Derek Halpern is the founder of Social Triggers, an awesome marketing blog (and podcast) that features insights into the psychology behind why people do the things they do online. He’s built multiple successful online businesses in niches like fashion and entertainment, and now shares the knowledge he’s gained running his own businesses with other aspiring entrepreneurs and marketers.
A Quick Preview of the Podcast:
- Is it even worth split testing on your website? (Hint: We think so, but Derek has a different idea…)
- One of the simplest methods of getting quality traffic that involves just two steps.
- Three key motivators to get someone to respond positively to your email.
To See This Tactic In Action:
To See The Transcript:
Hey hey fellow marketer. Thanks for joining me today on ConversionCast. First thing’s first — to download the exact script that today’s guest, Derek Halpern, has used to build his blog to over 130,000 subscribers, head over to www.conversioncast.com/derekdownload — it’s free, and it’s word for word the script he shares on this episode. Again that’s conversion cast.com/derekdownload. So… Believe it or not… there are people in the world who don’t believe you should be split testing and focusing on improving your conversion rate for your opt in pages, sales pages, and webinar registration pages. I know… I know… BUT… today’s guest makes a compelling argument for focusing your efforts elsewhere. Although I strongly disagree with some of what he has to say, I felt like this discussion was valuable for you to hear and DEFINITELY something to consider as you’re working on growing your business. My guest is Derek Halpern, the founder of Social Triggers — an ultra-popular (and valuable) marketing blog with training products and insights into the psychology of why people do things. On this episode, not only does Derek make an argument for why you SHOULDN’T be running split tests (which I fully disagree with), but we discuss something else you should focus your efforts on, and one heck of a killer strategy you can use to make it happen. I can’t wait to hear your feedback on this one, which you can leave at conversion cast.com/socialtriggers — P.S. Derek has been known to spend some time in the comments section in which he’s featured, so don’t hesitate to call him out on anything you disagree with. Could make for some AMAZING discussion. I’m Tim Paige, the conversion educator at LeadPages, this is ConversionCast, and here’s Derek Halpern from Social Triggers.
Awesome. Derek, thanks so much for being here today. I’m excited to talk with you man.
Derek: Hey, thanks for having me. I’m pumped.
Tim: Yeah me too. Awesome. So we’re going to go ahead and just go right against the grain like right off the bat. I’ve already done a good job of kind of explaining who you are for the rare person that doesn’t know. But today, we are not going to talk about a data driven case study that you’ve complete, are we?
Derek: No, we’re not.
Tim: All right. So we have similar opinions, however we disagree to an extent. So why don’t you just go ahead and tell me like let’s hear your thoughts on conversion optimization.
Derek: Well first things first, just I always laugh when people say we disagree.
Derek: Because when we disagree, that usually means you’re wrong and I’m right.
Derek: Let’s talk about conversion optimization. I know that this is Conversion Cast and everyone who’s listening to this loves to hear about these big split tests that produce great results that change the business or change the conversion that make you millions of extra dollars from the same amount of traffic. [Laughs] Right?
Derek: Here’s the problem with that. Those types of tests rarely happen. They almost never happen actually. But when you look at websites like which test 1 or AB tests and they show these great results, it makes you excited. It makes you think like oh my god, I’m leaving so much money on the table, I’m going to go run this test and I’m going to go and make a million dollars, but it rarely works that way.
Here’s the problem. The problem is that a lot of people who are running tests these types of microtests are really not in the stage of business where it makes sense. What does that mean? If you’re looking at a big company like Amazon that’s getting millions and millions of hits a day, micro tests, increasing conversion by 1% or 2% or whatever, that can lead to a lot of revenue for Amazon. But if you’re in the position where you’re driving a hundred, 200, 500 or maybe even a thousand hits, micro testing your way to big success is probably not going to happen because let’s just look at some numbers. Let’s say you get a thousand visitors and your conversion rate is 25%. That means you convert 250 people to opt ins. Right?
Now you can try to increase that conversion from 25% to 35% and now you have 350 opt-ins. You might run let’s say ten tests to figure out how to get from 250 to 350. All this work for an extra hundred opt-ins. But maybe instead of putting your resources or your time into testing your way into an extra hundred opt-ins maybe instead it would be easier to just go find another thousand visitors. This is the problem with testing today. If you’re already at the stage of the business where it’s prohibitively expensive or harder to get more traffic, then you should try to squeak out more results from your existing traffic. However if you’re in the stage of the business where you’re only getting a hundred hits, you’re probably better off getting another hundred or 200 hits before you start microtesting your way to fame and fortune.
Tim: [Laughs] Okay. So let me ask this though because you know, to an extent I understand why if people are spending all of their time just split testing every single thing on their website and that’s what they’re spending all their time doing, that’s probably not going to be the most effective use of their time. But if it’s something as simple as for example you’re using LeadPages and you just set up a split test where you’re just split testing button color, and that literally takes you an extra thirty seconds to set that up, is it really detrimental?
Derek: Yeah it is and I’ll tell you why because who cares about button color? Changing button, if you talk to some of the world’s best split test experts, changing button color is not going to drive bottom line business results. It’s just not going to happen. All right. Maybe if you have a blue website and you have a blue button that blends in with the blue website and people can’t find the button right?
Derek: Changing that button from blue to purple or green, that’s going to give you a big improvement. But I always tell people when it comes to button colors especially it’s not about the color of the button that converts. It’s usually about what I call action colors and passive colors. Long story short, a passive color is the color that makes up your website, action color is the color you want people to take action on. The action color should be opposite on the color wheel as the passive color because that’s the color that pops out the most in that scenario.
So say somebody tests that and they see a big jump, I mean you talk – you’re saying 1 or 2 or 3%. Let’s say somebody sees a 50% jump or 100% jump or we’ve been getting people talking about like 300% jumps, that has an impact. Oh if you’re getting 300% jumps absolutely it has an impact but you know what, I want to see that jump hold. I want to see that jump hold because as you know if you’re testing a lot of things, you might test something like that and see a jump and see a spike. But then after a few weeks, it progressively goes back towards the mean.
Because you might have people visiting your site every day of the week that aren’t converting then you get a big jump immediately and then it just drops down. What most tests don’t tell you is that when they run that test for the first thousand visitors and they get statistical significance right? They never tell you about the next thousand visitors.
Tim: That’s good
Derek: And you almost always lose your gains in these scenarios when you’re micro testing things like button colors.
Tim: I think that depends. I really do. I think because you know, based on so many tests and you know, obviously we see a ton, a ton of these split tests happening all the time across LeadPages and I think you’re right. There are a lot of situations where things peter off. You do that split test and you see a big jump and then it goes right back towards the mean. But there are a lot of times where it sticks and that in that case it was worth it to do the short test.
Derek: Of course.
Derek: Like I said, I’m not taking a dump on tests. I believe in testing. I’m just trying to say I think people worry about these micro tests like button colors and changing a button color is rarely going to change your business. It’s not going to take you from the red to the black. Maybe it can get you a little bit along that way but if you worry about – if the button color is your problem, you probably have a bigger problem on your hands that you don’t even know about.
Derek: That’s what I’m trying to say.
Tim: Yeah. I can get with that and I think you know, I think that this is definitely a problem that a lot of people face where they’re not sure what to do in their business. They’re stuck at some point. They’re stuck either with no revenue or little revenue or little visitors and they hear an episode of Conversion Cast and they think this would be something great. I can split test, you know, the headline or I can split test the button and that’s going to revolutionize my business. That’s where I think we’re really in agreement that that’s something you should be doing but not as a focus and not really like it might almost be that people’s mindset gets messed up because they think that they’re going to split test their way to success.
Derek: Exactly and that’s what it is because see split tests make people think and act like it’s the lottery. Right? A winning split test is like hitting the lottery to me. It doesn’t happen that often and a lot of people are putting all their eggs in that basket instead of focusing on things that are much more beneficial to their business. Like as an example I always look at social triggers right? Social Triggers just turned three years old recently.
Derek: I haven’t run that many tests on my design of my website. You know what, that’s a big mistake because I know I get enough traffic where running tests could help me grow faster. But let me tell you why I haven’t. I’ve been so focused on just building the community, getting more people to visit the site and more traffic that the site’s converting good enough right? So I’m leaving good enough alone for now. I will eventually come back to it and focus on it but for right now I leave good enough alone for now and then I’m focusing on driving more and more traffic, more and more exposure right? What happened in the last three years? I mean Social Triggers went from zero to basically one of the largest marketing blogs with one of the most active communities in the marketing space because of this strategy that I took. I didn’t micro test my way to success. I focused on the big wins. My friend Ramit Sethi — he actually has something that he calls big wins a lot. Like a lot of people focus on little wins like not drinking lattes to save money. He says forget about not drinking lattes. Go after getting a $50,000 raise. Right?
So I’m like the same way. Forget about that 30% bump on your landing page that gets 500 visitors. Go figure out how to get 50,000 visitors instead.
Tim: Yeah. So this is like where people are you know, if somebody is deeply in debt and they’ve got like 20 different debts and they just go and consolidate them and they feel good. But really at the end of the day they’re just moving debt around. It’s that same kind of feeling —
Tim: It’s like you think you did something, yeah. So you know, I can agree with you on that front. So let’s turn this now into something where so if people are like okay I’m split testing myself into oblivion that’s great but maybe they should now focus you know, just a small percentage of their time split testing and then a big percentage of their time building their traffic. So I was just on a webinar with you earlier today. I heard some of the things you were talking about. Share with us something really actionable that somebody can do now that they’ve heard this.
Derek: Yeah. So I’m talking about traffic right?
Derek: So you know how to get more traffic and I always tell people the easiest way to get more traffic is to find people who have the audience you want and convince them to send you some of that audience. Surprisingly enough, it’s easier to do than it sounds. I always give people the same exact strategy. How do you do it? You first find the person that you want to reach. You write them an email and you send it to them.
Derek: That’s what you got to do. Right? A lot of people got lazy in the promotional world like if you’re trying to grow your website, grow your business, a lot of people got lazy. They just try to send Twitter updates, Facebook updates, they try to grow their Twitter account by following 5000 people. Like that’s actually going to move the needle. No, you idiot. Following 5000 people isn’t going to help you grow your business. Okay. What you got to do is you got to find people of the people you want to reach and convince them to send you some of those people. It’s really that easy. All you have to do is send an email to these people and introduce yourself.
Now of course there’s some more subtle nuance ways of approaching these people. I have a free video on YouTube about this. I call it the right email, click send strategy. I don’t know if you do show notes or not. You can link it up or…
Derek: –just go to YouTube, type in Derek Halpern and type write email click send and you’ll find this free video where kind of go through in detail about exactly what you can say and provide the script, the script that you can use to reach out to these people. But that’s the basic strategy.
Tim: All right. You got to like bait the hook here. Give us –you know, we’ve got the idea, we’re like ready to go, so what’s an example of something we could say? I’ll link up to that video in the show notes by the way. It’s at ConversionCast.com/socialtriggers.
Derek: All right. So if you want the exact – I have to pull it up because I don’t remember it off the top of my head. All right. But the bottom line is you have to remember when you’re emailing someone you don’t know it’s not about you and what you’re doing. It’s about them and what they’re doing. Right?
So let me give you an example of a bad email that I got right. Someone emailed me and they wrote like it was – they’ll be like hey Derek I know you don’t know me but my name is blank and I’m from blank. I noticed that you linked to a few bloggers related to me. So I thought I would take a shot in the dark to see if you would be willing to link my site as well. Don’t worry. My mission is to provide real value in my readers, which is why your website readers will see value in my website. I’ll only post very detailed high quality, easy to follow articles. Thanks for taking the time for reading this email. Have a great day. This is what he sent me and I laughed. What’s wrong with this email that he sent?
Tim: It’s like me, me, me, me, me.
Derek: Yeah. Everything is wrong with this email because it’s all about him, himself, what he can get out of it. Another example is someone who emails me. They email me their free Kindle Book, it’s like 99 cents. Hey Derek, here’s a free Kindle book. I just thought your readers will really love this. Why don’t you send an email to them sharing this free book?
Derek: If you don’t want to share it to them, I don’t understand why because it’s so valuable and I’m like all right, you want me to email more than 140,000 people your free book? Why? First things first, your book is about you know, conferences and I’ve never seen you speak at conferences. So I don’t really know if you know what you’re talking about. So anyway most people email people that are talking about themselves and what they can get out of it. That’s the wrong way to do it. Instead, when I run my podcast as an example, when I reach out to people that don’t know me and I want to get them as a guest on my podcast, I use a very similar script every single time. I say something like hey, I notice you have a book coming out in a few weeks, I believe my readers who reading my blog would eat it up, would you be interested in doing a thirty-minute interview where we talk about your book and end with a pitch for your book?
Right now I’ve got more than a hundred thousand subscribers, I suspect we could sell a few hundred books. Thus far, I feature people like Max Jadan and other people who I know you’re familiar with who… So would you love to have your interview alongside theirs, right? So I’ll say something like that.
Derek: And you know what they say? They say yes.
Derek: Of course I will come on your podcast.
Tim: Because it’s driven by what’s going to help them?
Derek: Exactly and then I do the podcast you know, we’ll be making it all about them and I’ll send them an email about hey just want to let you know we published the podcast and what do they do? They share it. I don’t even ask them to share it.
Tim: They want to share and that you could do the same thing to get traffic and get them to link to you and send people to you but you have to have something of value to offer them.
Derek: Exactly. Exactly. And if you can’t offer value with regards to having a big audience because not everyone has an audience as large as mine.
Tim: That was my next question yeah.
Derek: Right? So you don’t offer audience. Maybe you go after – there’s actually three types of incentives you can go after. You can go after the social incentive, the moral incentive, or the economic incentive, right? I wrote an article about this too. It’s how to persuade people you don’t know to help you and this is like the secret to getting links or whatever. But I’ll just kind of run through it real quick with you on the call.
Derek: A moral incentive is appeal to their moral beliefs obviously right? Their social incentives appeal to their social beliefs, which could be –remember in that email when I said hey I also feature people like this, this and this who I know you’re familiar with.
Derek: I knew they were familiar with those people because they were in the same industry as that person. So that’s a social incentive. It’s like hey you want to call my podcast not because it’s big but because other people you know and respect came out my podcast. Now they’re using the social incentive and that’s something that —
Derek: –by the way that like every podcaster has latched on to.
Derek: Like every podcaster is like I’ve had John Lee Dumas on my podcast. I’ve had Pat Flynn on my podcast what about you? You know what I wonder if they just all did it because I told them to do it like two years ago. Right?
Derek: So anyway that’s one example. The economic incentive is like where you tell them you could sell books for them. The moral incentive is even better. Right? If their book is about some big idea like saving dogs from being killed or whatever right?
Derek: You reach out to them and say hey, I know you’re a dog person. My new book is all about saving dogs. What do you think? Is this interesting to you?
Derek: It’s not economic or social but you’re appealing to their moral obligation to want to share it.
Tim: Yeah that makes sense. And you can do this to basically to you know, make connections in the space that you’re in or you know, in a space that you want to be in and you can do this to drive traffic and they’re likely to share something like that if it appeals to the right part of their psyche.
Derek: Exactly. I mean just today I’m not even kidding, I’m currently in the middle of a launch of a new product. Someone emailed me they’re a nonprofit, asked if I offer any discounts for nonprofits and honestly I don’t ever believe in discounting my products or services because I don’t think it’s fair for the people who paid full price.
Derek: However he’s like hey man I run a nonprofit, it’s about saving dogs, which is why I just said saving dogs.
Derek: I was like you know what, screw it. I have a dog. I believe in dogs, I mean a lot of my employees are dog people so I’m like you know what, I emailed them back. I was like I just donated $400 to your nonprofit. You can use half of it to buy the product or just use all of it for your dog charity or whatever. Go do your thing.
Derek: And then he brought the products which is but you know, like sometimes I do that, I didn’t have to do that but I did it because he just happened to hit me at the right time as my dog was like sitting on my lap, you know what I mean?
Tim: Every listener of Conversion Cast is about to email you and ask for a discount for their charity just so you know.
Derek: Well I hope they don’t do that.
Tim: [Laughs] Just messing.
Derek: you’re going to ruin it for everybody.
Tim: [Laughs] No I’m just kidding. Yeah this I think this is good, I think this s a good place to kind of stop this and of course if you want to see some detailed examples of this, there’s the video and then obviously the blog post on Social Trigger. So Derek, thanks so much for having a little argument discussion with me there in the beginning and bringing up a way that maybe people can take that action instead of focusing all of their effort on split testing although if they stop split testing I’m going to be really upset. So Derek thanks so much for being here man.
Derek: Thank you for having me. I really had fun.
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Listen To Discover When and Where Split Testing Is Valuable: