Episode 1: What is conversion hacking?

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

It starts! The Conversion Hacking Podcast is here.

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

Links and info from this episode:

Make your own shop more successful with conversion hacking? Arrange 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 reception already said: Yes, I am the conversion hacker.

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

And this podcast becomes a very important component of your online marketing strategy; because I want to give insight, I want to provide thoughts, I just want to make sure that e-commerce teams, online shop operators, online marketing managers and so on change their thinking. Away from this classic, well, somehow bureaucratic marketing thinking, which is still very, very predominant in online marketing: we make plans over four weeks and what do I know and we plan that something goes 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. 

For me, conversion hacking is a bit of a mixture 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 consultens 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 - in companies in Germany and Switzerland and since then I've 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 now exist and work quite well - now it's about showing the right content to the right user at the right time and that's just how conversion optimization works. 

So then I said: Okay, I'm going to Omniture. That didn't work out so well at Omniture - weird place, I didn't work long, it doesn't matter - but after Omniture I went to Trakken - Trakken, the largest Omniture agency partner in Germany, I still think.

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

But what I also had to learn is that AB testing is not the best thing at all, 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 that I many companies do not recommend AB testing at all, but somehow more pragmatic methods.

And here 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're all conversion experts, we know how to build the best sites, but we still need a very pragmatic approach to be successful quickly. Even if ConversionBoosting has very good funding and is still going very well - even though I've retired a bit operationally, I'm still involved, the guys do a great job with such a tool to identify conversion potential - but I somehow thought: we need growth hacking strategies. So we have to see; 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 - and for many reasons the XING Group is no longer worth that much. For example, I can no longer write a proper newsletter to all Xing members. 

In this respect, growth hacking somehow always means 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 of course, that caused too many registrations. Some have already used it, 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 anymore today. If we didn't do more today, there would be trouble today if you do that, so you always have to be behind the next one, which scales really nicely now.

For example, XING was for me for a while and many, many other things, but you have to do it all with a conversion perspective so that it really brings something and you also have to look after the pages behind it, i.e. the landing pages, the entire checkout Optimize the process and so on properly and adjust it so that it 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 this is hacking and this is growth hacking:

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

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

And that works. It is working! That works if you. Organizations - small as well as large - gradually get to think in terms of hacking, to think from the user's perspective.

And get rid of that whole 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 this whole discussion in marketing teams often revolves 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 that supposed to mean? The SEO agencies - and like almost all agencies somehow - 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 yours?

And second: What are really ranking criteria on Google? And dear agency, do you think that your text is really what makes the page rank?

Alone? And that will only be able to use exactly this text and no others and not be able to format it differently, be able to incorporate it differently into the page, so that the page really converts better and works better? Man, 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've already worked for so many shop operators, on so many shop systems, and we've 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 euros a month, I don't understand why this isn't such a standard tool in every company - there are a bunch of wireframing tools out there.

Used Pidoco for a long time, now I use mockups and it's my primary brainstorming tool and I can explain to everyone very easily what I have in mind without opening Photoshop, without designing for two days, just be quick and really creative and yourself Don't let that distract you and let you break off.

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 100% rely on the agency? How credulous are many companies? The brains of online marketing, the brains of optimization, the brains 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 should do, then I can give them the right KPIs and so on - for my sake. You don't have to hire your own people for everything and stuff like that, although that sometimes makes sense, but good. But I can't give that 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 split 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 accepts, which conversion rates she accepts, which motifs she wants to place where so that we had a plan and don't just have wildly spent budget and too.

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 opportunity to optimize at all! But that's how it works very, very often. And conversion hacking is just something completely different. When it comes to conversion hacking, we have to think about where the potential is.

We have to look, how to address the right things that the users want, are we guiding the users correctly, are we using the right technologies? So, for example, I'm surprised that the tracking is simply bad on many sites and that the great opportunities, great potential, of addressing users again in a very special way via advertising networks are simply wasted. So there are enough possibilities, not just normal remarketing but also a bit more data-driven and AI possibilities that all ad networks offer.

Yes, and then it goes on, for example, I have to look at what conversion goals I have, maybe I'll collect a bit more email addresses, maybe I'll collect them sometime in order to build a corresponding lead nurturing process behind them . But it also has to be done well. Which email do I send out? Lalalalala this overall construct. 

And you don't give all of that at once, but then 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 get distracted then you kind of do conversion hacking on a little flame, 15% and the other 85% they kind of do all the other stuff and if it shifts a little bit like 40/60 or something like that you're with so much Other things

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 your name; Lieferheld, who have now sold to Lieferando, who have just been fined around €200,000 because they didn't handle user data properly, of course that sucks, that's a lot of money. But they sold their shop for just over a billion, which still includes €200,000. 

And how did you manage this billion valuation at all? 

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 very small limits. We'll just post 100 different motifs on Facebook, add a bit 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 this limit in your head.

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

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