In this week’s episode of Growth Interviews, we invite you to join our conversation with Peep Laja, a world-renown CRO expert and speaker, champion of optimization and experimentation. He is mainly focused on business branding, optimizing learning and analytics for copy. Not only does he talk about conversion optimization, but he also shares as much information about it as possible.
In his own words, Peep describes himself as “an entrepreneur and a conversion optimization champion, passionate about driving change and growth through digital optimization, devoted to growing the size and quality of the whole conversion optimization community.” He was also voted in 2015 as #1 most influential conversion rate optimization expert in the world.
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.
In today’s episode, Peep Laja has shared with us his insights on the world of conversion optimization, putting under the microscope eCommerce marketers and decision-makers with their vision on traffic generation, customer experience and their ability to become data-driven. He also let us in on a little sneak peek of his life as a successful entrepreneur.
Here are the biggest takeaways:
- The conversion optimization market status – 03:18
- eCommerce marketers under the microscope – 04:12
- The excitement of an entrepreneur – decisions for a lifetime – 08:17
- Crunch large data sets with machine learning – 12:36
- The problem of eCommerce in 2020: sameness vs meaningful differentiation – 16:25
The journey from conversion to a company and agency
Taking one step at a time, Peep Laja started his career in sales, gradually improving his skills at such a level, that he started dipping into SEO and PPC in 2006. His interest in the conversion domain sprouted while being a freelance consultant when he decided to create the marketing blog nowadays known as cxl.com.
The niche of conversion optimization was so small at the time, that he immediately realized the importance of this opportunity and grabbed it just in time. It turned out that his personal blog – as this was its purpose at the beginning – generated some interesting buzz so that people started asking for his services. This was just the tip of the iceberg because what came next is the foundation of the CXL agency.
An awesome effect from simply writing on a blog, right?
Peep is an entrepreneur and CEO of both an agency and a media company under the CXL umbrella, where the teams operate as independent units with minimal to no overlap between them. CXL Institute came as a result of Peep’s wish to step up from being only a consultant with his personal growth going at a slow pace to the amazing entrepreneur that he is today.
The conversion optimization market status
Comparing the power of exposure between CRO and SEO, Peep highlights the fact that conversion optimization has dramatically grown in popularity over the years, becoming “more mainstream” than ever. There are so many people on LinkedIn, for instance, that use this concept in their job description or title.
However, he mentioned that CRO probably never will be as known as SEO.
Why is that?
“‘Cause traffic is sexier, I guess,” was his answer 🙂
eCommerce marketers under the microscope
In Peep’s opinion, marketers are more fond of traffic acquisition than traffic generation and website optimization.
What should they do to improve their conversion rate? Peep simply begins his answer with the question “Where do I begin?”
- Point one: your value proposition.
“Why buy from you as opposed to all these other sites or especially Amazon? You know, it’s the biggest competitor for any e-commerce company. Do you have a defensible brand? Because if you’re selling the same stuff as everybody else, it’s increasingly harder.”
- Point two: great user experience.
- Point three, four, five and so on: think about what you sell, your copywriting process, the ease of checkout (and this is just off the top of his head).
“I could list 100 things here,” mentioned Peep. Did you know that basic elements such as a product image or product copywriting make all the difference? “Not enough eCommerce marketers pay attention to copy,” he adds.
Moreover, Peep believes that eCommerce marketers care more about acquisition than customer experience and retention. He reminds us about the growth funnel, where usually the top of the funnel represents more traffic. However, he prefers to refer to it as a “flipped” funnel, where the most impactful, easiest and cheapest way to grow your business is – before you drive more traffic – to focus on retention, your value proposition, “how you can give them the certainty of success”. The next step would be increasing the frequency of purchase, increasing the AOV (average order value).
Moving on to the mentality of eCommerce companies and their ability to be data-driven, Peep is of the strong opinion that only those who indeed possess such a mindset and create strong growth programs are the ones who are winning in the market.
And it all starts with the management.
The excitement of an entrepreneur – decisions for a lifetime
Shifting the paradigm to personal growth, Peep states that “standing still is falling behind”. Simple as that. As for running experiments in his own life, as a CRO expert, he mentioned his struggles to lead a healthy lifestyle and how experimenting with food and fitness routines literally changes his way of life.
“Personally I’ve been on a health journey over the last three or four years. I used to be quite overweight and didn’t care at all about my health. Then some traumatic life events happened that changed my mind about this. So, I’ve been doing a lot of research into health and fitness and then based on the research findings, I was running personal experiments on what kind of diet is best for me, experimenting with eating different things and seeing how I feel, how my body reacts, if I am making progress towards the goals I have.”
What excites Peep most in the future are the endless possibilities. One of them represents the foundation of his new company, Copytesting, followed by the ever-interesting product experiments to be done within the CXL Institute. “Business is the most fun game you could play”, he adds.
The most interesting idea he mentioned next was his most impactful decision ever made as a result of a failed project with a SaaS company. What he considered going wrong at that time and what he learned from the experience is the fact that he should have focused on building a proper audience. He applied this knowledge in building CXL which turned out to be a great asset in its growth.
Coming back to his newest company, Copytesting, its unique value proposition refers to “telling you which parts of your copy suck and what’s wrong with it so you would know how to improve it”. How does it perform that?
“You submit whatever copy that you want data on and we recruit people from your target audience – a minimum of 20 – who will read through your copy and then they will mark each sentence, paragraph, headline. They will rate it as good or bad. If they say it’s bad, what about it is bad? It’s jargon, it’s unclear, I don’t get it, it’s boring. Then, they have to write an open-ended comment on what makes it boring or what makes it bland. So, you have a mix of quantitative data like 18 out of 20 said this block is bad, and then you have open-ended qualitative comments on what about it is bad.”
Crunch large data sets with machine learning
What AI and machine learning are doing very well, in Peep’s opinion, is crunching through large data sets and drawing some conclusions based on that extremely fast. Additionally, what excites Peep just as much are the concepts of predictive analytics and deep learning. He gives an example of that as proof.
At CXL, they enriched their email list with Clearbit data, after which they marked who out of the entire list bought something and what exactly. After going through a process of deep learning, they understood the similarities of the people that bought something (such as the size and revenue of the company) and discovered which people are about to buy in the future ranked by order of priority or probability, adding the variables that predict purchasing (such as the recency of money-raising or the job title).
“The interesting thing was as soon as we finished this analysis, maybe hours later, a lead that was predicted to buy with 99 percent probability just signed up. So, doing this type of analysis by hand like humans would be able to do, but would take a lot of work, for a deep learner, this was minutes.”
The problem of eCommerce in 2020: sameness vs meaningful differentiation
As a pro-growth individual, Peep Laja gives his best insights for eCommerce businesses departing on their growth journey. And there is no better way to end this talk with an amazing quote from him:
“Any mature category that has a lot of competition, has a big problem of ‘sameness’. […] A past conception was ‘being better is easier than being different’. Not so, anymore. Being meaningfully different is actually hard and entrepreneurs need to be really thinking about meaningful differentiation. You can drive all the Facebook Ads you want but if your site has no meaningful differentiation, you are wasting so much of that money.”
Peep Laja has moved the needle in the CRO domain with his long-lasting expertise. This interview has revealed the struggles of an entrepreneur and the mistakes eCommerce marketers seem to make nowadays when it comes to customer retention versus acquisition and sameness versus meaningful differentiation.
We hope you enjoyed our interview with Peep Laja!
For more valuable insights, make sure you come back to check out our next Growth Interviews as well.
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