Ramit Sethi is a New York Times bestselling author of the book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. He studied Psychology and Technology at Stanford and has been writing about the topics of personal finance, business, and psychology for over 10 years. He also shares his knowledge in freelancing and entrepreneurship through 18 products he has created. Ramit’s new website, growthlab.com, focuses on helping people of all levels in online business.
A Quick Preview of the Podcast:
- How to simplify and optimize your subscription confirmation page
- The exact split test strategy Ramit used to increase conversions
- How to redesign your webpage without over doing it
To See The Transcript:
Tim: Ramit Sethi may have made his start writing and speaking about personal finance. In fact, his New York Times best seller I Will Teach You to Be Rich is a book I’ve had on my shelf since 2009. But marketers and entrepreneurs have always loved studying the way Ramit runs his business. While preparing for the launch of his new product, The Growth Lab, which you can find at GrowthLab.com, he got some incredibly interesting results on his thank you page to the tune of increasing his email confirmations by 19%, not an easy task.
On this episode, Ramit will share some details on the changes he made and as a bonus he’s going to walk us through how to strike a proper balance between branding and conversion optimization. This is one of my favorite episodes of the show to date so you’re going to want to stick around until the very end. I’m Tim Paige, the conversion educator here at LeadPages and this is ConversionCast.
Hey Ramit, welcome to ConversionCast. Thanks for coming on the show.
Ramit: Thank you for having me.
Tim: Absolutely. So we’ve got a fun AB test that you did that we’re going to talk about. So can you tell us first what were the results from this particular split test?
Ramit: Yes. We have double confirmation for everyone that signs up for our email list and using AB testing, we increased the conversion rate by 19% and we took it from 63 to 75% with only two AB tests.
Tim: I love it. I love it. That’s great. You know, that’s one of the things that a lot of people don’t think of it as a conversion. They go well we got them to opt in that was the conversion but there really are a whole bunch of different conversions throughout the process of somebody finding you, getting to your website, opting in and then confirming their email and then opening that first email. All those things in themselves are all individual conversions and so I love that this is a focus that you had on one particular spot.
Before we got into it though tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Ramit: Sure. My name is Ramit Sethi. I’m a New York Times bestselling author. I wrote a book on personal finance called I Will Teach You to Be Rich and I’ve been writing about personal finance and psychology and business for over ten years. I started off in the personal finance area but expanded into areas like freelancing, entrepreneurship, psychology, careers and salary negotiation and over tie we’ve actually expanded into over 18 products and we now have a new site specifically focused around online business and that site is called GrowthLab.com.
Tim: I love it and I know Growth Lab is based on the findings and what you’ve done over the years in your own business that wasn’t about teaching people how to do business which is part of the thing that makes it so exciting.
Ramit: Yeah. Thank you. I think we’ve all met a lot of people who are experts at creating eBooks about creating EBooks about creating eBooks. It makes me want to rip my hair out.
Ramit: You know, I never wanted to do that. I have an interest and I have an academic background , I studied psychology and technology at Stanford. I wanted to go deep into these curriculum areas like personal finance and that’s why I went on places like The Today’s Show. That’s why a million people read our material every month. But eventually, we wanted to expand to all different parts of a rich life. And for some that’s food and fitness which we cover. For some people that’s starting an online business and growing it whether it’s a thousand a month, 10.000 a month or even a million dollars a month. So that’s the latest focus of Growthlab.com.
Tim: I love it and I want to talk a little bit more about that in a few minutes but this case study that we’re talking about today, you know, it’s really unique and I think that’s what makes it so special. So can you walk us through kind of some of the testing that you did to find the confirmation page that worked for you?
Ramit: Yeah. So for our email signup we used a double confirmation flow and a lot of people in our space are really aggressive and arguably sometimes scummy. We want to avoid that at all costs. There’s a reason that I mentioned that I went to Stanford. It’s not for my ego. It’s that we have credibility in this space. We have over 30,000 paying customers and a million readers a month, etc.
So we take every step of the funnel really seriously. We like to be systematic about it. One of the areas we saw that was under optimized was the confirmation process. These are people who already gave us their email address but they didn’t go back and confirm their email address by going to their inbox and clicking the link.
So we decided to spend some time and optimize that area.
Tim: Got you. Okay. So can you maybe talk about what the page looked like before you started the split testing?
Ramit: Yeah. We actually had a really funny page. It was a horrifically ugly picture of me and it actually got somewhat famous online because people discovered it and they were like look at this crazy cookie weirdo. It said this is Ramit. I’m sad. I’m sad because you haven’t confirmed my email. It had all these, just this ugly picture of me and it said I don’t want to be sad anymore. Please go back to your inbox and click it.
Now the origin of that page is actually pretty funny. One day we wrote something and it was picked up on the front page of Yahoo.com. This is years ago. We had so much traffic coming to us that one of our engineers and I got together and we said let us just put up every test we’ve ever wanted to run and just threw it up there.
SO I found this ugly picture of me on my phone. I sent it to them. We threw this page up and we knew the conversion results in like five minutes.
Ramit: It gets so much traffic.
Ramit: So we kind of left that up there. This is a really common thing. You don’t really go back and take a look and kind of clean your garage or prune out your house. Well one day, we decided to prune it out and so we came up with some theories on how we could improve this page. It was a bit dated. You’ll often find that if you don’t continue maintaining and improving your conversion rates will predictably drop.
So we decided to run some split tests against this control version baseline version because we thought we could beat it.
Tim: Nice. So tell us a little bit about the test.
Ramit: Alright, so we ran AB tests and I have to tell you I’m going to admit upfront we were really lucky because our first two tests were winners.
Ramit: Now that rarely happens.
Ramit: I’ll give you an example. Right now we’ve done over ten AB tests on our homepage in the last six months and we have yet to find a winner.
Ramit: Okay. So this really was remarkable luck but also a lot of good design and copy writing went into it. But I just want to set the expectation. There’s a lot of people out there who will tell you we AB test everything, the size of our fonts, the color, most of it is BS.
Ramit: The vast majority of the test we run produce no result or even a negative result. But once in a while if you’re systematic about it, you can actually find some big winners. I’ll tell you about two winners that we got. Alright so winner #1, we simplified this page significantly. Very little copy, design that instantly communicated what they were getting and it was a lot more flexible because we have multiple signup forms. So I got to tell you that I actually liked the original version better. I thought it was funnier, I thought it had more personality. You know, I just thought it’s that expectations because we’re not trying to be boring and we’re certainly not trying to be really serious. We wanted to keep it fun and playful.
But when we got the data back from test #1 it was awesome. I mean it was astonishing. So we decided to keep that version and then we decided to go and stack on another test on top of it. Okay. This is something that I would highly recommend to people. Oftentimes people will get a marginal win, maybe it’s 5%, 8% whatever it maybe and they’ll just wipe their hands and say okay well we’re done. Sometimes, if there’s one win, there’s many wins to be had. So what we like to do is stack the tests and ideally stack the wins.
So after we had launched the redesign, we started doing more tests. The next thing we did was we started testing different countdown timers to add some urgency to the page. Now the most interesting part of this test is that we had different variants of the countdown timers plus the control. Basically we tried a bunch of designs at different placement etc. Only one of the countdown variants was a clear winner and the other two had really marginal lifts.
The key message there is its’ not just the idea itself that’s on a countdown timer. It’s actually the execution. So every once in a while, a little detail you wouldn’t expect can actually make a big difference. When we put all these things together, that’s what resulted in that 19% lift.
Tim: I love that and in the previous test you brought up something that it’s a question I get a lot because you know, we are really conversion focused. We’re really trying to do whatever we can to increase those numbers but there’s a lot to be said about and in your case it’s very strong. There’s a lot to be said for your branding and your style and what reflects what you do. A lot of times that doesn’t result in a higher conversion rate. So how did you strike the balance between well this page doesn’t reflect our personalities so much but it makes such a big difference in the numbers that we had to go with the one that converted better. How do you strike that balance?
Ramit: Super important question and I wish more people thought about this. If you focus only on conversion, then you will soon look like every single other page out there.
Ramit: It’s no surprise that so many pages use exactly the same techniques. They have very similar headlines. They have exactly the same shape, color, length of box, etc. When you come to our site, you see something very different and in certain areas you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
For example I had a friend who once was creating a product and he wanted to charge like $62 for it. I was like dude, don’t be an idiot. You don’t need to reinvent pricing strategy for your product.
Ramit: Just do what everyone else does and focus –you know, most of the time you’re 80% similar as everyone else. That last 10 or 20% that’s where you’re special so focus on that. At the same time, you also want to keep in mind the numbers. If you could improve conversion by an additional 35%., you probably want to pay attention to what’s going on there. Okay. So it’s always a balance. It’s an art and science.
There’s another example from our own testing. We did a pricing test once and it indicated that we should charge a lower price. It would actually make us more revenue. But I looked at it and I decided no way, this product is too good to be that price. So we kept the price high because I don’t want to play in the $50 sandbox, that’s not the sandbox that our business plays in.
When people come to join one of our products they know that it’s the best. They know that we’ve spent millions of dollars developing it and they know that it’s backed by a guarantee. So we never try to be the cheapest, we just try to be the best. So your decision on your strategy will inform which test results you give more weight to.
Tim: I love it. That’s awesome. That’s great and so you know, I have not yet seen it but I have a feeling that this is some of this stuff that you discs in your new course. Can you tell us a little bit about that and maybe some tips that people might glean from it?
Ramit: Yeah. So in Growth Lab, at Growthlab.com, that’s our home for online business. When you go there, you basically find a couple of things that you might not expect. One is stories about other people who have done it. Some are very beginner. We teach them how to create a business that generated $10,000 a month. Other people are quite advanced. They’re already doing 7 figures and we’re showing them much more advanced strategies on optimization, traffic generation, those kind of things.
The second thing you’re going to find is actual tactics that we use internally in our own business. These are things like copywriting techniques. These are things like webinar strategies, things like even press. How do we get covered in the New York Times routinely. These are things that you typically don’t find on sites that are telling you use this Microsoft Word plug-in to create an eBook. I think there’s a place for that. That’s not really where we play.
So within Growth Lab, there are three different products right now. One is zero to launch that’s basically how to start your business and grow it. The next is call to action. That’s about copywriting and how we do it. and then their id accelerator which is a support community for people who want a little bit of coaching and guidance.
Tim: Got it. So I think our audience we’ve got a pretty diverse audience all the way from just getting started in business all the way up to you know, enterprise folks. But it sounds like there’s a little something for everybody regardless of whether you are a CMO, or a solopreneur just getting started from home.
Ramit: Yeah. You know, it’s the year of growth for us and for all of our readers. We think there’s something really interesting about going from zero to one and then knowing that you can follow along with someone who’s grown their business. In our case we’ve helped many, many, many people grow their business. So if you’re starting off, you need something very different. You need to know how to find an idea, how to get your first paying clients and your traffic. But if you’re already generating $30,000 a month or $600,000 a month? Your strategies are different at that level. You need to understand how to staff. You need to understand systems. You need to understand much more advanced optimization techniques. So what we do is we’ve been through those levels and we show people at the very beginning where do you start, what are the things you need to pay attention to and you don’t need to pay attention to and then later you have to change your strategy at each different level there’s certain things you have to pay attention to and you shouldn’t pay attention to anymore.
Tim: Awesome. I love it. GrowthLab.com. Ramit, thank you so much for coming on ConversionCast. I appreciate having you on.
Ramit: My pleasure. Thank you.
Listen To Discover Ramit Sethi’s Simple Strategy That Increased Confirmations By 19%