Valentin Radu’s Life Journey

 

Some stories are just too amazing not to share – and Valentin Radu’s is definitely one of the best. When he heard Valentin’s story, my colleague, Chase, thought that this would make for a great discussion topic.

So, he drew Valentin aside in our backyard at Omniconvert, and together, they unfolded our CEO’s journey to success.

How did Valentin get here? Where did he start? And what are some of the most important things he learned along the way?

It’s all below – watch the video, or read more about their talk.

 

Chase: Valentin, I know you’re an energetic and passionate guy, but Conversion Rate Optimization isn’t necessarily a career that’s known for energetic and passionate and…not crazy, but just energetic people. So what about CRO attracted you, or why did you end up making your career in Conversion Rate Optimization?

Valentin: Yeah. So, first of all, I’ve had like 18 jobs in my whole career so far. And I learned the principle behind Conversion Rate Optimization when I was 17.  I wanted to get enough money so that I can go to the seaside with my girlfriend and I couldn’t afford it. So I went to this crazy job interview where they were paying me only for what I was able to sell. And I was supposed to sell cooking recipe books for one of the superstars in Romania, who was the greatest chef at that moment.

I had to carry like this huge number of books, in a bag, with me, every day, and I was supposed to stop people on the street ask them if they want to buy a recipe book.  Some of them were waiting in the bus station, others were rushing to work – and there I was, a 17-year old boy, looking around and wondering how can I convince people to buy this?

That’s how I started to validate A/B Testing. This was back in 1997, and I started by asking random people: “Hey, do you want to buy this?” (it didn’t work). Then I stopped showing the product from the very beginning, and I simply asked them “Hey, I’m looking for some help, do you have one minute?”. Some old ladies who actually stopped to tell me “Yes, little boy, how can I help you?”. I then I got into a conversation with them, and eventually, I got to build my ideal customer profile.

That was the first time I understood how important it is to have an ideal customer profile and how important it is to change your pitch and to do A/B Testing. That lesson stuck in my head as one of the basic principles for conversions.

I also understood that it’s not about how many people you actually ask (because you can ask the same thing to 200 people in a row and not get anything). So, after 4 days of not selling any book, I eventually got my first sale – and that was…

After that, I started to validate what was working and what wasn’t working. In one week, I had all the money, I quit that job (of course) and got my money to go to the seaside – but that taught me how important is Conversion Rate Optimization.

So, if I get a time machine to go through this very fast, I built the first broadband Internet connection/ service provider in my neighborhood in Bucharest (because I was playing StarCraft every day and I got the broadband connection, and then my neighbors started to ask me if I can sell to them, so eventually I sold to them and I bought a larger subscription, so, in 2 years, I got…we got together (me and my friends who were playing StarCraft every day), we got 4,000 paying 10 Euros per month, each one of them. We were crazy rich very fast.

So, after that, I experienced the first failure (an agency), then I got into building the largest car insurance website in Romania (it was there that I practiced what I had been learning, by changing the message, adapting to who’s on the website, personalizing the experience, and we got something 130,000 customers in my last year when I was actually going there).

So, understanding the importance of Conversion Rate Optimization and seeing the industry taking up back in 2014, I used the software that I got from that moment and I built Omniconvert. That was how I started 🙂

Chase: So, in watching a lot of videos and I’ve noticed that there are two types of advice videos. One is these are the quick and easy wins, these are the cheats, these are the hacks or whatever. And the other one is just about the grind, it’s about waking up at 2:30 in the morning and working for 26 hours in a day and stuff like that. So, as you built Omniconvert, what were the easiest wins growing the CRO agency and what were the things that you just had to…that just took discipline, that you had to hit day after day, morning after morning?

Valentin: One of the things that we did back at my other company (the car insurance one) was a hack, technically. We realized that our audience are drivers and Facebook was catching on fire – and we were there, and our product was not that appealing (like red shoes for a woman, for example).

But we realized that hey, our audience are drivers and they are on Social Media to show off. So we made a questionnaire with the questions from the driver’s license examination, and we created these automatic diplomas that we rated as “A-Class Driver” or “B-Class Driver”. So, after taking the test, the drivers that got an “A-Class Driver” diploma, they shared it on their Facebook live stream. Of course, our logo was included in these diplomas. While we had like zero fans when we started (a few hundred fans), this campaign brought us to 2,300 fans in 10 days. Obviously, that allowed us to get a huge brand awareness and the ROI was fantastic.

Chase: So, how would that apply to eCommerce or pro agency? How would that type of thinking… is it simply “use social media”, or is it something deeper than that?

Valentin: If you look at that example, the research was made properly (we asked ourselves “what is our target audience?), and the channel was proper (because things were catching up and they weren’t that abused as they are right now).

So, I would say that the main lesson to take home from this example is to always look for an alternative channel that is catching up, always understand your target audience (the drivers, in my example), understand  their purpose, what they want to achieve and how can you get into their lives, how can you use them as the channel to actually amplify your brand without something shady.

That campaign was a combination of winning factors: it was the right moment, the right channel, with the right message – so looking at that, and brainstorming, and simply testing that (because that’s an idea, but we had like other 40 ideas that I’m not going to mention here, that were the failures, but also that were the steps towards having a winning hack).

So, mainly, it’s all about testing, and testing, and testing and analyzing and going along with it because you can’t get it right from the very beginning. It’s like making a joke, right? You can create a good joke – but you need to create a lot of bad jokes until you get the one that’s good. That’s something that you can’t predict – but having the discipline to do testing and to do like growth hacks – that’s a different story, and that’s 100% in your control (how many experiments you are doing every month/ week/ year).

That’s how it works – and the successful version of an A/B Testing process is about how many tests are you running and your win rate, in the end. You can’t control your win rate, but you control the quantity of the tests and the quality of your data insights. So mainly, that’s how it can all be applied to an eCommerce, to an agency, to any type of company, actually.

Chase: To be crystal clear on who you’re pursuing and your pursuit. And pursue them in a few different ways and see what works the best.

Valentin: Yeah.

Chase: So, what do you think the next step is for the CRO industry?

Valentin: What is certain is that machine learning is taking over – so in the CRO industry, the direction is clear. The algorithms will take over the industry. The place where the CRO experts will stay is how to use those algorithms and how to craft the messages and how to be more persuasive and creative in messaging (not in doing experiments in terms of matching the profile with the product, with the offer).

What we are building as well in this direction is an algorithm and it’s a platform that empowers the eCommerce websites to do automatic interactions with their audience. So that being said, the CRO industry is going to evolve a lot because it’s a very important part in the growth mix of any company that’s selling online or generating leads online. At this point, the direction is clear – it’s all heading towards machine learning and towards crunching up a large amount of data so that you craft the best experience for each individual at the right time according to what you know about him. That’s going to be huge, and not just in the CRO industry. You’ll see it in the medical industry too, it’s going to be everywhere. Algorithms are taking over – and I think that’s both a good and a bad thing.

Chase: Yeah, it’s probably a topic for the next conversation, I think there’s probably a lot there to unpack that I definitely want to make public- so do you guys have any questions or any experience in using AI as part of your CRO strategy or with your eCommerce business? Please let us know in the comments, please feel free to ask us any questions that we could ask Valentin who’s got some experience and learn from his failures and his successes. So thanks again, Valentin. We’ll see you guys soon!

 

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