How do you get more traffic coming to your website? How do you get that traffic to turn into customers? These are two of the core questions business owners grapple with. Understanding the technical side of those questions is the first step to obtaining the needed conversions. Web Consultant, Matthew Edgar, discusses his work with conversion optimization, SEO and how his knowledge is used to help companies identify and fix the technical + structural issues that may be holding their website back.

  • 2:27 – Connecting people with technology
  • 4:30 – Embracing the challenges
  • 6:03 – Turning site traffic into customers
  • 9:32 – The good, bad & curious 
  • 12:17 – Innate curiosity vs. the bigger picture mentality
  • 15:10 – The gray spectrum of running a business
  • 17:54 – Better is the enemy of done
  • 20:30 – Step 1: Defining the problem
  • 27:00 – Measuring the trends with qualitative & quantitative data
  • 38:20 – The uniqueness factor
  • 42:29 – Everything is a series of simple problems

Websites:

https://www.elementive.com/

Full Episode Transcription:

Todd: (00:00)
Hi Matthew, welcome to the show. So happy to have you here.

Matthew: (00:04)
It’s wonderful to be here. Thanks for having me.

Todd: (00:05)
Absolutely. Absolutely. So I am really excited to talk to you because you are the first person I’ve spoken with in this new season of luminary business that is a fellow data junkie and it seems like we’re going to get into some stuff that on the surface might, might not seem relevant to some people because they say, well I’m not, I’m not an analytics person. I don’t do SEO audits or conversion rate optimization. So maybe I’ll skip this episode. But if you’re listening right now, I’m telling you that my 10 years or so in conversion rate optimization has taught me more about people and human nature and what makes people do what they do than any other career path or experience in my entire business career for the past 20 something years.

Todd: (00:51)
So I’m excited to see if you agree with that and get right into it. 

Matthew: (00:55)
Yeah, I mean, I definitely would agree with that because ultimately when you get down to conversion rate optimization, SEO, it’s about figuring out how you can build technology in a way that it connects it with people. That’s all it really is. I mean, and you can talk about conversion optimization theories and you can talk about different ways of doing data analysis and all the different complexities of it and all of that’s good and important stuff. But fundamentally it’s about do you understand who these people are that you’re trying to bring to your website or you’re trying to convince to buy your product and you have to learn who those people are and you have to understand something about how they behave, something about who they are, what they want.

Matthew: (01:35)
And the more you can understand that, you know, the better you will be at driving conversions and building a business. But yeah, I mean it fundamentally is about understanding that and that’s where I think conversion optimization grows out of the discipline of human factors, right? Which is all about ergonomics and building things for people. And that’s where it stems from. 

Todd: (01:58)
This is going to be fascinating. I can already tell. So before we go too deep in the, in the geeky, the geeky stuff, I’m just labeling it that cause it’s a total, I get it there. Why, why did you get into this line of work? What is it about this field that was fascinating to you and drew you to it? 

Matthew: (02:18)
Yeah, I mean it’s never, I can’t remember in the last two decades, any point at which I deliberately made a decision to say, this is what I will spend the rest of my years doing. But it’s just, there’s a lot of interesting problems to solve and there’s just been a lot of interesting clients to work with, a lot of interesting technical challenges, a lot of interesting marketing challenges to start exploring, to start figuring out. And for me it’s, it’s just kind of a long string of interesting projects that I’ve had the opportunity to work on. And there’s always something new. There’s always something different. And I’m just that much of a nerd that I, want that different challenge and I want that different thing. And for me, I haven’t been able to find that anywhere else outside of this. And right coupled with that, it’s also, yes, there are interesting problems and they’re interesting things to figure out. But equally it’s also, and there’s real value that’s delivered from figuring out those problems cause it’s not just purely academic, right? I mean it’s not just, okay, you figured this thing out theoretically. It’s, you know, you figured it out and you helped this company grow, you helped this person, you know, succeed at whatever they were trying to do. And it’s a good blend. I think of those two things.

Todd: (03:40)
Sorry, I’m just writing some of these notes here because I think it’s, it’s always interesting to, you know, again to figure out the why, right? And you’re what you’re, what I hear you talking about is your core values, right? Something about problem solving and problem solving in a way that really provides value, right? So monetary value because it’s a business, right? So the more you can help a business profit and grow, the better off you know, your relationship and your income will be as a business owner. So yeah. That’s great. So with that said, with solving problems what, what type of problems, well, I get really basic. What type of problems do you solve that provide value for people?

Matthew: (04:31)
Yeah, I mean the biggest things that we work on and I work on are kind of the conversion optimization and SEO problems. I mean, it’s right when it gets right down to it, it’s how do we get more traffic coming to our site? It’s how do you get more of that traffic turning into customers? Those are kind of two core questions now where I kind of come out at where element of really specializes is on the technical side of those questions. So it’s figuring out, okay, what has gone wrong with the way your site is built? Technically what’s gone wrong with how it’s you know, programmed how it’s working on the backend, whether that’s a speed issue or you have a database that’s creating all kinds of duplicate content or generating a lot of junk whatever that is, that’s deterring you from being able to you know, get the traffic that you want or to get the conversions that you want.

Matthew: (05:23)
And so it’s understanding the, the technical side of that problem and looking at it. And so, you know, the, there’s a complexity there to understand because it’s, you know, I think too many people want to blame the technology for not working as a result of them not getting conversions or they’re not getting traffic. That’s not always true. I mean, there are technical problems that can hurt your conversion. There are technical problems that can help you with traffic and they’re worth exploring and looking into. And you definitely see that across all kinds of sites. But there’s also an importance to understand when it’s a technical problem and when it’s not a technical problem. And that’s some of the problem we help people figure out is that question of, okay, I’m not getting conversions. I’m not getting traffic. Is it because there’s A or B? Right. Exactly. What’s, what’s kind of the root cause? Is it something more to do with the technical side or is it something more to do with the, you know, your brand or your product itself or you know, something else going on outside of the tech?

Todd: (06:27)
All right. And so there’s, this is good. It gives a good overview of, you know, why, why you got into what you do. You like clearly like to solve problems for people. I like those two buckets. If you’re going to be binary, right? It is the world. It’s good for a company like yours. Like is it a tech problem or a human problem, I guess you could say. And you know, in terms of in terms of your team and the people you have solving these problems, what is it, what is it about a team member of yours that makes them effective in figuring out if it’s A or B? Right. If it’s a technical problem, if it’s a human problem, and how to, how have you chosen the right type of people to support you and build your company on your, yeah.

Matthew: (07:20)
Yeah. So we have a small team. I mean, there’s three of us at Elementive, and then we have a few contractors that support us. But I would say kind of the unifying thing that we look for is it’s people who can have, I guess maybe two or three different kind of interesting attributes to their personality. I mean, one is insanely curious to figure out what the heck is going on with this thing. And you know, that’s you know, both the good and the bad thing. One of the biggest things we talk about constantly is have we gone too far down the rabbit hole on this problem? Right. And it’s easy to do because if you are the kind of person who is insanely curious about why is this happening, you will just keep digging and digging and digging until you figure it out.

Matthew: (08:02)
And that’s wonderful and that’s good. But there’s also a point to which it’s counterproductive to continue digging you. You’ve answered the question enough. So looking for somebody who understands, yes, you need to be curious, but also understand there’s a point at which we need to stop digging and you know, or at least can stop the other person from digging too far. That’s certainly one aspect of it. I would say too, it’s people who, although we are very technical and although we have, you know, that’s our specialty, everybody here, everybody I’ve worked with who I think really is, is good are people who have an understanding and an awareness of all other disciplines around this and not just saying, well, this is my specialty and this is all I know. But saying, yeah, okay, that’s my specialty, but I know all these other things, right? It’s kind of that T-shaped you you know, learning model or that T-shaped you know, skill model of, you know, a lot about, a little about a lot of things and a lot about a few things. And it’s people who have that who have the depth but also just kind of know, okay, this really technical thing I know also relates to this other thing over here that I know a little bit about.

Todd: (09:17)
What do you, do you, so I mean, I know with your team is small, so it’s not like you’re bringing on a new person every month or something, but do you think those two things in saying curiosity, which I love that, the insane curiosity and then having an understanding of different principles. Is that something that can be taught or does it have to be built into the DNA of a person? 

Matthew: (09:43)
Yeah, I mean, and although we’re not hiring a lot of people at Elementive necessarily, we do a lot to help clients hire staff and build up their team. 

Todd: (09:51)
Yea and I’d love to hear your knowledge and your knowledge as an outsider is actually an interesting perspective shift because you’re not in the weeds of running the company dealing with the staff. You’re an outside advisor or. 

Matthew: (10:05)
I’m an outside advisor and I get to just kind of focus on different aspects. I don’t have to think about the HR aspects and all the internal logistics which, which does change the hiring dynamic when you pop in those conversations that way. So, no, I mean I think yes, there’s a certain extent to which it can be taught, but I think it just, if you haven’t figured out how to be a really curious person by a certain point, I don’t know if it can be taught at that point. I think that’s something that does have to come a little bit more from your nature. And the people who I’ve seen who don’t have that kind of just innate curiosity, they can kind of get there and they can understand it, but it’s never, you know, it’s never really a core part of who they are. It’s never something that they’re just going to be so wrapped up in a problem that they lose track of time and all of a sudden, you know, it’s three days later and you’re still working on the same thing.

Matthew: (11:06)
You know, they’re, they’re just going to be people who don’t quite get that in the same way and quite go there. And I don’t think that’s a problem, right? You also need people who are on a team who are not necessarily going to be the constant, you know, asking why constantly and constantly digging into the problem because those are the people who can keep a better idea of that bigger picture and understand kind of what’s going on and pull you out of that rabbit hole when you need to come out of it. So, I mean, there, there is a balance here too, so I don’t want to in any way come across saying that if you’re not that kind of person, that’s a bad thing. Like that’s, that’s not a bad thing. But I do think it is probably a little bit more nature as opposed to 

Todd: (11:55)
So that’s really interesting. The two types of people especially you know, again, bucketing very simply black or white, you have those insanely curious people that just will get lost and for days go down the rabbit hole. And and I know from my own background in Google analytics, when I started getting proficient enough at analytics, that is like the definition of I know enough to be dangerous, right? Like when you start getting, when your eyes open up to how much you can learn from looking at analytics, you can be lost for months in one in one campaign or one account trying to solve a problem and you never get the exact solution. So you can just keep going and going down that rabbit hole. So would those two types of employees or types of people on your team, how do you go about teaching or how do you create an environment or provide the materials or a structure for those two different types of people to learn and improve and grow? You know, again, probably mostly through your clients that you’ve seen this, but what would you, what would your thoughts be on that?

Matthew: (13:38)
Yeah, I mean I think it gets to rates. What’s just kind of the nature of the company. Cause I see clients who very much discouraged that, you know, they don’t want that. And they tend not to be clients that we can really help. Because are clients who they just want things that are truly black and white. They want things that are the simple quick fix, like, yeah, okay. There’s a certain extent to which there’s simple, quick things you can do. But digital marketing specifically running a business more generally is just a a very gray spectrum. I mean, there’s, there’s not a lot of simple quick things and if that’s your company culture, somebody who, you know, wants to just dig into things and figure things out, probably isn’t going to fit there. Particularly well. They aren’t going to necessarily be somebody who really fits well within that organization.

Matthew: (14:29)
So I think unfortunately it, it kind of isn’t something that, that kind of personality won’t necessarily fit at every company, particularly a company who just wants to do the quick quick things people who want to move, you know companies who want to, to kind of operate in a different way. And I don’t know if they can really grow their the other clients I’ve seen though and you know, I think the ones where they fit better and are the ones who have an appreciation for that and understand that. So I think you have to, that has to start at the top of the company. Otherwise it’s not going to work. It’s not going to be something that will actually be beneficial.

Todd: (15:11)
Yeah. I think it’s a decision about culture, right? Like what culture do you want? I’ve actually had my own issues with rocking the boat in that regard. Right? Because I am, you know, I am a avid learner and I struggle to not constantly try to make something better. Right. And I’m not saying that like, Oh, I’m so good. I’m always trying to make things good because it causes total chaos sometimes because even if something is working well, if I get an idea to make it better, I’ll go in and kind of cause, cause some issues with something that was already working good enough for what we were charging and the clients we were working for. Like I want to give more, I want to do it better. So at certain point from me knowing that I’m built that way, I literally need to step away and hand off to someone who might be one of those people that’s like, great, I got the system, I’ll do it the same day, same time, same way every week for as long as I’m here. Right? That drives me insane. Right? I’m not a procedural person that could do the same thing every month over and over and over again unless there’s something new about it. Right. So so yeah, I can appreciate your perspective there. Right?

Matthew: (16:27)
And it’s better at the end. It better is the enemy of done, right. I mean it’s, it, to what extent is it done versus it can be made better? And I mean, it’s something we talked about with clients all the time is okay, before you go and you invest thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars behind making this thing better. Do you really have to, and that’s where looking at the data and doing a little bit of research can help you understand, are you at the level where it’s good enough or not? And I actually think, I mean, that’s a hard question to answer because yeah, to a certain extent, everything can always be made better. But do you need to, and figuring that out is, it’s actually a really tricky problem and it’s a tricky problem specifically within digital marketing. It’s a really hard problem just kind of for all aspects of life, right? Figuring out is this good enough? Truly what would the gains be if I, if I invested this amount of money to improve it, would it be worth it? And that’s where I think data is probably actually the most beneficial, is figuring out answers to those kinds of questions. To what extent is it okay to just kind of find the right person who can just sit there and chunk out the same routine every day? Who loves doing that versus when do you need to bring in somebody who needs to just completely think about it differently? And there’s a time and a place for both, but really the only way you’ll know that is if you’re measuring things in the right way and really looking at the data and the right way to understand that. 

Todd: (18:02)
Yeah. Well let’s, let’s dive in there. So excuse me data, right? One of the first things that I do with clients and I know Derek from scrimmage who’s a cohost sometimes don’t here today, but they, they focus on making sure at the beginning you can level set and you can actually understand what is happening. So share a little bit about your, you know, your insights and if you can share them in a way that works for someone who knows nothing about Google analytics and someone who’s more advanced. Like what can you, what have you learned and can you learn for your clients by looking at the data and how, how do you, how can you turn the scientific approach into something that people actually will take time to look at who are totally not scientific and data driven at all? I think you understand what I’m trying to dig out. 

Matthew: (18:58)
You’ve also just described pretty much every, every day of life figuring that out. And so, I mean, kind of my thinking on that is, you know, if you’re, if you’re somebody who’s never really looked out, Google analytics never looked at data, I wouldn’t even say you start there. Like before you go into Google analytics, you really ought to kind of know what questions you should answer. You know, what kinds of questions are you, are you not sure about? You know, I think there’s a danger here of people get into the data a little too quickly and they start looking at things and it just becomes a disaster because you start looking at things and you, you start worrying and you go, well, my session seemed low or my bounce rate seems high, or my exit rates seems heightened all the different numbers that you can look at. But before you look into any of that, you need to understand like, what the heck matters here?

Matthew: (19:44)
Like what, what do you actually care about? What’s your, what’s your problem is your problem, you need more exposure. You need more people just to know about you is your problem that people aren’t interested. Even if they do know about you or you were in the kind of the marketing funnel you know, are, is your problem is your, it’s your problem kind of lowering the funnel with conversions, hiring the funnel with awareness or somewhere in between. And once you kind of start to know those questions and you start to figure out, okay, I need to know, you know, about awareness or anything about interest or desire, action, you know, whatever you know, level of the funnel you might be talking about or whatever part of your marketing you might be talking about that you’re struggling with. That’s when you know, you want to then start going into analytics and say, okay, I have a very specific question.

Matthew: (20:32)
Let me go in here and try to answer this. Because if you just go into analytics without any ideas of what questions you’re answering it, you’re not going to get any benefit to it. And that, I mean, right, what I just described as the scientific method, I mean it’s, you figure out what are you trying to figure out first and develop your, your question, your research question. And then you move into looking at the data, starting to figure out what you think has gone on. And you know, you wouldn’t want to start any of that without having a question in mind. And so where we actually spend a lot of time with clients is, what’s the question you need to figure out? You know, because they might come to us and say, well, we need more conversions. Great. That’s, that’s interesting, but why don’t you have conversions?

Matthew: (21:16)
And there’s a whole multitude of answers to why you don’t have conversions. And you know, it’s a lot of time spent spent just talking about that, figuring out the right question. 

Todd: (21:27)
I think that’s really important, especially when it comes to a website. Someone might’ve read an article, right? And it’s on single page checkout. Right? Oh, that’s, that’s the solution. Right? It might be that every person on the planet hates your brand and what you stand for, just single page is not going to help you get more conversions. Right. Right. And no one might even be arriving at that page. Right. So I love, I love taking it up to the highest level possible. And for people listening it would, it would help to, you know, maybe we can relate this to a non website related area of the business, right? So let’s say it’s sales calls, right?

Todd: (22:05)
It’s not a website activity, but the questions you’re getting at is, you know, what, what do you want? Or what is the success metric, right? What can you track right now? What do you need to track in order to answer the right question? So how, how, you know, what are some of the, the ways that you get those answers from people and maybe maybe some examples from both the, you know, digital world and the tangible world. 

Matthew: (22:35)
Yeah, I mean cause you’re right. I mean both are ultimately the same thing. And right. I mean there’s also this kind of false distinction that seems to come up a lot of, we separate the digital world from the traditional world. It’s like, yeah, the website is really just an extension of your business and it should be treated as such. And it shouldn’t be cut off and isolated. And thought of as something, something separate. I mean the website is a means of connecting with customers just as you know, the yellow pages used to be or sales calls are or who knows what will be in 20 years. I mean it’s, it’s truly just a tool to communicate with your customers. So with that in mind, it really is kind of the same questions across the board. I mean, and it’s probing really. I mean, it’s right just kind of going through the questions and saying, okay, you come to us and say, Hey, I don’t have enough sales. Great. Why is that? What have you tried? What, what have you experimented with so far? What have the different methods been for trying sales? And more often than not, right? Everybody’s tried a few million different things with sales. And so then you start looking at each of those and say, okay, you know, you want sales, so you did a whole bunch of cold calling.

Matthew: (23:47)
How did that work? Okay, you got 2% of people. A lot of be amazing if you’ve got 2% of people to convert on a cold call. You know, or you know, I tried a Facebook blast or I tried driving traffic to my website or I sent emails or I went to all these meetups or whatever, and you start looking at the three lines between those and you say, okay, you got this percentage of people that were interested here in this percentage here in this percentage here. Great. Now we’re starting to understand that of the people who were interested, take it to another level. Why were those people interested? Well, these people were interested because they liked this aspect of my product, or they liked this part of my service, or you know, these other people over here. And then you start looking for the commonality and then you can go a step further and say, okay, if those people are interested for these reasons, why did they ultimately make the decision they did? And it’s just, 

Todd: (24:36)
That’s, that’s such a great example of something that you can do. I would say you can do it in a more automated way. I was going to say easier, but I don’t know if it’s easier to get the right answer, but you do a more automated way. Someone goes through the site, they sign up for something, they give their email or make a purchase. And then immediately after you ask them, why did you, why did you do this? Why did you give us your email? Why did you make a purchase and why did you purchase the thing you did? Right. Same thing with big, you know, large accounts with, you know, a very big integration or ongoing, you know, recurring revenue SAS product or something like that. How do you, how do you create like a real, how do you take a relationship that’s mostly spoken word and meetings and turn that into tangible metrics, right.

Matthew: (25:28)
I mean, so once you have kind of all the qualitative stuff collected, then you can start categorizing that. You can start looking at that as well. I mean, once you, particularly once it’s on a website, you can start seeing the trends with people who answer questions in certain ways. So if you know that, you know, certain people are really interested in this particular product for these particular reasons, you can start to identify that within the analytics you can say, well yeah, I know that they are because I can measure where people stopped on a page where they were reading on the page where they scroll to on a page, what they clicked on on the page. And by doing all those things, you can start to get a sense of what people are looking at more quantitatively as opposed to just qualitatively. But I think you have to start with the qualitative to kind of look at that and understand kind of what what people are kind of thinking first.

Matthew: (26:23)
And then you can start lining the quality quantitative data up against that to say, okay, based on that, here’s, here’s what these things represent as in an actual numbers. And then from there you can kind of create segments and filters for people who fit different conditions. So you can monitor those kinds of people throughout. 

Todd: (26:44)
Yeah. So in order to get, if someone, someone is running a business where they might not have all those metrics in the, in the tangible world up here they need to start collecting. You need to start tracking that even if it’s just a quick phone call where they ask them, you know, why, why did you choose to go with this version of the product? Oh, because this like you need some sort of tracking system where they’re checking that box. Right?

Matthew: (27:10)
Right. Yeah. I mean, it’s amazing to me how many people don’t talk to their customers, talk to their clients about that. And you know, right. The whole it’s kind of done. Norman, the Nielsen Norman group that talks about this law, you really only need like three to five people that you need to do stability test with. And it’s true. I mean, if you sit three to five people down who are generally representative of your customer base of your audience, and you say, okay, what did you think about this? You don’t necessarily need to, we’re not talking about interviewing hundreds of your customers though. That’s great if you can. But take three to five people or five to 10 people and sit them down and just talk through this and have them use things, have them tell you about what they’re thinking. Doesn’t need to be anything super formal. You will learn a whole heck of a lot about your customers in that. And every time I’ve done that with clients or gone through that, everybody’s mind is blown by that of wow, I didn’t know people were thinking that.

Matthew: (28:10)
I didn’t know people thought that way. Or you know, I’ve also had people argue about that and say, well, these, these people don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re all right. They’re not thinking of it the same way you do. But that’s the whole point. You know, and you wouldn’t have gotten there had you not done that. And that’s, you know, great Google analytics and all of the various analytics tools are credibly important. You should use them, but equally not to the exclusion of using more qualitative methods as well because it’s bringing those two together where you actually see that the real value of, of using this kind of data to understand your marketing. 

Todd: (28:47)
Yeah. Yeah. Is that understanding again, we started the show with why, right? Like in my experience, especially on the conversion world, like it’s much more important to understand why people are buying then that they are buying. Because like if, you know, they bought and that’s it. Like, okay, good. I guess I get more of people like that and you use a Facebook custom audience, but like if you really know why, like, Oh, well I bought this because last month something, you know, there was a horrible problem I ran into or like understanding that why will give you such a, an epiphany as a business owner or someone in the company. So I’ve seen so many times where people are like, Oh my gosh, I had no idea. People thought that way. Right. Now, one of the things that in my experience, I’d love to hear your input on this is, Is when I was working for conversion rate experts, they, they referred to this as the curse of knowledge. So I see that little smirk, you know what I’m talking about. So, so what, what is your experience with that and how can you explain that to the listener? Cause I think it’s something, it’s so critically important to understand as a blind spot that most people just, they don’t quite understand the gravity of what that creates. 

Matthew: (30:12)
Yeah, I mean it’s also a kind of rate the, the phrase and usability is kind of, you are not your user and it’s, you know, understanding that you know, your business, you know, your website to a whole different level than, than anybody else ever will. And you know, one of the things that we talk about a lot when we start working with clients is we have about a month, you know, when we first started working with a client before we fall into the same trap as the business is in because as soon as we start digging into it and looking at the website, we’ll understand it in a different way. And your users just don’t know your website the way you do. They don’t know your business the way they do. Or you do. You know, right. They just don’t have that same awareness and they don’t understand it. And the the same, way. And that’s not just true specifically of any given website. That’s also just true of technology. If you are somebody who works in a browser and you know, uses websites and you program websites and you do, if you’re in the digital marketing world, you are just going to use technology in a totally different way, fundamentally different way than anybody else. And it’s real easy.

Todd: (31:23)
You’ve got Chrome plugins running and you, you know,

Matthew: (31:26)
Right. You know, sort of cuts and you know what all these things are and you know, go watch somebody who’s outside of that world, try and use a browser and it is painful. It’s, you know, there’s that part of me when I watch people who do that where I want it. Like, but you could do this in, 

Todd: (31:44)
Why don’t you have a 27 inch monitor? Right? Like doesn’t everyone have that? 

Matthew: (31:49)
Right. Hey, well yeah. I mean that’s a whole other thing. I’ve seen so many developers who say, you know, I built this website and it works great. Yeah. Yes it does. But your audience is still using a 10 80 wide monitor. Yep. Yeah. You know, so and that’s one of the reasons why I very specifically have a small monitor, you know, sitting over here that I can use as my second monitor. That puts me in a whole other category of I have a second monitor. Most people don’t. But regardless, I mean I have a small monitor, I have emulators to look at screen sizes cause that’s a perfect example of yeah, people are not going to look at it the same way you are. People are not thinking the same way you are. They have completely different mental models than you do cause they just don’t know your business as well. And so when it comes to thinking about conversions, when things to come, things in your company about SEO or usability or any of that, you want to make sure that you really are understanding where your users are at in the process. And don’t assume that they know a whole lot more about your business or a whole lot more about your industry. You know, then than they actually do.

Matthew: (32:58)
And it’s great. So much of SEO is about you find the right terminology that people are actually using. And I have had clients tell me that is not the right word. You know, I would never describe my business as this, you see this in travel. People will say, well, I don’t offer a vacation. I you, I offer a a tour. Let’s be real. People will describe that as a vacation. You need to rank for the word vacation. You need to use vacation in your, in your marketing company. Because that’s how people describe it. I don’t care if you think it’s a tour, people will describe that as a vacation. And you can find lots of instances and examples of that where the words people use don’t necessarily connect with what the business may actually want to use. And it all gets to that. It’s, you know, more about your business then, then everybody else does.

Todd: (33:45)
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s fascinating. And it’s to your point, like these are all things that lead to, you know, or support the value of usability testing, right? You want to get very different people to sit down and ask them those questions or ask them to go through a website or they go through a training. Or you want to try your, your experience that you’re used to looking at it on a big monitor, on a small monitor. In the digital world, some of that you can just switch to the small monitor. You can’t unlearn what you mentioned takes roughly a month for you to fall into the trap. Right. You can’t unlearn what you know about a company or a product. Which is the reason it’s so good to have fresh eyes look at that. 

Matthew: (34:28)
Yeah. I mean, and just to take that to a higher level, I mean we’re talking about it in a marketing context, but that’s true of learning anything. And I see this whenever I lead workshops or trainings about tech SEO or analytics people who come in, particularly people who have been in the field for awhile and really know how to think through things a certain way, you know it’s okay, take a step back, forget what you know. And you’re now going to have to think about it in a slightly different way. And you see this with you know, cause a lot of what I do is I help marketers learn about the technology stuff and help developers learn about the marketing side. And there are just fundamentally different ways that developers and marketers think and for developers to learn how marketers think, they have to kind of forget some of the things they know. And, and the same is true in reverse. You know, it’s being able to appreciate that people may not necessarily think the same way you do and some of the things you know, might actually prohibit you from being able to understand how other people think.. 

Todd: (35:26)
Yeah. How do you, that’s a, that’s a great, it’s a great insight right there. And you know, the ability to have a clean slate going into something and that sort of open-mindedness, right, to new experiences and new ideas. I would think that’s probably something that innately I, I had as a child growing up, probably one of the things that, that has helped me the most in marketing is going in. Like I can walk into, you know, a persona discussion and very quickly start saying, you know, I am, I am a pregnant black woman who is searching for a solution. You know what I mean? Like you can try to get into the character and you have to, you have to blank slate before you do something like that. If you’re trying to deliver a result that’s in a totally different world than you are. Right. And some people they, they have a really hard time unlearning, I guess. Right? Or forgetting something that could, could put up a barrier between learning something new is any thoughts or ideas you have on how people can better approach something with an open mind? Like that visual. 

Matthew: (36:48)
Yea, I mean, I think it’s I mean, I can speak to it for what I do. I mean, in what we do kind of collectively at Elementive, I mean, what we try and focus on it, right? It’s very easy to go into a situation thinking, Oh, I’ve seen exactly this thing before. You know, and I, I know exactly what to do here. And I’ve caught myself saying that to clients, Oh, you need to do this because I saw it work somewhere else. No, it’s catching yourself in those moments and taking a step back and saying, okay, every business is unique. Every website is unique. Every situation is unique. Every customer is unique in what they, they need. So a lot of what we end up spending time talking about is okay there, there’s all the things we know that might help in this situation, but let’s reemphasize why these are unique and it’s talking through they’re unique because blah, blah, blah, blah blah. And they’re, you know, a little bit different because of these reasons. And the more you do that, the more you remind yourself. Yeah, okay. They, they are unique. They are different. They’re not going to necessarily fall into the same kinds of things. And right. You see this with a lot of people in the marketing space, business consulting more generally where, you know, people will come in and say, I know how to fix everything and they view things as one size fit all solutions.

Matthew: (38:05)
That’s just not true. That’s not how things are solved. So it’s remembering that and catching yourself in that. And you know, my business partner and I will, we’ll go through this a lot together where before we get on the call with a client to talk through anything, we’ll just kind of dry run it and say, okay, here’s what we’re going to say. And whoever’s not talking is the one who will jump in and say, yeah, you’re forgetting that they’re unique because of these other things over here, or it won’t work because they’re a little bit different as these, and you force to remember that. It’s not easy. There are, I will not claim perfection on this front in the least. But, you know, I think it’s, you have to remember that and you have to have some kind of system to catch yourself in that.

Todd: (38:51)
Yeah. There’s a very simple framework of a mentor of mine taught me who was a one of these old sales dogs, right. And like gray hair at one of the agencies I worked at who was just a cold calling wizard. Right. Cold calling wizard where people think cold calling just doesn’t work, shouldn’t do it. Anyways. He used to always ask he would say, what, you know, what do you know is true, right? And then you kind of write your things out and then he says, it’s, it sounds so simple say, but what do you notice too? And then how do you know that, that, that the material you’re referencing is correct, right? Like what do you know is true and how do you know it’s true? Right. Very simple. But often you skip that second part and you just say, well, I know this is true when you just list all the things that were true before for other circumstances. But if you ask, how do you really know that that’s true right now. We start to have little doubts. You go, Oh, well actually I don’t because this is a different market or a different product or different time period. 

Matthew: (40:00)
That’s great. Yeah, I think so. I mean, and that’s, that second question is where it will really catch you and you actually don’t know anything.

Todd: (40:10)
Yeah. Exactly. 

Matthew: (40:12)
That’s Awesome. 

Todd: (40:15)
I think we’ve, we’ve covered some really interesting points here. Is there anything else that you have learned through, you know, the, the real technical work that you do that has been, you know, one of those things that once you know it you’re like, Oh my gosh, it’s so simple. I’m kind of one of those things. If you had one one day or even one hour to sit someone down who you really care about, who has a big challenge with their website or their conversions or getting, getting something accomplished in their, you know, in their customer journey. Like anything comes to mind as something that you’ve, you’ve learned from a lot of work that is actually a really, really simple thing.

Matthew: (40:57)
Right? Well, I mean I think, I think the answer is actually in that question. I mean, I think everything ultimately is a series of simple problems and they think it’s really easy, especially when you get into really hard technical problems or really hard marketing problems or really hard problems in general to think that it requires really complex answers. And that’s just not true. Everything is, can be broken down further. So I think and I’ve actually had clients call me out on this of, you know, recognizing that I’m, I’m forcing them to not overthink something because it’s real easy to think I need to solve this huge big problem. Like, no, you don’t chunk that problem down. What are the smaller parts to it because ultimately everything is a series of small problems. You just need to figure out what those small problems are. And I think it’s real easy to trick yourself into thinking that that’s not the case. That everything is actually really big, hard, challenging things. Like, no, it’s, yes, there are challenging aspects, but you can chunk everything down into really small steps and I think it’s It’s, it’s easy to kind of take that for granted when you, when you do it because I can look at a problem and kind of see the, the super small things along the way that, that you kind of need to do. But, but right. I mean if you haven’t done that before, it’s kind of hard to see what those smaller the problem are. And you know, I actually had a client yesterday, which is why that came so quickly to my mind, you know, mentioned that of Oh yeah, I’m overthinking this. I need to just think it’s smaller and look at it in a, in a more chunked down way. That probably be one of the ones I would call out.

Todd: (42:50)
I think that’s, I totally agree. I think it’s great insight. And even that, even taking that advice in itself, some people will write off because it’s so simple. Like why would you focus on something that’s so simple? One of the first things that I recommend for a web, like a company with a website that wants to improve it, right? It’s just a simple pop up on abandonment. Did you find what you were looking for today? Right. Like, because the simple problem is why are they leaving? And you won’t know the answer unless they tell you. And it’s so simple that people will just put it off and let it know it must be more complicated and we must have to do so much to figure it out. Just ask them why, maybe to your point, like with the technology, maybe the button doesn’t work on Explorer.

Todd: (43:40)
It’s like make a purchase. I literally could not make a purchase or you know, something else just didn’t work. Tech on a tech side or you know, in terms of the product or anything like that. So yeah, I think it’s great. Small problems. Well we have a, I have a ton of notes here. This is fantastic stuff. Matthew. Any resources that you would recommend people look into and if they want to have a followup conversation, which I think we should do a follow up conversation and go deeper into some of these things, it would be really fun. But if anyone wants to go straight to you to get a problem solved or have their website looked at, where can they go?

Matthew: (44:17)
Yeah. well you can check out my website, MatthewEdgar.net. I’ve got a whole bunch of blog posts, a whole bunch of resources on there. We also have a whole bunch of resources on Elementive’s website which is elementive.com and on there we have a whole resource section, links to lots of other articles, lots of other people who are talking about things in this space that you can certainly check out and learn more about. Technical marketing, technical SEO, analytics related subjects on there. 

Todd: (44:52)
Fantastic. Well, thanks for all the great ideas sharing and I appreciate you taking the time. 

Matthew: (44:58)
Yeah, thank you. This was wonderful. 

Todd: (45:00)
All right. Have a great one, Matthew. Talk soon.

Matthew: (45:02)
You too. Bye. 

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