My guest this episode is Talia Wolf, Founder and Conversion Consultant at GetUplift.co. Talia is an expert speaker on the topic of emotional thinking and customer driven conversion optimization. If you are struggling to connect with customers online and generate sales, this episode is for you. Listen in to learn Talia’s step-by-step methodology of customer research and emotional targeting that you can implement in your business today to connect with your audience and increase sales and conversions.
Topics Discussed in this Episode:
- The power of emotional targeting
- Talia’s career background
- Marketing and business culture in Israel
- Technology in marketing versus actually talking to customers
- Customer driven optimization
- Step-by-step guide to emotional targeting: customer research, company research, competitor research, emotional content strategy and testing
- Trust and social proof
- Talia’s recommended resources
— Mark Scully (@ScullyMark) September 7, 2017
- How to Improve Website Conversion Without Sacrificing SEO or Speed
- Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain by Antonio Damasio
- Learn Inbound, MozCon, Opticon, CXL Live, Search Love
- Talia’s Emotion Sells: The Masterclass CRO Training
- CopyHackers.com by Joanna Wiebe
- Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
Louis: Talia, I’m delighted to talk to you today. As I told you just before we spoke, I heard from you the first time in Learn Inbound, which is a digital marketing event in Dublin, where I live and where I work. There’s one thing that you talk about quite a lot that I really enjoy and really agree with. To take a step back, we talked a lot about data driven marketing, we talked a lot about leaks in the funnel, audience, traffic, hacks, rates, AB tests, split tests, and all of that.
You believe that it’s not all about rationality and logic when it comes to trying to convince people to move down the funnel or to buy. You believe that it’s also about immersions. Why did you say that?
Talia: I think we definitely need to take a step back and think about why customers buy from us. As marketers and business owners, we tend to treat our customers as points of data. We look at them in Google Analytics or on a heat map when we think about the age or the geographical location, the browser they’re using, the device. But we keep forgetting that behind those screens are actual people. These people have different challenges and problems that they’re trying to solve.
It really doesn’t matter what you’re selling. It could be a cardboard box. It could be a SaaS software. It could be a t-shirt. Whatever you’re selling, there’s a person behind that screen who has a challenge and doesn’t know what to wear for that evening, doesn’t have a software to help collaborate with his team, they have an issue with finding the best toilet paper, whatever it is; they have a challenge.
Us as marketers, it’s our goal to help our customers achieve those goals and get to where they want to go. I think the biggest issue we have right now is that we really do treat our customers as data. You hear all these marketers constantly saying, “You have to be data driven. You have to be data driven,” which I completely disagree with.
In fact, what I think you should be is data aware. You need to know your data. You need to understand the data. But what you need to be is customer driven. You need to understand who your customers are, what are the pains that they’re facing, what are the challenges that they’re facing. Only once you helped your customers achieve their goals and actually fulfill what they’re looking for will you achieve your own goals, which is sales and increase in conversion rate.
The whole reason I said this is because the reason people buy is emotion. We love to think of ourselves as rational people. We love to think that we buy because of features, products, and pricing but that’s not the case. Every time we buy something, we buy a better version of ourselves. We buy a better marketer. We buy a better dad. We want to be part of a community. We want to be loved. We want to be more successful in what we do. We want a higher self esteem. Whatever it is, we’re constantly buying better versions of ourselves.
It’s up to us as marketers to understand what our customers are looking for so that then we can translate all that knowledge into a better customer journey. Does that make sense?
Louis: It does. I guess we can stop the episode right now. You’ve said more than what a lot of people would say in 15 minutes. I completely agree. It’s great. People need to hear that over and over again. That’s the critical part of marketing, understanding people.
There’s one study that you mentioned in one of your articles last year, I believe, that was absolutely fascinating to me. I really love study about psychology, study about people. Can you recall this study that showed that people with no emotions because of the damage to their brain seem to have a weird way of taking action?
Talia: Yeah. This is actually a research that was done in the 70’s if I’m not mistaken. Basically, a researcher took a bunch of people who had brain damage. The brain damage that they had is a specific damage only in the capability to feel emotion. Everything else was absolutely perfect. It worked really well. But these subjects, they couldn’t make the simplest decisions in life. It was really interesting. Even though they knew what they had to do, they couldn’t do it.
For example, they couldn’t choose between a turkey sandwich and a chicken sandwich or a peanut butter sandwich because they knew that they needed to choose but because it was an emotion involved, they couldn’t make that decision. It really is fascinating because we really do think that we’re rational but without emotion, there is no decision making process. All our decision making process is based on emotion.
Louis: Those guys, they would have a simple choice in front of them and they literally couldn’t take the decision, right?
Louis: It is not like the decision was delayed. It’s literally that they were stuck in front of a simple choice.
Talia: Oh no. They could not make a decision. It was really simple. The scientist guy is called Antonio Damasio. He basically could not get these people to make a decision at all. Bear in mind, again, these people had no damage whatsoever to any other part of their brain but the part that was in charge of emotion.
Louis: Out of curiosity, where is this part of the brain particularly? Do you know? Do you remember?
Talia: Really, that’s a very good question. I’m trying to think if there’s a specific part of the brain that I can mention but not really.
Louis: We’ll look at that and add that to the show notes. It was just out of curiosity, really. I think we’ve planted the core of what we’re going to talk about today in this episode so thank you so much for this great intro.
I just want to take a step back again and talk about you for awhile. You’ve been the Marketing Director of [00:06:44], which is a project management software. You are founder of Conversion and now, you’re founder of getuplift.co and you’re speaker as I mentioned, at Learn Inbound, but you also spoke at Google, for MozCon, Opticon, ConversionXL, Search Love, all the biggest digital marketing events in the world.
I’m curious about one thing in particular. It might sound a little bit weird but you’re the first person I interviewed from Israel and most of the people I interview would be either from the US or the UK. Do you think there is any big difference in the culture and marketing maybe, in particular, in Israel compared to let’s say the Western World such as the US or Europe in general?
Talia: That’s a great question. Israel in general has a huge startup scene. In fact, after Silicon Valley, the country with the most startups in the world is actually Israel. There is a huge entrepreneurial stream here and there are a lot of marketers. We do a lot of things here.
I think what’s probably different than other places is the capacity and the willing to go into the minute details on work. Not that people don’t work really hard in any other place, people work extremely hard but in Israel, there’s a tendency to work over hours and really focus on moving from one thing to the next and trying to put pieces of the puzzle together.
I don’t think there’s a huge difference between Israel and other countries. It’s just the fact that there are many people in Israel who are in the startup world, in the startup scene doing a lot of marketing and sales. That’s where most people are, specifically in Tel Aviv.
Louis: Why do you think that’s the case? Why do you think people are so driven and so hardworking compared to other parts of the world?
Talia: I don’t know. For me, I grew up with a self employed father who’s always done his own work. I’ve been working since I was 14 years old. I think there’s a very big sense of work ethics for many people. That’s something that motivating. From small age, I’ve constantly asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up? What are you going to work at? How are you going to pay for everything that you want?”
I guess it’s this kind of a culture that you’re constantly pushing to grow more and do more. Also, there’s this thing in Israel where everyone thinks they’re a manager. Everyone wants to run their own company. I always joke and say that you get into a taxi and the taxi driver will say that he has a startup too. It really is a crazy scene where everyone wants to push the boundaries, and discover new things, and build new stuff.
They say that the biggest resource in Israel are the people. It’s probably something in the culture.
Louis: It’s a young country and there’s a lot of history in Israel. I need to dig a little bit deeper. I’m pretty sure there’s a rational reason and emotional reasons as well to this particular culture. I’ve never been to Israel but I think I need to go one day.
Talia: Oh, definitely.
Louis: There’s a big digital marketing event there that I’ve heard of, I don’t actually remember the name. You’ve also answered the question I wanted to ask after which was what makes you that driven because you’re a very outspoken person and you don’t mind leading the way and going against the grain. But you mentioned that the reason why all of that is happening is because you started to work from a young age and wanted to do something out of the situation and trying to grow. That’s quite interesting.
Let’s go back to the marketing bullshits. I know that’s what you like to talk about as well. What annoys you the most in today’s marketing?
Talia: I did mention it before but what annoys me is people cutting corners and funnelling best practices. Actually, there are two things that annoy me. One of them is the people that are writing these stupid best practices like, “One tip that you only have to do and it will increase your conversions by 3,500%.” There are marketers that actually follow these best practices. I’m not mad that they’re following the best practices because they don’t know what to do. I’m mad because they’re cutting corners.
Marketers are so lazy, maybe it’s not just marketers, it’s people everywhere. People cut corners. They don’t do their research. They find a leak in the funnel. They’re like, “Oh, there’s a problem with my landing page. Let me just Google and see what people say I should do.” Instead of doing the hard research and actually going in depth and understanding who their customer is and what would work on them. For some reason, people just think the best practices are going to save them so a red button is definitely going to work. Or if I reduce the amount of copy, that’s definitely going to work. That really annoys me a lot.
Louis: I can hear it. That’s true and there are a lot of people who mentioned the same thing or something similar. It’s true that we shouldn’t necessarily blame those people because as we say, marketing is hard but there’s one thing that is really striking at the minute in digital marketing, is that it seems like we, as marketers, are scared of talking to people. It seems like we try to find any piece of software possible to avoid having a conversation with people and spending time to understand them. Do you feel the same way?
Talia: For sure. You mentioned I spoke at Google. Back in October, I was teaching about mobile marketing and conversion optimization at Google. One of the things they were talking about is where is the world of marketing going today? I kept saying, “Well, we’re going to have artificial intelligence. We’re going to have automation and segmentation.” It’s not a bad thing, technology is amazing. It really is. We can do brilliant things with technology but I feel, similar to what you’re saying, is that people are constantly looking for tools, platforms, and shortcuts to get something to do the work for them.
We don’t want to speak to our customers. First of all, it doesn’t sound that exciting. Using a cool tool that does everything for you, that automates everything makes it sound way cooler than, “Hey, I interviewed my customer today and here are the three things that I learned.” Also, it does help you cut corners.
Especially, this is most of marketers, when you’re one person that’s doing everything, you’re doing the PPC, you’re doing the SEO, you’re doing the conversion optimization, you’re doing everything in the marketing company so you want to find these tools that are just going to do the work for you. But the problem with these tools is that no matter how good they are, you have to have someone behind them that knows how to build their logic.
Even if you have an amazing tool that knows what message to show at which time to your customers, you still need to put those messages in there. You still need to put the copy in there and you need to know what to write. I understand why people do it, but it’s still cutting corners. You’re not going to use those tools as best as you could if you did your research.
Louis: There is a good friend of mine who mentioned to me she’s working in a digital agency in the US. I’m not going to name it but they are desperately trying to get their clients to use machine learning and they are just talking about machine learning, try to get x clients to use machine learning in their work.
That’s what I was talking to her about. They are basically trying to sell a solution. They are trying to have a solution and they are looking for a problem to solve with it. That’s completely the wrong way. It’s about what challenges, what jobs are those clients trying to achieve and what type of technology tool process or whatever can we use to solve it, not the other way around.
Talia: This happens to so many businesses. When I talk to clients, I’m like, “What problem are you trying to solve?” And they’re like, “We have this really cool new scientific way to do machine learning or artificial intelligence.” I’m like, “No, not what product are you selling. What pain are you solving?” They don’t know. It didn’t come from that. They have this idea of a really cool product or a really cool tool but they don’t really know who they’re marketing it to or why.
Especially with agencies, by the way, agency work is really hard so people are trying to productize their work. They’re trying to get away from agency work because the old account manager type of work is harder to do today than it was in the past so they’re looking to productize themselves, that’s why they’re pushing machine learning as a code, which means nothing, by the way.
Louis: There is something else I wanted to ask you and that might be a very leading question but you position yourself as a conversion rate optimization specialist and you are known in the conversion rate optimization world as one of the experts there. I’m just curious, personally, do you like the term conversion rate optimization?
Talia: No, I hate it.
Louis: I knew that.
Talia: That’s like the quick answer. I hate it. That isn’t the right term. I see it as digital transformation. I see it as digital optimization or business optimization, I don’t know. I’m not good at copy. The problem with conversion rate optimization is that you’re talking about a metric. You’re talking again about a single KPI. That’s what most people think conversion optimization is about. They think, “Oh, I just need to get more downloads.” Or “I just need to get more sales.” But conversion optimization is far more than that.
Conversion optimization or whatever you want to call it, that’s why I call it customer driven conversion optimization on my website before I changed it to customer driven optimization, the idea is that you learn as much as possible about your customers so that you can change different aspects of your business.
The way it works with conversion optimization or any process that you do is essentially, you do the research about your customers. You understand who they are, what they’re looking for, what their pains are. When you do that, you can then transform and change almost everything: your onboarding process, your customer success process, your sales process, everything because now, you know more about your customer.
Conversion optimization and AB testing in general is a way of not just, “Oh, I’ve got more downloads now.” It’s about understanding, “Oh, these emotions are what trigger my customer. These are the specific things that my customers care about.” Now, I can give this information to the customer success teams so they use it when they talk to their customers and people that they want to leave the business or want to stop using our solution, we now know how to speak to them.
Louis: I’m torn between two thoughts because I agree with you 100%. I hate the term as well. I think it’s too much based on rational, scientific, number, and optimization. Meaning that you just make something better instead of just changing and transforming stuff.
I also know that a lot of people are looking for this term and would search for this term on Google, for example. Or would go to a conference to learn more about it because that’s what they learned the term is. Did you make a trade off by saying, “Okay, I’m going to mention that I’m a conversion rate optimization person even though I don’t like the term,” so that people can find more about you?
Talia: I’m really well known as a conversion optimization consultant and specialist. I still consider myself that but my main goal is to better understand why customers and why prospects buy from my clients. That is, at the end of the day, my main goal. I use that information to increase my client’s conversion rates as part of it.
I don’t mind using conversion rate optimization. I use it in my blog posts. But I do try to change the lingo and I do try to explain to people that I really do see it as customer driven optimization or business optimization and not conversion optimization. Rather so we can change our marketing, our onboarding, and customer success processes to fit the research that we’ve done.
Louis: Right. Let’s go into the tactical and the step by step. Obviously, we are going to avoid speaking about best practices per se and say this is the only way you can improve, but I think that we’re going to try to get into a step by step guide that anybody can take away, can learn from, and take a few things away from and improve their business.
First of all, let’s decide that we have a business that is selling a software, a Saas per se, business. We have a website that is there already and we have a few landing pages here and there with some visitors landing along them from PPC, Facebook ads, or organic traffic. Let’s say that we want to improve sales. We want to increase the number of people who buy from us. I’d like to go in step by step into how will we do that using your emotional targeting advice. What will be the number one step, the first step?
Talia: I broke it down into quite a few steps. First, you do the data. Get your analytics. You look at heatmaps. Where’s the leak, first off? That’s great. Google Analytics is going to show you where the story is. But next, most importantly, that’s kind of the biggest thing with conversion optimization. Genuinely, you have three steps. You have find the leak, make the change, and then test it.
Everyone understands how you find the leak. Everyone understands how to launch a test. If you don’t know, then okay, you can take a course on this or in that or you can read a blog post. But the biggest issue is like how do I know what to fix. I found I have a leak in my landing page. Now, what do I optimize? That’s where the emotional targeting part comes in.
The first step is actually doing customer surveys and research. I have a few different parts that I do. I do customer interviews and customer surveys. I do staff interviews and staff surveys. I do them both because A, I want to see the difference between what the staff thinks and what the customers are saying and B, because I wanted to see if I can learn a lot from them.
A, your customers have the answers. The customers know what they’re looking for. They will answer very technically if you ask them the wrong questions. They’ll say, “Well, we bought this product because the price was this, or because there was a sale, or because they have these and these features.” But if you ask why enough times, and that’s by the way, the secret. Why do you need this feature? Okay, why? Okay, why?
At the end of it, you get to the essence of their true pain, why they needed this solution. I ask the customers the questions and then the reason I also want to talk to them is because they give me the lingo. I want to you their words. I don’t want to talk about myself. I don’t want to talk about what I think I should be saying. I want to use my customer’s words. And then, I interview my staff or my client’s staff.
Anyone who has any touch point with the client, anyone who talks to them on a daily basis or emails them, I want to ask them what they think they’re selling, what they think the biggest pain of a customer is, what they think is the best way to convince someone to buy the product.
The next thing you do is competitor research.
Louis: Before that, I’m going to cut you right there, sorry.
Louis: Let’s go back to the first step again. You’re asking some questions over survey. I love the tactic of asking why many times until you get into the bottom of the issue or the bottom of the answer, but how do you do that over survey? Or would you prefer to do that over customer interviews?
Talia: I prefer customer interviews. The first step I’ll do is I’ll put out a customer survey. I’ll also ask in the survey if they are willing to have a conversation with us. Those who do, I will then have a 20 to 30 minute conversation with them on the phone or mainly, what I’d love to do is Skype or any video conference that I could have with them so I can see their face and the way they react to things.
In a customer survey, I will ask some questions. When I get into the interview, I can ask them the harder questions. What I mean by harder questions, as an example, it would be who’s your role model, or what do you like to eat for breakfast, or where would be your dream holiday spot? I ask questions that aren’t necessarily to do with anything, that have anything to do with the product or the solution that I’m selling because I want to get to know my customers. I want to understand who they are themselves internally, because that’s what actually matters.
As an example by the way, last year I worked at an e commerce site where I asked people who their role model is. The vast majority of answers were someone within their family. It was either a father or a mother. Most people said father. We use this knowledge to change our content, to change our images, to change the cause that we were using, to basically portray a more family, community loving strategy that what they were doing. That increased conversion rates immensely because now, we were talking about what mattered the most, what they cared about.
These kinds of questions are things that you really do want to ask and better understand. They are better than just saying, “Hey, why did you come to our website today? What almost stopped you from purchasing our solution today?” Very technical questions that you do need to ask. But when you dig deeper into the whys, you get really interesting answers.
Louis: For the staff question, would you ask basically the question you ask the customer by saying, “What do you think your customer’s role models are?”
Talia: Yes. I start by sending out the questionnaire to whoever can fill it out, everyone in the team, from the designer to the copywriter to the marketer and then the CEO, the customer success team, anyone, even someone who’s in product or whatever, even the developer who has no touch point usually with the customer. I like to ask everyone because you’ll see that there’s a huge difference between what each team thinks. That usually helps me also get everyone on the same level.
One of the biggest issues with these things is the designer thinks they need to do this. The copywriter thinks that they need to do that. The marketer has a different idea. Everyone’s thinking about the customer in a different way. When you have everyone’s answers and you put them together, you can level the field and say to everyone, “Here’s our customer. Here’s what they’re saying. Just so you know, this is who you are building a platform for, designing for, writing for, and so on.”
Louis: Do you have any ways to segment the customer you’re talking to because I would give an example, that’s some work we’ve done in the past where we have to identify the most profitable customers and just talk to them because we knew that 20% of the customer base was worth 80% of the revenue. Is it something you do as well?
Talia: Yeah, definitely. We start by identifying the level of awareness of a prospect. There are five different levels of awareness. We’re trying to identify if it’s someone who has no awareness whatsoever, or someone who is aware that they have a problem but they haven’t searched for a solution, or someone that is aware of the problem, they’ve searched for a solution, but they haven’t decided that you are the right person for them.
There are all sorts of different levels of awareness but once you understand the level of awareness of the person that’s coming to your website, it’s easier for you to optimize for them. Because if it’s someone who has no idea that they even have an issue, for example, collaborating. If you are on a team and you have no idea that you have an issue collaborating in the team, there’s no use for me to use an ad that says, “This is the best way to collaborate.” You first have to say, “Hey, are you having an issue collaborating? Here’s what you need to do.”
The first thing is just understanding what the level of awareness is of your customer and segmenting them according to that, to that level of awareness. And then you can start segmenting, marketing to each segment in that level of awareness.
Louis: Step one, you understand your customer. You talk to them. You get to their why. Step two, you started to mention it.
Talia: Once you’ve spoken to your customers and you’ve done staff interviews, and you’re in sync to see the difference between them, I then do competitor research. Competitor research does not mean that I want you to copy your competitor’s website. That’s another thing that annoys me in marketing because it’s just the blind leading the blind. People are just copying from each other because they think the other person knows what they’re doing.
What I like to do is look at my competitor’s reviews and testimonials to understand what people care about. For example, if you’re an ecommerce site and you’re looking at what people are writing, the reviews, you’ll understand what people are concerned about, what they’re worried about, what they would like to make sure that they have. That’s gold because you can use that as your content on your website. You can use that as social proof.
If you see that people constantly keep saying that they’re not sure about the durability of your product and how long it will last, you can have a testimonial saying, “Hey, at first I was worried it won’t last long but it lasted for three years.” Competitive research is very helpful.
The other thing that’s really helpful with competitive research is to understand where the market is at. I don’t look at a competitive research as in what features and products do they do that are better than mine. I actually look at what people feel about them. Do they feel animosity? Do they feel annoyed? Are they happy with the solutions that are out there right now? What are people missing? Do they feel they can trust the industry? Do they feel that they’re missing a specific key component?
It’s more of looking at the emotional side of things, of understanding what people feel towards a company, what they feel towards an industry. If that makes sense. And then I use that data to then understand where I want to position myself.
Louis: How do you do that? That would be step three. Once you’ve collected data about your customers, and prospects, and the staff inside the company and then once you know where your competitor stands, what will you do? Do you take a spreadsheet and try to find patterns? What do you do?
Talia: With the customer surveys and with the interviews, I start to look for patterns. What’s really interesting is you’ll see within customer surveys specifically, that things can keep repeating themselves. I recently did some work for an online university. At the end of the day, I went through hundreds of surveys but you could see that there were four or five things that people kept saying.
One of the things that people kept saying is they aren’t sure A, that they’d be able to study online, that they could keep up with the work, that they wouldn’t just stop and B, they weren’t sure about the level of the content that they would be learning because it’s online. These things, they keep repeating themselves. At the end of the day, you’re going to find things that aren’t repeatable but most people have the same concerns when it comes to a specific offer or solution.
What I do is I do an emotional content strategy. What that means is I write down the pains of my customers. What are the biggest pains that my customers are experiencing right now, before they find my solution? If I’m a dating site, for example, what are people feeling right now? They feel lonely, maybe they feel that online dating isn’t for them, maybe they’re worried that no one will choose them. They’ll have their profile there but no one will want to date them. Maybe they’re worried about what people will think about them, that they’re using an online dating service, all sorts of different kind of things.
I’m looking for the pains. I list those pains that I use from looking at the customer’s surveys, the interviews, and the competitor research. And then I say, “What would be the answer to that pain?” If I’m someone who’s worried that no one’s going to like me on a dating site, what would be my solution? My answer to that would be we’re going to find someone specifically for you that is a perfect match. You don’t have to worry.
I kind of have what are the pains and then I think about what would be the answers. What are the solutions to answer that? It’s like the conscious and subconscious of the customer. People say one thing but they really mean something else. You want to think about what the pains are and then what you would answer as a solution to their issues and then you start looking into the data.
Louis: Okay. Tell me more about this.
Talia: About the conscious and subconscious or about how I answer the questions?
Louis: How you answer the questions. Let’s make a summary. Exactly as you said, first of all, understand customers, understand the company you’re involved in, whether as a client or whether you work for them. Second step, I’m going to forget right now. I have a big blank.
Talia: That’s fine. We have customer research, which is customer surveys and interviews, staff interviews and questionnaires. And then we have competitor research, which is step three. Step four is emotional content strategy.
Louis: Great, okay. We’ve noticed that there are some big issues with our current landing pages or current funnel and we want to fix that. Would you actually advice to avoid just testing a call to action button versus another and really try to test concepts like different concepts?
Talia: Yeah. I have always said that I am against testing call to action buttons or titles. What I do is once I figure out the pains of my customers and what my answers to them are, I then think, “Okay, what does my customer want to feel?” If it’s an online dating site, let’s just continue with this example, if it’s an online dating site, the customer wants to feel loved. They want to feel that it’s going to be easy. They want to feel that someone is going to want them. They want to feel that they look good. They want to have a high self esteem.
I take all these things they want to feel and I think about the different raw emotions that they want. And then, I translate those emotions into a design. It’s not just changing the call to action button. It’s saying what copy can I use to illustrate those feelings? What design? What images can I use? What bulletpoints do I want to use? What colors do I want to use? Which fonts do I want to use?
Everything on that page needs to support that specific feeling. If I want to make people feel anticipation, trust, and stability, I want to think about how I can make those three feelings appear in my design. I use colors, fonts, images, and text to do that within my design. That’s what I test.
Louis: Let’s take a few typical emotions or typical feelings that we want our customers to feel. There’s one in particular. You mentioned trust. We need to avoid going into the best practice mode where we say, “Oh, if people do feed trust.” In general, what would be the typical thing that you would do so that people trust the brand?
Talia: The thing that’s interesting about trust is that you don’t have to say that you’re trustworthy. In fact, if you say that you’re trustworthy, people won’t believe you. You need to make people feel trust. The first thing that best practices say is use the color blue. No, that’s not how you make people feel trust. Trust, I would use social proof. What does that mean? That means not just saying, “This company is really trustworthy. I would trust it with my life.”
No. You go back to the customers you spoke to and you say people that said, “I was worried at the beginning but I couldn’t trust the company.” And you say, “Hey, what made you feel better about the company? How did you feel that you could trust us?” “Well, I felt that I could trust you because I saw that the company was around for 70 years. I saw that you have 24 hours customer service and I know that I have money back guarantee.” “Oh, great. Those are the three things that I’m going to mention. Or I’ll say, “Do you mind saying that in a quote and I’m going to use it as a testimonial.”
For trust, you use social proof. You go back to the customers and you use their words. You can use colors, yes. You can use the right images to portray trust. You can use different copy to portray trust. Again, it goes back to the level of awareness of the customer.
The idea is to understand the emotion that you’re trying to portray and then go back to the customer surveys that you did or even to the interviews you did with your staff and find those gems. Find those places where people mentioned the exact same things and how they solved them. You actually don’t have to make anything up. You don’t have to write anything from scratch. Your customers have said it all. It’s all there in your data sheets and all that data that you’ve collected from your customer surveys. You just have to pull it out.
Louis: Let’s take another example because I like the trust one. Can you name another feeling or emotion that comes quite often with your clients or in general that people feel?
Talia: Many times, my clients want their prospects to feel trust, anticipation. Maybe they want them to feel part of a community. That’s one thing. It’s part of trust right away. The whole part of the community thing is making them feel that this is a well known brand, that there are a lot of people in it, that it’s fun. There are all sorts of different emotions. I wouldn’t say there’s specific emotions that repeat themselves.
Trust is something that everyone wants everyone to feel all the time so it’s easy to say but it really does depend on your target audience and your product. Many times, most clients want you to feel trust. They want you to feel that this is a fun company so they want you to feel like it’s fun to do.
This is actually one thing that usually happens with products that are marketing to marketers. Because marketers are overwhelmed with tools, the amount of tools that are out there to make your life easier are insane, so one of the biggest challenges of a platform that’s marketing to marketers is to make them feel that it is so simple and fun and easy, that it’s a no brainer.
It’s one of the most important things because otherwise, people, if it seems too overwhelming, they’re not going to try it, they’re not even going to give it the time of day to try it.
Louis: How do you make people feel less overwhelmed?
Talia: I think that it’s a combination of many things. It’s the content that you use, it’s the copy that you use, it’s the images that you’re using and it’s also the colors that you’re using, the bullet points that you’re using.
One thing that I like to do, I talk about this a lot in my course, is the desired feeling versus the current feeling. When I’m doing my research and we’re doing everything we just spoke about, I talk about what does the prospect feel right now? What pain do they feel? And then I talk about what they would like to feel. If we’re talking about online dating, then someone’s feeling lonely, what they want to feel is they want to be loved.
You can portray both of these in your design. You can either say, “Well, to make someone buy from me, I’m going to show them the pain. I’m going to say do you feel lonely right now? Would you like to have someone? Tired of staying at home every weekend and making up excuses?” That says a different variation that’s like, “Here’s what your life could be like.” An image of a couple walking on the beach. “Your future is here. The love of your life is just around the corner.”
It’s two different strategies of understanding what works best on your customer, the current feeling versus the desired feeling. Does that make sense?
Louis: It does. You have those concept and then you would split test them to see which one worked best. Is there any other step after that or once you’ve done that and you saw it worked, you work on smaller elements perhaps or do you think your work is done at this stage?
Talia: No, definitely. What happens is once we start testing and we see that one strategy works better than the other, so we know that these emotions worked better than other emotions, then we can start getting into the minute details like call to action button, the specific copy, the bullet points that you’re using, the video or the image that you’re using.
You’re constantly testing and thinking about more ways to optimize that page. And then it doesn’t stop there because okay, maybe we optimize the landing page and we know that these are the emotions that we’re trying to work on, but now, I’ll go also to the sales emails that we’re using or the retention emails and do some testing there on the same emotions and see if we can also drive growth in there.
Louis: Once you find the concept and emotions that work and are relevant to those people, chances are in other places in the business, it might be helpful as well. I’m curious about one thing in particular because I believe that conversion rate optimizations sometimes could be really about manipulation instead of truth. There are a lot of examples where people would declare something about their product that is simply not true just because they know that this might convince more people to try. That creates bad profit in the long term. In your own work, did you ever have to work with clients selling products or services that you just didn’t like and felt like it didn’t feel good to work with them? Did you ever come across this type of work?
Talia: Yeah, definitely. When I started out quite a few years ago, I was looking for projects that I could just do just to test out. Obviously, I was taking on clients that today, I would never take on. But like forex or gaming companies and stuff that I would never do today but I did in the past because I felt like that was my great way to learn as much as possible in test and they had big budgets to spend on AB testing. I wouldn’t work with those type of companies today.
Louis: Why wouldn’t you? Because you have enough clients to work from that you can choose or did you have this sort of awakening where like, “Fuck that bullshit, I’m not going to work for these industries ever again.”
Talia: I think it’s a combination of a few things but most importantly I think it’s when I realized that conversion optimization is more than just that KPI. The thing with most companies, this isn’t just in the gaming. Most industries, they just think about how can I get the most sales right now? That’s why I’ve been doing a lot of testing on actual retention stuff. Because you get the customer right now, yes you get their money or they buy from you but your goal is ultimately to actually get them to keep coming back, to keep buying from you, and to keep a happy customer. Yeah, you can get their money one time, but have you won a customer? Have they become a loyal customer?
Many times, with these industries, I didn’t feel like that was the case at all. As you said, many times, companies just say stuff just because they want to sell. But then the customer gets really disappointed because they don’t get what they signed up for, or the customer success sucks, or people don’t answer their emails, that they don’t get their money back, or all sorts of different things that would really annoy me and would make me feel very uncomfortable to work with.
That’s why when I start working with any client, I’m constantly asking them about their retention plan. What do they do with their customer success? How do they help their customers? Because at the end of the day, that’s where the money is going to come in from. It’s far more cost effective to increase retention than just get new conversions.
Louis: What’s your advice to marketers working for companies that sell shitty products and services?
Talia: Get out of there. It’s a hard question because people, they work and they need the money or whatever. But again, I don’t know, if you’re not passionate about what you’re selling, how can you do good marketing? I don’t think you can. If you don’t believe in the product that you’re selling, if you don’t love what you’re doing, there’s no real way to actually do a good job unless you’re really in love with making money and then you’re probably not listening to this podcast anyway. You have to do what you enjoy doing, what you love doing.
Louis: What do you think marketers should learn today that will help them in the next 10 years or 50 years?
Talia: Research. I think everyone should learn old school research. Go back to Ogilvy. Go back to offline agency methodologies. That’s, by the way, how I built the emotional targeting methodology. I’ve worked in an offline agency so I took it from there and I just translated it to an online world. Learn the old school methodology because the old school methodology didn’t focus on data, they focused on people. That’s what marketing is all about. It’s people.
Louis: Offline world is a very restrained world, isn’t it? It’s full of people talking to each other and meeting each other. It’s very weird.
Talia: You know what’s really weird by the way, about the offline world? Is that the whole of the offline world is emotional. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen an ad for cigarettes, or for perfume, or jeans that make sense because it’s all emotional. No one talks about the product. No one talks about the price. No one talks about the features of your phone that they’re selling. It’s all about the amazing person you’re going to be if you buy this iPhone. How brilliant you are or what amazing self esteem you’re going to have if you wear these jeans.
No one talks about, oh, the jeans are made from this and this and we have five buttons and we have two pockets. That’s what the online world focuses on. That’s the difference. The online world talks about their features and pricing and how amazing they are. That’s why they don’t sell. The offline world is crazy and weird but that’s what sells, emotion.
Louis: I will argue that there are a lot of shitty brands out there who advertise badly offline as well. I know what you mean. You might say that I might go too far in this but I just have a lot of trouble accepting those ads saying a better you that sell bad products like Coca Cola and McDonald’s. I don’t have any problem naming them. Despite that way, I don’t like it because I think they’re lying to you.
Obviously, when you say bring your family to McDonald’s and you’re going to all have fun and have a better relationship with your kids. Well, not really.
Talia: Again, you have to say this. It’s great to know how to do marketing but you also have to have a good product. McDonald’s went and changed their colors from red to green and increased their revenues for like 30% a few years ago. Just because people felt that green felt more healthy. That’s flat out lying to people. It doesn’t mean that every brand that does emotion offline is a good product. I’m just saying that if you have a good product, you should think about how to do it emotionally too.
Louis: Fair enough. I agree with you. What are the top three resources you would recommend to people, to marketers in particular?
Talia: Copy Hackers by Joanna Wiebe. It’s a must have. Read the book by Dan Ariely, which is probably my favourite book in the world and that’s how I started this whole journey, which is Predictably Irrational. You can check out my blog, I guess.
Louis: That works.
Talia: Which is tons of resources about emotion, psychology, and how people make decisions.
Louis: What’s the address?
Talia: It’s getuplift.co.
Louis: Great. Talia, it’s been a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you so much for all of those tactics. I think a lot of listeners have learned a lot today. Thank you, once again.
Talia: Thank you for having me.
How to stand out: 9 bullshit-free lessons from world-class tech marketers
Insights from Seth Godin, Rand Fishkin, David Darmanin and 6 other world-class tech marketers.
I’m a no-fluff marketer living in Dublin, Ireland (but yeah, I’m French).
I believe you can treat people the way you’d like to be treated and still generate results without using sleazy, aggressive, hack-y marketing. This is why I’ve started Everyone Hates Marketers – a no-fluff, actionable marketing podcast – as a side project in April 2017.
I’m also the Content Lead at Hotjar – a powerful way to analyse people’s behaviour on your website or app and understand how you can improve their experience.