How Disruptive Advertising Leverages Their Testing for More Meaningful Data

Chris Dayley, VP of Testing & Site Optimization at Disruptive Advertising, joins the Content Experience Show to discuss testing for the right data to know what your audience really wants.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

Data That Means Something

Clicks, likes, comments. It’s definitely nice to see interaction when it comes to social media content, but how much is that interaction actually benefiting your business?

While it can be helpful to have impressive numbers, at the end of the day the goal for your content is to bring customers to your business. This is why Chris Dayley of Disruptive Advertising believes that you should be looking past those initial metrics to find the data that shows how much you are benefiting from your content.

By identifying the true goal for each piece of content and testing how the response of your audience pushes you towards that goal, you can start to create more effective content to serve your customers while also driving more sales.

In This Episode

  • Why focusing on traffic and “top of funnel” metrics is not the most beneficial
  • How to find more meaningful data when your audience visits your website
  • How to test your audience’s response to different types of content
  • How to more effectively approach persona creation

Quotes From This Episode

“If someone only stayed on my website for 10 seconds and they immediately left that’s probably not accomplishing my goal.” — @Chrisdayley

If you have a blog, if you have a website, whatever it is, you should have some kind of action you want your audience to take. Click To Tweet

“The frame of mind of someone that just clicked on one of your ads versus somebody that was searching on Google for your type of content is completely different.” — @Chrisdayley

“Regardless of whether you’re trying to generate leads or get someone to subscribe to your blog or read your article, there needs to be a very clear call to action.” — @Chrisdayley

Two to three seconds is all you have to convince someone to stay on your page for longer. Click To Tweet

Resources

Content Experience Lightning Round

We understand that you are actually dabbling in some painting Bob Ross style, is that correct?

After his wife bought him a painting kit, seemingly as a joke, Chris decided to give it a try. After his first painting he was hooked and has now painted around 30 pictures! At this point painting has become an important part of his self care as well as a favorite pastime.

See you next week!

Episode Transcript

 
Anna Hrach: Hey everybody, welcome to the Content Experience Show podcast. I am Anna Hrach from Convince and Convert, here with the always amazing Randy Frisch from Uberflip. Now today we have a very special guest, we have Chris Dayley who is the VP of site testing at Disruptive Advertising. Today's podcast is a little bit different in a very, very good way. Today we are all about conversion rate optimization, otherwise known as CRO. I'm going to give you a little bit of a spoiler alert here but it's for a very good reason because a lot of you out there might even be saying, "Well why are we talking about CRO? That seems maybe like it lives in another department outside of content." As you go through the show today listen to the very end because you're going to hear why Chris thinks that CRO should really be owned by everyone. I couldn't agree more. Randy, I'm sure you probably feel the same way but this really felt like it really was the definition of content experience.
Randy Frisch: Yes you're so right. I mean we spend so much time and maybe even historically we've spent so much time talking about CRO or content optimization. I think we often thought about it more around the lines of on the creation side, how do we optimize from an SEO perspective, or how do we optimize to get people to our site? What Chris kind of hit on for me was how do we keep people engaged with our content? How do we get them to the point where they're going to convert with us? He hit on some really cool examples. Again, no spoiler alert, won't go too much into it, but start to talk about what to think about in terms of mobile versus desktop with the same assets and how sometimes with the right content it's not just about the right content but it's about the right length of content for the device that people are on. Really interesting topics.
Anna Hrach: Totally, well and especially such a key part of creating that entire experience is content and I myself, as former content creator, as a content strategist, as a content marketing strategist, I fully encourage every single person who's involved in content listening to this podcast right now to get involved in CRO. It is such a critical component of what we do every single day. It's not just one department, it's not just search. The examples he gave, you're so right Randy, are just so relevant and a lot of it is content.
Randy Frisch: Absolutely, and why don't we have a listen in here. We're going to hear some amazing examples of companies that are struggling with these same problems and that's some of the things that I love when our guests can actually bring ideas that you our listeners can tune into and say, "You know what? We got to go talk internally to our team, figure out how we optimize." As you hit on it Anna, this is a full team project that people have to undertake. Without further ado, let's hear the podcast with Chris Dayley in with us earlier this week.
Welcome to the podcast Chris, so excited to have you joining us here. Maybe you can start off for everyone and just give context to what you do today and then maybe that one minute version of how you got here.
Chris Dayley: Yes, and first I just want to say thank you for having me on the show, it's a pleasure. I love talking about content marketing, this is such an expansive world and I'm excited to chat with you guys today. My area of expertise is I do conversion rate optimization. The way that I explain this to my mom is I help people figure out what should be on their website. This can be anything from blogs to ecommerce sites, to B2B companies, I work with all kinds of businesses which is super, super fun. What kind of ignited my passion for this industry came about five or six years ago. At the time I was doing search engine optimization, which is all about getting people to your website, getting traffic. I was working in-house for a company, we were crushing it on the SEO front, we tripled our organic traffic in nine months, which sounds really great on paper, but as we started to look into what was happening with that traffic, we realized that most of those people were bouncing off our site.
Most of the people that we were getting from organic searches were not engaging with our site. They weren't converting, they weren't doing anything, so I started to dig into why, why is this happening, what's going on? The more I dug into it the more I realized we did not know our audience, we knew our audience, we knew who they were, but we didn't actually know what they were looking for when they came to our site. We didn't know what they would respond well too. No one could really help me figure this out, why was this happening?
I discovered AB testing, it was still fairly new at the time, and I ran an AB test on one of the pages on our site, conversion rates went up, I thought how the heck did that happen? I didn't know what I was doing but conversion rates improved and so that's where I really just started to love this idea of what is it, what did I change here that really influenced people? What is it about whatever content or design or media that really engages people and that people respond well to? That's the question that has just kept a fire in my belly for the last several years.
Randy Frisch: I'm really excited that that is a question. Anna I know you're about to jump in on the same thing, this is what you and I talk about all the time. This whole conversion optimization thing, and your path Chris, feels very aligned to the things that we talk a lot about content, which is that people thought as long as I create content people will come and consume it and I'll be a rock star. It's kind of the same way you put it, as long as I get people to my website then everything will work itself out. It sounds like you're kind of trying to solve the same things that we're advocating for here, which is how do we get the best journey? How do we find those various touchpoints, understand who we're talking to, to get them to convert? I'm wondering I mean how much of this term of buyer journey mapping, that Anna and I both love, comes into your world on a day to day?
Chris Dayley: That's a huge, huge part of what we do. When somebody comes to a website or a blog or wherever it is one of the challenges I think that most people have, whether you are a content creator, whether you're a business owner, whether you're a marketer, one of the challenges that most people have is there are a lot of various reasons somebody might come to your page. I'll give an example.
I work with Mike Stelzner over at Social Media Examiner. We've been testing on his blog now for close to two years, and one of his big challenges is he does social media content, so there's so many different aspects to social media and he struggles with okay, somebody could be coming to my site for information about Instagram. They might be coming for stuff about YouTube, Facebook, there's all kinds of different content on my site. I don't know exactly what somebody's looking for when they come. Even if I do, even if I know they want content for Facebook I don't know if they want a really in depth how-to article, I don't know if they want a theoretical just general update type of article, I don't know exactly what they're looking for.
Then you take it even a step further, even if I do know exactly what content they're looking for, they're looking for a how-to guide, do they want a 10,000 word media article, do they want a quick 10-step bullet point list, do they want a video of me talking through something? You don't always know that stuff. In fact, very rarely do we know that stuff when we first approach a piece of content or a new webpage, or a landing page, a blog post, whatever.
A huge part of what I do is helping people figure that out. What kind of content, in this situation, will the audience respond best to, and how do we track that? How do we know whether or not we delivered what the audience was looking for? What are the relevant metrics we should be tracking? On a blog post should we be tracking how far down the post they scrolled? Should we be tracking time on page? Should we be tracking whether or not they clicked on any of the links in the article or whether or not they clicked onto another page of our site? There's all kinds of ways that we could track success on a website, so how do we do that? How do we measure whether or not we're delivering what people are looking for and how do we influence that, how do we increase those relevant metrics is a bit question.
Anna Hrach: What's funny is whenever people talk about the definition of content marketing, it's always in the frame of providing really helpful, useful, usable content to assist people with their search. What I love, I really do, I'm so excited that you're here Chris, talking about conversion rate optimization is that it really is just that, exactly like what you just said. Putting that strategy together and forming the basis for why we're doing content in the first place is step number one, you have to have that foundation. Then once you start really developing content, CRO is really a great way, like you mentioned, to just get into the minds of our users, get into the minds of our visitors, and understand more of what they love.
I love especially that you were an SEO practitioner and you brought this to everybody's attention because I do feel sometimes that everybody's first instinct is success is based off of how many views things get and how many visits things get. To your point, if people weren't doing anything with that that wasn't necessarily success. How did you sell in sort of that messaging? Especially when people are so locked onto that first touch attribution model?
Chris Dayley: Yes, and this is a big challenge, especially for people that have traditionally been focused on those I call them top of funnel metrics. Views, likes, shares, clicks, that's where it requires a little bit of a mind shift. One of the things that I love to do when I'm engaging with a new company or I'm giving recommendations to a friend or something is I like to gather as much data as I possibly can about what's happening with people. I'm a huge fan of heat mapping technology. Heat mapping is one of the easiest ways for a content, somebody who's involved in content, any kind of content, video blog content, there's all kinds of content that you could be creating. What heat mapping does is it allows you to see what are people doing when they arrive at this page? If it's a blog post how far are they scrolling down this post? What exactly are they clicking on?
When you lay that on top of the data that you're already probably gathering, again for a blog post that might be how long did they spend on my page? How many pages did they visit in this session, whatever? When you lay that on top of that you get a really good idea of are people doing what I want them to do? I got someone to click on my article and come to my blog post. If they only stayed for 10 seconds and they immediately left that's probably not accomplishing my goal. Anytime I run a heat map on a page for someone they're always surprised with the result that you get back, they're always surprised with something inside of that heat map. Whether it's why are all of those people clicking on that image there? This is a blog post about whatever, how to write an essay for your English class, why do they keep clicking on that picture of that dog or whatever it is?
Anytime you see something like that and you start asking that question why are people doing that? You're immediately hooked and sold on the idea of testing. Well let's find out. Let's run a test, let's figure out what happened. If we link that somewhere, if we remove that, if we move that somewhere else, or if we change the picture what's going to happen? That's a great way to kind of get people started thinking in the right direction of why is this happening?
Anna Hrach: Nice, that is such a great way to present that is with data and actually laying it on top of current efforts. Chris I want to dive more into this and especially talk about some of the metrics and even how people can get started on CRO today. Before we do that we are going to take a super quick break to hear from our sponsors, so stay tuned and we are going to come back with Chris Dayley.
Randy Frisch: Welcome back to Conex, I'm Randy. We've got Chris here and we're talking about maybe the most important thing that comes out of our content, which is conversion. Although I'm sure people could debate that and say that it's the ability to build a relationship of course. Now when we think about what are our goals from our content it's a really interesting topic Chris. I don't know about you, I was actually at an event last week called ICC, Intelligent Content Conference, and I was chatting with different people about what they care about at the end of the day. I had two marketers who I was talking to at the same time. One who was all about lead gen, can they convert a lead, and the other who really didn't care about lead gen, they just wanted more engagement, more eyeballs, more time on page. What do you kind of chase for yourself in terms of the holy grail?
Chris Dayley: Well so the first thing is I mean there's not really a holy grail of conversion right? It's whatever the goal of your particular ... If you have a blog, if you have a website, whatever it is, whatever your goal is, but ultimately you should have some kind of action you want them to take. Anytime you're creating content there's always some kind of action you are hoping that they will take. With non-profits a lot of times this can be really challenging. Just as an example, non-profits a lot of times are not trying to do anything other than further their message, however you can attach specific conversion events to a piece of content.
I worked with a group called Operation Underground Railroad. These guys are these badass ex-Navy Seals and CIA operatives that go and rescue children that have been abducted for sex trafficking. Just a horrific industry I guess you could say that they are in, and their content was to raise awareness. Well how do you measure awareness? How do you measure whether or not you are actually accomplishing that goal? That's where it's really easy to go into oh, well we'll just measure clicks and page views, that kind of stuff.
What we wanted to do is we wanted to actually attach this to two main things. Number one, social shares, so are people sharing this content with others. Number two, actual donations to their cause. Those were our two conversion events that we were tracking. A test that we ran was we wanted to figure out does the length of the article affect shares and donations? Very simple test, all you have to do is you just write an article, whatever length you would normally write and then you create one version that's longer and one version that's shorter. We had three different lengths of articles that we were testing and then we measured donations and shares.
What came back, the data that we got back was fascinating, it was so interesting. We also put heat mapping on each of these different experiences so we could see what exactly is happening. Did we get more donations? Did people scroll further down the article? Did we get more people sharing? The most interesting thing that came out of this is that it was different, the length of article people wanted was different for desktop and mobile devices. On desktop the longer the article was the more donations we received. It was really, really interesting. The longer people spent on the article the more people actually got to the bottom of the article. On mobile it was the shorter the better, so having a more condensed version of the article generated more action.
Again, this brings up a really interesting question, why? We can all assume well that makes a lot of sense, people on mobile devices typically don't spend as long reading, and so if we can deliver to them a more concise version of the same article people are more likely to take action. If they can get all the way to the end of the article they're more likely to share, they're more likely to donate.
Randy Frisch: It's wild, I mean when you think about it we always hear about optimizing for mobile and we think about making sure that it's adaptive to the screen, but to your point we got to also think about what is someone in the mood for at that point? How much of their time might we get? There's opportunity to obviously optimize well beyond screen dimensions.
Chris Dayley: Absolutely.
Anna Hrach: It's almost like a psychological play too right?
Chris Dayley: Oh it totally is because you want to understand what is the best experience in this given use case? You can also look at other metrics beside device type. Where did they come from before they came to this particular piece of content? You might get somebody coming from the Google search results where they were specifically searching for your kind of content, and then you might get somebody who you ran an ad for and they're not exactly sure what they're getting, they weren't actively searching for you when they first came to your website. They might have been on somebody else's site looking for something else and they clicked on some kind of a remarketing ad that you had, they clicked on an email that you sent them. The frame of mind of someone that just clicked on one of your ads versus somebody that was searching on Google for your type of content is completely different.
A lot of times when we're running tests for different kind of companies we're measure all of those different results separately. Hey, for organic search we had this winner. For paid search we had this winner. For social media we had this winner. We had different experiences that worked for different people that were in different frames of mind.
Anna Hrach: Do you have any tips or tricks that your team uses about kind of getting into the mindset of the users or even understanding sort of where they're coming from, or is it really just based off of testing, you've seen these types of behaviors and patterns, or do you actually do things like empathy mapping and persona creation and things like that?
Chris Dayley: Well of course we do a lot of that, so persona creation is super valuable because if you do it correctly, creating a persona helps you to understand a little bit more about these people. However, the challenge that I've seen with people that do a lot of persona creation is they think because you created this persona and you may even have a ton of data to back up this persona, you think that because you have that you have all the answers. The persona really should just suggest to you a couple of ways to think about your users. Okay, we understand this person has this level of income, they're typically coming from this type of location, they have these circumstances going on in their lives. Now, based on that, not what should we put on our site, but what are some different ways that this person might want to be communicated to? That will help you start to generate some test ideas instead of what most companies do or most people do, is I've got this persona therefore they want this.
In terms of tips and tricks, so I just actually gave a presentation at Social Media Marketing World that was 90 minutes long where I basically went through kind of my top tips and tricks. In the interest of time I'll kind of boil it down to a few things that I like to keep top of mind when I'm thinking about testing and specifically testing content. One big thing is call to action. Regardless of whether you're trying to generate leads or get someone to subscribe to your blog or read your article, there needs to be a very clear call to action. Psychologically when somebody comes to a new page they've never been to before, a new site they've never been to before, psychologists have done all kinds of fascinating research on how long people's attention span is, and how much attention they give to a new site. It's typically about two to three seconds. Two to three seconds is all you have to convince someone to stay on your page for longer.
In that two to three seconds there's two very critical things that somebody needs to understand. Number one is that your content is relevant to what they were looking for. We can talk about that in a second but relevancy is very important. The second thing that they need to understand is what they need to do. If you have a call to action you want them to take it needs to be obvious to them, even if that's your share button. Did you like this article, share this with your friends. That needs to be obvious so that they can understand what is expected of them. It helps reassure people psychologically so they don't feel like they're going to have something sprung on them later. People don't like feeling surprised or feeling bait and switch kind of a thing. If it is literally just we want you to read our article and share it with your friends, make that pretty transparent and obvious.
If it is hey we want you to subscribe to our blog hit them with that call to action as soon as they get there. They may not be ready to take that call to action immediately, but at least they are reassured that they know whenever I'm ready I can do this. That's super important is figuring out is my call to action communicated clearly? If I came to my page can I see that call to action in two to three seconds? That's a test that we run frequently with our clients is where should that call to action be? What should it say? Should it be right bam in front of people's faces like blinking flashing lights?
Randy Frisch: These are big questions you're playing. We talked about this earlier that a lot of us think that if we just put out our content good things are going to happen, but there's an art to all of this. Where we work with a lot of our customers a big focus is call to action. How do we contextualize that call to action? What are we suggesting as you said? Is it content that we should suggest next or is it providing us more information or giving you the opportunity to subscribe. It's hard to throw too many options.
I'm wondering maybe one last question, we've only got about a minute so we're going to have to keep this one brief, but a lot of people listening to this are probably struggling with okay, so who's supposed to own this part in our organization? Is this on the content creator? Is it on the digital team? Obviously a lot of people could call you up Chris and work with Disruptive Advertising and get a lot of that third party, but who in the organization is often the best champion that you'd find for these types of projects?
Chris Dayley: Well so you probably won't like this answer, but everyone should own this. Whatever your particular role is you should own testing anything that you touch. If you are responsible for content you should be testing the content. If somebody else is responsible for getting someone to the page then they should be responsible for testing anything that's relevant to their area of responsibility. There may end up being overlap and that's great. I've worked with companies like Fandango and they have the most insane testing meetings I've ever seen in my life. They'll have 30 or 40 people in a room, not always in a room but virtually, and they're all responsible for different areas of the business. They're all talking about tests that they want to run, tests that are going to be most beneficial to their particular area of focus. Then they all coordinate, they all coordinate their plans together.
I mean that's absolute insanity and I don't recommend having meetings with that many people normally, but they get it, they understand I'm over the content, I need to make sure that people are taking action on my content. He's over lead generation, he wants to make sure that our content is leading people to become a lead. We need to make sure that we're all coordinating and that we're all focusing on taking responsibility for that.
Randy Frisch: I love that and to your point it takes a village, and I think that's got to be the mindset. Chris a lot of things that we talked about on this podcast from the creation of content and everyone who has to fuel what we need to use in the stories that we tell and what stories we need to tell, and then ultimately how we get that content to perform the best, which is a lot of the key takeaways I think people will have from this podcast today. Chris if you got a couple more minutes we're going to keep you around, going to get to know you a little bit behind the whole work stuff, and we'll be right back on Conex and Anna will drill you.
Anna Hrach: All right, welcome back everybody and Chris thank you so much for sticking around for the personal side. We're excited to get to know a little bit more about you now that we've gotten to know all about CRO and your approach and your recommendations. First off, we understand that you are actually dabbling in some painting Bob Ross style, is that correct?
Chris Dayley: I am, so my wife for Father's Day last year bought me a Bob Ross starter paint kit, which I kind of laughed at when I got because I had told her ... I used to watch the Bob Ross show when I was growing up. On a personal note I have never been very artistic. When my kids do art projects for school they do it better than I can by a long shot. I can't draw to save my life, anything. When my wife bought this for me I kind of laughed and thought it was a joke, but it was like $150 so I was like it's a very expensive joke so I might as well at least try it out. I plugged in the DVD, followed instructions or whatever, and like four hours later I popped out something that actually looked like a painting. It was mind blowing to me and it was so satisfying to go, "Wow, I spent four, five hours painting and I actually have something to show for it." It was such a great creative outlet for me that I have now painted probably, I don't know I'd say close to 30.
Randy Frisch: Is your house filled with these things or are these gifts, housewarming gifts? Instead of bringing a bottle of wine now you bring your own painting?
Chris Dayley: Yes to both, so I've got my daughter has a bunch of them hanging in her room, I have a stack of probably 10 of them sitting in my parent's basement right now.
Anna Hrach: Oh my God, just happy little trees everywhere.
Chris Dayley: Happy trees everywhere. For me self-care is very important. I lead a pretty busy life between work, between taking care of my kids, my relationship with my wife, and there's just a lot of things going on. It's so important for me to spend time taking care of myself and this for me has just become almost like the ultimate self-care. I'm developing a skill, I'm doing something I enjoy, and so if I need to spend four hours a week painting it's totally worth it to me.
Randy Frisch: Well on that note I'm going to leave us with a bit ... We've been talking about call to action, so you lined this up and you kind of opened up the Pandora's Box for this so beware, but this is also going to be the ultimate call to action. If you take a look at the get to know you part of your website where you get to know the team, they poke fun of you about how much you take care of yourself where they say when he's not fixing his hair you'll most likely finding him pursuing the boundaries of AB testing. Now everyone's going to be so curious that they're going to have to go to DisruptiveAdvertising.com to see what this hair looks like. I think I've lined up the best CTA possible for you guys. We will leave it on that note other than thanking you Chris for joining us on Conex. On behalf of Anna Hrach at Convince and Convert, I'm Randy Frisch from Uberflip.
If you've enjoyed listening to Chris Dayley on this podcast please check out all of our other past episodes by downloading at iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, really wherever you get your podcast, or go to ConvinceandConvert.com to learn more about this podcast. We really appreciate you tuning in and making this part of your listening. Thanks again Chris.
Chris Dayley: Thanks for having me.
 
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