Episode 252 Featuring Alex Bond

CRO Tools and Strategy with Khalid Saleh

CRO Tools and Strategy with Khalid Saleh

Khalid Saleh is the CEO and Co-Founder of Invesp, one of the first companies to focus on experimentation and Conversion Rate Optimization in North America. Over the years, Khalid has worked with hundreds of companies that range from well-established brands (eBay, 3M, The Special Olympics, DishNetwork, Discovery, and more) to fast-growing startups to increase their online revenue. Khalid is also the Co-Founder of FigPii, a SaaS Platform that allows companies to run AB testing, heatmaps, session replays, and online polling on their sites with a single line of JavaScript.

On this episode, Khalid and I discuss the suite of tools FigPii has to offer, AB testing best practices, CRO red herrings, and much more.


What is FigPii

Khalid Saleh: A little bit about FigPii. So FigPii is what we call a conversion rate optimization platform. A little fancy, but really what it comes down to it, if somebody has a website where FigPii helps them do and understand is how people are interacting with your website, where they're clicking, you know, how they're navigating around the websites and the goal of that is to identify areas where people are not happy with the websites.

So we do that through what we call session recording. So that's really like watching sessions of people clicking, navigating from one page to the next. We do that through, well, what we call heat maps, when we aggregate the data here, a thousand people that came to your homepage and of those thousand five hundred actually clicked on this button and only 70%, you know, looked at this area of the, of the sites, we also offer what we call polling. 

So if you have a question, you ever wanted to ask your visitors thick by helps you that if you can think it's, we can help you ask it to your visitors somebody's about to leave the website. It's like, Hey, why are you leaving? What didn't you like? And then we help you conduct ABA testing. So you came up with this beautiful design. You've hired a designer, but you don't know, really at least in theory, you think the design is going to help you get more sales, get more leads to fill out that contact form, but you don't know that for sure.

So what we do is we do AB testing. You have 10,000 people coming to your website, 5,000 are going to see the current site, 5,000 are going to see the new site design that you came up with. And then we compare conversions. Guess what? The old design generated 10 sales. The new design generated 20 sales, you've done really well, or we might tell you actually the old design generated 10 sales, the new design generated zero sales. So guess what? You didn't do such a good job. 

So that's the process of AB testing. So it's a platform that allows you to do all of that. Figure out the areas where there's a problem on your website, do some thinking coming up with the new designs, but then test them out and measure, give your visitors a way to tell you whether they like those designs or not.

Alex Bond: It's interesting because it's a lot of tools that it seems that brands are really able to access and perform themselves instead of kind of hiring a company to do all that testing for them, give them the results and say, Hey, here's that, here's everything went. So it feels much more involved or than it is kind of like a consulting type scenario where you, you're pretty much holding a lot of the cards. You actually get to give the cards to the brands and they get to do it themselves and learn the process and everything, how did you come up with the idea for a FigPii?

Khalid Saleh: In a previous life, I always say, like, no, if you were asking, it's like, Hey, so to tell us about yourself. So I tell them I'm a recovering software developer. I used to be a software developer in a previous life. So I used to do big projects from Motorola, American express. Go to meeting, go to webinar. And I really fell into marketing unintentionally. It was supposed to be something on the side for my wife to do.

And I'm like, Hey, you know, all these companies are struggling with conversions. They like, they build websites and the kind of companies I was working with. They spend tens of millions of dollars on building these websites, but then they struggle converting people. So back in 2006, co founded what we call a conversion rate optimization agency.

This is where we went into big companies that we told them, Hey, we can solve this conversion problem. We can solve the usability issues that you have on your website. If you start an agency, your biggest dream is to land a big enterprise clients, because you know, they'll pay the bills and life will be really happy.

And you know, like you're going to make that son of money. So in 2011, five years later, we finally land eBay as a client. I'm like, Oh, this is it. That's that's the breakdown. Exactly. Well, the kind of work we do again relies on AB testing. And at that point in time, Google had a free tool they call Google website optimizer.

That was what everybody used. I land eBay. I'm happy. Two weeks into the project, Google announces that they're killing the tool. And I'm like, what? Here goes my dream. So I'm talking to eBay, talking to the guys over there. And I tell them, well, you know, the tool is no longer available. And they're like, what do we do?

I'm like, well, there's a couple of tools. You can probably pay for them and we'll use them. Like sure, just get us pricing. So I go reach out to those two tools, two tools. And the cheaper one between the two comes back with 25,000 per month. I stack a month, mind you killed my dream, killed the projects.

I'm like, well, I guess no more eBay, there goes that. That was like, you know, a short live and then I'm a software developer. I can, I can build something really quickly. How difficult would it be to build something like that? Well, it was difficult and that's really how the idea of FigPii was born. So for the first four or five years.

FigPii basically was the tools that we use on projects on the agency side. It's like, Hey, we need this feature. Oh, most of our companies that we work with need this feature. So that's how we end up adding more and more things. Sometimes it's funny because I get a company come in and they say, Hey, we want this feature built.

And I'm like, you know what? I've done more projects than anybody else on the face of the earth. And while this feature sounds really good, you're not going to use it after a week. So we're not going to build it. So the tool was really. Built organically by requirements from customers by the work that we do. And it's been out there now for a while. 

Alex Bond: Well, look, man they say necessity is the mother of invention, right? So it sounds like you learned that firsthand. Out of curiosity, you ended up losing eBay, but in the long term ended up creating this entire company. 

Khalid Saleh: And bringing eBay back. Bring eBay, Target, oh gosh, like, you know, it makes life much easier. And initially, what we've done, so the tool for a long time was just kind of an internal tool, but, you know, clients love the fact that they don't have to pay for a tool. So like, hey, yeah, it's our services, use the tool.

That was a mistake that we've made because it really limited the growth of the tool. About three years ago, we said, you know what, we need to separate them. FigPii now is a big boy and can sit on its own. So we separated FigPii in its own company. And it's funny because I was just recording a podcast. I do a weekly podcast with my partner.

So I'm still the CEO of Invesp, the agency and the CEO of FigPii. And she was just telling me, my partner slash wife, she was telling me, she's like, it's time for you to resign as Invesp CEO. And I'm like, I know, but it's a tough decision. 

And it's funny because you can roll the, you can know the right decision, but to make it, and it's like this is doing well. What if I step away? Is it going to be stable? You know, it's like when I reflect back at business, it's always marked by those tough decisions and they're always difficult to make. . You'll reflect back at them. It's like, how was the right decision? Few wrong decisions along the way.


Selecting the Perfect AB Testing Platform: Key Considerations for Users and Brands

Alex Bond: So from what I've read and from what you've told me is that. That's kind of like the bread and butter, that's kind of the, I don't know, we'll call it the tentpole tool among your suite of tools. First off, how does a user or a brand select the right AB testing platform?

Khalid Saleh: So there are literally a ton of AB testing platforms out there. You know, it's funny kind of reflecting back to 2011 when I told you there's only two platforms. Now there's about 30 or 40 of them. 

So I would tell everyone that there is no one tool that is right for everyone. For example, let's say you have a mobile app, you're in your big eCommerce, you have a mobile app that limits you right away to two, three different tools, or Optimizely, those are kind of the big players in that space.

But that's kind of a small universe, correct, where somebody has an actual mobile app. Second thing I would look at, you want to think about performance. All of every single tool, every single JavaScript you add on your website slows down the website. It doesn't matter what developers tell you, it doesn't matter what the tool tells you, it's just common sense. More JavaScript. It's a little bit slower. 

And guess what? Who's going to complain? Your SEO team, your PPC team, why is this page taking too long to load? So look at the load time because that's really matters. And then you want to look at your requirements. Do you, for example, you're on eCommerce websites. Well, guess what? When I run an AB test, I want to run a test on all my product pages. 

You're not going to be running a test and AB test on a single page. You want this, all your product pages. You want to gather all this data from all the pages. There's some tools that allow you to do that, you know, FigPii, for example, allows you to run tests on all the product pages.

The same with, by the way, VWR or Optimizely. But there are tools out there that says, no, we can test one page at a time. Now, if you have like 2000 products. Running 2, 000 A B tests is a very slow process. It's a little painful. The cost, it's funny. Sometimes people don't put the cost up there, and I tell them, you know what?

I run small companies. I have filters. Even as a man, by the way, I have filters. When we go to a store, my first filter is the price. And then I look at what's available. Sometimes people want to pitch me at Best Buy or FigPii. They want to pitch me something. I tell them, listen. Don't waste your time. I understand your tool might be amazing or your agency, agency might be amazing, but I have a budget.

I'm going to stay within that budget. So let's have that initial conversation. Now, if you're within my budgets. Then we can continue the conversation yesterday. I was, I was on, and I don't know if you know, he's on Twitter. Absolutely amazing guy started two years ago on Twitter, 500 followers. And now I think he has over, I don't know, maybe 200, 000, maybe 500, 000 followers did absolutely well.

He built a model correct of being really successful at Twitter. And he's like, Hey, if you're an entrepreneur. We are, we've created this service for you where we're going to actually create the content, push it. We're going to push it on threads and Twitter and LinkedIn. And I have an amazing team and I'm thinking to myself, I'm like, I wonder how much he will charge for this.

It's about 5,000. Now I appreciate the fact that he actually put that on the landing page that he was using 5,000. I'm like, yeah, that's an amazing service. But I don't know if I want to invest 5,000 a month, by the way, mind you to do this. So that's my first filter going back to AB testing Hey, what is the price range? So that's another thing. 

Then finally, you want to look at the platform. What does it, you know, there are tools out there that give you a million features and optimizely, for example, optimize is absolutely amazing, by the way, what most people don't know optimizely, which is kind of the leader, by the way, in the AB testing space used to be an agency. Used to be a Magento dev agency. 

Build their own tool, put it out there, controls the space. Optimizely, when it comes to performance, is a little slower than all the other tools out there. But they get to do that because they offer you a million features that no one else has. So, that balance correct between like, oh, I should be paying Optimizely 10,000 a month. This is a little bit slower, but I get all this integration. 

So, those are kind of some of the questions that I think about when I'm trying to pick the right AB testing tool for my, for myself, for my sites. 


The Ideal Sample Size for Valid AB Testing Results

Alex Bond: And I appreciate your analogy of going to the grocery store, just to kind of piggyback off your analogy and go to the grocery store. I'm curious when I go to the grocery store, if I'm doing enough product testing to actually make an informed decision. So, my question to you, Khalid, is there a specific sample size recommended for AB testing to determine a truly valid result? 

Khalid Saleh: Think about AB testing. The idea of AB testing, I mean, the idea is fascinating, correct? I have my visitors coming, I'm going to split those visitors into two groups, three groups, whatever you're testing, and based on that, I'm going to find out which design is better. Let me give you an example. Let's say you have a very simple website. It's a landing page. And all you want from that landing page is somebody to fill out a contact form.

Sounds simple enough. Now, I'm going to make the numbers a little large just to simplify math, because, and I can do math really quickly, but sometimes as I get older, it gets a little bit more difficult. Let's say you get 100,000 visitors to that landing page in a month. In a year, you're getting 1. 2 million, correct?

And 100,000 multiplied by 12. Okay. Now, you sit there with your designer, you're like, Oh, this is, we've used FigPii, and there's something absolutely horrible over here. We're actually just going to change the headline. And we're going to test it out. So what you'll do is you'll run an AB test for a couple of weeks.

So 50,000 visitors, correct, because you're getting 100,000 visitors to the page in a month. So we're going to run the test for two weeks. So 50,000 visitors, and we're only going to test one version. So the original headline, the original page with the headline is going to get 25,000 visitors and the new page with the new headline is going to get 25,000 visitors.

Very simple, you test it out, AB testing software comes back and tells you, you know what, this new headline, you're, you are a genius. This new headline helped increase your sales by, I don't know, 50%. Here's the thing about AB testing. You've ran the test for 25,000 visitors. The data shows you that this, those 25,000 visitors absolutely love the new headline.

What AB testing is telling you is that the behavior of 25,000 visitors for those two weeks is going to be a good measurement for how the 1.2 million visitors for the next 12 months are going to behave. You see how and it's like, it's 25,000 enough to measure the impact of like, you know, really how the other 1.2 million now. 

Most people don't think about this, but think about election every election cycle that we have. Correct. You have all MSNBC. They have statisticians there who are looking at data from different areas and they say, Oh based on 4,000 or 5,000 people and how they voted, we can judge how 18 million people have voted correct or in a state level.

That's how the accuracy of testing is before you run an AB test, one of the things that you want to do, there's what we call AB test duration calculators. Those duration calculators basically will tell you that you need to run an ab test for X number of days, X number of visitors.

It doesn't really matter how many visitors are coming to your website. There's different parameters that will ask you, well, how many, how many visitors coming to the website? What's the conversion rate? In our example, you know, it's a landing page, maybe with a thousand visitors a month. And the conversion rate on it is maybe 10%.

So I'm getting off those. I'm getting 10 people to fill out the contact or 100 people to fill out the contact form. You input those parameters and the AB test duration calculator will tell you based on your data that you've inputted, you need to run this AB test for maybe two months, maybe for 30 days, maybe for two weeks.

That's what it would tell you. The only copy out to that, I would tell everybody use a duration, AB test duration calculator. It will tell you how long you need to run AB test. Now there's parameters that you play with. So some parameters you control, some parameters you don't control. How many visitors are coming to the page?

You may or may not control that. It's like, hey, people are coming and, you know, because they do some search on Google. I can't really control that. I know exactly how many came in the last 30 days. I most likely know how many are going to come the next 30 days, but I don't control it unless I'm running ads or something like that.

So that's one. The current conversion rate, you don't control that. That's what you're trying to improve. So you're going to input that. There's two other parameters that you control. One is how many variations you're going to test. All examples I gave you. I have my original, is what we call the control, the current page that I have, and a new design.

So how many variations does two? Let's say you have, you're on eBay. With eBay, we can test 50 different designs because they get so many conversions. You know, this is really quick. We never test 50, but we have the ability to test 50. So if I have small number of visitors coming to my page, I'm probably going to test one challenger, one design against the control that I have.

And the other thing that you want to say is what we call the confidence level. How certain do you want to be of your AB test data? Do you want to aim for 95 percent, you know, confidence level? Do you want to aim for 80 percent? Do you want to aim for 99 percent? Best example I give for this is the medicine that we all take, whether over the counter or you go like, you know, to a Walgreens before we take any medicine before a medicine is released to the public.

There's an AB test actually that happens. That's the reason I tell people, AB testing is not unique or novel. It's been done now for over a hundred years, but in different formats, we're just doing it online. And what they do is they'll test, so there's a sample, and then there's a controlled data, and the FDA looks at that, looks at that data, and the FDA, before they approve a medicine, they require 95 percent confidence.

What does that mean? It means that when we gave this medicine to people, And, you know, there was 5 percent uncertainty that this medicine is going to help, but there's 95 percent certainty that this medicine would actually help. So the, the 95 percent is, you know, or the 5 percent there is the uncertainty, Oh, this design actually helped me, but there's 5 percent uncertainty that's might not have helped.

So you might aim for 95%, sometimes you might aim for 99%. If you don't have enough visitors coming to the sites. Should you aim for 95%? I tell people, no, lower it. Maybe you should aim for 80%. I'll go back to the medicine example. 

Alex Bond: And if you don't mind, Khalid, I just wanted to add to your statement and saying in most statistical analysis, there's a margin of error. That's usually some in like the 8%, something like that range too. So. 95 percent is still accounting for that, which actually gives you closer to 100 percent to some sort of effect. 

Khalid Saleh: That's exactly it. I love reading about, I'm fascinated by medicine and the FDA, just because of the AB testing portion. I'm like, Oh, this is fascinating. They've been doing it for a while. So there's this paper out of Harvard. All of this requires 95%. 

And the guys were arguing that, you know, sometimes we need to be a bit more strict and sometimes not so strict. I'm like, well, okay, let me hear this. And they said, think about a patient who is terminally ill, who's going to die in six months.

He's probably, or she is willing to take a medicine that has an 80 percent confidence. They're dying anyways, correct? 95 percent because the other alternative is death versus think about something over the counter. You know, something for the common cold, maybe 95 percent is not good enough. Maybe we should be aiming for 99%.

Now I'm not telling people every time I give this example, I tell them, I'm not telling that your website is dying, but if you don't have enough visitors, maybe we should aim for an 80 percent confidence level, you know, and maybe if you are the eBay or the target, maybe we should be aiming for a 99 percent confidence level. So you have to play with those parameters. 

Look at your website, look at your specific data and say, okay, this is what works for us. Well, we usually, whenever we launch an AB test, we aim to conclude the AB test anywhere between a week to four weeks. I don't like to run a test for more than four weeks, even if I have to tweak the data, the input parameters to say, you know, four weeks, because sometimes there's things that happen, you know, COVID comes and everybody's sales tank.

And I'm like, okay, we need to control. So some of those external factors impact your data, whether you're like it or not, you're doing everything right. But COVID shows up and it's like, Ooh, gosh, you know, well. Big time. 


Decoding User Behavior: The Distinction between Heat Maps and Session Recordings

Alex Bond: And a couple of your other tools that I wanted to highlight before we move on is the heat map and the recording sessions or the session recordings. So on paper, those are kind of similar things. 

You know, you're essentially looking at user behavior on a site, whether that's through a color coded map, that looks kind of like a weather map, thus heat map, or recording where you're actually seeing how people are navigating on the screen. My question to you is in result or in principle, what's the difference between those two things, the real difference?

Khalid Saleh: So the session recording, actually records the interaction of a single visitor, every visitor that comes to the website, how they're clicking, how they're navigating. So let's say you have 10,000 visitors coming to your website, you'll end up with 10,000 session recording, 100,000. We have some companies that get millions of visitors and they're literally recording millions of session recordings.

Now, I always joke and I tell them, no one is going to sit there and watch that many. I mean, I feel bad for the guy who's going to sit there and watch a hundred session recordings and I've done it. Where I had to watch 200 every week, 200 session recordings, and I'm like, oh, man, I'm pulling my hair out because I see mouse movements, somebody going down, going up, clicking here.

What you do is you probably watch 50, 60 of them, and if you're really committed, that's it every week. And, but you're watching a single individual visitor and that could be useful, correct? Let's say you're in an eCommerce website and it's like, Hey man, like, you know, people are leaving at the cart page.

We see them adding items to the cart, but not actually finishing the checkout. Well, I would go watch session recordings of visitors who got to the cart page. And see, is there anything there? Maybe something is broke. And the session recording is very powerful in showing us that. Meetmaps is kind of the evolution of session recording.

Where I say, you know what, okay, now let's me, like, instead of going very granular, let me aggregate all this data. All those 10,000 people that came to the product pages, to your cart page. Let me just gather and show you where they clicked all of those 10,800 clicked on this button, and maybe 20 percent like, you know, clicked on this other button.

So it's really aggregates all the data, all the visitors that are coming to a particular page. It also gives you what we call scroll map. How further down people are scrolling this percentage. 70 percent of the visitors saw this top section. Oh, it's dropping to 20%. It's dropping to 10%. And it's fascinating because sometimes people might have something really important, but it's on the.

You know, you see this very important message that you have and this promo that you have here, and they're like, yeah, like, guess what? Only 5 percent of the visitors are actually seeing it. Most people are dropped off, left the site before they saw it. And I'm like, you know, what's naturally you want to move it up.

And that's probably not a better place to put it. And I will sell them like, don't just move it up. Yeah, I mean, the data is showing that most people are not seeing it. Guess what? We'll maybe test it. We'll see if moving it up makes sense or helps or doesn't help. So that's where heatmaps versus session recording and how you use both tools.

Alex Bond: I've never really thought about that scrolling aspect of things. I've never really talked with anyone about it, but anecdotally, it reminds me of how content is created a lot of times where best part of your video, your recording, your own podcast, for example, could be in the last 15 minute marker.

But if you don't get people there, they won't hear it. And that's the sad part is it's not as simple as let's put this information at the top because it's important. All of it's important. It's kind of more about trying to organize a flow to that information where everyone's looking at the bottom of the page all the time. Not everything that's most important is at the top. Cause that's not ideal. It's not practical. 

Khalid Saleh: It's this fascinating. I remember talking to Josh Brown, who is an absolutely amazing sales instructor. And he was just talking about cold emails. People sometimes use cold emails to do reach out. And he tells me, he's like, most companies that are doing cold outreach, whether you like it or not, this is a reality.

It's like they spend so much time on the first email, you know, they're like so much, but most companies stopping attention by the third email, which for you as a sender, you're like, I'm done. I have nothing else interesting to say. You've said the interesting things in the first or second email. Well, the recipient doesn't even notice you until the third email.

And at that point you've run out of gas. So it's understanding when do people give you attention and really having. Putting your best foot at that point in time to say, Oh, now you've paid attention. Let me tell you about our offer. And the same thing with the heat maps, like where are people paying attention? What areas of the page are they looking at? And let's have our most important elements there. 


What is Invesp

Alex Bond: Absolutely. I love it. I think it's an extremely useful tool. I'd love to talk about. Can you give me a little bit more background about that? We talked about it a little bit earlier, but I'd love to hear the nuts and bolts a little bit.

Khalid Saleh: Sure. So Invesp, like I said, second CRO agency in the US and the idea there is we help companies run what we call high velocity. AB testing programs. Fancy name. I always tell people, I'm like, you know, for being a company that focuses on usability, I'm like sometimes use jargon that people don't even understand.

We let you, we help you run AB testing faster, more, more effective. How do we do that? Is really, we look at the website. We've done about 32, 000 AB tests until now working for, for companies in the last 16, 17 years. We analyze the website, use different methods. So we'll use FigPii. We'll do also one on one user interviews. 

We'll do competitive analysis, usability testing. We come up with a humongous list of areas that we think, Oh, the site is broken here, or no, we can improve the site over here, prioritize it. I always tell people you peel the onion. It comes down to like, you know, it comes to, like, you know, there's so many different prioritization frameworks. 

But you know, we use one, we prioritize things and we say, okay, here's what I think I'm going to have the most impact on your bottom line, and it's going to take me the least amount of effort. Come up with new designs. For those areas that we're like, Oh, the site is broke over here. 

Here's a new design. And then we run it as an AB test and we're doing that's in a cadence where we're going really fast. So when we're working with the company, we're doing at a minimum of probably about four experiments per month. And sometimes we can go up to 20 experiments per month. 

Now, imagine we're doing 20 experiments. You can lose your hair. If you don't have really good project management, solid processes, doing analysis, the hardest part of what we do. Lots of times people think AB testing is hard. I tell them. AP testing itself is actually not hard, you know, you have the right developer, the right designer.

It's easy, you know, but coming up with good ideas to test and doing the post test analysis. That's the hard, that's the hard part. That's how we stand out and kind of think through that.

Alex Bond:That's impressive. I mean, that's a lot of testing.

Khalid Saleh: There's a lot of testing and it's fascinating. So I do a weekly meeting. I need to change the time because it's like Friday, 730 am. I meet with the team and I'm like, hey guys, present us with some of the testing ideas that you've came up with and let's have discussions around them. It's fascinating because different people will present like, here's what I thought, here's the problem area, here's the designs.

Now remember, we start by finding a problem area. Oh, something's broke over here. We come up with three, four different designs on how to fix it. They all look good. They look good to us, correct? It's like, yeah, this is fixing the problem. They look good to the clients. The clients say, oh, this is really great.

You run the AB test. And here's the most fascinating thing that we do. You run the AB test. You have a winner. It's like, oh, good. This design is actually fixed the problem. I always tell people, I'm like, oh, you had a good hypothesis. You pinpointed the problem. You have a fix. But remember, we've testing three, four other designs against original.

I also feel like, okay, so we have one design that's a winner. Great. You've done a good job, but let's ask the tough question. Those two other designs, they all look good to us. Why don't people like them? What's happened there? And we spend quite a bit of time analyzing those losing designs, asking questions about them.

And I always tell people a good AB test starts with an interesting question and a good AB test ends up with more interesting questions, correct? It's like you're always questioning. You have to be curious to do AB testing to do it for so long, you know, to be successful at it. 

Alex Bond: No, I can totally imagine. I mean, it's just running science experiments over and over again with scientific method and all that. It's very interesting. 

Just to be clear though, I do want to understand that your involvement with Invesp, right? Is more strategy based working with companies and doing the testing for them while FigPi is more about providing tools for brands so that they can kind of solve their own problems. Is that accurate? 

Khalid Saleh: That's accurate. That's exactly how it is. Invesp uses FigPii, it uses VWO, it uses Optimizely, it uses a whole bunch of tools. At some point, Invesp used only FigPii, but now it uses a whole bunch of tools. You know, so, and at the same time, there is about 3,000 companies using FigPii. 

Invesp cannot handle 3,000 people or 3,000 companies. So those are companies that say, you know what, we have the people, we have the skill set. And we want to run our, own heat maps. We want to use session recording and we want to come up with AB testing ideas.

So AB take by is one of those tools that people use. So that's, you know, kind of between running like done for you, done with you program at Invesp to, well, here's the tool that's Invesp uses or anybody else can use to achieve the same results. 


Identifying Misleading Optimization Challenges in CRO Strategies

Alex Bond: I'm interested with your wealth of knowledge and experience, if there are any sort of red herrings that might look like a optimization problem or a CRO problem, but aren't exactly, you know, let's say we run these tools, we run these tests and it seems like it's this. But it's really something over here in this space, just to maybe help any listeners who are dealing with that sort of a problem. 

Khalid Saleh: Yeah. I always tell people you need to ask the question whenever you're dealing with optimization. I think it's a business question. Sounds very simple. What's going on here? Ask that and drill a little bit deeper surface level answer questions give you service level answers. 

I'll give you an example working with one company and they come in and they say, Oh, like, you know, our analytics is showing that we have high abandonment rate, about 80 percent of the people will add items to the cart leave.

Obviously we need to offer promotions. We need to do this. We need, and they had a ton of ideas. I'm like, great. Okay. Maybe. I mean, obviously you have a problem, but you really need to ask yourself the question, what's going on here. I mean, it looks to you like it's an optimization you need to run A B testing.

Now what's fascinating is they compete with, you know, exercise equipments and it's quite expensive. They're about 2,500 to purchase their equipment and monthly subscription and this and that. And this was on the Invesp side and they're like, oh, let's start testing some promos. I'm like, how about we talk to some of your customers?

Let's just kind of find out the journey that they went through. So we did customer interviews. Now, this is fascinating to me. You talk to people and every person that we talked to had a challenge before they purchase like, the exercise equipment, they said, you know, what's everything probably you and I mean, I can stand over here and I look and I can see my treadmill over there that I bought, I don't know, 15 years ago.

I don't know how much I spent on. It's probably about 1,500. No one uses it. Guess what? When someone, somebody is coming to the sites and before they make this commitment to purchase another item for 2,500, they're thinking about the exercise equipment that they have either in the basement or in the attic that no one is using.

The company that we're working with trying to solve the problem, they're thinking they have an abandonment problem. They think they need some offers and promotions. Really, they're dealing with a psychology, psychological problem, correct? Oh man, it's another equipment. I'm going to use it. I'm not going to use it.

It's a deeper problem that needs deeper thinking. How do you solve that? Yes, you can optimize, but you need to think about your visitors and their mindsets, correct? Because when you solve that, that's kind of the bigger problem. You can offer promotions that might push one or two people to buy. 

But if you solve like the challenge of the equipment in the basement or in the attic, your sales are going to be going to increase tremendously. So you want to think about the real problem and solve that problem. And I think that will. Translating to more sales. No, 

Alex Bond: I think that's a great analogy because from my personal experience, it's like, it's not about what the company could have done to make me buy the bike more as much as it is. Why do I feel like I need to buy the bike?

Hey, it feels kind of like brands are trying to project how did we, why didn't this turn into a dollar amount as much as like, well, why didn't they finish, you know, why did they change their decision, you know, not as much of like what stopped them. I don't know that it's very finite, but you're totally hitting on something very specific that I find fascinating.

Khalid Saleh: It's fascinating to me. So I applied this rule and it's always fascinating, correct? Doing optimization, having a tool like no platform that helps you with doing optimization versus kind of my own personal life nowadays, whenever I commit, I always tell my kids, I'm like, when I commit to something, I'll probably buy the cheaper option.

And they're like, really? I'm like, that's the way I operate. If I'm going to do podcasting, I'm going to buy a cheap mic and a cheap camera. I have to prove to myself, I know enough about myself, that I start things and I don't finish them. I'm like, I have to prove to myself that I can do this for three months. If I do anything for three months, I am buying the upgraded equipment. 

You know, I'm going to go spend a ton of money on the mic and I'm going to buy the expensive camera, but Unless I hit that three months mark, we're not going to be investing money in anything. So that's kind of the rule that I apply where I'm like, I know enough about myself, you know, that that's how I go about things.

And it's funny, you think about it. If you walk into a store, any type of store, you know, there's a salesperson who if they're smart and they're experienced, correct, they can help you buy an item, select the right item on the web. Your website has to do that. But you as a marketer, the marketer, or the CEO, or the business owner need to think about all of those.

How do you actually structure it in a way where your website is that sales guy that's taking the visitor by their hand, explaining to them, nudging them to select the right product, helping them to make that right decision. And knowing that every human, every human comes with his own complexities, his own background, his own limitation.

I'm going to buy like the cheap equipment first, and then I'm going to upgrade. Different people come with all these different motivations. They need to understand them and to help them. And you need to create that journey in a smart way to get more conversions. 

Alex Bond: One of those things that I think is really difficult is being able to do that, right? Walk someone by the hand to what they're looking for. And more often than not, it feels like it requires me as a user filling in a contact form for a free demo or for more information. And like the bare minimum is kind of given with my personal interaction with a lot of websites, especially businesses or something in this space.

You don't want to be overbearing. You don't want to bombard people with information and feel like, Oh, this is confusing or daunting, I'm just gonna go find something simpler. But then I go to somewhere simpler and I feel like I'm getting the bare minimum of what I need so that I can take the first step and say, alright, gimme more information about this, because then someone can walk me down the aisle. I'm curious why that middle ground is so hard to find. 

Khalid Saleh: I think it's easier just to throw in. Doing something on the web is not, is not easy. I mean, the web is around now. What? Like since and we'll probably start using the web around 96 correct? And we take the easy way out. Hey, let's do a demo so I can have that personal interaction and my sales guy.

That's just, by the way, it's a lot easier, although it's more costly, correct? Because you might have lots of like, you know, people booking demos, but they're not qualified for me. For example, I go to a SaaS website. The minute I see like, you know, book a demo and I'm like, dude, show me the pricing. If you want to have a sales, that's exactly what I'm talking about.

And it's fascinating because I was like, you know, on a site. I forgot what it is. They're like, I'm like, man, everybody recommends them, but they want a demo and they're not showing me pricing. Okay. Fill out the contact demo. It takes like three, four days until we get the appointments. They show me. I'm like, Oh, I love it.

How much is it? They're like, Oh, it's like 99. I'm like I'm sorry, hold on. This is 99. They're like, yeah. I'm like, why on earth? You know, did we wait for so long in order for you to book half an hour on your calendar, calendar to do 4.99 software? I'm like, wouldn't this have been just a lot easier just to put it on the web?

But they don't want to figure this out. Right? It's like, let's just book a demo. It's easier. Like, you know, we can hire sales guys. And I'm like, okay, I don't understand your business model is just very, very strange. I think the web needs to do the heavy lifting. There's important information for people. You need to provide it. 

And the trick there is you need to play. And you mentioned this Alex kind of like understand people and their motivations. Correct. I'm trying to achieve something as a result. So you need to give them that emotional part. Sometimes like we're cut and dry. So you want to tell them you want to have that mix between the cut and dry and the emotions.

Guess what? I buy by emotions and I'll justify correct with logic. I'll justify when I'm talking to my wife, but really emotions drive me. I'm being honest with myself. So have that provide the absolutely important information that's allow somebody to qualify themselves or not. Maybe it's pricing. Maybe it's the type of service.

You know, it's like, Oh, is it like, you know, I go back to the agency with investor, like, Hey, we're A to Z. And here's our prices starts, like, you know, 7,000. We mentioned that, you know, some companies read that and they say, Oh, well, no, I don't want like, you know, A to Z. I need just somebody who does this specific period.

So they qualify themselves or, Oh, 7,000 is too expensive. We're not going to hire those guys. So right away, they qualify themselves. And when they come to the meeting, we're giving them the information that they need to make that decision. So the website does a portion of the heavy lifting, it makes the life easier for the sales guy, and then everybody is in that happy medium.

Alex Bond: I love that solution. I think that's a wonderful solution. I just can't stop thinking of the archaic sales negotiation tactic of the first person that says a number loses. 

And so since a, a user can't exactly name their price. It's like a business delays that process as long as possible so that they don't lose and when you go to a grocery store, imagine if you got all your stuff off the shelves, went to the register, and that was the first time you heard what all the prices of everything was. 

Khalid Saleh: By the way, that sounds like my wife and my daughter. They just pulling stuff off the shelves. Yeah, and I'm like, what's the price? Like, we don't know. I'm like, what do you mean you don't know? I'm like, don't put something in the cart unless you know the price. 

And we're at the grocery store, but you must have gotten a business proposal before. You know, you want to hire an agency. Where do they put the price? And that proposal, usually on the very last page, correct?

What's the first thing that you do. And what do you do? Usually you scroll down all the way. That's what people do. They go back to the last, right away and then up. So I'm like, I told the guys, I'm like, you know, I understand you're trying to sell value and all that with us.

We put the price of the very first, I'll tell them like, Hey, here's the price on the very first page cause I know that instead of you scrolling back and forth, I'm like, here it is. And let me explain to you how I justify this price. 

Alex Bond: And even psychologically there, I'm sorry to interrupt you, Khalid. I just wanted to say that even then as a user, psychologically, that means that this company values transparency and I value a company that values transparency. You know what I'm saying? 

So emotionally, as you were mentioning, that's somewhere where we align, even though it's something that is maybe a faux pas in the industry or something that's showing a willingness to be transparent and maybe shoo away people that can't afford it, even me sometimes, at least I know. All right, when I go back there, I better make sure that I have this much amount of money. 

Khalid Saleh: We say this jokingly in every proposal. Tell them like, you know, since most of our, you know, companies that most of the people who are reading our proposals want to see the price. And since most companies like to keep it to the last page, we decided to make your life easier on the first page.

So we're just like, Hey, we understand what you're thinking. So here it is, and it's fascinating to me earlier this year, I got an email from a company and they're like, Hey, Khalid, we're ready to work with you. And I'm like, so I copied the email and I search and we had a conversation back in 2020.

It was January, 2020. And at that point in time, it was a startup talk to them, send them a proposal, kind of the style of proposal. And we're very transparent. And I told them, guys, here's our costs. And like, you know, nothing happened. Three years later, they sent me an email. I didn't really, I had forgotten about them completely.

I had to go. And I'm like, Oh man. And then I jumped on the call and I'm still trying to remember because it's been like, you know, three years since we've talked to companies, I guess I talked to three to five companies every day. And the fascinating that like, Oh yeah, we remember the conversation. And we think like we knew back then that we want to hire you guys. We couldn't afford it. 

But now we just got around the funding and I'm like, wow, you know, it's absolutely amazing. You take the very transparent, very honest and like, hey, yeah, like right approach with people. They remember you and you'll stand out, you know, 

and they'll come back when they're ready. You're not going to force somebody to do business with you unless they are ready, correct? And it makes their life easier, your life easier. 

Alex Bond
Alex Bond

Meet Alex Bond—a seasoned multimedia producer with experience in television, music, podcasts, music videos, and advertising. Alex is a creative problem solver with a track record of overseeing high-quality media productions. He's a co-founder of the music production company Too Indecent, and he also hosted the podcast "Get in the Herd," which was voted "Best Local Podcast of 2020" by the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia, USA.

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