This episode is a special Facebook Live interview with Oli Gardner, international marketing speaker and Co-Founder of Unbounce landing page software. Today we are talking about marketing bullshit and how to fight it together. Oli shares his experiences growing Unbounce, how he measures marketing success and his advice to become a better marketer and drive more sales without compromising your values.
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No-BS marketing interview with Oli Gardner (Unbounce co-founder and conversion optimization expert), live on Facebook!
Posted by Everyone Hates Marketers on Tuesday, October 31, 2017
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Topics Discussed in this Episode:
- New Business idea challenge – $1000 and 6 months
- Misconceptions in conversion rate optimization and testing
- Avoiding dark and shady tactics
- How to become a more human centric marketer
- Tracking cohorts and customer lifetime value
- Product marketing at Unbounce
- Oli’s advice to young marketers
Louis: Welcome to everyonehatesmarketers.com which is a digital marketing podcast for tech marketers who are sick of marketing bullshits, and Oli wants to laugh already, which is great. That’s going to be a long interview. Oli has seen, at least he says, has seen more landing pages than anybody on the planet. He’s the co-founder of Unbounce, which is the landing page software. Today, we’re going to talk about marketing bullshit and we’re going to talk about how to fight it together. Oli, pleasure to have you here.
Oli: Pleasure to be here. It’s good to be in Dublin, thanks for the invite.
Louis: As you can see obviously using our hats, we are in Dublin indeed. I’m based in Dublin. Let’s start by saying that we actually struggle a little bit with this Facebook live. There’s a buffer between what we see and what you guys see. This is why we struggle at the start. I apologize if I cursed in front of you, guys. Please don’t take it personally, it wasn’t you.
As I told you before, I like to start my podcast with a tough question instead of just the usual ‘how are you?’ and ‘what do you do?’ and ‘where you are from?’ Let’s get straight into the first question I wanted to ask you, you created Unbounce nine years ago?
Louis: Eight. With five other co-founders?
Louis: What if you had to start a new business again, but with $1,000, six months to having results like basically returning investment of $1,000 plus, and you couldn’t use your name because Oli Gardner is kind of a brand now in marketing, people follow you quite a lot, and you speak at a lot of conferences, the trick here is that you cannot use your name. How would you go about it based on all the stuff you learned?
Oli: Interesting. I almost didn’t use my name the first time, calling myself landing page. We can get into that later. Wow, without using my name. First of all, $1,000 is more than we had last time, so that’s a good start. What would I do? First of all, I’d need an idea. I’m not really in the camp of, “Okay, I want to get rich.” I need an idea, I’d rather see something, a problem that needs to be solved and then build something to solve the problem. Six months, I’d have to really run around and find something that sucks that needs to be fixed. Hopefully a bit more meaningful than landing pages. I mean, yes, we technically changed the world a little bit because other people use them for good things. Did you mean like what would be my idea be?
Louis: Yeah. Let’s pick an idea right now. What problems suck at the minute that you like to solve?
Oli: Most of the problems I see are in bathrooms, in toilets. I’m not kidding. This is hard with a mic in my hand, but when you gotta wash your hands, sinks are one part of it. You want to wash your hands but the spouty thing doesn’t come out far enough that you’re touching the back of the thing with your hands and that pisses me off. Everything about them is wrong! Shower heads, I’ve been in a lot of hotels. You go to any shower in any hotel, it has those stupid twisty things with three modes. You can have the one where it spits on you, which is really annoying. Or you can have half spit, half drizzle, also annoying. Or you can have the one that’s just like proper shower, except there’s nothing in the middle now. If you looked at the data, it doesn’t exist, right? We need to connect something, we need to use internet of things to look at that, I guarantee every single one of those in every single hotel room, anywhere in the world, uses one mode because everyone tries them, go, “That sucks,” and they put it back.
Louis: Alright, let me stop you right here. We’ve identified your problem. It’s a funny subject, but it’s also serious business in a sense. That’s something that could have an impact on millions of lives. The first thing you would actually pick a problem that sucks that you’ve experienced yourself.
Oli: Yes, absolutely.
Louis: Now, what would be step two? How would you go about trying to make an impact and trying to sell something?
Oli: One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that I’d get up and speak about it right away instead of delaying that by five years. I think I’d make some little, Nicole, my fiancee, bought us an Arduino Kit, which is really cool. Has this circuit board and all these components. Part of the dream is that I’d make something with that, then 3D print a prototype, put it on Kickstarter, raise a bunch of money, get on Shark Tank. I’d love to do a physical product. I guess that’s why I feel so passionate about because I’ve done all the digital stuff which I’d have to do but I want a physical product.
Louis: You’d start with what people call an MVP or sort of a prototype that you can actually show people instead of just talking about it?
Oli: Yeah. But of course, if you showed them the thing that works, you need two prototypes. One that’s broken and fucked so you can show them side by side, I think.
Louis: You’ll take the one that doesn’t work and the one that you made that work.
Oli: Or have like an eject button, like an injector seat in a future car. Some things you’d have this product and you show it and you go, psht, and it throws away the piece that sucks so now life is changed, everyone sees the transformation.
Louis: You’re very creative. Let’s go back to this idea, because you picked it. I didn’t make you pick it. Now you have to stick with it for the next 10 minutes with me. You picked the problem and I like the idea of showing sort of an MVP or something that is real, but how would you then go about showing it to people? Kickstarter, that’s all fancy but you still have to prepare a campaign for it. What will be your strategy to find how to communicate to those people who might need such a product?
Oli: Set up a laminate stand in the street. With like a paper mache shower head and just get people to say what the fuck is going on here? If you can build a crowd standing around you, watching what you’re doing and have them do this, you need to get that. You know you’ve got a shared problem. That’s the moment.
Louis: How would you apply this principle online? I suppose this type of product doesn’t really sell very well online. Will it?
Oli: It will.
Louis: Will it?
Oli: Yeah. First, you got to go in QVC, the shopping channel. It’s a perfect channel for someone on Amazon or whatever but yeah, people have to be aware of it. That needs some kind of rope, funny campaign or something. I’m not going to use the V word because that’s really annoying.
Louis: Use it.
Oli: No, I can’t. Because that’s what bullshit marketers would do.
Louis: That’s true. When would you say is the biggest lesson, the biggest mistake you made in the last eight years in terms of launching Unbounce?
Oli: For the first six years, I would say we didn’t make any mistakes. But we have since. How meaningful is that?
Louis: That’s tough. You didn’t make any mistake. I know a little bit of the history of Unbounce, I’ve read a bit about it. One of the key success of your digital marketing was the Noob Guide to Digital Marketing, was it?
Oli: Noob Guide to Online Marketing.
Louis: That had a huge effect, a huge impact on your growth, right?
Oli: It was massive. We were part of the set of content pioneers back then, it wasn’t really being done very much. It’s a totally different environment to what it is now. Back then, if you do something incredibly big and bold, we still do now, but then it has the potential to shock more people and do a lot more. That thing specifically was a self referential learning process because I’ve never been a marketer before. I had to learn how to be a marketer. That massive infographic and blog post was about my six months journey to becoming a marketer. To burn this podcast because I thought marketers were sleazy before I start, my mission was to not be like that and that was a part of that journey. But, I like that concept but you have to do things completely differently now because everybody’s doing it, everybody copied all that stuff. Not things on that scale, I’ve not seen other people do something that grand but content marketing.
Louis: How would you go about it? Let’s say we picked a product that is not a physical product, that is something like software of some sort. With one grand or less, how would you go about raising the attention that people need to discover what you do? Would you actually do it differently than what you did with this big guide?
Oli: I’d probably because that’s in me, that’s my instinct, that’s where I go to, being ridiculous, doing something really big and bold and fast. I’d probably start the same way but I wouldn’t spend as long because that’s been a long time because of the design of that thing, that’s just intense. But the tough thing now, as I’ve heard from investors, a lot if investors won’t invest in tech companies right now if they don’t have any kind of AI or machine learning component to what they’re doing. That’s not all investors but tech investors, that’s becoming a prevailing thought. You at least have to have that at the back of your mind whether you’re going to do or not in the beginning because I can’t do it for myself but you at least have to have some concept that you’ll be able to in the future. Not for everything, but I would like that in the shower head.
Louis: It’s interesting to say, it’s rare when I interview an entrepreneur, somebody says, “We haven’t made any mistakes, at least any major mistakes in the first six years.” That’s tremendous. I mean, I know what you mean. You probably did make smaller mistakes but the fact that you were quite successful for about six years means that you probably didn’t do that many, right?
Oli: Yeah. At least not things that you go, “Shit. We shouldn’t have done that. I wish we should’ve done differently.” We did really good stuff. It’s hard to think. Maybe the first five years but yeah, we can talk about maybe what I mean by we’ve made some mistakes now in a bit but I’m trying to get to how do I answer this thousand dollar question. I don’t try to think what I’d spend the money on. I don’t know. I think I would just go crazy on content to begin with. The hard part, I’ll start a podcast because everyone’s doing that, however most of them are bad. There’s still a way in there but, the outreach is you can do that but without being able to use your name but you can just go, “Hey friends, can I line up 150 of you?” Everyone says, “Yes.” And then you got it.
The outreach would be very different if you don’t have any kind of name. In that way I think I’d just manufacture something interesting on myself so that people will pay attention when I do outreach.
Louis: Let’s go back to that. That’s the concept that I think we need to dig into a little bit. You are quite an eccentric personality, you have an eccentric personality, you have a very outgoing personality, the way you dress, the way you go about in speaking at conference is you have a persona that people do remember a little bit more than others. I think you have this understanding of being different, in a sense. But not being different for the sake of it, but just being different. What will be your advice then for people who want to have an edge, want to differentiate themselves truly, what will you say to them?
Oli: I think actually it comes down to speaking. Like I said, I waited five years because I was really terrified but the first time I did it I won an award for best presentation out of 65 speakers. So it is possible to do something for the first time and then have a blow up into something where you get asked to be in tons of places. I got asked to be there but if you pitch the right way with some things super ridiculous, you can get into your first event and then you just have to be a total badass. Wear something ridiculous, practice your ass up, have something hilarious in it, actually pitch to a really boring conference because then you’ll stand out even more.
Louis: Yeah. The marketing world, there’s a lot of people who are quite original in a sense, because that’s what marketers do, they try to stand out. And there’s quite a lot of people with personalities but I guess if you go to the, no disrespect to the type of industry I’m going to name but like the transport industry or the train transport industry of Alaska or whatever. If you specialize in that and have something that is different, it’s likely that you might have even bigger of an edge in a boring industry, almost.
Oli: Totally. That’s a common question I get asked all the time, “How do you market an unsexy product?” If you can go to unsexy product land, in terms of events and do something remarkable, like you’re in a similar niche, whatever your product is, and you make it sexy when every other person there can’t make it sexy, all of a sudden you’ve stood out and everyone wants to work with you. We’re in Europe, so ‘neesh’ is the way you say it. I saw a guy speak in the US, in Nashville. In US they say ‘nich’ it drives me fucking crazy.
Louis: Niche for Nashville?
Oli: Niche for niche.
Oli: The speaker, Tom Webster, I think it was. In his talk, he’s American. He delivers and he says ‘neesh,’ or as they say in France, ‘neesh.’ That drives me crazy on Shark Tank time when someone says ‘nich.’
Louis: Yeah, me too. Because that’s true, you said ‘neesh.’ You have to say ‘nich.’ We have a few questions or a few people came in. I’m the actual wrong screen, obviously.
Oli: It was first time, MVP.
Louis: Yes. MVP approach. Nichole is here, hi Nichole.
Oli: Not my Nicole. This is another Nichole.
Oli: Very familiar with Nichole.
Louis: And there’s Gillian who’s one of my ex-colleague. Hi Gillian. “It’s hard to hear Oli, the volume is very different between the two of you.” Thanks for letting me know.
Oli: Wow. What if I don’t sound good from now on?
Louis: It’s pretty bad. There are a few people watching, so I’m pretty sure it’s not that bad. Let’s pick it up again. I want to go back to a topic that you are pretty familiar with, which is one of the word I hate the most in marketing which is conversion rate optimization. It’s quite dirty. Landing pages, that’s alright. UX is a bit better as well.
Oli: Squeeze pages are not right.
Louis: Squeeze pages. Oh yes, that’s ‘99. It’s really like 2000.
Oli: Yes, it’s unacceptable.
Louis: That question actually is inspired by John Doherty, with whom you spoke to recently. John Doherty from getcredo.com. Let’s name the biggest misconceptions in the world of CRO, UX or landing pages. What will be the top answers you really want to debunk today?
Oli: First of all, it’s becoming a common thing in the industry, they take the r away. It’s not conversion rate optimization, it’s conversion optimization. Also, CRO is like Croatia, right? #CRO, you’re just mixing yourself in with all these Croatians. Some of whom are going to be marketers but most of them won’t be. Along that line, like testing. Everyone should be testing and testing is easy. Testing is really hard and not everyone should be doing it.
Oli: Don’t do it if you don’t know how to do it. Actually, learn how to do it, ask someone because everybody gets it wrong to begin with. I did it wrong for a couple of years, but if you have a low traffic site, you shouldn’t be testing. Optimization is more than testing, everyone thinks that testing and optimization are the same thing, they’re not. Testing is a part of optimization. Optimization is just making shit better than it was before. Being data driven is the biggest curse right now in our world.
My current talk I’m doing tomorrow is called Data Driven Design. A little way into it, I take away the driven and make it data informed. [00:19:20] says it best, be data informed and customer driven. Data is slowing us down, it’s supposed to speed us up but it’s slowing us down. I’m going to keep it anonymous but our CEO, Rick, shared a comment from someone in the company saying they couldn’t get any work done because they wait so long to get some data and some insights, and by the time they get it and it’s wrong, they move to something else, blablabla. It gets in our way. That’s part of what my talk is about, solving a problem. If you have a low traffic site, you shouldn’t be doing that. You should just be trying to fix little problems or just learn through observation on what’s wrong, Mcgivering.
Oli: It’s my favorite thing in the world.
Louis: I wanted to ask you a question but now I can’t stop thinking about this word. Mcgivering, love it. Yes! Because testing is a tool. Testing is not going to enable you to optimize your site or to improve the experience. It’s just a way to prove it, it’s just a way to get closer to the result, right?
Louis: Mcgivering. Got it in my head now. Typically, for websites with lower traffic, you wouldn’t advice to test anything, right? You would advice them to identify problems.
Oli: Yeah. I wouldn’t say don’t do AB testing. You can do other things, you can do five second tests, you can do usability testing. All the different kinds of usability testing, you can do that kind of stuff because that doesn’t need traffic, that just needs a few people. You should do that kind of stuff. Because if you are growing as a company, say you don’t have much traffic, you should, unless you suck and you’re not going to succeed, have decent amount of traffic in six months or something. If you can spend that six months learning what the problems are, by the time you get there, you have enough traffic to actually test that. But hopefully, we’ll make some changes before then but that’s kind of the mindset you should have when it comes to testing. Really, you should just be working all the time in the research to figure what’s actually broken so you can just fix it. Sometimes, it seems like it’s broken, you go, “Let’s validate that it’s actually broken.” No, fuck that, just fix it.
Louis: How would you go about finding out those issues?
Oli: Simple classic stuff. Watching people do it. Pull out your phone and look at your web, do stuff on your website on your phone. There’s a lot of people who haven’t done that. If you show someone their website on the phone, look how broken this is. “Oh, never checked that.” Or look in Google Analytics. The whole mobile first thing. Again, total bullshit. Look at nfl.com, nba.com, the world’s worst websites. They have so much money but their website is so terrible because they’re mobile first and then you look on a desktop, it’s just so bad. Look in GA. Michael talked about this the other day, he looked in GA and he goes like, “Oh, 1% of your conversions come from mobile. Why would you launch a new website, build mobile first if that’s the reality, the truth of your business?” You have to look at some of those fundamental things before you start jumping on the bandwagon and following how everybody else does that kind of thing.
Louis: Testing is one big misconception of so called best practice that is not necessarily true. Do you have any other that you want to fight against today?
Oli: I don’t know. I can’t think right now. We can come back to that.
Louis: We will, oh, we will. I actually sent an email to your good friend Rand, Rand Fishkin for most, I asked him to find the toughest question he could find for you, to put you on the spot right now. I haven’t sent you this question particularly, it’s not that bad actually. He’s asking you have you ever actually used dark patterns or this grey sidek, dark CRO type of tactics, you know that will increase sales, you know that will get more leads.
Oli: Yeah. For those who aren’t clear, dark patterns are behavioral things you build into your software or that you’re marking the experience that trick people or coerce people using negative forms of psychology to get people to do things, or often like having a check box automatically checked for buying insurance on a travel website or whatever and you go through, you don’t realize you bought it. Have I ever done anything like that?
Louis: Let’s be honest here and transparent, right? If you have, say it.
Oli: Oh, absolutely. I don’t think I have. We try to teach people, because we just launch new products, we have overlays, call them pop ups if you want, and sticky bars. When we did that, there was a bit of a feeling in the office, especially from developers. Developers by their nature, I seem to be finding, is they want to change the world, they really do. They want to build stuff, they make some difference. So when they heard about this, they’re like, “Ugh, are we going to the dark side?” We’re not because technology is not a problem, marketers are the problem. This technology can actually be a good experience when it’s done right so we try really hard to demonstrate ourselves at Unbounce how to do it in a respectful manner and you can use the different, more advanced targeting and triggers to do in a good way. However, when I put an overlay on a blogpost, I’m trying to test something. Instead of it being, sometimes we have 10 on our blog, different ones but if you see one, you never see another one again. When I was trying to get some rapid insight, I let it run like every visit, just for a day and then I know that’s not the way I wanted to do it but I wanted quicker insights. I guess I was going against my beliefs there but it was not trickery involved.
Someone sent me this email. I unsubscribe email recently, and there was something about orphans in it, whatever it was, the service, this business had something to do with helping orphans in some way. Right at the end of the email, where it should have the unsubscribed link, it had one of those Good Cop/Bad Cop things where it’s like, “If you want to click unsubscribe,” I said, “Oh, don’t believe in helping orphans anymore or saving orphans? Unsubscribe.” That kind of stuff’s evil. So no, I’ve never done anything along those lines. In fact, I was talking about having a new interaction model for an overlay where when you have that classic, “Do you want this?” No. So you can click like ‘no thank you kind of thing, do it in a respectful way. I was thinking of having a third one in the middle, which is like a “Maybe later,” especially on ecommerce, when you come in and they’re having a lot at the beginning. “I love that offer! I haven’t looked at your site yet.” So have a “Maybe later,” it then transitions, it becomes like a sticky bar or something that’s persistent and small as you travel around because you express interest.
Changing how the behavior works, we can create better experiences by doing that kind of thing. Have I done anything like that? No.
Louis: That’s a nice answer. To go back to one of the first thing you talked about, which is developers hate shady marketing, this is so true. You wouldn’t believe the amount of emails I receive every week from non marketers saying, “I like the podcast because you don’t use sleazy tactics.” This is something I’m going to have to change in my positioning for the podcast because it seems like more and more non marketers are listening to it, because they’re sick of it. They’re sick with normal marketing but they want to use it in order to sell their product or whatever. That was interesting.
I love this idea of having a “Maybe later” call to action on an overlay. That’s pretty smart, I haven’t thought of that. You have never used anything closely related to that. That’s good, I’m not going to try to squeeze you to think about something. No, no, it’s good.
Oli: I love if you’d found one and you’re going to go, “Let me tell you because the PS in Rand’s email was, ‘Because I found one.’” I can’t think of something, honestly.
Louis: That’s good. One thing I saw happening quite a lot is that I don’t think anybody would say, “Yes. Bad marketing is good or bullshit marketing or sleazy marketing is good.” Most people would agree with us when we say, “It’s not good, you shouldn’t do it.” However, once you’re under pressure every quarter to squeeze the conversion rate, get more leads, get more sales, this is when a lot of marketers tend to do that and forget them.. You know what, those people, they are just in analytics, I’ve never met them, they’re just a number now. Let’s just put this overlay for every single person and every time they close it you make them feel ashamed or foreclosing it. How would you convince those marketers to stop doing this and instead try to be a little bit more human centric?
Oli: There’s a couple of things. The biggest problem starts at the top is leadership. If we put pressure on people on our teams for that short term thinking, then they’re going to turn to those things in the panic moment. It begins with leadership, we shouldn’t be putting that pressure. Some people are self employed so they have no pressure apart from themselves. I think affiliates are largely to blame for a good portion of it, not slamming all affiliates but the main premise of affiliate marketing is that you just need to get a sale, you get paid for it and off you go. You’re not responsible for what happens next. You’re not responsible for the quality of that customer, for their lifetime value, for what they go on to do, how engaged they are, what products they adopt, all that kind of thing, they’re just getting into the gate and signing up. That kind of thing is the problem.
Our metrics have to be tracked deeper for everyone on the team, so you can actually see whether, let’s say, when you’re onto that pressure and you do these things or what’s the quality, track the cohort, that’s not going to save you in the moment but if you at least can be doing that, you have evidence to send back up. Look, we tried that, these leads are garbage, we did those things. Because there will be a portion of people who leave and you create a bad experience, less now than it used to be, I think, because some of the tactics that people use are becoming more and more familiar. Once it’s really bad, it’s less of the ugh, close on the how many times I put my hand in front and made this blurry. Start putting my hand behind my back.
Louis: Let’s talk here because that’s a very important thought and I think we need to break it down a little bit further because you used a lot of concepts that are quite important. Before that, you guys listening live on Facebook are more than welcome to drop questions on Facebook and we’ll take a look later. If you are listening to the replay, feel free to send us emails and I’ll forward that to Oli, or if I can answer myself, I will as well, you can also participate and if you are listeners to the podcast, thank you for staying on because I know it’s not easy to listen to recorded version of a live event.
Having said that, let’s go back to one key concept you just mentioned, which is extremely important, it’s the fact that you can prove that good experience, human experience, that can be proved. And you used a few words that are important, cohort, first of all. You would advise to actually compare a group of persons who have been exposed to the sleazy type of marketing that select pop ups and aggressive marketing, and compare that to an experience that is much more humane, perhaps you will get less leads from this experience, but those leads might be, that’s a hypothesis for now, might be much more qualified than those ones that you kind of forced through the funnel, right?
Oli: Yeah. Another way of combating this is to have core values in your company. We talked about Rand, they have tag fee. We have six core values as well, we don’t have a cool acronym. But when you have some of those, one of them is delight, which is very common, delight has been an over talked about concept. But if you actually live by these, when you’re going to set that setting on that thing or send an email if you ask yourself the question, “Is that delightful?” Then if the truth is that it’s not, you either have to change it or get angry at your boss for making you do that. Because then you’re breaking your own internal values and rules.
Louis: In Unbounce, are you actually measuring lifetime value for every customers and are you tracking that back from the channels they came from or is it difficult for you?
Oli: Attribution is a nightmare. Talk about new business ideas, whoever gets attribution figured out and it’s a simple implementation, that’s going to be a product that everybody wants and needs. That’s really hard. There are people on the team doing that kind of thing, so I’m not involved in that. But yes, we’ve always tracked cohorts.
Right now, one of the great things about that, I don’t know if I’m pivoting too much here, because we released new products, now we’re looking at lifetime value and churn according to people who use landing pages only and people who adopt our other products and see the difference between those things and it’s crazy, the difference, but it can take you several months to figure that out, you have to have a bit of patience and faith in your concepts there. Especially depending on your business model, we used to define a customer, someone who had paid us once. They go through a trial and then they pay us once more after getting through it. Now it’s three times. Now that cohort doesn’t exist until the three month point. You have to be really patient.
Louis: That’s the word again. I think that’s something that a lot of marketers don’t have because of the pressure they feel in order to deliver results. I believe, and that’s me speaking, I’m not trying to speak for Oli here, but I believe that you cannot do good marketing and think short term at the same time. You have to let the experience run through for a while, you have to let those customer experience your product for a while in order for you to know for real whether your marketing efforts are worth it. I mean, as you said, if you define a business by just somebody who paid once, in a subscription business, you are likely to acquire people to just pay and then leave much faster. If you define a business, as you said, three times or more, then that changes the whole picture because you need to get customers who use your product, who’ll love it, who’ll recommend it to others, that’s a different way of thinking almost.
Oli: Yeah. If that’s who you’re getting, if you have high churn then you have to change your marketing style, because you can’t just keep doing that, something has to change. One mistake that we made, we’ve made that mistake, we’ve always cared about things like churn but we didn’t set up our definition of a customer correctly initially. First of all, it was just like MTS, what we call it, your trial start, then it became activated which is someone’s paid us once and has used certain features, now it’s three months and dadadada, so we’re getting more advanced in the definition of good customer. You only do that by learning but you don’t need to learn that if you can hear someone else tell you that’s a good thing. Hopefully that’s useful.
Louis: Especially if he’s wearing a weird hat.
Oli: Take me really seriously.
Louis: Please, please do. I like what you’re saying here, because that’s not something you guys are very voicy about, actually. Maybe I’m not reading enough of your blog or listening enough of your talks, but I don’t feel this is something that you’re advocating enough and I think you should because creating good customer is the basis of good marketing. That’s actually very nice to hear from you because I didn’t think you were doing it this way or thinking about it this way, so that’s quite nice. I think you should write about this subject very soon.
Oli: I think what’s coming up in January, I guess we can talk about it whenever you want actually has a lot of relevance.
Louis: Before doing this show right there, Oli dropped a bombshell and said, “We have something new in Unbounce coming up very soon.”
Oli: Actually, not something new in the tool of product, something new from approach perspective. The thing I said that we did wrong recently is, I’m not throwing anyone at the bus because it’s a collective realization, is that we launched new product and our adoption is pathetic. 7% of our existing customers are using a new product, it was 6% when I actually heard it first. Actually had a meeting with some people and I wrote on the top of the white board: We have 1.06 products. Which is devastating to read out loud like that. We have to do a better job of product marketing and part of that is we’ve been too nice as marketers, we shouldn’t get sleazy but we have to focus a bit more on product marketing, learning how to actually, in a useful way, explain and share what our product is with people because you can’t do business if you’re not able to do that. This is because it’s new for us, we only had one thing before, now we have more than one.
It’s a completely different mindset in terms of communication, all that kind of thing. I’m going to take it on myself to reverse, go back to how I was when we started the company, because I’ve stepped away from the marketing team quite a bit, I’m mainly out as a speaker. I want to learn how to be a product marketer. Rewinding all the way back to the start where I learn to be a marketer, I want to learn how to be an amazing product marketer. To kick that off, in January I’m getting back to beast mode, I have #beastmode on the whiteboard behind of my desk. Side note to myself. Solidarity is the word I’ve been searching for a year to describe something else and I keep forgetting it.
I’m going to write 31 posts in 31 days in January about product marketing and this can be self referential journey, kind of back in the old days, share a lot of metrics, see if I can change this number basically. Not just me, everybody else but I’m going to just go a little crazy again and see what I can do by doing all of that because it’s not good enough.
Louis: So you’re going to make it a public mission almost?
Louis: That’s pretty interesting. Thanks for sharing this number, by the way, because not many companies will be willing to share that live like this. And thanks for being kind of vulnerable because that’s also what you are doing right now, to be honest and transparent which is really good. You’re not the only software company suffering from this at all. That’s something that many, many software companies suffer from. That’ll be really interesting to hear how you guys are going to tackle this in the next few months and perhaps we can do something again about this, to talk about product marketing in more details which is an interesting concept.
Let’s look at if there are any questions or comments coming up. The guys from Learn Inbound, Learn Inbound is probably the best digital marketing conference in Ireland, if not in Europe. The quality of the speakers is tremendous and the organizers are really nice.
Oli: I love the organizers. It’s tomorrow. I’m speaking after lunch. Seriously, I commented on Twitter. Some of my favorite organizers, Paul and Mark, they are just amazing. They’re just lovely, they take care of everything, really delightful and calm manner, which is amazing as a speaker.
Louis: Calm is the keyword, because they are here for the long term as well. Once again, this is the theme that keeps coming back. They are here for the long term, they are here to make an impact and they are taking it slow. I also very much like the way they organize things for the guest to make them feel at ease. For example if a woman feel threatened by potential guest or not really nice of them or whatever, they can talk to the organizer with their secret words and say, “If something happens, we’d just put you in a taxi for free and make sure that you’re safe.” They are really taking care of their guests and I really hope that many more conferences will adopt this.
Oli: It’s so important. Rand is doing a project called Project Event Safe, which he announced MozCon this year, very emotionally, he was in tears on stage because this it’s a very personal reason why he started it. I fully support that and it’s an amazing thing he’s doing. As you can see on Twitter, look on Twitter moments everyday right now, men are being exposed for the disgusting things that they’ve done to women, it’s kind of shocking how quickly it’s all being uncovered and it’s amazing because so many things were covered up. Twitter is this amazing venue, it’s exploding right now, it’s tragic and scary to see, the truth behind some of these stories but it’s amazing that it’s happening. It’s great that conferences like Learn Inbound are taking this stuff seriously.
Louis: It’s a pretty heavy subject and I feel a little bit odd wearing this hat right now. You can still make fun of me if you want to. Nichole has been tagging every single person on Facebook, thank you very much, Nichole. Mariana 00:45:55 is saying, “I’m Croatian and I’m a marketer, this is the first time I heard someone put CRO and Croatian in the same sentence.” And Nichole is also showing that she is listening because she just quoted us saying, “You cannot do good marketing and think short term at the same time.”
Right. Let’s move on to a more marketing oriented subject. But I appreciate that we are talking about those important subject as well. We are recording this episode on the 31st of October 2017. If you are listening to this later on, the Learn Inbound Conference was on the 1st of November but they are organizing one every six months in Dublin. If you are not in Dublin, you should make the trip, seriously, you should.
Let’s go back to marketing. Let’s talk about landing pages in more details. I have a love/hate relationship with landing pages, not the landing page themselves but this how to create this perfect landing page bullshit. Every business is different and yes, you should need to use a call to action that contrasts with the rest and all this kind of things. I feel that sometimes we forget about the people behind it. Your business is different. What do you feel about this because I know you’ve been talking about creating this perfect landing page a few times. Do you think we are going too far?
Oli: Jokingly. I had this [00:47:32] page which was an absurd, putting all of this data and design wrapping up into this beastly manifestation of marketing. All fairly tongue and cheek in terms of the end result, there’s no perfect landing page. We need bad landing pages.
Louis: Can I tell you that this talk, I can guarantee that if you thought that what you should be doing, but this is the issue with the best practice and following best practice blindly is that no, it’s not because you create structure or landing page and it will convert.
Oli: What I love now about machine learning is that we’re starting to be able to disprove commonly held beliefs. The number of form fields can impact conversion rates but it’s not predictive, you can’t just do it and it’ll have an impact. Same thing with having your call to action above the fold, there are many circumstances, we a lot of ours now, where we put at the bottom. Because as long as you don’t have navigation, if you put at the bottom, you encourage people to hunt, to have to look for it, so they see more of your content, they have the potential to become a better customer because they understand you better. You have to learn to not be afraid of those things and the insights that are going to come from machine learning will speed up our access to these insights so that we won’t have to try and lean on as many as of these things as we have in the past. I joke when I give that talk because the final thing, everything I say running up to that is great, but the actual final thing is an absolute joke. I joke with people if they apply for Unbounce because we asked to complete a landing page. If they did it like that, I’d hire them immediately. No one’s actually sent that page to me. I think people don’t think it’s serious. That’s good.
Louis: Hint, by the way. If you want to be hired by Unbounce. There is one thing I want to talk about in the landing pages and converting this traffic is that, I think there is this research, I believe, that was done by WordStream, they were talking about brand affinity. It makes sense when you talk about it but the more qualified your traffic is, the more qualified the visitors landing on your landing pages is, the more they know your brand, the more likely they are to convert. That’s a scientific fact, there is a strong causation between the two.
Oli: True fact.
Louis: True fact. #truefact. I think this is where people should start, bring the good traffic to your landing page, don’t believe that because you have a good landing page, that it’s going to convert, right?
Oli: Yeah. We’ve got an algorithm that can predict conversion with 80% confidence. But what we’ve learned because all of the algorithms is based entirely on on page content, just the words on the page, when we can’t get it passed there, but now we’re analyzing the traffic coming in. Yeah, your page can only give you so much. And you can also have a terrible page if you have really great traffic. They all have to work together. Also, we have to get better attribution because just because some of them didn’t covert in your landing page, doesn’t mean it didn’t helped them, it doesn’t mean it didn’t help them on their path. I’ve used to say all the time, don’t link your logo back to your website. If you’re doing lead gen, that’s a really good thing, don’t do that. But if it’s a branded search campaign, and they come to this landing page, maybe there’s not enough stuff there. Having a link on your logo to the homepage can actually be beneficial, it didn’t convert there but they might on your website. It really depends, we can’t just blindly follow every little piece of advice in every place.
Louis: But there is this theme coming back is this attribution. It’s funny because so many businesses are talking about it to be an issue. You guys haven’t figured that out yet. You don’t have this model where you are 100% certain about or is it a built in custom built type of model that you have internally?
Oli: I can’t speak the specifics because I’m not sure, but we do have people focus specifically on that, we have a large data team and we have a marketing automation person, they work together to figure a lot of this stuff out, but yeah, 100% no, it’s never going to happen. We’re getting better and better all the time but that doesn’t help if it’s not communicated. You can have someone figuring that stuff out in the company but if it doesn’t come back to every marketer who’s doing things, they might think that their campaign is not working and maybe this. It’s also a reporting, it’s also a communication problem.
Louis: Yeah. This is it, think about it as a full journey not as isolated events and you might be surprised with the results. There are some cases where people abandon your landing page very fast but they might come back a few months after or a few weeks after and once again, it comes back to the patience that you must have in order to know whether your effort’s actually worth it. I also sent an email to Patrick Campbell (who talked about SaaS monetization in this podcast), who’s the CEO of Price Intelligently. I don’t know if you know him personally, but he came up with a good question that actually asks, I think you actually answered which was, “What’s the biggest business bet that you’re making right now that might tank your business in the future?”
Oli: We’re confident that it’s going to work, convertibles is what it is, which is an umbrella term for series of products, actually we have three bets. I’ll just come out and say, but three bets actually. We used to have tons of different goals, this, this, this, business goals, company goals, and then department goals, team goals, personal goals. It drives me crazy but now we have this very simple three bets, we have to fix the product marketing for convertibles which is the umbrella term for these different tools like overlay, sticky bars and many other things we’re going to release. We have to do the second part, now, I’m not going to talk about this one because it’s an amazing insight about our customer’s that are competitors could copy it if I shared it. I can’t talk about that one. But we figured out a part of a customer that makes them worth way, way more than other customers. That’s all I’ll say.
Then the third one is a machine learning, we’re getting really close to productizing some stuff, I can’t talk about that either but we’ve been doing R&D for two years now. Some thing’s working, some weren’t and we’ve latched on at something we found, something that does work. Those three things, and I believe it will succeed as long as we do them right. Product marketing, we don’t do right currently. We think we know what they are, you just have to do it properly.
Louis: Within the organization, are you actually using the words bets?
Oli: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Louis: You have these three bets, everybody is aware of these three bets and everybody is working towards those.
Oli: Yeah. It’s pretty new, they are but yeah, we’re trying to structure ourselves to make that easier but it’s a new thing.
Louis: Oli, you’ve proven that you are quite a transparent and honest person.
Oli: Unless I’m lying.
Louis: Wait for it. I want to put you on the spot right now. I’m trying to find something as final answer to this question. You’ve been very transparent about the story of Unbounce and how you get started and all this kind of things and on stage as well. Can you think of something in Unbounce or you as a marketer that you haven’t told anybody ever that you want to share today that might be valuable for people?
Oli: Wow, ever.
Oli: There is something that’s only been told like once or twice on small podcasts. Whether it helped or not, I don’t know, but this was quite early on maybe two years in, we ran out of money and the decision was made that someone, one of the six founders will have to come out for an undetermined period of time. We couldn’t stop the product development so it was decided marketing would take the hit. That was me. If I had to leave Unbounce, I would still be a founder but I have to go and do something else, find another job for no idea how long. I accepted that, it’s actually quite upsetting until one of our old co-founders challenged me on. He said, “Why the fuck are you okay with that?” I wasn’t okay with it. I went home and I don’t even remember what I did. I didn’t remember this had happened for years, I pushed it out of my memory because it was so emotionally disturbing. It came out in a conversation in Montreal with Dan who just left and I just remembered it.
I went home and I played with numbers, I don’t know what I did, I did something that made it work, whether it was taking this much from… If we just got a little bit of money, not a lot. I don’t know, I found a way and came back, presented it and they said, “Oh, you’re right.” So I didn’t leave. If I had left, we would not be the same thing because our marketing was so important in the early days, there’s no way we could’ve done without it. If I hadn’t questioned that, we wouldn’t be the same company.
Louis: Wow. That’s a pretty good story, I have to say. Thanks for sharing it. That goes to show you that creating a business, launching a business, even if you have five other people to rely on could be really tough mentally, psychologically and the fact that you forgot about it on purpose to not be hit on, to be hit by it all the time is pretty telling as well. Thanks for sharing that. This is the answer I was looking for, this type of answer actually.
Oli: Okay, good.
Louis: As I’ve said, I’ve received a few emails in the past around non-marketers, people who are not necessarily in marketing and want to get into the marketing field, so not developers per se who want to use marketing in their product but more younger graduates who want to get into the marketing field. I’m pretty sure you’re going to go against the grain compared to most career advice out there but what could be your number one advice for those aspiring marketers who want to get into the field, what would you do if you were them?
Oli: I’d become a macgyver, that’s first. You have to start getting pissed off with the world, I think. Analyzing, looking at everything around you all the time and everything you see that sucks, figure out where in your mind or whatever to solve that problem, whether it’s sinks or shower heads or whatever. When you do that, you will become a better designer, a better optimizer, a better marketer, a better business person. That’s where it starts, but I’d also learn how to write, learn how to code a little bit, like buy an Arduino and do that. Figure out some stuff because you need to learn a little bit of coding, even some basics so you can either call bullshit on someone who says, “Oh, you can’t do that.” You can at least get scrappy and make something yourself. Growth hacking, I hate the term.
Louis: You said it first.
Oli: I didn’t use the V word though. For me, all that is it’s a term that has been beneficial because it’s empowered technical marketers, some people don’t even like that term but to have an identity because developers, I’ve said this before, developers often look down on marketers because they’re not technical, you’re not smart, or you’re sleazy or whatever, but some marketers know how to do this stuff. Having that term, that people could latch onto has actually been beneficial for the marketers who don’t fit into that usual slot. Our growth guide Bryan at Unbounce is just savage! He’s from Dublin. I hope I didn’t get it wrong, I think he’s from Dublin. He’s just insane with things he does and I think it’s because he’s got a bit of that technical background.
Learn to speak, start speaking, we just put on a thing called Center Stage which was a 2 ½ day bootcamp workshop in the Unbounce office for getting more women speakers in marketing. We have 15 women come in, we had 5 coaches, had me and Michael Aagaard, we have Krista Seiden from Google, Kristen Craft who was at Wistia previously. It was incredible, just going through that kind of things. Learn to speak.
Louis: I think that fits pretty much in with the next question I wanted to ask you, which would be what are the top three resources you would recommend marketers out there?
Oli: I suck at this question. I don’t know whether this means I’m a narcissist or just lazy in some ways, I don’t pay attention to lot of what goes on. I don’t have resources of my own, I’m very self focused and driven and I just make up my own shit. I don’t pay an awful lot of attention. Obviously, resources for me are other speakers. Dinner conversations or watching a few of them speak at conferences, I don’t watch every video, I watch a couple of people. That’s where I get my stuff. I would say we’re about to launch something in two weeks that I can’t also talk about which is really cool so follow me on Twitter, whatever and you will hear about it in about 10 days or two weeks, which will be a great resource for any marketer. You have to ask someone else that question.
Louis: I get you, I get you. I would be the same. I do read a few books every now and then but I tend to learn most of my stuff now from this, right now. It’s crazy, the amount of stuff I’ve learned. Recently I talked to Andre Chaperon, who’s an email marketing genius genuinely. You wouldn’t believe what he comes up with, and I learned so much from him in an hour. I wouldn’t have been able to learn that anywhere because he’s the only one doing what he’s doing and this is it, I believe, once you become a creator instead of a consumer, this is how you can start to learn. You learn by just listening to others when you are creating your stuff.
Oli: Yeah. And be a maker. Buy a 3D printer or an Arduino or whatever it is, start making stuff, start Mcgivering stuff. I have a slide in my talk where I show how I Mcgiver the shower curtain in our bathroom. It’s so good.
Louis: To go back to what you said about Unbounce and then your feature, once again if you are watching that on replay, it’s very likely that you guys would have realized it already. Check out the Unbounce page, unbounce.com and see what they’ve come up with.
Oli: They’d do something on our blog for sure.
Louis: The last question I wanted to ask you and actually you mentioned it which is pretty good, what speakers or marketers would you recommend me to speak to in this podcast, who are not so called famous or who don’t have the aura that Rand Fishkin or Seth Godin or yourself would have, but people who are looking to get into the scene whom you know are very talented and creative and smart and whatever you want to call it.
Oli: It’s so hard because there’s so many obvious talented people. This might be obvious too, but Andy Crestodina is one of the content marketers alive, he’s also the nicest man alive. There was a guy, Tyler Farnsworth, we had speak at CCA Conf this year, our conference in Vancouver. He’s a lovely guy too, he was quite impressive. We do a lot of research on the speakers that we invite and I didn’t do any research on him other than I was speaking at a gig in Phoenix and I killed it, I was amazing, it’s my first gig in here and I knew I was amazing and I’ve got the speaker ratings and I was number two out of like 40 speakers. I was like, “Who the fuck beat me?” And they said this guy. I said, “Alright, we’re getting him.” I didn’t need to look at the video or anything, I just said, “We’ll get him. If he beat me on that day, that’s all I need to know.”
Louis: What did he speak about?
Oli: It was influence on marketing, I believe. I didn’t see that. We were at the speaker dinner the night before CTA and I said, “So, she’s doing the same talk, right?” And he’s like, “No.” I know! This was that good, it was. But that’s a modified version.
Alexa Hubley at Unbounce. We coach several people every year. She spoke at CTA. We said, “Hey, anyone pitch if you want to speak to our employees.” Four women applied and no guys because they’re lazy and they all did a short presentation, we picked her and then coached her. Here’s a tip for you, I’m a founder, sometimes that’s scary, I don’t know why but I guess it is. She didn’t go with some email, “Hey, is it okay if I reach out for some help?” She sent me eight calendar invites with hour slots for speaker coaching. Okay, yup, yup, yup, yup. If you want to get inside, that’s how you do it. She was awesome and she’s now speaking at a bunch more events. There’s one with Google, Krista Seiden. Got her in there, it was great, I did that couple of weeks ago. She’s going to be speaking at Conversion Excel next year, Pat Flynn’s event. She’s wonderfully charming, her talk is great right now. What it’s about? It’s about customer marketing. Very human centered customer marketing. Yeah.
Louis: Interesting. Going to send them emails, absolutely. Let me check if there are any questions we can answer before closing this first live. Thanks for sticking with us because that’s a trial for me, obviously and that’s not something I’m used to and that’s not something Oli is used to because the first and last Facebook live you did was 10 seconds.
Oli: 10 seconds, Helsinki two weeks ago.
Louis: We beat that by 600 times.
Oli: 6000% left, green check mark.
Louis: Yeah, boom.
Oli: Bullshit data.
Louis: No more question. Nichole was saying that Louis is good with the tough questions.
Oli: Cool. He is.
Louis: That’s true.
Oli: Which is nice, I never want to be asked again, “What are the five essential elements of a landing page?” Fuck that shit.
Louis: I didn’t ask. Yes! Yes! Right. Oli, before we stop this first Facebook live podcast episode, anything you want to share?
Oli: I’ve never said this. I talk about Nicole all the time, my fiancée. I love you! I’ve never done it before.
Louis: So fucking cheesy. Oh my God.
Oli: She’s going to be glowing red right now. She’s not here with me in Dublin.
Louis: In the back of my mind I was like, “Please don’t say that. Please don’t say it.”
Oli: I do feel kind of cheesy right now.
Louis: You are cheesy.
Oli: But wearing a green hat.
Louis: Oli’s pinned tweet is him and Nicole. After you proposed, right?
Oli: I’m getting red now in the face, I can feel it.
Louis: I thought the French were romantic. The Canadians are.
Oli: I’m also. It was in Scotland. I grew up in Scotland, so maybe that’s why.
Louis: There you go. Where can listeners and watchers, viewers of this live episode or even the replay can connect with you, learn more from you?
Oli: Twitter’s the easiest. That’s where I respond fastest. It’s just @oligardner on Twitter. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org but Twitter’s fastest way usually.
Louis: Alright. That’s it then.
Louis: Oli, once again, thank you very much.
Oli: Thanks for having me on. This have been awesome.
Louis: Great! Bye guys! Thanks for sticking around.
Oli: Sorry for embarrassing you Nicole, and myself.
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.