Episode 1: What is conversion hacking?

Make your own store more successful with conversion hacking? Make a free appointment with Jörg Dennis Krüger now: https://jdk.de/termin/

Here we go! The Conversion Hacking Podcast is here.

Conversion hacker and growth marketing expert Jörg Dennis Krüger got behind the microphone and tells us in this episode what conversion hacking is for him and how he got into it.

Links and info from this episode:

Make your own store more successful with conversion hacking? Make a free appointment with Jörg Dennis Krüger now: https://jdk.de/termin/


So, welcome to the first episode of the Conversion Hacking Podcast! My name is Jörg Dennis Krüger and as my beautiful new voice at the reception has already said: Yes, I am the Conversion Hacker.

I apologize right now for this first episode of the podcast, because I'm sure I'm still doing a lot of things wrong and a lot of things will somehow not be as perfect as they should be, but I promise right now, I'm working on it!

And this podcast becomes a very important component of your online marketing strategy; because I want to provide insight, I want to provide thoughts, I just want to make sure that e-commerce teams, that online store operators, that online marketing managers and so on change their thinking. Away from this classic, well, kind of bureaucratic marketing thinking, which is also still very, very prevalent in online marketing: we make plans over four weeks and whatnot and we plan for something to go viral - bullshit.

Ah, I know why I made the podcast explicit. 

Well, towards a completely different way of thinking: namely towards what I call conversion hacking. 

Conversion hacking for me is kind of the hybrid of growth hacking and conversion optimization, because what I've actually been doing for many, many years is conversion optimization.

In 2006, I was the first Omniture employee, or one of the first Omniture consultants in Germany, who really introduced the topic of Adobe Test-and-Target, at that time still Omniture Test-and-Target - Omniture was bought by Adobe - to companies in Germany and Switzerland, and since then I have been doing conversion optimization, since 2006.

Before that I was involved in the field of content management, I wrote a book there, "Managing Web Content" and I was involved with the whole content management up and down. But at some point – that was around 2006 – the point was that I said: Well, man, somehow it's not about that anymore

Managing content - content management systems are now available and work quite well - now it's about displaying the right content to the right user at the right time, and that's what conversion optimization is all about. 

So then I said, okay, I'll go to Omniture. That didn't work out quite so well at Omniture - funny place, I didn't work for long, never mind - but after Omniture I went to Trakken - Trakken, the biggest Omniture agency partner in Germany, I think still.

And then they just built up the theme really nicely and together with me for many companies. For the Unister Group, for example, at that time as it still existed and similar things. We really did conversion optimization, but conversion optimization was still AB testing in particular.

But what I also had to learn is that AB testing is not the coolest thing, because I need a lot of traffic for it - it worked great at Unister - I need a lot of traffic for it and I have to pay attention to so many other things, so I don't recommend AB testing to many companies at all, but somehow more pragmatic methods.

And that's where we come to growth hacking.

I then founded a startup, so first I wrote my book "Conversion Boosting with Website Testing", I built the web analysis team or website team at Sixt to 15 people, still have Head E- Played Commerce for half a year and then started my own business; the conversion boosting and of course we knew: 

Hey, we are all conversion experts, we know how to build the best pages, but we still need a very pragmatic approach to simply be successful quickly. Even though ConversionBoosting has a very good funding and is still going very well - even though I'm a bit operationally retired now, I'm still involved, the guys are doing a great job with such a tool to identify conversion potentials - but I was kind of thinking: we need growth hacking strategies. So we have to look at what are the things that work well?

And, for example, building a XING group worked very well back then. And the Xing group "Conversion-Hacking" has almost 10,000 members, who have all been members for quite a long time, mostly because it was very easy to write to many people, invite them to the group and so easily build the group.

That's no longer possible today - for many reasons - nor is the XING group worth that much today. For example, I can no longer write proper newsletters to all Xing members. 

In that sense, growth hacking is somehow always finding the things that are working well right now.

The most famous growth hack in history, that's the first growth hack in history for all I care, it's from hotmail.com. At that time, they simply wrote below every e-mail: "PS I love you, get your free e-mail at hotmail.com".

And sure, that has ensured too many logins. Some have already used that, the Hotmail,

everyone who wrote an email got the message “get your free e-mail at hotmail.com”, but not just the advertisement “get your free e-mail at hotmail.com” but with this “PS: I love you” just a little bit with an extra twist.

Doesn't work today. Wouldn't do that today, would give trouble today if you do that, so you always kind of have to be after the next one, which is really scaling nicely now.

XING, for example, was that for me for a while and many, many other things, but you have to do the whole thing with a conversion perspective so that it really brings something and you also have to optimize the pages behind it, the landing pages, the whole checkout process and so on, and adapt it so that it also fits together.

well And that's what I call conversion hacking, in a way: Pragmatic, achieving a lot quickly along the entire route. I have an 8-step model about prioritization, positioning, product, technology, conversion and customer loyalty and innovation and whatever. 

What does everything have in common? It's all from the user's perspective. And now we come back to the actual term: growth hacking, conversion hacking.

There's "hacking" in there and a lot of people always say: "Hacking, hacking! Dennis, do you really want to use that because it looks so negative!”. I say: "No people!"

For those for whom hacking is negative, that cannot be my target group and for those for whom hacking is negative, I have to explain to them that it is not. Because just when you read Wikipedia, it says: "In its original use, the term refers to

Hacking on tinkerers in the context of a playful, self-referential dedication to technology and a particular sense of creativity and originality.”.

Yes. And that's hacking and that's growth hacking:

Achieve a lot with a sense of creativity and originality in the use of technology and that is also conversion hacking.

Originality, creativity, technique, dedication and a special sense, simply making things more successful.

And that works. That works! It works when you. Organizations - both small and large - are encouraged to think in terms of hacking, to think from the user's perspective.

And do away with all that damn discussion in marketing teams.

I go to a meeting, there's a marketing team there and the first thing I hear is: "Yes, we've wanted to change that for a long time, it's already in the pipeline."

Yes Perfect! You can all have ideas.

But you also have to implement them and if he doesn't implement them, I don't care about your ideas, because this "Yes, yes, yes, yes, we know, we want to do it anyway" doesn't do any good. 

First of all, you probably didn't really think it through in detail, since this idea was just thrown off somewhere in development, they made something out of it that wasn't thought through in the end and this "sometime" is just annoying, it just has to be done, someone has to worry.

"What are the priorities now?", and that has to be implemented first. And when I notice the first thing and I bring it up, I don't really want to hear "Yes, yes, yes, yes, it's kind of planned" but then I want to hear: "Oh yes, we have to prioritize that, that has to we will implement now!“

And all these discussions in marketing teams often revolve around this topic.

This "Well, we kind of have it on the list, but when we want to do it now - well". This is also often called the "Hippo problem": Because everyone looks at the "highest paid person" and wants their opinion, the "highest paid person's opinion", but that's not the point, we in marketing teams have to develop a way of thinking that we concentrate on the important things. And also this: "No, the SEO agency doesn't want that." Yes, bullshit!

What's the point? The SEO agencies - and like somehow almost all agencies - quite often work with thoughts and techniques and approaches that are simply old.

If the SEO agency says: "But there has to be a lot of text on it and I can change the text if I do, because then we will no longer rank on Google.". Yes, I can only ask two questions. 

First, what is more important ranking or selling?

And secondly: What are the real ranking criteria for Google? And dear agency, do you think that your text is now really what ensures that the page ranks?

Alone? And that will only be able to use exactly this text and no others and not format that differently, incorporate it differently into the page so that the page actually converts better and works better? Man, man, man, man.

Or this “the shop software can’t do that, no, the plugin can’t do that” and so on and so forth. It's unbelievable what kind of things are put forward because you either have no idea, because you somehow don't feel like it and so on and so forth. 

I have worked for so many store owners now, on so many store systems and we have always found solutions to implement things quickly.

It is often enough to do a proper briefing, then the agency usually already understand what they should do and are no longer so defensive, but which marketing department works with proper wireframes, for example? Everyone always says "Wireframe, yes, yes, yes I know what that is", but why not work with it? Use the tool. But everyone: "Can I access your tool?"

Yes, the tool costs 29,95 Euro per month, I don't understand why this is not such a standard tool in every company - there are a bunch of wireframing tools.

Used Pidoco for a long time, now I use mockups and it's my primary brainstorming tool and I can explain there with anyone very easily what I have in mind without opening Photoshop, without spending two days designing, just kind of be quick and really creative and not get distracted and cancelled by something like that.

And then I find it particularly funny – I just got an email on exactly the same subject, so it occurs to me – “Yes, the agency manages the budget completely independently, we have no access to the ad manager.”

What?! How?! How is that possible?

No access means I can't even look at the stats, so I'm relying 100% on the agency? How agency believing are many companies? The head of online marketing, the brain of optimization, the brain of e-commerce must be in the company! I can't outsource my brain.

I can use an extended workbench, if I know exactly what they are supposed to do, then I can give them that with the right KPIs and so on - whatever. You don't have to hire your own people for everything, although sometimes that might make sense, but okay. But I'm not allowed to give it out.

When I talk to agencies, I sometimes get asked the wildest questions. I recently worked for a friend of mine that is involved in a bit of social media marketing and the agency asked: "Yes, how much budget should we spend on Facebook and how much on Google?"

Google was also an issue because it should generate leads for some study.

That's when I start: "Well, that depends, what do you think you can achieve?" "Yes, we don't know that yet, we'll have to see." 

“Yes and Google, what methods do you want to use at Google? Do you want to use remarketing on Google, which we got from Facebook, or do you want to book AdWords or do you want reach, simply with display ads on Google, what do you want to do?" "Oh yeah, wow, I don't know now, I have to... or do I have to ask someone on the ads team."

This lady really has the courage - or simply no idea - to ask me how we want to divide the budget and she lacks the minimum information. I then pushed her until she at least made me a plan, where she says which positioning she books, which CTRs she assumes, which conversion rates she assumes, which motifs she wants to place where so that we had a plan and not just wildly spent budget and also.

So that in the next step, when we have this plan and realize that things are going differently because, of course, things never go according to plan, then I also know how I have to change it - I already have assumptions and stuff like that further - but overall the whole agency approach doesn't make sense to plan for so long. You have to approach it in a very pragmatic way, especially when it comes to Facebook, especially when it comes to social media advertising, I have to be much closer to it and the obligation-to-bring attitude that many agencies have gets on my nerves. "Dear customer, please provide us with the motifs, texts - where is that supposed to go and so on."

After weeks, I might be told: "Well, maybe the motifs are just not the best!" Well, what's that supposed to mean?

When I look at it, when I look at what motifs you can use for

one of my customers, then I just go through their YouTube videos, through their website, through their old Facebook and Instagram posts, what is there and see what you can use from it and think about it and then have maybe feedback. "Hey, hey, the picture is a bit different," or I just take what's there and then have this huge pool that's just there. Very often I say just send me everything you have.

Give me a share on your server, give me everything you have, I'll flick through it and pick out what's good and then tell you what to use. But this "I'll deliver maybe five or ten motifs to the agency" is nothing.

Then they don't have the possibility to optimize at all! But that's how it's done very, very often. And conversion hacking is simply something completely different. With conversion hacking, we have to think about where the potential is.

We have to look at how we address the right things that users also want, do we guide users correctly, do we use the right technologies? For example, I'm surprised that tracking on many sites is simply poor and that we're simply missing out on the great opportunities and great potential to address users in a special way via advertising networks. So there are enough possibilities, not only normal remarketing but also a bit of data-driven and AI possibilities, which all ad networks offer.

Yes, and then it just goes on that I have to look at, for example, which conversion goals I have, maybe I collect a bit more email addresses, maybe I also collect times then to build up a corresponding lead nurturing process behind it. But it must also be well done. Which e-mail do I send out? Lalalalala this overall construct. 

And you don't do that all at once, you really have to think about where the potential is and then you have to concentrate on that and not get distracted by it. If you let yourself get distracted, then you're kind of on a small flame, on 15% conversion hacking and the other 85% they're kind of still doing all the other stuff and if it shifts a little bit because of 40/60 or so, you're then busy with so much other stuff.

then still stressed, it's just going too slowly and you can achieve an incredible amount within four to eight weeks and if you do it right, you can change the whole attitude, the whole attitude in the company

so that you work much more efficiently, because all this "we think long-term, we have to think about the brand" and all that. It's all irrelevant. What we have to do is sell and I'm sure of one thing; there are always competitors out there who are much more aggressive and who may sometimes break the law - I don't want that at all - but they do it and they are successful with it. 

Now, for example, here, what's their name; Lieferheld, which has now sold to Lieferando, which has now just been imposed around the 200,000 € penalty, because they have not dealt with user data so properly, that's of course crap, that's a lot of money. But they sold their store for just over a billion, so the €200,000 is still there. 

And how did they manage this billion-euro valuation in the first place? 

First because they stole menus from pizza.de, then because they didn't handle user data properly, and so on.

These are the things we know, these are the illegal things, we leave them out. But this attitude behind it: Hey, let's test the limits! This is where we all need to get to. Because then we have the edge over our competition and these limits are first in our heads and they are usually not that far away. And they're not like "oh God, oh God, oh God, we have to crawl the competitors on a large scale and really now..." No, no, no, no!

The limits are often quite small. We simply put 100 different motifs on Facebook, add a little more budget and see what works really well.

It's not such a big deal, but when you talk about it in the company, a lot of people already say "Oh God, oh God, oh God", or another limit: Let's minimize the navigation in the online shop and really only try that highlight relevant elements that you want the user to click on, because don't forget; he has only one click, then he is on the next page. So offering a thousand options might not help at all.

Yes, and just cross that line in your head.

That's already the first step and then we can expand it bit by bit until you maybe tackle a few other boundaries and then bit by bit really unleash the conversion tiger.

So, now I've been talking for almost 20 minutes, I didn't want to talk that long. I thought so the first episode we do so 5-6 minutes. Well well, I have already shot out a little bit, everything so thoughts.

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