What does it take for a company like HubSpot to double its website conversions and inbound call volume, increase demo requests by 35%, and increase product sign ups by 27%?
This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, conversion copywriting expert Joel Klettke shares the process h, along with a team from HubSpot, used to achieve such remarkable results. Known as "the guy who 2x'd HubSpot's conversions," Joel is a world renowned conversion copywriting expert and the founder of Case Study Buddy.
Listen to the podcast to learn exactly what Joel and the team from HubSpot did and get specific takeaways you can use to improve the copy on your site and increase conversions.
He is also the founder of Case Study Buddy. So Joel, I could probably talk a lot about you - you've got a long and interesting resume - but I'm going to ask you to tell the audience a little bit about yourself.
Joel: Yeah. I mean, the quick and interesting, hopefully interesting version, is that I got my start kind of fresh out of business school. I knew more about the type of place I wanted to be than what I wanted to do. I sort of randomly found my way working agency side doing search engine optimization (SEO) and that was my whole world for about five years.
I really enjoyed the analytical side of it, but always had this sort of passion for writing. I just never thought there was a job in it for me. I didn't want to be an author and that whole world of kind of writing websites and landing pages wasn't on my radar until I started working on them for SEO and went, "You know what? Someone's got to write these. And it's not enough that they get found, they probably have to convert people."
Case Study Buddy Is Born
And so little by little, over time, I got to pick up more of those types of projects. And in 2013 I went out on my own focusing mostly on the content pieces at that point - so blogs and E-books - and then kept getting deeper into this conversion stuff and it finally became my whole focus by 2015.
So I've been doing it since then working with a lot of cool companies like you mentioned - HubSpot and WP Engine and InsightSquared - to get more customers to convert. And then about two years ago, I saw an opportunity to build a business product.
I was kind of working on making case studies available to these awesome agencies and software companies. This was an area I saw them really struggling in, struggling to capture these stories, share them, how do you use them. And so I saw an opportunity and created Case Study Buddy. I've got a team and we've been kind of stealthily moving along and this year it's becoming increasingly part of my focus.
Kathleen: I think it's really interesting what you're doing with Case Study Buddy, because having been in this business for a long time and owned an agency and worked with just a ton of different companies, case studies seem to be one of those areas where we as marketers really phone it in. Like, there's this formula like "This was the challenge. This was the solution. They came to us, and here's what we did, and here's the results."
It's that three part formula and I think we feel like as long as we're following the formula we can say, "Check! I did a case study."
I have to believe tremendous opportunity to innovate in that area because we know from experience that case studies are of huge interest to different audiences. Everybody wants to see examples of your experience. They want to see the proof that you know what you're talking about. But for something that that is so valued by the consuming audience, it's amazing how little effort we put into them.
Joel: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's funny too, because it is formulated. People always say "Well how hard can it really be?" and they go off and they slap these things together, but they don't realize that there's so much to capturing a story worth telling. And then telling it in a way that's worth reading.
Even though the "problem - solution - results," yes, that's always going to be the heart and soul of it. But what's different, what's interesting, is how you tell that story and how you bring in the customer and how you weave it all together. And then increasingly too, how you use it. Where and how you wield that proof to make it useful.
So a lot of companies, the big problem, once they have a case study is it gets relegated to a little resources section. And maybe sales pulls it out once in a while, but they don't have a plan for it.
Both in the creation side of things it kind of gets overlooked or neglected or slapdash, and then in the actual using it, we're kind of like, "Well, okay. We'll email it out." Then we're yelling, "We have it and resources section, good work for us." And that makes me sad, because case studies are the one content asset that can play across the entire funnel. From acquisition, to nurturing, to upsells, to retention -- you can use them everywhere, but we don't. And so that's why I'm so excited about that space.
The Process Joel (and Team) Used to 2X HubSpot's Conversions
Kathleen: Oh, I love it. Well before we dive too deeply into case studies, I really want to talk about the work that you did with HubSpot. Because as I mentioned, this came up when I had Ian Cleary on as a guest and I don't remember the context of exactly what we were talking about, but he was like ... he didn't even mention your name.
He said, "There's this guy who was at HubSpot and he 2X'd their conversions." And it was so funny because HubSpot is a company that is known for being good at maximizing conversions. Like that's what they're all about is lead generation. And so, to know that there was an outside expert who came in and helped HubSpot take it to the next level - that immediately caught my attention and I was like, "Ooh, who is this guy?"
And that was when I think it was Andy who chimed in and said, "That guy happens to be Joel." So, I would love to hear this story of what you did at HubSpot. We could start with what was it? Problem-solution-results or you tell a story that makes it interesting.
Joel: Yeah. Well, before I dive into that piece, I want to make one thing really clear, because I love the fact that people are talking about it. This was such a rare opportunity to come into a situation and work with a company who is known for their lead gen.
I want to make sure people understand that this is not something that I did alone. There's a great team there. People like Pam Vaughan were really instrumental. Austin Knight who was doing their design at the time was so instrumental.
So this was definitely a team effort and I couldn't have done it alone. And it was a fantastic kind of case study, I guess, as we'll dive into here, in what can happen when you've got a whole team of people committed to doing this and committing to getting it right.
So with that as the backstory, I want to kind of lead up into how this happened. So I had known Matt Barby for some time outside of that context before he was even at HubSpot. And so Matt and I had kind of chatted on Twitter during my agency days and we just continued to have a casual friend relationship.
When Matt went into HubSpot, something he identified really quickly was despite the fact that yes, they are known for lead acquisition and they're quite good at this whole inbound mentality, he saw opportunity for them to grow. Opportunity for someone else to come in and objectively look at what they were doing and make some recommendations.
And so because he'd followed me along, he knew where I was at in my career, which was I was working with one or more software companies on this type of thing. And so we decided, "Okay, well, we don't have buy in for the full project from the outset."
You can imagine that for a company like HubSpot, they've got this brilliant team and there's a lot of moving pieces. So we thought, let's just focus on doing one section at the beginning. So originally, I got to work with Matt on revamping the CRM page. So just that product.
What I introduced there with Matt was a very customer driven approach to writing copy. Customer driven research. So we were doing things like running a customer survey. And we were looking at things like, when people talk about the CRM out in the wild, what are they saying? What benefits are they mentioning? What pain points are they saying that it solved? And how does that stack up against how the company itself is talking about things on this CRM page?
And so as we dug into this customer research, and as we pulled in the data from these surveys, we learned a lot of things. We learned, for example, that there was some language customers were using about the outcomes they achieved that we could pull in and we could put into the headlines. We learned that the things that the company thought was really important as far as features to be emphasizing, didn't necessarily align with what customers thought was important and the features they wanted emphasized.
So, we revamped that landing page, saw positive uptake and that was the buy in that Matt needed. So, from there, I got a chance to be brought in for the whole big website project, which as you can imagine was a big endeavor with a short timeline. HubSpot wanted to have a brand new site ready for their INBOUND Conference. So our timeline was about 2.5 to three months to do the whole thing.
Kathleen: Oh, my God.
Joel: Yeah. And that's why I say, you can imagine it took a village. I cannot pretend like I just was the hero riding in on the white horse. It took everybody being committed, and Kieran Flannigan and all those guys were there and present and so instrumental.
I want to break down the process we used a little bit more to get the result that we got and how we did this on a scale. We took what we did with the CRM page, but we took it some steps further.
So what we want to do when we're working on conversion copy, you can only sell to a customer you really understand. Everyone talks about understanding your customer but hardly any companies actually put the rubber to the road and do what it takes to do that.
So again, we had a tight timeline, but thankfully HubSpot has got a huge customer base. So we ran some surveys to learn about how people were using it, whether or not they understood what the products could do for them and what the role of each was.
HubSpot had recently split into these three products and the historical perception was that it was one thing. It was just HubSpot Marketing, but now they had HubSpot Sales and HubSpot Marketing and HubSpot CRM. And these are just different products.
So we looked at customer surveys, and we asked questions like "What was going on in your life that led you to look for this solution?" And then we asked "How do you use this solution day to day?" to get them talking about the problems they solve with it. And then we got them to force rank the different features of the products they used by what was most important to them, again giving us a hierarchy for how we organize the page so people see that.
The second kind of interesting thing we did that I always, whenever I give a talk on this, I always recommend companies do because it's so easy and it can be free, is we made sure that we went and looked at their chat logs. You can launch chat on your site tomorrow. It's dead simple. A lot of people are hesitant, because they're like, "Well, I can't monitor it 24 hours." You don't have to. Just make yourself commit to making yourself or your team available to do chat for a two week period and I promise you're going to be tempted to continue. After that point, you're going to want to make it a priority.
But we looked at their chat logs, and we were looking for questions that came up again and again. Because those questions would be the things that the copy of their website wasn't doing a great job of answering. So if people are constantly asking questions like, "Which of the three products do I need to accomplish X?"
Joel: We found out really quickly that there was some confusion in the market about which product was right for each and how they interplayed and that sort of thing.
So we started getting some insight into where people are at, what awareness level they're at, and what they're struggling with. We took all that information, combined it with the survey data and then worked closely with the internal HubSpot team and Austin -- as I mentioned, just probably the best UX designer I've ever had the privilege to work with -- and we started revamping the pages around addressing customer questions, around addressing features and benefits in a hierarchical way that met what the customer wanted to see and needed to see first.
And then probably the most impactful thing we did, and I think it's still live on the site to this day (as you can imagine HubSpot's continually evolving) was we found some great language for talking about the way that their new tool suite worked. And so that's where the lines like "HubSpot tools are powerful on their own and even better together" come from. And we started being able to break down what each one was for and the benefits of each and then once you combine them, how they work well together.
So clarity just went up and up and up. People started to finally get the picture of what HubSpot is today.
Kathleen: That's really interesting.
Let's go back to how you gather data because what I find interesting is you had a 2.5 to three month time frame for this massive website redesign. And having been through enough of these projects, I mean, I know that lots of people would hear that and it would feel like their hair was on fire and they just had to start writing and building pages from the day that the project began. But you guys stopped and slowed yourself down and did some homework.
What I think is really interesting is not only did you do the surveys, which I feel like there's definitely people out there who do that, but I love the notion that your data already exists and you can find it by looking at the chat logs and looking specifically at the questions.
Were there other existing sources of data that you drew upon?
Kathleen: And how long did this research process take? Because I can imagine you were under pressure to get it done pretty quickly.
Joel: Yeah, really, really great question.
I talked about surveys already and when you've got the customer base of a HubSpot, you can do that really quickly. But I should mention, you don't need 2,000 responses. Our threshold online is if we can get 1,000 or sorry, 100 really good responses. After that, you start seeing kind of diminishing returns.
Chat logs were available to us, but other places that more companies who aren't at HubSpot's level can go are things like your testimonials, your reviews, and your case studies.
We talked to sales. We interviewed their internal team. We asked sales and support, like, "What questions do you get all the time? What do you find yourself constantly having to explain that you wish you didn't have to constantly explain?
So, myself and Josh Garofalo -- who I brought into the project to help me kind of cover the huge scope of it, because I couldn't possibly write all the pages alone -- interviewed that internal team.
Often what our role becomes or what my role becomes in projects like this, is I'm unifying departments. Because they're all great at their own thing, and they all understand their own area, but sales might not have talked to customer support in a while. And marketing might not have talked to sales in a while.
We can pull all these perspectives together, and then present to them and say, "Here's where you guys are actually at and where you're creating problems for the other side or where they're having an opportunity that you're not capitalizing on."
So talking to your sales team, looking at existing reviews and testimonials to see what are these people already talking about, how are they talking about it -- those are existing data sources that are already there.
One thing I want to drop as well. If you don't have a lot of these, go look at your competitors. And positive reviews are one thing for them, but go look at their negative reviews. Because those are things that you can exploit and position yourself against. So if, for example, people are saying, "Well, this solution is really slow and clunky." You can emphasize that you're agile and fast and easy to use.
So by getting kind of a landscape of what your competitors struggle with, it also helps you understand how you can position yourself against them.
Kathleen: That is a great idea.
It's interesting because I feel like a lot of companies do the opposite, which is they look at the competitors but they look at the competitor websites. And they look at what the competitors are saying they do, as opposed to looking at what the customers feel that they don't do well.
The result, when you look at your competitors and try to emulate them, is everybody starts to sound the same.
Kathleen: And that actually suppresses conversions instead of improving them.
Joel: There's this crazy fallacy that companies have that somehow their competitor knows what they're doing. They don't.
I've written for the competitors. I've come into situations where I have written for both sides, the people being evaluated and the people being ... Often they're starting from the same point.
Every company is just trying to figure it out. Just because someone launches a timer on their homepage, they didn't necessarily do that because it works. They're just trying stuff to see what works.
Kathleen: They're throwing a bunch of darts at the wall to see what sticks.
Joel: Completely. I would say more companies don't know what they're doing than really do, because why I'm so excited about conversion optimization and conversion copywriting as a whole, is I very much see what I'm doing now as in the same vain as where SEO was eight to ten years ago or inbound marketing was five to eight years ago or whatever it might be. It's still so young and so much opportunity and companies are waking up to the value of this.
The tools are getting cheaper, the methodology is getting very defined. It's a fantastic time for companies to start thinking about this and to be moving ahead because we're getting to the point where if you're not, your competitor is.
But there's still so much time to move and be the first to really measure and test and do this well.
Kathleen: Oh, I couldn't agree more. CRO, conversion rate optimization, there's so much buzz and interest around it but there are so few people who really can claim to be experts in it, with true experience.
Conversion Copywriting Best Practices
Kathleen: One thing I want to talk about... so we start with all the homework you need to do before you can even sit down and put pen to paper or virtual pen to paper, however you decide to do it. Then there's really understanding the audience. There's the insights that come out of that. Obviously what you've talked about is to truly write for the audience but are there also certain universal truths or rules in terms of either how you structure copy on a page? I'm thinking of Joanna Wiebe who has her "problem-agitation-solution" formula or certain words that you should or should not use.
Are there those universal truths out there that we should know about?
Joel: Yeah. You know, everybody wants there to be this formula or this code. Plug in X, get out Y, but I think even Joanna would tell you the PAS, the problem agitation solution, that's a fantastic framework that can do brilliantly in some contexts and miserably in others. Joanna uses it all the time for emails and email series and that kind of thing. It works great.
Let's put it in this context. There's different stages of awareness. So, if your customer already knows your brand and they already know they're sold on you, then a problem-agitation-solution format is just wasting their time because all they want to know is the deal. So, they just want to see okay, $50 off, boom. I know the deal. I know the value. I'm there.
So, for that audience, a different formula entirely works. Whereas if someone is completely ... You know, they don't understand their pain even yet, they're still coming into the point where they realize that they've got a problem, then that pain can be addressed better.
But there isn't just this sort of absolute truth. I think there's guidelines, there's best practices.
For example, on language, there's some misconceptions. You can go read a bunch of blog posts that say never use jargon or never use a cliché or never use an acronym. Well, even in my work for InsightSquared, their audience uses and loves and understands acronyms. If we don't use acronyms, we're the weirdo. We're the ones who don't look like we understand the niche.
If there is an absolute truth that I've found, if there are things that I can say every time, 100% of the time go and do this, it's you cannot be in the business of conversion without being in the business of talking to customers and having structured, documented conversations with them. You can't do it.
You can guess, you can pull levers on a wall, you can change button color aimlessly, but you can't be in the business of writing conversion copy or optimizing your copy if you're trying to cut customers out of the equation and not spend time talking to them or researching them.
It sounds so intuitive, but I guarantee there are companies listening to this where their methodology right now for how they come up with new copy is to huddle in a board room, come up with a new tagline that they all feel is clever and represents management's vision, and never talk to a single customer until it launches.
So, I wish I could tell you there are frameworks for these things, but there's best practices. It's more like a journey of well, "If X, then Y." If you understand this piece then try this. But there's no one black and white this definitely works or this definitely doesn't work.
Kathleen: So, when you develop that understanding of the customer, at some point you do have to sit down and write. The way you write and the volume of writing you do has to also be in alignment with the actual visual design of the page.
Marrying Front End Design With Website Copywriting
Kathleen: Can you talk a little bit about how you think front end designers and content creators should work together on these projects? Which comes first? The chicken or the egg?
Joel: Yeah. I'm so glad that you're asking about this because this honestly to me is what made the HubSpot project successful.
When you've got a timeline like that, first, let's establish that if there is an absolute, its that copy should always lead design. You cannot just pop words into a pretty picture, otherwise you may be cramming a story into a frame it wasn't fit for. We knew that. We also knew we couldn't wait for copy to be done or design wouldn't have time to do it.
So, the process that we used, and what made this successful, is that what you can do is you can iterate. So, when you understand the customer and when you've got a good understanding of "Okay, they're pain aware or solution aware or brand aware," then you know okay, you can define together with design.
You can say, "We know these are the types of sections we're going to need to cover. We know this is the flow we're going to need to cover them in. We don't have specific copy yet but we know right now for example, we need a hero section. After that we need about a paragraph of narrative to agitate the pain. Then we're going to need this section on emphasizing particular features that solve that pain."
So, when you've got an understanding of the customer you can sit down with design. What we did is we came up with a base framework, a base wireframe for the different types of pages on the site. In some cases you can template this a bit.
So, one of the people that the project could never have been achieved without was Pamela Vaughan.
Kathleen: I love her. Can I just say? I have to stop you for one second. I'm a huge fan girl of Pamela Vaughan's, because I've attended a number of her presentations and as a marketer, you can go to lots of conference presentations that are full of fluff and lots of "You should do this for this reason," but not a lot of "And here's how you actually do it."
She gives the most detailed, useful, actionable information of ... Probably she's in the top three of anybody I've seen present. So, that's the end of my fan rant on Pam Vaughan.
Joel: No, it's well earned. I mean, literally we could not have done it without her. She wrote a huge swath of the copy that ... You know, like the individual features pages. Those were Pam's.
So, we worked together to define the template for common pages and then we were able to use that same template to kind of inform. So, we started with the base wireframed together with copy and design. Design was able to go away and mock something up while copy was working on our piece of the puzzle.
Then we converged together, sent our wires to design and they would make our wireframes better and send it back. So, it was an iterative, collaborative process.
That's the way it has to be. I love Unbounce and I love these companies that have these templated landing pages. They're great as a starting point, but if you're switching your brain off and not defining who the audience is or what they need to hear and just picking a template because "Oh I like the way that looks," you're missing the point. I think Unbounce does a good job of educating people there.
Yeah, the design piece was a collaborative, iterative thing and for anyone listening who's thinking "I want to get into conversion copywriting" or "I want to hire a conversion copywriter," look for someone who's not just going to hand you a Word doc. Learn to wireframe.
Josh and I both use Balsamiq. That was a common tool of communication so writing could be on the same page as design. It's a skill that I didn't anticipate ever having to learn as a writer, and it's one I'm loving exploring because the more I understand how the design interplays with the words that I write, the more effective I can be, and the more designers are going to like to work with me.
Kathleen: That's great. I love that you mentioned Balsamiq because my next question was going to be are there certain tools that you find are really helpful through this process?
It's funny, I'm not a designer either but I've had to create wire frames. There are many wire framing tools out there. We have one that our actual design team uses. I don't remember, I think it's called Moqups and it's super detailed. It's amazing, but it's too much for me. It would be like me going into InDesign and trying to create a webpage.
I like Balsamiq because it's really streamlined and simple, and for a non-designer it's a great wire framing tool.
Any other tools that you have used either in that project or in other projects that are really helpful for this kind of thing?
Joel: Yeah. Basically, so for mock ups and wire frames Balsamiq has been the tool that I've found easiest to use, most versatile for me. I know the platform inside and out.
I've also heard really good things about InFlow. So, inFlow is another one where you can experiment with that.
I'm not an affiliate for any of the tools I'm about to mention, so none of this is a paid ad but I genuinely love them.
Typeform is what we constantly use for surveys. Fantastic interface. Fantastic ability to use logic jumps to show different questions to different groups, which when you're segmenting information like we were was totally invaluable to be able to just naturally do that. So, Typeform is great.
For chat, the one I always recommend to companies is Drift. Drift continues to innovate, continues to do really cool things and on their basic free plan you can get your feet wet, you can control manually the hours it's live and not live so you don't have to worry about being present at four in the morning.
So, Typeform and Drift. Balsamiq is really helpful.
These days I've been using Hotjar to look at both heat maps and recorded user sessions and I've been really pleased taht they just announced some innovations today where they can capture more in those recorded user sessions, so that's really exciting to me. We can get a deeper look at how people are actually interacting.
So, those are kind of my old standbys.
Then I'm increasingly looking at Google Analytics, which you know, it's kind of people are like ... It's been around forever but people still don't have a clue the fraction of the power you can get out of Analytics.
One guy that I really admire in this space who is worth following and learning from is Michael Aagaard. He just knows the analytics piece really well. I think he would even tell you, he comes by it honestly, he's not necessarily like a numbers and analytics guy but he's found all these cool shortcuts and custom reports and ways to very quickly get at data that can highlight a problem so that you can respond quickly.
So, that's kind of my stack. That's my toolkit.
Occasionally you'll see things like FullStory or whatever, but I think that's one thing I want to communicate, is you don't need to have tens of thousands of dollars of budget to do this type of work. You just need to have the willingness to make the most of these free or basic plans for the period that you're using them.
The barrier to entry to doing this stuff is only getting lower. The tools are only getting better. So, there's really no excuse for companies to just be turning a blind eye to this and saying well it's too complicated or too complex. No way. You can start doing this stuff tomorrow.
Kathleen: Yeah, you could do it all probably in Google Docs too if you really had to.
Joel: Totally. I used to wire frame in Word with like tables. I mean, it's not as pretty as Balsamiq. It's not as easy to communicate, but it gets the job done. If you're going to start there, start there. Just go with what you know and evolve, but just get started.
Kathleen: Yeah. Absolutely. I love all the tools you mentioned. We use a lot of those.
On my team we use Drift. We have Drift on our site, so I'm absolutely going to go back and look at the chat logs after we stop talking.
You know, a number of those other tools ... One of the other ones that we're huge fans of, which if you haven't checked it out you might want to, is GatherContent. It's awesome. Our content manager has hacked it in a way that when we do website pages she's able to create blocks for the different content pieces that are needed and she can add in background on personas and guidance on how it should be written. It's really cool for content collaboration.
Joel: Yeah. That actually ...
Kathleen: That was my addition to the list.
Joel: That reminds me, there's one more. It's funny I forgot.
The tool that I'm really, really excited about I haven't had the chance to use it as much as I'd like but RightMessage. Brennan Dunn launched this tool. They continue to launch all these different sub tools, but RightMessage, if you believe in conversion optimization, if you believe that this is going to be important and integral for the future, RightMessage is what comes next. It's personalization. I have yet to see a tool working harder to make that easier, working harder to make it more intuitive, to make it more accessible.
So, I'm really, really excited about what Brennan and his team are doing over there. I'm trying to bake it into my proposals more often because more people need to use this stuff.
Kathleen: Oh, I'll definitely check that out.
The Results of Joel's Project With HubSpot
Kathleen: Now, circling back to the project at HubSpot. You somehow got this website rewritten, you and the other team of people in this two to three month time period. The new site launched. I've heard lots of different numbers thrown around about the results you guys got. Can you break it down for us? What was the change?
Joel: Yeah. I'll pull those numbers up here, but the biggest change was we effectively doubled site wide conversions. So, on the biggest, broadest level across all of their conversions, we saw a doubling there.
Then, too, we break down some of the more specific conversions, HubSpot started seeing two times the inbound call volume. So, not just conversions on the site. Twice as many people phoning in. They saw a 35% increase in demo requests. They saw a 27% increase in product sign ups.
For a company the size of HubSpot, with the traffic of HubSpot, those are some serious, serious numbers. So, the efficacy of having customer driven copy and really a design team who cares about conversion and about telling the story the right way, and then a support team and a sales team who are open about what's working for them and how to nail that down, it all comes together to create impacts like that.
Kathleen: So, I have to ask. To what do you attribute that increase in inbound call volume? Because that's an interesting stat that I was not expecting you to mention.
Joel: Yeah. That one was surprising to me too. You know, if you haven't ever had Matt Barby on the program, having him come in to talk about attribution and tracking and that sort of thing I think would be fascinating.
Kathleen: Oh, I would love that. Matt, if you're listening, call me!
Joel: Yeah. So, I mean, Matt. Matt would be the guy to really help pin that down.
Not only did we change the site, and the copy, and the way we presented their products, during this time they also started playing around with kind of a freemium model and looking at some of these more freemium-type calls, so it's possible that maybe kind of having that angle correlated with more people being willing to check it out.
I really do think, though, that it was the clarity, it was the ability for people to understand on their own very quickly how the different pieces of the tool connected to feel comfortable enough to make that call so they wouldn't feel like an idiot, or they wouldn't feel they'd have to spend all day trying to just sort up with sales, getting a sales pitch on everything, they could ask more direct questions about the things they actually needed.
So, that's my hypothesis, that's what I would guess. But it would be fascinating for you to have somebody on the in-house side come in. And they continue to do some really cool and innovative things, and the site's changed and grown since then, so I'm sure they'll have even more stories.
Kathleen: Yeah, there's so many very, very, very smart people on that team.
The Future of Conversion Rate Optimization
Kathleen: I would take any one of them as a guest. So I assume that some of the lessons that came out of that particular project, or things you have applied in other places, fast forward to today and are there certain things that you're really excited about when it comes to conversion copyrighting, or conversion rate optimization?
Joel: Yeah, two things in particular.
So the first is that personalization piece. With RightMessage, like I mentioned, that's becoming more possible.
What I'm really fascinated by is just before, if you wanted to have different conversations with individuals, it was clunky. You had to create a whole bunch of different stuff, just even pages upon pages, and you had to really do a ton of work to try to make it happen technically. So it wasn't always possible, and I love that the bar for that is coming down.
I'm really having a fun time learning more and more about how to segment and identify the differences in user groups. So, that piece, I think, is so important. It is the future of this stuff, and I'm really excited about that.
For me personally, where I'm seeing the most growth for myself, this year, interestingly, I've made more off of audits and reviews than any writing. So, I still continue to offer writing, but I'm doing more and more analysis and helping companies identify what's going wrong and how they can fix it with copywriting, and UX exchanges, and things like that.
So for me, what I'm excited about and continue to grow in to, it's nothing sexy, but Google Analytics. Just unpacking the power available on Google Analytics, and how to deploy that properly, and the types of things you can learn.
I want to share ... I'll make it quick, but I want to share a quick story, just kind of the stuff you can learn when you're paying attention.
So, I was working with a client, and I was doing a review of their site. They offer divorce packages in the UK. One of those stats we found that was fascinating to us through Google Analytics that sent up a little red flag was men converted better than women, and we know that more women initiate divorce than men. So it was kind of like, that's an oddity. Something is amiss here.
So, long story short, through Google Analytics, a combination of looking at Google Analytics, the times people were actually on the site, combined with chat logs to learn what challenges were unique to women, we were able to come up with a cool hypothesis that women are in more financially vulnerable situations, they're working multiple jobs, so they want to convert in later hours, but chat was off during those hours.
Kathleen: Oh, interesting.
Joel: So through that, we figured out well let's test extending chat hours and see what the impact is. So, stuff like that just gets me pumped up because it's ... The amount of stuff you can learn when you're paying attention is fascinating.
Kathleen: Oh, I love it. I always say I'm a marketing nerd, and I feel a sense of kinship with you on this because when I discover the little nuggets like that, it does, it gets me super excited. And I'll admit, I definitely am not as much of an expert in Google Analytics as I would like to be. I feel like every time I start to get really proficient, it's like the grocery store when they reorganize it, and then you don't know where the milk is.
Kathleen: Google Analytics likes to do that to us sometimes, too, but it's like an iceberg, and we kind of see the tip, but there's so much there under the surface, so much power and so much data. But I think I agree, there is so much to be learned.
Kathleen's Two Questions
Kathleen: So two questions that I ask all of my guests. I want to make sure I ask you before we wrap up today. One is, company or individual, who do you think is doing inbound marketing really well right now?
Joel: The women are crushing it. All of the people that I most admire doing this right now are all women, and they're doing brilliant jobs in really different ways.
So as an individual, someone who recently came on my radar and now I'm so excited to be able to collaborate with is a woman named Val Geisler. I'm not sure how you pronounce her last name. She does email onboarding series and optimizes those. What she's done, you know, she's a one woman shop, so she doesn't have the ability to publish thousands of things, but she does such targeted, relevant content. She does these really cool email tear downs of companies people know and respect.
Her candor in those, you know, she's not rude or mean, but she's also very honest and very great at exposing it. "Here's what they're doing. Here's what they could do better." So Val is doing fantastic.
Claire and Gia at Forget the Funnel, so they've launched this really ... Like, they are, to me, a lot of people ... we talk about blogs, we talk about e-books, but what we don't often talk about as much is building yourself a platform, giving people a reason to want to listen to you and come to you, and see you as an authority.
That's what Claire and Gia have done. Two extremely bright, very talented women, who have launched this thing, and created this avenue to get exactly the right customers that they want to work with, exactly the right sets of people to listen to what they have to say.
They do these great webinars, and they do these great interviews. So those would be two examples.
Then one group of fellows, I think who is doing is good, is Grow and Convert, and they're putting out some really great case studies, and really great content, and really great pieces that are helping Mark Rozano and myself just stay relevant and level up what they're doing.
Kathleen: Okay, what's really cool about what you just said is those are three groups of people, places, brands, etc. that are totally new to me. I love when I get answers like that, and I have new places to check out. I'm particular interested in these email onboarding series right now, because we're revamping ours, so I will definitely be checking that one out.
Second question, and I'm going to narrow it down. I usually ask people, with digital marketing changing so quickly, how do you stay up to date. But I want to get a little bit more specific than that with you, because I'm intrigued that you're focused on conversion rate optimization. I want to ask you how you stay educated for yourself, and build your skills in the field of conversion rate optimization?
Joel: Yeah. So there's some really important sources that I consult and I look to, just to see what they're publishing. So, Joanna Wiebe, obviously. Anytime she's publishing a case study, or puts out a course, that's relevant to me. I'm almost always going to buy it. I'm really tuned in with her, and she's got tons of free content, but even if you can find her legacy content. It's just as relevant as it was then.
Conversion XL continues to publish really valuable things. So, that's been really helpful to me, in particular.
And Michael Aagaard, like I said, he's done some recent webinars and that sort of thing.
Expanding beyond that though, what's been really important for me in this field, and I think anyone coming in to should know, is that it is still young, and there is so much bad information out there where it's like we change a button color and things would-
Joel: You can really educate yourself the wrong way, or you can educate yourself into a corner where you're like, "Well here are the rules. And here's what worked well in this situation," and you can treat it like gospel and try to apply it everywhere.
So what's been really valuable to me is I've got Mastermind, just a little group of people in the same space, and we compare notes. We talk about what's going on with each other, and what they're learning, what they're coming across. In this industry, I think in all industries, it's valuable.
But in this niche in particular, being tuned into what's going on with others, and what they're learning, and the context they learn it in is really important.
Then the last one I'll mention is a site called GoodUI.org. He publishes a lot of, kind of, tests and examples of stuff that people are trying out. Actually, one more that I really want to mention, and I'm excited to mention because it's not going to be on hardly anybody's radar, but I guarantee it's about to be on everybody's radar-
Joel: There's a company called User Insights. They have launched just the best tool for user testing that I have ever seen. Small batch user testing, very targeted, way cheaper than the competition, just as good, faster, but that service aside, that's really exciting. But they are doing some very interesting stuff. They haven't launched it all yet, but they're doing some very interesting stuff with case studies and actually testing in context a lot of different things that I know people are like, "Well should I have this? Or should I have that?"
They're doing a lot of that practically now with ... across multiple sites, and verifiable outcomes. So they will be on people's radar because they're doing it at a scale I don't think anybody else is yet. So, I'm learning a bit from the people running that quietly in the background, and they're about to blow up. I'm sure of it.
About Case Study Buddy
Kathleen: I can't wait to check all of this out. I feel like that's going to keep me busy for a while. That's great. I assume that everything you've learned through all of these projects, these engagements that you've done, you are bringing to bear with Case Study Buddy to help people improve their case studies. And you have a team there, right?
Joel: Yeah, so Case Study Buddy is a different kind of a venture for me.
Like I said, what excites me are these content assets that are easy to get wrong, super valuable when done well, companies struggle with the process, the strategy, the ownership of it. And so I've brought all this stuff I'm doing in conversion. I'm trying to bring into the elements of how do we write something that appeals to multiple different scanners and readers and user groups, and how do we educate our clients on how to use these?
For example, something I learned recently that I found fascinating is lots of companies are doing cold outreach. They're sending these cold emails. I can't remember the name of the company who did this study, but they tested out what is the impact of mentioning a famous "customer", so just a known customer in these cold outreach emails. And they've tripled the number of interested responses.
Joel: So, the power is there, and if you can imagine attaching a case study, the impact that would have. Yeah, it's a different adventure. I've gotten to build a team and work outside of myself, and all the joys and pains that come with that.
Yeah, it's been really fun, and that's going to be, like I mentioned, I'm still going to be doing this conversion work and that will be my bread and butter, especially on the back half of this year, growing Case Study Buddy, and getting it in front of more people and growing that initiative is high on my priority list.
Kathleen: I can't wait to see where you take it. It sounds like you're on to something here.
Joel: Thank you.
How to Get in Touch With Joel
Kathleen: Well, I know I've had a million questions throughout this, and I've had the opportunity to have you answer many of them, but if somebody's listening, and they wanted to reach out to you and ask a question, or get more information on something you've talked about today, what's the best way for them to find you online?
Joel: Yeah, so I'm very active on Twitter. I do my best to respond to everything that comes in, whether it's a DM or a Tweet, or whatever. You can find me @JoelKlettke. That's one way to get at me fast. You can also email me.
You can check out my ancient and desperately-in-need-of-being-updated site at BusinessCasualCopywriting.com. Don't judge me. I built in 2013. It's due for an upgrade, but you can email me through there. I'm happy to field questions and if there's something you're struggling with.
Then surprisingly, I always kind of shun the platform, but the past two months I've gotten a ton of value out of having conversations on LinkedIn. So, another space that you can see. I publish more there, actually, these days than my own blog. I do little snippets, and pushes, and tips and tricks there. I always try to make sure I'm responding to people who come through that channel, too.
Kathleen: Yeah, LinkedIn-
Joel: Those are kind of the three places.
Kathleen: LinkedIn's making a comeback big time.
Joel: Oh, huge.
Kathleen: A lot of people are mentioning that on this podcast.
Joel: They went from being the platform nobody wanted to talk about, to the platform everybody's publishing on.
Joel: It's remarkable. Even begrudgingly, there's still the joke about wanting to connect on LinkedIn, and after the apocalypse, only those emails remain. But joke all you want, they've become a serious contender. It's amazing that that team has done.
Kathleen: Definitely. I agree. Well, thank you. This has been fascinating. I've learned so much. I have a feeling I'm going to learn a lot more when I go check out all those websites you mentioned. So I really appreciate you spending the time on the podcast.
If you're listening and you liked what you heard, you learned something, I'm going to ask if you would please take a moment and go on iTunes, or Stitcher, or whatever platform you choose to listen to the podcast on, and leave a review. It would mean a lot.
Finally, if you know someone doing kickass inbound marketing work, Tweet me @WorkMommyWork, because I would love to interview them. Thank you so much, Joel.
Joel: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It was really fun.
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