those behaviors, it’s helping evolve the marketing message, not just I tested a button color in it, you know, improve my conversion rate, I can tell. I tell people all the time, it’s like I can improve your conversion rate. It’s not gonna last. Like you. Is going to try and make it go into the gray hat area. I can pull out all the urgency scarcity, stuff that possible and I boost your conversion rate, I’m gonna hurt your brand. And I’m gonna piss off a lot of people. But I can do it. But would you rather have me incrementally improve and understand your visitors so you know exactly what they want when they want it before they want it. I mean, that’s the difference Do you have you want to build a brand that’s long lasting and scalable? That’s going to take over market share and do all of those fun things? Or do you want your conversion rate from 1.8? To 2%? Yeah, great question. Okay. So I have

Casey Stanton
One more question for you before we wrap here, which is, you talk about hypotheses, like you have this hypothesis that you’re going to like, okay, the reason that someone’s not doing something is because of this and I want to do a test. I’m less concerned how you do the test, because that’s based on the software or whatever, but like, how do you record your hypotheses, and how do you think Take the data that you learned and build that into a knowledge base so that your next test with that company or if someone is internally doing that in a company that they’re the CFO of or something like how do they own that information and use it? How do you index it?

Justin Christianson
So we use project management solutions for it. Usually, we’ll pull in it pull it in the spreadsheets later. But we generally make a deck of the results. So we’ll make basically a glorified quarterly deck. But usually, it’s pretty apparent. So and and the problem with that, too, is what didn’t work six months ago might work today. So we keep a running list of what have we tested and what have we not and what were the outcomes. But we’re really trying to understand really the question why Why is that certain thing happening? And it’s the general concept of it. So if we understand that a visitor is going to respond to social proof more prominently, how many different ways can we exploit social proof. So it goes on to levels that isn’t as granular as, hey, we changed it to this headline. Or we changed it to this or that or, you know, tried this trick or whatever. It’s more the conceptual approach to it, that we understand that we can prove or disprove kind of that that strategy.

Casey Stanton
The strategy become more social is better, and more social places and video social is better or tech social, here’s better, but you’re testing the element of social and then it’s the application of it and the media of it.

Justin Christianson
Yeah. So that generally makes it a lot simpler to keep track of, because you’re not granularly taking down every single aspect. And luckily, we have the history of running split tests, we number all of our split tests. So we know it’s like desktop perform this way mobile didn’t perform this way. We try to document it in our project management, like, Hey, we had this many wins, we have this many losses, we have this many normal results,

Casey Stanton
And you want as many losses as possible because losses, losses beget wins, right?

Justin Christianson
Well, yeah, at the same time, I mean, we win and probably about 45% of the tests that we conduct in some measurable improvement. But we also look at it not just strictly on a conversion rate basis, we look at it from an engagement basis and add to cart basis, you know, form submit basis, revenue per visitor basis, and conversion rate, basis, bounce rate, all of these things. But I break it all down completely. And really just simply understanding why. That’s my hypothesis. If I can answer the question why, at every level, and I share that, and we’re very proactive in our communication with our team, and and our clients, so we try to give them the full picture. And the example not just the project manager that’s in charge of improved, you know, approving our split test, we try to say, you know, Hey, Mr. CEO, look at all of these results that we’ve gotten, or bringing in more people like the creative director and all of these things. It’s like, hey, if we approach it this way, and we work collaboratively, everybody gets smarter, or we work with their ad department or their SEO department or whatever. The fine tuned granular how doesn’t matter as much as the global learnings of it. If that makes sense?

Casey Stanton
Yep.

You present those wins in a deck. And then that kind of summarizes everything, just like, what I feel like is the disconnect is if someone’s doing CRM, they’re not sharing this information wide enough for the team to actually get a benefit from it. So the website has a benefit, but then they’re going to go make that same mistake again. And their control when they launch a new page or a new offer is going to be not based on earned knowledge. Right?

Justin Christianson
And I see it all the time where a company will come in and be like, Oh, hey, we redesigned this page. I’m like, Well, you didn’t incorporate any of the stuff that we just showed to be an improvement or any of the learnings and then we also take it a step further is you said lot losers. But there’s a step further in that too is what if a test shows promise, but then ultimately ends up being right. Ah, so that means we were on to something Just at a bigger enough sample size, it didn’t ultimately show statistically c onfident improvement. But what can we do to iterate on that concept?

Casey Stanton
So, like, you’re close, like it’s kind of tied, you tried two ideas. One, you’d loser might actually be a winner later with like a little lipstick or something.

Justin Christianson
It is exactly. we iterate all the time. It’s like, we’re pretty close on this, or, and really comes down to the question Why? Why did it perform that particular way? And I tell my team this every single day, it’s like, why did that happen? They’ll say, like, Well, what do you think about this test? I’m like, What do you think about this test? And why do you think that’s the result? Yeah, because that makes everybody smarter, and the more we can share, and luckily, we do everything on approval. So the client has to know what we’re doing constantly. So there’s no surprises when they go to their site and be like, Oh my god, that image is completely different. I don’t know why. So we don’t want any surprises, but We want to understand why through every step of that that process and how that we get there doesn’t matter as much as the general concept of what we’re learning. And if we can learn from every single test, it’s like, hey, that didn’t work. But why didn’t it work? And what can we do to potentially make it work? Or maybe if we move that from this page to this page, or we moved it up on the page, we changed a certain element we borrow, you know, I have the luxury of having conducted, you know, thousands of marketing tests. And we probably have 150 or so running right now. But it’s all general concepts. It’s the same thing. I’ve got to do a strategy session when we get off of here, and it’ll be a lot of the same things. Just applied in a different way, like a headline on the hero image or a plain social proof to the hero image. We’re moving up some, you know, as seen on type stuff for adding contrast to a call to action. There’s going to be all test ideas like that. But it’s really now getting the visitor from point A to point B, or, you know, I have a sign over here that says, hold the visitor down by the hand down the path of least resistance to the angle. And that’s really what we do. And there’s 1000 different things along that path. But the simpler you can make it my hypothesis is really just ask the question why? And that’s really it.

Casey Stanton
All right, so I want to wrap with kind of highlights of what I’m taking away from this. So Justin, you shared in helping over 200 companies, he said, thousands of tests. What’s most important is headline test headlines, you will typically find a 20% improvement test elements like social proof, which is more social proof social proof in different places. Also the benefits of the product images, especially lifestyle images, so folks can experience the product. Let’s have trust and Suki having a clear answer. strong call to action. He talked about doing a test and having it take on average. He said seven to 14 days to get initial data, but 10 to 30 days isn’t an acceptable time to kind of get that statistical significance in a potential when you talked about the difference between b2b and b2c, which is effectively you’re always selling to a person quit selling to a business, a buyer, as a buyer, as a buyer, it doesn’t matter if they’re getting a check from their boss to pay for it, or if they’re paying for it out of pocket. So treat them the same. Tools wise, you talked about analytics, Google Analytics, and you look specifically there at Mobile desktop and tablet utilization. You look at the country of origin. You look at the pages in the content flow, bounce rate, click and scroll data uniquely on mobile versus desktop. You do exit polling with hot jar on their paid account. You use convert calm generally for ease of use for for testing.

I mean, the big takeaway that I have here is just like a reminder That simple works. And you go to some of these websites like I clicked every ad I see, right? Like, I’m always kind of like seeing what’s going on. And sometimes these pages are just like so stupid simple, it’s like, but they’re winning. And it’s a reminder that it doesn’t take incredible marketing complexity and NLP and you know, like max minds CDN to figure out someone’s Gio and to like, predict, like, you don’t need that stuff you need like a clear message that’s effective and you need to test the hell out of the headline and the social proof and get people to take action. And you don’t have to be pushy, and you shouldn’t be pushy. If you’re looking to scale. She kind of relaxed on the pushiness to keep the brand or you can like liquidate the brand and be super pushy, but don’t expect secondary sales.

Well, I want them to get your book. So you’ve got a book called conversion fanatic and our friend Ryan lovak wrote the word for it. He’s the guy behind the Ask method.

Justin Christianson
So the only guy the only forward he’s ever written, by the way,

Casey Stanton
Wow, what an honor.

Justin Christianson
He was the only person I asked and he actually said yes.

Casey Stanton
Cool. So they can grab that book where Amazon,

Justin Christianson
Yeah, we’re on Kindle and paperback. Version fanatics copies. It’s called conversion fanatic how to double your customer sales and profits with AV testing. And here’s actually covering the book.

Casey Stanton
Awesome.

Justin Christianson
This is actually my proof copy that I got when I first because it’s not shiny. It’s this one shiny the ones that I actually printed or matte, but it’s the only one I had laying in here.

Casey Stanton
And then you talked about companies that you work with. You said 30,000 unique monthly visitors with 10 conversions a day is kind of your typical, but I’m wondering, I know on your website, you’ve got that free analysis offer. Who’s that for?

Justin Christianson
Anybody?

Casey Stanton
Anybody

Justin Christianson
Yeah, I mean really will point them in the right direction. I’m always the person that if I can help, I’m going to do everything I can in my power to help. If I can’t, I’m going to be the first one to tell you. You know, I just don’t have time for the BS. This far along in my career. So I don’t want to force a relationship if it’s not there, but I’m going to tell you one way or another if I can help you or not, and if not, I can point you in the right direction. Like I did yesterday, company came to me looking for answers, and I wasn’t the guy to, to to answer them, but I pointed them in the direction at two different resources that can. So that happens to

Casey Stanton
Cool, cool, and they can do that at your website https://conversionfanatics.com/. Yep. Justin, thank you for being here. Hope to see you at an event once the world kind of comes back to normal.

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