In this week’s episode of Growth Interviews, we invite you to join our podcast conversation with Khalid Saleh, an expert in conversion rate optimization, in-demand speaker and trainer with more than 12 years of experience in e-commerce architecture, design and implementation.
Welcome to Growth Interviews!
Welcome to Growth Interviews, the fun, stimulating and engaging series of conversations driven by digital business growth. Our mission is to provide valuable insights from the eCommerce arena, and each episode is a fascinating quest into the best-kept business secrets and money-making strategies of an insightful world-class expert.
Khalid Saleh is the CEO and co-founder of Invesp, a leading provider of conversion optimization software and services. In 2016, he geared up to launch his technology startup Figpii, a one-stop platform for everything related to conversion rate optimization. A recognized expert of marketing strategy, he has presented at marketing conferences across the globe. Khalid has been a frequent guest in key media outlets, including CNN, BBC, SKY, France 24, MSNBC, New York Times, National Public Radio, and more.
The focus is now on conversion rate optimization and from our podcast with Khalid Saleh you will find everything you need to know on how to better retain your customers.
Here are the biggest takeaways:
- What do companies get from CRO in terms of ROI? – 06.00
- Monitoring employee performance – 11.05
- CRO. The market. The tech. The adoption – 14.03
- Growth ideas – 23.38
- An expert’s advice – 37.42
Added Value of CRO
Not all clients are the same, and when talking with them about the added value of CRO, Khalid Saleh has a clear position. Instead of going for a sales pitch that could leave clients with a lot of misunderstandings, he confesses that he generally presents his company’s cases and talks in terms of average performance. In the Growth Interviews podcast we had with him, Khalid described at length many situations with clients who did not really understand what CRO actually means, what it does, and the fact that success with it is far from guaranteed.
The extent to which conversion rates can be improved depends on a range of factors, such as industry, the size of the business, the size of the market, market trends, client preferences, and so on. CRO is a complex process that requires the involvement of all existing teams, on the part of the agency as well as the client-company. Guaranteeing great results is a mistake many make. Khalid Saleh’s take as a CRO expert and a leader is, “When you are guaranteeing an uplift in conversions, you’re playing the short game, and this is common practice in all areas of marketing by companies and agencies that are not committed to a good end result for their clients”, which, in effect, means that maximum clarity and great solutions are needed to fix what is not working well.
Employee Performance Monitoring
The biggest challenge the CRO expert faces in running his business concerns his employees, who, as he says, are his core assets. For measuring the performance of his staff, Khalid uses several metrics. The first is the performance of the projects the employees and team are working on and how they are doing in terms of success metrics for different clients. Secondly, there’s the speed and level of growth and learning. Khalid’s team are expected to keep learning new skills, to get certified for something new every year, and to put all their knowledge into finding creative solutions.
Whereas the first two metrics are about the measured performance of skills, the next one is about personal interaction, communication and level of empathy. While employees are the assets of a business, the clients are its core, whose interest should also be the agency’s interest. An important metric in evaluation, therefore, is how clients are feeling when working with their agency peers and whether they are happy with the speed of response and overall communication.
The last metric concerns the level of team fitness and how employees actually get along, “because you can hire somebody who has the will and the skill but you know they’re really horrible to work with.”
CRO: The market, the tech and the adoption
Client retention has become increasingly important in the last year, mainly due to the explosion of e-commerce, and Khalid Saleh is sure that the CRO market will continue to grow. More and more growth teams are being created as CRO, slowly but surely, becomes a norm in digital marketing. CRO is continuously perfecting its processes and is slowly becoming more complex. Most SEO and PPC agencies tend to start doing CRO for their clients but drop it after a few years, concluding that CRO is more complex than it seems. CRO software is in development, offering more complex features. The interest in CRO from companies is increasing, because retaining customers and building a relationship with them is becoming crucial for e-commerce in particular.
In terms of software, AI is expected to be implemented more often in CRO systems and to increase in velocity. As a software engineer, Khalid considers that in spite of the speed of development and all the glitter that comes with the possibility of developing new features, marketers should not let themselves get caught up in the game of doing things faster. The mirage of new software, especially AI, is now, more often than ever, shifting the attention of marketers from quality to quantity. No matter how good a particular piece of software is, Khalid believes that it will never replace traditional marketing processes. Digital marketers should be more focused on adding value through their knowledge, not on putting more value on machines with limited capabilities, which merely deliver data and identify patterns without really knowing the customers.
Traditional marketing understands there is a place for acquisition and a place for retention, and correct and sophisticated marketing programs are genuinely very focused on retention. Unfortunately, in digital marketing, Khalid observes, there is a tendency to reinvent the wheel because of the many performance tools, with many marketing processes – instead of just being followed – being rewritten instead.
Marketing, and especially retention, are about giving customers what they want, when and where they want it and, in the process, digging deeper into their minds in an effort to understand what motivates them, and thereby discover their soft spot in order to keep them coming back!
There are three important factors to be considered by e-commerce entrepreneurs when it comes to marketing. First of all, come functionality and usability. These are key in terms of customer perception. Making sure that the website is loading fast, that all the buttons are easily found, that all the categories in place, and that all the CTAs are served correctly without being annoying, are a must. Secondly, there is a focus on the emotional side of the business, which, in Khalid’s experience, means getting ahead of the competition.
How buying from a website makes its customers feel is as important as its functionality. People will forget how that site looks, especially given that everybody in digital today is working with almost the same tools. The result is that it becomes almost impossible for a website not to look like at least a dozen others. The fact that people never forget how they felt, and how the experience and interaction were, is the main differentiator for a smart e-commerce business that is really looking after its customers.
An Expert’s Advice
Almost every success story has a recipe and, most of the time, the ingredients are the same. For Khalid Saleh, these are discipline, establishing good connections, and family. Looking back at his younger self, our guest confessed that the first thing an entrepreneur should improve is his own discipline in everything he does. The importance of discipline and focus, and of being 100% organized and fully involved in the task, activity or conversation, is something that Khalid Saleh discovered as crucial in successful day-to-day self-management. No amount of knowledge, interest or excitement will get the job done properly if the work is not consistent.
The second ingredient in Khalid’s success is the art of establishing good connections and solid relationships, an art that he perfected later in life. As an in-demand software engineer and CRO expert, Khalid exposed himself to a lot of different people from highly diverse professional mediums, which helped him to understand and recognize the importance of personal relationships in the business environment. Thus, he advises all young professionals, especially those working in software engineering, to make an effort and get more involved in their professional relationships and, moreover, to exercise the power of words, because good connections will always stand the test of time – resulting in a lot of supporters in any future entrepreneurial endeavour.
For Khalid, as with many others, family was and still is vital to his success. Although he recognizes that all too frequently he got caught up in his work life, looking back now, our guest advises that family is extremely important and is where anyone finds the most satisfaction and the biggest motivation to succeed. Time with family is not only important for personal balance but is equally important as one of the greatest sources of creativity and good ideas for business.
Conversion rate optimization is increasingly becoming an important pillar in all digital marketing strategies. Knowing your customers, their preferences and their buying journeys is no longer optional, and companies are focusing their efforts more on keeping and pleasing their customers, rather than just spending marketing budgets solely on acquisition.
We hope you enjoyed our video interview with Khalid Saleh.
For more valuable insights, make sure you come back to check out our next Growth Interviews as well.
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