Conversion Optimization Practices with Talia Wolf

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What does a conversion optimization professional need to know? Talia Wolf, Founder and Chief Optimizer at GetUplift discusses thank you pages, AB testing, persona mapping, and how to understand what makes our customers take the next step in the buying journey.

Talia Wolf, Founder and Chief Optimizer at GetUplift

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Michael Stebbins:

All right. Welcome back to the OMCP Podcast and with us today is Talia Wolf, founder and chief optimizer at GetUplift, author, speaker, and thought leader in conversion optimization. Talia, welcome to the OMCP Best Practices Podcast.

Talia Wolf:

Hello, hello. Thank you for having me.

Michael Stebbins:

Now, Talia, We know your agency is GetUplift. We know you speak on and teach conversion optimization in some of the most prestigious stages in the world. We know you’re a skydiver with over 1000 jumps, for those of you who haven’t read your blog, followed you on Twitter, or heard you speak, tell our audience something we don’t know about you, and what it is you’ve been working on lately.

Talia Wolf:

Oh, my God, there’s nothing no one knows about me. I’m like an open book. What don’t people know about me? I love Harry Potter, but I think people know that. And other than that, I have two kids under three, which I was just confessing to that I’m basically sleep deprived. And what am I working on right now? I’m actually working on some super cool client work and opening enrollment for my new course, The Income Engine.

Michael Stebbins:

Yes. And we’re going to include a link for that here in the podcast and make sure listeners have a chance to get training from you. Talia, I mean, obviously it’s impressive that you’ve jumped out of perfectly good planes for awhile.

A few other questions for you just to find out more about you, dogs or cats?

Talia Wolf:

Dogs, a hundred percent.

Michael Stebbins:

SEO or paid?

Talia Wolf:

Hmm, SEO.

Michael Stebbins:

Bitcoin or Ethereum?

Talia Wolf:

I actually have a terrible story about that, about Bitcoin. So about, I think it was six years ago. My husband said that, “we should buy one of the mining machines and we should do it. And it was like nothing. And we should spend like $5,000 and buy this whole thing.” And I said, “Are you crazy? $5000, we’re not doing that.” So, here we are.

Michael Stebbins:

What you want to know is how they do the work itself and that it actually has depth to it.

–Talia Wolf

And now Elon is an endorser, we’re seeing it go through the ceiling, but who knows people listening to this podcast a year from now may be laughing and saying, “You did the right thing.” So who knows, right?

All right. So, Talia you’ve helped some of the world’s largest businesses improve their landing pages, their funnels, their e-commerce. You’re considered an authority on conversion optimization, we certainly follow you. It makes sense that in this conversation, we’re going to cover how marketers can understand the essentials in developing that skill in conversion and apply it to a project.

So, our first question for you, let’s say that you are hiring a conversion optimization specialist for your agency GetUplift, or for a project. What are some interview questions that you would use to determine their skills in conversion?

What do you ask before hiring a conversion specialist?

Talia Wolf:

That’s a great question. I think that the first question I would ask is, “What is your process? What process do you go through in order to come up with hypotheses for testing?” And I’ll explain, because many times I get clients, or potential clients, reaching out to me saying, “I got a proposal from someone and they’re promising a 20% uplift.” Or, “They’re promising an X amount of uplift.” And the first thing that I say is “Never, ever trust an agency or a company that says that they’re going to deliver a certain amount of uplift.” What you want to see is the process. What you want to know is how they do the work itself and that it actually has depth to it.

Michael Stebbins:

Understood. So, “What’s your process?” And you want them to describe this to you. That’s quite telling in their skillset and their history. What would be another question you’d ask a candidate to assess their skill?

What do you know about human behavior and human decision-making?

Talia Wolf:

How much do they know about human behavior and human decision-making? Because that is key to understanding how people buy. I know that most people think that when it comes to conversion optimization, you’re supposed to be focused on changing a call to action button or a headline on a page, but what conversion optimization is really about is understanding how people make decisions, whether if it’s to buy something, or if it’s to sign up for a free trial, or book a demo, you have to understand what is the decision-making process people go through in order to create an experience and an entire customer journey that helps that person make a decision. So, while it is important for your CRO agency, or your consultant, or freelancer to understand stuff like Google Analytics or Mixpanel, or Heatmaps. It’s so much more important for them to understand people, emotion, psychology, and decision-making.

Michael Stebbins:

And what are some ways that we, as conversion practitioners can get to know our customers and understand some of their motivations for taking the next step in the process?

How do we understand what makes our customer take the next step in the buying process?

Talia Wolf:

…things you can definitely uncover when you’re doing interviews or surveys are hesitations, roadblocks, things that are stopping people from converting…

–Talia Wolf

Well, one of my favorite parts of doing this is basically doing customer surveys, but there are many different ways because it really does depend on where you are as a company. Customer surveys, visitor surveys, review mining, social listening, interviews, so many different ways that you can speak to people, listen to what people are saying and reflect that back to them within your journeys.

Michael Stebbins:

And one example that shows up in the exam for conversion optimization is to understand how to use quantitative or survey data versus some of the anecdotal or interview data that we can get actually talking to customers. If I’m in a conversation with a customer, maybe one thing I’m looking for is the way that they described the problem they’re trying to solve–the words that they use. And then put that back into the advertising or into the words on the landing pages.

Are there some other things that we can pick up when we’re really in a deep conversation with a customer?

Talia Wolf:

Yeah, a hundred percent. So, that is definitely one of the most important things, but other things you can definitely uncover when you’re doing interviews or surveys are hesitations, roadblocks, things that are stopping people from converting, things that may be stopping people and sending them to your competitor. So, understanding the pains, the hesitations, those concerns and roadblocks is actually a great way for you to know what you need to address on your landing pages or on your website to convince people to convert.

Michael Stebbins:

You’re a big fan of “thank you” pages. You talk about it often or it seems like somebody brings it up. And specifically you put them out there as a method to enhance trust. What are some practices that we should all be using when it comes to thank you pages?

What’s the deal with “Thank-You” pages?

Talia Wolf:

You see, the thank you page is actually really, really helpful because of a psychological trigger called, “foot in the door technique.”

–Talia Wolf

You know, the go-to [problem] with thank you pages is that they [often] don’t exist. So, I love that you have categorized me as an advocate for them, because I really am. Most landing pages or websites you get people to convert and it kind of simply ends with this note saying, “Go check your email.” But thank you pages can be leveraged, as you mentioned, to build a relationship with people or to even increase your conversions. So, one way of leveraging thank-you pages is actually placing a survey on the thank you page.

You see, the thank you page is actually really, really helpful because of a psychological trigger called, “foot in the door technique.” So essentially, once someone has already taken an action with you, they’re far more prone to actually take another action with you. So, to go back to your question about, “Hey, how can I learn more about my customers?” You can do that on your thank you page. You can ask them questions on the thank you page. You could ask them to share something. You could ask them to review the process they just went through. You can ask them to tell you more about themselves, what they’re looking for and what their goals are. You could do all of that on a thank-you page.

Michael Stebbins:

And this has got to enhance the trust and the relationship through interaction. They’ve taken one step, let’s say they’ve gone out on a date now it’s okay to ask for a second one, or just get that trusted feedback from them in a survey.

Talia Wolf:

Yeah, a hundred percent. And also what’s very helpful is that using the data is going to help you to then customize and personalize emails for them, so then you can send better information to them, more valuable content to them and that in turn, builds the relationship.

Michael Stebbins:

Okay. Let’s move on to what we call low dispute practices. Things that any conversion practitioner should know cold. Now, these are things that end up on the exams or in the competency standards. Our universities and training partners must teach them.

Talia, I handpicked a few and you can say, “Pass.” If you don’t like them, and we can move on. But let’s start with, “How should a practitioner establish company goals related to conversion?” In other words, let’s map them back to something that’s important to the business. What’s the process for doing that that you’ve seen work?

How should a practitioner establish company goals related to conversion?

Talia Wolf:

You know what? My go-to here is actually establishing a North star goal, and what that means is that when you’re looking at that goal, that is the one goal of the business. Maybe it’s sales, maybe it’s signups, maybe it’s free accounts, whatever it is, but more importantly than setting that goal is actually taking it apart and thinking about how this goal serves your customers. So, great it serves you, you want to get more sales, but how does that serve your customer? And that’s why whenever I’m setting up goals with my clients, I’m always thinking about the middle goals and the goals along the way that are serving my customers. So, how am I actually delivering value, achieving their goals, my clients, my customer’s goals, so that ultimately I achieved my North star goal.

Michael Stebbins:

Insightful and something that we can bolster the standard with as well. Thank you for that. In terms of buy cycle stages and mapping those to persona, can you give us some practices that you’ve seen work or the ones that you’ve seen not work?

Talia Wolf:

I’m going to need you to unpack that for me? What do you mean?

Michael Stebbins:

So, if we’re looking at buy cycle stages, in other words, some people might have Interest, Attention, Desire… there’s several different ways to map those. And in some cases, we know that we need to map those particular buying stages to distinct persona that we’ve developed for our customers. And oftentimes a persona who’s late in the stage may have some different needs and interactions, whereas somebody who’s in the interest stage may have a completely different set of needs.

How do you map the buy cycle?

Talia Wolf:

Right. So, I actually really like dividing people according to stage of awareness, so the different five stages of awareness, and depending on their stage of awareness within the customer journey, creating the content that they need to hear. Sometimes these people are completely unaware they have any type of pain and it’s my job to bring it to their attention. Sometimes I’m going to use content to move people who are solution-aware, (meaning they’re actively searching for a solution, but they’re not really sure which one is right for them) to product-aware, (meaning aware of my client’s product).

However, I do want to say that I know that personas are kind of the go-to of most companies, but you do have to make sure that these personas aren’t just categorized as behavioral elements, but more on the emotional, psychological side of them too, which is why most times when we’re coming up with hypothesis for AB tests, we’re thinking about the unique selling proposition. We’re thinking about the different types of people, the jobs that they’re trying to get done from the job to be jobs, to be done framework and their stages of awareness. So, all this to say is that, I don’t really look at it as there’s just one way of doing that, but there are multiple different layers that you need to look at. The job they’re trying to get done, the persona, the emotional state, the stages of awareness, and where they are in the customer journey.

Micheal Stebbins

And adding an emotional state in there is something that’s really, really useful. And it can be extracted from our conversations with our customers as well. Talia, you mentioned that some of this can be fuel for AB tests. One of the questions that shows up on the exam has to do with, what do we do when an AB test shows inconclusive results– It’s flat, it’s just even, it’s boring, there’s nothing that’s definitive. What’s the next step?

What do you do when AB tests show inconclusive results?

Talia Wolf:

Well, the question is first, how long has the test been running? How many conversions has each one of these variations seen? And where is the test living right now? Are you testing this on a very important page with a lot of traffic, a lot of attention, a lot of conversions, or is this a minute part of the funnel that doesn’t have a huge impact. My go-to is if we run the task for at least three weeks, each variation has seen over 150 conversions and we’re still seeing zilch basically, is to stop the test and reconsider, “Okay, what can we do that’s different?” Or, “Let’s review.” Are there any bugs? Is there anything that isn’t working, let’s go back to our hypothesis and figure out what was the problem that we were actually trying to solve. And did we actually find a solution that addresses the problem that we actually found?

Michael Stebbins:

And in the case of a low volume, let’s say it’s a B2B with a big sale. And our funnel is very slow process. Would you recommend the time that it runs to be a complete buy-cycle? What are some other ways of making sure that we have some statistical significance, even if we have a slow moving process?

Talia Wolf:

You know, I think one thing to remember is that conversion optimization isn’t just about AB testing. It’s a lot to do with the research that you’re performing and getting to know your customers better and their goals. And sometimes it’s not a good idea to run an AB test if you don’t have enough data. However, whenever I run a test, I will definitely run it for at least three weeks so that each variation gets to go through a cycle of two days or three days of the same day. And I try and get as many conversions as possible as mentioned a hundred, 150 conversions per variation, to know that enough people have gone through that process. If you don’t have that amount of data, if you don’t have enough traffic or enough conversions per month, I myself would put more of my focus on doing heuristic analysis, on doing profiles of customers, of analyzing different messaging and unique selling propositions, and doing it in a different way that isn’t necessarily AB testing.

Michael Stebbins:

Talia, what are some ways that a digital marketer can stay up to date?

What are some ways that a digital marketer can stay up to date?

Talia Wolf:

There definitely are resources that I follow a lot and I follow them due to the testings, the tests that they run and conduct and the hypotheses and their in depth guides and, I guess, breakdowns and templates. The first one would be Copy Hackers by Joanna Wiebe, it is hands down the best resource on the web for copywriting, especially if you want to write conversion copy. My other go-to would be CXL. I love Conversion XL’s articles and all the guides that they put into them, especially the first articles they used to put out, which was mostly Peep’s work. I follow a lot of the work that actually Shopify puts out, which I think is interesting, and as you mentioned, we also have a blog. So, that is where we basically put out a lot of our resources, and guides, and templates, and stuff like that.

Michael Stebbins:

Talia, I know that you teach classes in conversion, tell us about those and where listeners can find them.

Talia Wolf:

We have two courses. Our initial program is called Emotion Sells, which teaches you the basics of how to sell with emotion, meaning how you can optimize your entire funnels, using emotion and psychology, and really getting to know your customers on a profound way so that you have a framework that actually helps you for life. The other program that we have is the Income Engine, and that’s where I show you how to build a funnel from scratch, using a step by step process that I’ve been using for many years now for myself and for my own clients. And both of those could be found on our website, https://getuplift.co.

Michael Stebbins:

Dot C-O, that’s right.

Well, that is the time we have today and a big thank you to Talia Wolf. Checkout Talia’s classes and consulting on GetUplift.co. There’s also a YouTube channel that has some great information, if you search for Talia there, we’ll include a link in the show notes. (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjnPLPHDZGi_8uxN-EaH3IA)

Talia, are there any other places where people can engage with you?

Talia Wolf:

I’d say Twitter, as you mentioned, and Instagram, and YouTube.

Michael Stebbins:

Thanks Talia.

So, what Talia shared here today, is very well aligned with the OMCP standards and the competencies. And some of these things will be on the exam.

I’m your host, Michael Stebbins, and you’ve been listening to the OMCP Marketing Best Practices Podcast. OMCP maintains the certification standards for online marketing industry in cooperation with the industry leaders, just like Talia. Join us inside of OMCP to maintain your certification, get special offers, and engage with other certified professionals, universities, and in training programs that teach to OMCP standards.

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