Brian Massey is the Conversion Scientist at Conversion Sciences. He joins the show to explain how he generates more sales for websites through his services.
Brian Massey calls himself The Conversion Scientist and he has the lab coat to prove it. A trained Computer Scientist, Brian realized soon after college that his social skills would doom him in the computer programming field. He took a sales job out of college, but ended up in marketing where his skills as a scientist could be less ignored. It was the beginning of the golden age of online marketing, and he wasn’t satisfied to spend his days sending mass emails.
To fully spread his scientific wings, Brian began his own online marketing laboratory and called it Conversion Sciences. Now, with almost 20 years of online marketing experience, this programmer / marketer / entrepreneur has helped thousands of companies of all sizes from all industries be successful on the Web.
Brian is a husband, father of two, national speaker, writer and consultant living in Austin, Texas, where life and the Internet are hopelessly entwined.
Visit Conversion Sciences at www.conversionsciences.com.
Find out more about Brian Massey at www.conversionscientist.com.
Narrator: Speakers, publishers, consultants, coaches, and info marketers unite. The Speaking of Wealth show is your road map to success and significance. Learn the latest tools, technologies and tactics to get more bookings, sell more products and attract more clients. If you’re looking to increase your direct response sales, create a big time personal brand, and become the go to guru, the Speaking of Wealth show is for you. Here is your host, Jason Hartman.
Start of Interview with Brian Massey
Jason Hartman: It’s my pleasure to welcome Brian Massey to the show. And we have a scientist in the house, that is a conversion scientist, and we’re going to talk to Brain about his show and I discovered it a while back and really enjoy it. And we’re going to talk about some of the big problems we face as entrepreneurs, speakers, authors, consultants, info marketers, thought leaders, whatever we are it all falls under the entrepreneurship banner. And let’s talk about how we can make our websites convert better. This is obviously a critically important thing, and Brian is joining us from beautiful Austin, Texas today otherwise known as awesome Texas. Brian, how are you doing?
Brian Massey: I am doing great, and yes it is awesome Texas.
Jason Hartman: Let’s talk about some of the problems. The nice thing in talking to you is you’re really in the crowd of our audience. You’re an entrepreneur, you’re a speaker, you publish… so you can really kind of understand what some of the challenges are. And then let’s talk about how we can solve some of those challenges.
Brian Massey: I think the number one challenge is for… I started conversion sciences in December of 2007 so I’ve been doing this quite a while. And made the decision that I was going to be a content marketing approach, because i enjoyed presenting. I enjoyed speaking and I enjoyed writing so this was going to be my primary marketing tool even though back then we hadn’t really coined the term content marketing which was the direction I decided to go.
The point behind this kind of approach, which served information marketers, authors and so on, consultants, coaches, is that you’re building a list. You’re building a list and hopefully a well-qualified list. The money is in the list, and so being able to use content to build that list, being able to use content to mine that list and turn those folks into clients is what it’s all about. It all comes back to that central list.
So that is the problem. If we’re going to create an amount of content, we’ve got to get the word out to draw people, to get them to convert, to join our list. And the place that that usually happens is in something that is either a blog or something that looks like a blog. So our content is going out on blog pages or on landing pages that we create around a piece of content and we’re inviting folks to give us their contact information in exchange for content that is relevant and that we believe is going to predict that they are likely to be buyers of our content, or at least sharers of our content so that we can reach out there.
That is really where the rub is. If I was able to go back 7 years and do things over, I would focus more intently on how I turned people who are visiting my blog, coming to see the articles that I’m writing to subscribing to my podcast, and all of those things, I would focus more intently on how I turned all of those people into subscribers. Because for most of that time I was simply saying, oh you should get this wonderful content by Email. These days there are a lot of other things that we can try.
So, one of the things that are always resisted by folks in our position of running businesses like ours, is doing things like pop overs. Well, as it turns out… although everybody says that they hate pop overs, these overlays that pop up and say hey, join our list, they always work. In some cases they’re…
Jason Hartman: Now, do you want to distinguish the type of pop over? There’s a lot of variety here. Is it the type that greys out the page? Is it the type that won’t let the person look at the page at all until they complete it or there’s a little x down in the corner where can kill the pop over and then start looking at the site? Maybe distinction there is important probably too.
Brian Massey: I use it as an example, but if you were to look at the source of options you have, the kind you’re talking about that we call a light box where is greys out behind you. I have not tested against a type that completely blacks out the background, but the things that are also testing well are things that we call scroll triggered pop overs so that you have to scroll down a page for a certain way before it shows up. Exit pop overs, when somebody closes the browser, navigates away from your site, you can actually present a pop over saying hey, don’t go away, willing to give you this other report for less or offer your services at a discount.
The truth is that there are a number of ways of doing this, and I think that you want to pick the one that feels right for your brand, your personal brand. But don’t be too conservative with that. People say they hate the pop overs, but the pop overs always work.
Jason Hartman: Good to know.
Brian Massey: Now, I use that as an example but making sure that there are calls to action in your content is another really powerful one. So by that I mean rather than having a box off to the side, for instance on a blog content page, making sure that you’ve got something in the body that is inviting people to join and even placing a sign up form in the content at the bottom of the content or right at the bottom of the content. Because that’s really where our attention is, and there’s quite a bit of blindness over on the right. So these are all things that, if we’re going to use a content oriented marketing approach, that we have to stop and think about how we place these content beacons into our and around our content so that we’re actually building the list. You should never produce a piece of content that doesn’t have the intention of getting more people on your list. Because those are the people that have raised their hand and are more likely to become customers.
Jason Hartman: When you say calls to action within the content, you mean with a link included, like join our program here, we talk more about this blah blah blah such and such.
Brian Massey: It could be a link, it could be a button, it could be a complete form, it could be just a button or a link that goes to a landing page that sells an offer. But yeah, something that is within the copy. It’s pretty easy to Segway at the end of a post and say, and if you’re interested in this you’ll find our 23 points why paper or eBook really valuable to learn more about.
Jason Hartman: So calls to action within the content, using pop overs. But let’s talk for a moment about the significance of the overall issue of conversion. What surprised me in talking to is how much some people who are aware and concerned about this topic are willing to spend to really understand what is going on with conversion on their pages on their sites. Maybe a case study or an example of the significance here for one of your clients.
Brian Massey: Let’s take kind of a generic example to kind of understand the crazy math of conversion. Let’s say that I am spending money on adwares to bring traffic to my website. The end log to this is that we’re spending money on content so that we’re getting organic traffic to come to our website. Or we’re sharing on social media to get social traffic to come to our website, read our content, join our list and then we’re using Email to turn them into clients. But pay per click is good. Let’s say that we spend two dollars to get somebody to click to come through on our site, buying an ad on a search engine. If we can double our conversion rates, so let’s say our conversion rate is 1%. 1% of the people who visit are subscribing to one of our lists, downloading our content in exchange for the contact information. If we can go from 1% conversion rate to 2, which means one in one hundred people to two in one hundred people, we’re effectively cutting the cost of our advertising in half.
So I can now advertise half as much and get the same results. Or I can take that money and simply buy more ads at the higher conversion rate. So when we work on the conversion rate of our sites, not only on the pay per click ads, but what we’re spending in content to build our search engine optimization is being cut in half effectively. And the beauty of conversion is that Google can’t take it away from us, they can’t panda us out, their competitors can’t take it away from us, they can’t bid higher on AdWords, the ad networks can’t price us out. We own it. The things that we’ve changed on our site come from us ideally trying things and ideally doing split tasks.
So we understand what makes our visitors tick, and I think that’s just a really valuable point. I think that’s the bottom line of conversion and why you invest in it. And you can take conversion to the bank. If you can move your conversion rate .1%, then you can calculate what the increase in revenue would be. In businesses like ours we calculate the value of somebody being added to our list because we know what percentage of the people on our list are going to turn into customers, what the average order of value is, so we can calculate that.
If we can do the math that says even a small change in our conversion rate, what will it do to our revenue over a year, we begin to understand how much we can and should be investing in terms of time and money making our website more welcoming to our visitors, and more importantly I think there are a lot of us making mistakes, driving people away, inviting them to go off to social media and share stuff which has a very low value. You paid to have them come, you worked very hard to get someone to your site. Why send your store bought traffic off to Mark Zuckerberg?
Jason Hartman: I love that. That’s a very interesting point. We all want to be social, and I’m noticing that about your site now. You don’t have social links.
Brian Massey: We don’t. If there’s something that I really want to be shared, I’ll put that call to action in the content. But no, we’re very jealous of visitors. If they come to our site, we’re doing everything to get them to stay and read more, subscribe to one of our programs, give us their Email address and subscribe to one of our lists, the friends of the author, we have a course integrated to our blog at conversionscientist.com which is actually turning out to be… it’s new, it’s very valuable in terms of building the list. And over time we’re going to find out if those list members are well qualified, if it’s a strong list that it’s building.
Jason Hartman: But what about just adding the… I think a lot of marketers look at it as a bonus, if they get them to follow them on Facebook, get a Like, not leave the page. Then they get to keep impacting them in another venue. You know they’re there already, we know they’re on Facebook, we know they’re on Twitter. Why not have a linked them there as well? Certainly I don’t want them to leave my site. I agree with you there.
Brian Massey: Getting a Like on Facebook as an example, is very difficult for them to ever see anything from you ever again unless you spend money advertising.
Jason Hartman: And Facebook has come out and really said that now. They’ve sort of admitted that now.
Brian Massey: Yes.
Jason Hartman: Organic is over.
Brian Massey: Exactly. And they’re all going to go that way. And that’s how they make money and more power to them. I own my subscriber list. No one can take that away from me. But Mark can change his mind, and the folks at Twitter can change their minds and Google+ can change its mind. Let them do that.
So if I’m doing anything to have this traffic, do anything other than focus on what I have to offer, my value, and my list, it’s a distraction and it’s going to generate a certain amount of abandonment. Unless you are one of those magical people that really knows how to make Facebook ads and look alike segments and things work for you, I would put the social media icons on the thank you page after they sign up for something. That’s when they’re most likely to share because they now think more highly of you because psychologically they bought from you and that makes you more valuable. Don’t ask me why.
Jason Hartman: I think that’s a good philosophy on it, and now thinking about taking some of these social links off, so very good point. And you can always advertise in those venues anyway, and attract their traffic to you in reverse like you said. And we both talked about organic is pretty much over probably. And that’s for the benefit of the social media host obviously.
You do a lot of split testing it sounds like. Any thoughts about colors? We talked about people agonize over button colors. Maybe you can put that one to bed. But just colors in general too, and look and feel. Just any of the sort of visual element.
Brian Massey: Any page you want to create a visual hierarchy. The most important item on the page is going to be the headline. It is the thing that is bringing them that says this is the link in the topic that you were looking for, and I’ve written this headline to entice you to continue to read on. On pages where you’re trying to get them to buy something, you’re trying to get them to sign up for something, specific landing pages, your hierarchy really needs to flow from that offer. And so you’re using color, and I’m not a designer. So I really rely on well-designed templates or designers who know what they’re doing to use color, space, font, size, placement of imagery in just the position to really guide the eye to those things.
Everybody’s always talking about, what color should my buttons be on my landing pages? Well the button color that’s going to work best for you is a button color that is different from anything else on that page. Because your visual hierarchy needs to let the visitor know that this is a page that’s asking them to do something, and the text that’s on that button needs to tell them what they’re going to get and that starts the hierarchy. So that’s the most important thing. There might be a form along with that, there might be some video. The headline has to be in the upper right, which is the primary point. So what you’re doing is you’re using again space, placement, font, and such to guide the eye. Headline, major call to action.
The thing that works for your audience is liable to vary. So I can provide you with what works as a best practice standpoint, but I strongly recommend that you make small changes to these money pages, these really important pages, these landing pages, product pages, and the calls to action which are places around the content that you’re providing.
Just make small changes. One thing at a time, and see if you can start to get more and more people to subscribe as a percentage of your total visitors.
Jason Hartman: That’s definitely valuable. Thank you for sharing that. Do you have any sites that you can mention for the listeners that you hold out as good examples? And maybe… I don’t know if a bad example is that hard to spot, but maybe it is sometimes. But definitely some good example sites would be great.
Brian Massey: I would look at the folks at conversionxl.com. They’re technically a competitor of ours, but we like the work they did so much that we had them design our sites. And they do a very good job with landing pages. I wish that this one was still available.
Jason Hartman: I was thinking you can use your own site as an example too.
Brian Massey: It’s a new site. It’s been up less than a month and our traffic is such that I don’t yet have the results, so I can’t say yes this is absolutely working. Earlier results were that we were getting more leads but that the quality had gone down. So we are testing some things on our corporate site which is conversionsciences.com and depending on what test you get in, it will be more or less corporate looking. And our blog is conversionscientist.com which the new site there is really performing very well in terms of building our list. Because we’ve added this very small course. It’s a fairly simple offer. Join up, get a course, we chose a plugin that awarded points and badges so we gamified the blog a little bit. And I just chose nine posts that I thought were important that entices you to read through.
Jason Hartman: I’m glad you mentioned gamification. What app are you using for that, and do you like it?
Brian Massey: Well it’s a WordPress plugin called Badge OS, as in Badge Operating System. I had some help integrating that. So I’m not sure how hard it is do set up and customize. Now that it’s set up, I love the control and the power I have to create these little incentives and play games, and my auto responders are all focused right now around the badges and building those up. So in terms of accelerating the growth of our list, it’s been a real boon. The question we need to ask, and we have a fairly long sales cycle, is are these the kind of people that are going to be buying our services in the future?
Jason Hartman: We talked about a couple of tips we started off with, we talked about colors, we put the button color idea to bed. Just not worth agonizing over that you’re saying, huh?
Brian Massey: Just make it stand out. That’s all you’ve got to do.
Jason Hartman: Do you know how many times I have heard internet marketers agonize over button colors? It’s mind boggling.
Brian Massey: So the question of do you put the credit card logos there, do you put the price close to the button, do you cross the price out and put the discounted price, do you put risk reversal near the button? If you’re making it kind of the center of the story, then things close to it will only impact it. There are a lot of questions about how the button is treated, but button colors should be put to rest at this point. Just something that stands out.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, I really liked the couple of tips you shared at the beginning, and I took you off on another tangent, but just any other tips you want to share in general? Like you mentioned the pop overs and so forth…
Brian Massey: There’s really kind of a basic recipe and I think the first thing you should do is go and look at your blog content pages because if we’re using our content and advise as our content marketing, then our blog pages, our content pages, our post pages, are landing pages and they have to convert. The things you want to look for are these: If there are images on the page, do they have captions? And can you write a caption for the image? If you can’t write a caption because you’ve chosen a stock photo of a pretty smiling person, why have it?
Jason Hartman: That’s a great rule, I love that.
Brian Massey: It’s used as filler images. We call it business porn. Just something designed to manipulate somebody. So use an image that you can write a caption for, and ideally the caption would be a repetition of an offer of some sort. And anything you’re adding to the page needs to build trust, needs to provide proof… this is one of those things where the icons for social networks kind of cross a border. Because if you put a Facebook logo on your site, you’re actually borrowing a little bit of trust from them. But you don’t want them to go away and go off to Facebook. So that’s the only situation which having a social media icon makes sense in my mind.
Jason Hartman: So do you think we should put non clickable icons? Hey, we’re on Facebook but this will not be where you click to get there.
Brian Massey: One of my clients, actually not even a client, just somebody that I’d given a free consultation to, put a Facebook connect button below the form that allowed visitors to sign up on one of their landing pages. And people didn’t use the Facebook connect which automatically pulls their information from Facebook so they don’t have to complete the form. Most people didn’t use it. A very small percentage used it. But there was an 88% increase in the number of people completing the form that was on the page, and that was the only thing that changed. And it was a page in which trust was an issue. It was an industry in which trust was an issue. Facebook being there was a huge help.
I think you need to make that decision for yourself, but absolutely don’t be using anything that’s causing people to go off to Facebook and find out what happened at aunt Bertha’s wedding and so forth.
Jason Hartman: You are really making me rethink things. Because also, the other thing about the social media component is that it really does take quite a bit of effort and time on your staff to maintain all of that. First, when it was really gaining a lot of traction a few years back, it was like oh let’s get our clients to ask questions on the Facebook page for the podcast. And I just never liked that. I just never was a fan of that, but my staff kept recommending it. Oh let’s get them in there interacting and engaging! I want them to ask questions, but I preferred an Ask Jason button on our website. They’d just as soon go there as Facebook and then we can offer other things on our site while they’re there and it increases our visits, so it increases search results. And that’s all good, right?
Brian Massey: Like I said, if you’re one of those people who has figured out the recipe in your industry to make social media work for your business, more power to you. But most of us have not, and especially when you’re selling business to business, there’s a disconnect between Facebook and Twitter and what we’re doing. I use it actually more as a broadcast medium than building a number of likes and things like that. So that’s the way we use it.
Just to kind of finish up my point, don’t put anything on landing pages and pages you’re going to treat as landing pages where you’re getting new traffic that doesn’t support the offer, and in the case of content, you have content and in something to describe why they should subscribe or get another item that is not a part of the form, that doesn’t build trust, that does not offer proof, and isn’t a part of the image portion of your copy. Anything else you have to wonder if it’s not a distraction, if it’s not going to create abandon, and if you can keep it simple that way, keep your offer related to what people are coming in and expecting, then your pages are going to start converting more and you’re going to be getting leverage of ever decreasing cost of marketing effort.
Jason Hartman: Very good point. Those are some great tips, and Brian please give out your website. Tell people where they can find you.
Brian Massey: If you’re interested in reading my book in which I talk more about the kinds of websites you can be building and the key strategies, and all of the tips around building what I call The Blog Volcano, which for your information information marketers is awesome, go to www.CustomerCreationEquation.com , sorry it’s so long.
Jason Hartman: That’s a big name.
Brian Massey: CustomerCreationEquation. For conversion sciences you will learn a lot about conversion as conversionscientist.com. And our corporate scientist conversion sciences the name of the business is Conversion Sciences.
Jason Hartman: Excellent. Good stuff. Well Brian Massey, thank you so much for joining us today, and remember you are a scientist. I love the intro to your podcast where it says that.
Brian Massey: Yeah, it’s awesome. Bill Murray, he does it for us.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, that’s good. It’s very catchy. Conversion Scientist, thank you so much for joining us.
Brian Massey: Glad to be here.
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Transcribed by Ralph