Growth Hacking Geniuses - Greg Ahern - Visual Summary

Greg Ahern

How Did You Start in Digital Marketing?

You know, in 1994, the internet was just starting and I noticed, I was working at a company and I saw some bad PR going out on the internet and I realized, “Wow! This is really powerful stuff!”

And so, at that point, I started my first business doing internet marketing and web development which really was telling people a different screen email and a website because no one even had email besides, you know, AOL or something – CompuServe or Prodigy.

But, since then, I’ve had and started a number of different companies in the internet space, focusing on lead generation for companies. My most recent company, Ometrics, which focuses on conversion rate optimization.

What Is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion rate optimization is the science of studying when a person lands on the website and goes through the process on the site to a final conversion.

There’s a lot of different factors to it. It combines psychology and marketing and sales, graphics, usability, analytics, statistics, web development. It’s not really something you can say just one thing and know about it.

It’s always been around for a long time. We used to call it just “usability” and now it’s just evolved to a different term – conversion rate optimization.

Basically, when someone lands on the website, that’s when we start following them, finding out where the problem is on the site, and then fixing that problem. So, we do test to fix the problem. And then, in the end, we have statistics to say, “Yeah, if we make this change, you’re going to have a 20 percent lift and we’re 95 percent sure of it.”

How Do You Know a Test Is Conclusive?

We do the statistics to figure out and make sure the numbers are right but there’s a lot of other factors.

Each test with a client is different. The sales cycle could be different. You know, if you were testing a page and someone goes to that site three times before they make a buy, then you may make a change and see, “Oh, this is working great on the first day!” But, actually, you’re looking at data from something that intersected them with two other visits. And so, you have to be aware of the sales cycle. You want to make sure that you’re testing for more than a week.

Basically, you want to test to a point where, if another conversion happened, it doesn’t affect the results. If you had three visitors and you had one conversion and then you got a second conversion, then that would really throw off your conversion rate from 30 percent to 25 percent. If you had a thousand visitors and you had one more conversion, that’s insignificant – the change in the conversion rate – and that’s what we’re trying to do and there’s only two factors to that – there’s the number of visitors coming to the page or each variation, and then there’s the difference in the conversion rate and that’s where you have to do the statistics to figure that out.

What Tools and Skills Do You Use to Find a Solution?

There’s really two types of tools – or three.

The first set of tools is to figure out where the problem is. We use heat maps. We survey people to see what they’re looking for and make sure it aligns right with the site. The heat maps tell you where people are clicking and where they’re not clicking. You know, you can have a great image where everyone clicks the image thinking it’s going to do something and it doesn’t, you know?

Then, we look at the analytics which is like Google Analytics where we’re studying how people are flowing through the site, what type of people are flowing through the site, what device they’re on – all that good stuff.

And then, from all that, we can figure out, “Okay, in the sales funnel, they’re stuck at this point, we need to fix this piece, this page, or whatever,” and then we do A/B tests to figure out which variation worked best. And so, basically, it splits the traffic into two different or three different variations and with a similar goal.

The second type is more user engagement and that’s forcing to engage on the site. That could be using lead sliders and offer sliders; different types of pop-ups like exit pop-ups. These are all triggered by how the user is interacting with the site. When I say a pop-up, I don’t mean like you go to the site and suddenly this thing appears before you even read the site. That would be a bad example or a bad use of the pop-up.

This is more like someone came from this particular ad campaign, they landed on this particular page, and we’re going to offer them this piece of information if they scroll down to the bottom or if it’s the second time they came to the site or if they’re leaving the page or whatever it is. You don’t interrupt the person’s flow as they’re going through the information on the site but you still want to prompt them because, often, people need to be asked two or three times to do something.

Are There Different Conversion Funnels for a Business Site Compared to a Ecommerce Site?

You know, on the business side, B2B type sites usually have a home page; services pages or what they provide – products; and then, pricing page; “go to my demo” or “try a free trial” or “sign up for a demo” – that kind of stuff. We’re trying to get people beyond the home page and, usually, they hop right on to the pricing page and then get them into a free trial.

On an ecommerce site, there’s two funnels. There’s the home page to the category page to the product page. We’re increasing the conversions of each of those sections. And then, the second piece is the cart, the checkout, and the “thank you.” And so, that’s the second piece. Obviously, if you fix the checkout, the 3 percent lift on checkout, you just increased the profits for the company 3 percent – or not the profits but the revenue. And so, with optimizing that, the bigger problem is getting people to get the stuff in the cart.

So, you’re working with all these different funnels at different sections to make improvements to get people to flow through.

When Doing a Conversion Audit What Are the Most Common Problems You Find?

Usually, a bad call to action is the first thing that we can see – bad forms to fill out or poorly done, not giving a reason to fill out a form, not capturing people when they leave the site. I mean, you’re spending money driving people to the site and then a large percentage of them leave. You should capture them for email nurturing and things like that.

Bad copy – I don’t mean grammatically bad. People are on the site for a very short period of time. You need to say what you want to say very quickly then you can give more details later if they want to read it. And so, that kind of type of copy.

Poor layout – people aren’t flowing through the site. Their eye doesn’t flow through the page from a graphic standpoint so they miss the call to action completely because of the way the site is laid out.

Not understanding what your visitor is looking for is also a common issue.

If There Was One Growth Hack We Should All Check on Our Sites From a Conversion Standpoint What Would It Be?

Make sure your call to action is clear and stands out, make sure you have a reason for why they want to click that call to action, and capturing people as they leave the site – those are probably the three biggest things I look at right away.

Can You Recommend Any Resources to Learn More?

Nice that you asked! I have an ebook which they can download. If you just to the Ometrics site, in the upper bar you’ll see the ebook. And then, I do a free conversion audit so you can always email me or contact me and I’d be happy to take a look at your site and give you some tips that you can walk away with.

Wes Walls - Visual Summary

Wes Walls

1. How Did You Become Passionate About Growth Hacking and Digital Marketing?

Before I discovered digital marketing, my big career passion was music. So actually I went to school for music and spent many years focused on that. One of the things that I love about music and attracted me to that is obviously, among many things, the creating aspect and the idea that you can sort of marry the creative and the technical to produce something that people can experience and listen to.

There was always that attraction to merging creative and technical I think. So when I decided that music wasn’t something that I was going to do as a long-term career, I was looking for something else and digital marketing was a natural fit just because of that.

When I started it was sort of an emerging field, a lot of people were learning what it is and developing the concept of digital marketing so there were a lot of opportunities, and in Montreal where I was living, the digital marketing community was very well becoming friendly and it just felt like a natural direction to head in.

2. Would You Mind Telling Us More About Your Role at Bandzoogle and Your Work With Other Companies?

I’ve been with Bandzoogle for about a year, and before that I was working with a startup called LANDR. The role really is pretty straightforward, it is helping to grow the company and the bottom line at the end of the day.

Practically speaking, what it comes down to is as a growth hacker, it is sort of bringing all the skills that I have and everything that I’ve learned working in the past at agencies specializing in various areas of digital marketing and bringing all that in and becoming a generalist, to pull everything together and do as much as you can with those skills. It’s everything from planning, the big picture, understanding where the business seems to go, working with key stakeholders in the business, so everything from that to, because we’re a small thing, to doing most of that as well. I’ll bring in specialists when needed, for design, copy, videos, or whatever, into projects.

But aside from that, it’s everything from tracking, analysis, strategy, planning, execution, and the range of tactics that run the gambit, from paid ads, analytics, copywriting, design, PR, outreach, tactical SEO, project management, conversion optimization, email marketing, among many other things. It’s using everything, pulling all the stops to grow the business.

Bandzoogle is a platform for musicians who need a website, essentially, so if you’re a band or any kind of music artist. It’s a platform that has everything you need to promote your music and sell your music in one package. You don’t need any technical skills to do that, for most musicians they don’t necessarily have a lot of technical skills, obviously.

Most musicians would prefer to spend their time making music, not necessarily learning how to make a WordPress website. Bandzoogle allows people to not have to do that, so everything is drag-and-drop, really easy to use, very low learning curve, and there’s no need to look around for all sorts of solutions, everything is there, ready to drag-and-drop into your website. That’s the idea of Bandzoogle.

It’s really a time saver. I remember that myself, as a musician, obviously promoting yourself as an artist is a pretty important thing, and a website is a really key part of that. There are obviously many other things that you need to do, but a website is sort of a keystone. I remember spending quite a lot of time myself learning how to use WordPress and build a WordPress site, looking at WordPress templates, learning to play with HTML and stuff like that. Personally I would have liked to save myself a lot of time and Bandzoogle would have been a good solution had I known about it back then.

3. What Are the Top 3 Qualities That a Growth Hacker Should Have?

I think there’s probably more than three, but I think from my perspective, one of the things that is a daily challenge as a growth hacker is there is no rulebook. You have a challenge, you have a problem to solve, but there is no rulebook for solving it. So I think having that sort of analytical problem solving ability is an important thing. So being able to, first of all, creating a framework for where you want to go and where you’re starting from, developing a process for how to get from A to B without any sort of reference in terms of how to do that or you’re trying to do necessarily. So it’s really being able to work with stakeholders to create your own objectives, getting to know what your objectives are, getting to know what your metrics are, and figuring out for yourself how you can move your needle on your metrics. So I think you need to have some good analytical problem solving skills to achieve that and be successful in your role as a growth hacker.

I think definitely creativity is an important one. No matter how many skills you have, technical skills you have, how much planning or strategy you do, if you’re not able to put together a compelling campaign, you probably aren’t going to see much movement on what you’re trying to do. I think there’s an art form to good marketing and I think having that creative ability to create good marketing is a good quality.

The last thing is, this is the best way I can say it: having a fire under your feet. You need ideas obviously to start from, but ideas are the easiest things to come with. The hardest thing to do is actually getting stuff done. Even not necessarily knowing what the outcome will be when you start. It’s not always clear how things are going to work or what exactly you’re gonna do. So having that fire under your feet to just do stuff, because you need to do a lot. There is a lot to do. That sort of idea of moving fast, failing as fast as you can, learning from that, and getting better. So having a good strong pace is important, getting things done and moving quickly.

4. Who Are Some of the Successful Growth Hackers That You Learned From or Inspired You?

This is an interesting one. I have to give some credit to my colleague Justin Evans, who I worked with at LANDR, he’s one of the co-founders of LANDR. At the time I was moving from an agency role to a role where I was more of a growth hacker in-house and working closely with Justin among other people. Justin is very masterful at the art of marketing and compelling messaging. And I really learned how powerful and effective that can be when it’s done right.

Creating something that really resonates with your audience when you communicate it in a certain way. I don’t think he would define himself as a growth hacker, but I think as somebody who does that myself I learned the power of that. From Justin I also learned not to be afraid of even your craziest ideas. No matter how big and crazy your ideas might be, just embracing those big crazy ideas and oftentimes those end up being the ones that are producing the most amazing results.

I have a couple of other ones here. I think neither of them are actually growth hackers but there are some good lessons that I’ve learned from them in my journey.

There’s a guy named Michael King, he’s a SEO thought leader. I was following him a lot for a while because he was the first to promote the idea of researching for SEO and combining that with audience personas to create a framework for not just optimizing for keywords and SEO, but also for user experience, from the search engine results page all the way through to the end results of the user is hoping to achieve. And the reason I mention that is the idea of merging these two different ideas in a creative way and the tactical and creative aspect to that. Even though I don’t think he would call himself a growth hacker either, that quality of creatively coming up with these sets of solutions for problems and challenges, especially in the case of growth hacking it would be in an applied sense to specific business metrics. I think that’s the definition of a good growth hacker.

And I think the last one I’d mention is sort of a boring answer, but the author of The Lean Startup, Eric Ries. He’s pretty well known. I mention him because that methodology is something I use everyday at Bandzoogle – coming up with an idea, developing a minimum viable product for it, whether that’s the basic landing page variant in Optimizely or whatever, something quick and easy, testing it, measuring it, and optimizing it or just figuring out what they’re not […] The idea of just failing as quickly as possible so you can move on to the next step. I think that’s a really powerful methodology that works really well for this field of work.

5. What Are Your Top 3 Pieces of Advice for Growth Hackers?

The number one thing would be: being a growth hacker, every day is diving into the unknown to an extent. You might have your bread and butter channels or tactics that you know boost results. But you can never stand still. You always need to be pushing the boundaries in some way. So what that means is you’re always diving into unknown territory. Being bold and fearless is what I would say as a growth hacker, and learn to not be afraid of the dark, embrace the unknown.

I wrote an article a couple of years ago when I was starting, it was a reflexion on my growth hacking role. One of the things that really stood out to me at the time, and still is very much true today, is be prepared to use every tool that you have available in your toolbelt. So use every tool that you have, and not just once. Always be using every tool. You never have enough tools, you always have to find new ways to grow things, and you’ll keep adding new tools to your belt, so you always have to be pulling all the stops and using everything you have. Use every tool in your belt.

The last thing I would say is keep building your personal library of case studies. I don’t mean writing case studies. You’ll always be meeting new challenges everyday and as you progress and you overcome challenges, those lessons that you’ve learned will almost be inevitable and useful in the future. So when you’re approaching a challenge, being able to say that you did this, that happened, this is why it happened, it’s a lot more useful than just being able to say “If we do this, then that might happen.” You can reference something that you’ve done before, the lessons that you’ve learned. Maybe writing it down and keeping a record of the case studies. Making sure that from every challenge you encounter you make sure to learn something from it and remember what you learned so you can use it later.