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.

Growth Hacking Geniuses - Andrew Anderson - Visual Summary

Andrew Anderson

How Did You Become Passionate About Business Growth?

Unlike a lot of other people that come from a traditional marketing background, […] to teach history and history is nothing but a bunch of lessons of we thought we were going to do this and we ended up doing that. We get a lot of sanitized versions of it but pretty much nothing in history has ever gone exactly according to plan and that fact has always been a passion for me and the stories of that.

Growth is about finding those opportunities in the business world and in the companies I work for – all these things that we think we should be doing this and we end up doing that and finding those things and learning those things and teaching about all those opportunities is really what I love doing.

What Results Have You Gotten?

I’ve been doing this for fourteen, fifteen years now. I’ve worked with 300 different companies. Again, all of my favorite stories are those that come from we thought we’d do this then do that.

A perfect example, I was working with one of the largest SEM programs in the world for a financial services company and they had seven key products and they wanted to build a landing page that just served the products and information based on what the person was searching for – which is something that was suggested and didn’t come to practice. Instead, we talked him into testing out the content to everyone to see if it was matching right because, if the product meets the match, they’ll be the best performer and, every other outcome, we would find a better outcome.

What we ended up finding was, if we had done exactly what they originally wanted to do, we would have lost about 18 percent of leads which is millions and millions of dollars for them. But, instead, by doing that, we discovered that the only correlation between products was a couple that didn’t match but, by looking at browser or time of day and serving content based on that, we were able to get about a 24 percent increase.

Again, it’s another one of those cases where we thought we were going to go left and we ended up going right. Those types of stories happen in my current role in all the different companies I’ve worked for.

What Do You Do Differently than Other Practitioners that You Think Is Hugely Valuable?

So much of the space is about how do we measure and do what we think is going to work best. In the optimization space, a lot of how do we validate this hypothesis or validate these ideas that we have and everything that I do is about how do we look at all the possible options and prove ourselves wrong, not right. You’re able to get into a lot of things that other people aren’t even aware of.

In my case, I’m a math nerd so things like fragility, math of efficiencies and system thinking which allows us to both validate if those ideas are right but, in the day, we actually make more money when we’re wrong. By doing that, we’re able to have far more successes, far higher rate of impact to businesses and be more efficient with it.

That’s really the core of what I teach and how I work with people – again, teaching them the discipline to go past their own egos and their own previous thoughts and keep building on it.

What Are Your Thoughts on Growth Hacking?

Growth hacking or growth marketing, in a lot of ways, is one of those open-ended terms that you use for a lot of things. In a lot of cases, it’s just data-validated marketing. “We’re going to do what we did before, we’re just going to throw a different name of it and kind of measure things.”

To me, it’s really this opportunity to rethink classic marketing or classic online marketing and to go past just looking at channels or looking at outcomes to, again, explore and exploit information and to keep building things.

There’s a lot of great voices out there but there’s also a lot of voices that use different words to teach people to do what they’ve already been doing or to feel better about what they’re already doing. And so, growth marketing kind of gets a bad name in my mind from that. But there’s also a lot of key people out there that really help people learn and go a different way.

You know, to get a different outcome, you have to be doing a different action. And so, whether you want to call that growth marketing or exploration or whatever, it’s a great opportunity learn and grow and go different ways whether it’s how you do spend or how you talk to customers or even what channels or markets you explore into. It’s a great wide unknown and it really allows you to keep going in different directions as opposed to being under the constraints of classic marketing.

What Role Does Data Play in the Day to Day Grind of Growth Hacking?

Data is like oxygen, right? We don’t exist without data, but just having data isn’t enough.

So much of marketing and data usage is for validation or what I usually refer to as data-justified marketing, not data-driven marketing. You know, there was that classic saying that you use data like a drunk man uses a light post for support rather than illumination.

To me, data is all about how do you just have the discipline and be able to disassociate the outcomes or the measure of the outcomes from the concept you want to do and the execution that concept. By doing that and only using data to really drive decisions as opposed to find something that proves what I’m trying to do, it really opens up conversations and gets far more results.

One of the things I tell people is you can ask for data on anything but, unless you can prove how it’s going to add marginal value, it’s not something that I’m going to provide to you because you’re just doing it to make yourself feel good.

Data is both the most valued and least valued part of just about any organization.