Episode 1: What is Conversion Hacking?

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

It starts! The conversion hacking podcast is here.

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

Links and information from this episode:

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


So, welcome to the first episode of the Conversion Hacking Podcast! My name is Jörg Dennis Krüger and as my beautiful new voice at reception said: Yes, I am the conversion hacker.

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

And this podcast will become a very important component of your online marketing strategy; because I want to provide insight, I want to provide thoughts, I just want to ensure that e-commerce teams, online shop operators, online marketing managers and so on change their thinking. Get away from this classic, well, somehow bureaucratic marketing think that still prevails very, very strongly in online marketing: we make plans over four weeks and what do I know and we are planning that something will go viral - bullshit.

Ah, I know why I put the podcast on explicit. 

Well, towards a completely different way of thinking: namely towards what I call conversion hacking. 

For me, conversion hacking is a bit like a mixture of growth hacking and conversion optimization, because what I've actually been doing for many, many years is conversion optimization.

In 2006 I was the first employee of Omniture, or one of the first Omniture consultants in Germany, who really introduced the topic of Adobe Test-and-Target, at that time still Omniture Test-and-Target - Omniture was bought by Adobe - in companies in Germany and Switzerland and I've been doing conversion optimization since 2006.

Before that I was involved in the field of content management, I wrote a book there, “Managing Web Content” and I was busy with the whole content management up and down. But at some point – that was around 2006 – the point was that I said: Well, man, somehow it's not about that anymore

Managing content - there are content management systems now, they run really well - now it's about displaying the right content, to the right user, at the right time, and that and like conversion optimization. 

So then I said: Okay, I'll go to Omniture. That didn't work out quite so well at Omniture - strange store, I didn't work for long, it didn't matter - but after Omniture I went to Trakken - Trakken, the largest Omniture agency partner in Germany, I still think.

And then they just really worked out the topic together for many companies. For the Unister Group, for example, back then as it still existed and things like that. We really did conversion optimization, but conversion optimization was AB testing in particular.

But what I also had to learn is AB testing is not the coolest thing, because I need a lot of traffic for it - it went great at Unister - I need a lot of traffic for it and I have to pay attention to so many other things so that I can Many companies do not recommend AB testing at all, but rather more pragmatic methods.

And here we come to growth hacking.

I then founded a startup, so first I wrote my book “Conversion Boosting with Website Testing”, I built up the web analysis team or website team at Sixt to 15 people, still have Head E- Played Commerce for half a year and then started my own business; the conversion boosting and of course we knew: 

Hey, we're all conversion experts, we know how to build the best sites, but we still need a very pragmatic approach to be quick and successful. Even if ConversionBoosting has very good funding and is still going very well - even if I have now withdrawn a little operationally, I am still involved, the guys do a great job with such a tool to identify conversion potential - but me had somehow thought about it: we need growth hacking strategies. So we have to look; what are the things that work well?

And, for example, building a XING group worked very well back then. And the Xing group “Conversion-Hacking” has almost 10.000 members who have all been members for quite a long time, mostly because back then it was very easy to message a lot of people, invite them to the group and so easily build the group.

That is no longer possible today - for many reasons - and for many reasons the XING Group is no longer worth that much. For example, I can no longer write regular newsletters to all Xing members. 

In this respect, growth hacking somehow always means finding the things that are working well right now.

The most famous growth hack in history, that's the first growth hack in history for all I care, it's from hotmail.com. Back then, they simply wrote under every e-mail: “PS I love you, get your free e-mail at hotmail.com”.

And of course, that caused too many registrations. Some have already used the Hotmail,

everyone who wrote an email got the message “get your free e-mail at hotmail.com”, but not just the advertisement “get your free e-mail at hotmail.com” but with this “PS: I love you” just a little bit with an extra twist.

Doesn't work anymore today. If we wouldn't do it today, there would be trouble today if you did that, so you always have to somehow be behind the next one, which now scales really nicely.

XING, for example, was that for me for a while and many, many other things, but you have to do the whole thing with a conversion perspective so that it really brings something and you also have to cover the pages behind it, i.e. the landing pages, the entire checkout Process and so on, optimize properly and adapt so that it also fits together.

Well And that's what I call conversion hacking, somehow: Pragmatic, quickly achieving a lot along the way. I have an 8 step model about prioritization, positioning, product, technology, conversion and customer loyalty and innovation and what do I know. 

What does it all have in common? That's all from the user's perspective. And now we come back to the actual term: growth hacking, conversion hacking.

There's “hacking” in there and a lot of people are always saying, “Hacking, hacking! Dennis, do you really want to use that because it has such a negative effect!”. I say: "No people!"

For those for whom hacking is negative, that cannot be my target group and for those for whom hacking is negative, I have to explain to them that it is not. Because just when you read Wikipedia, it says: “In its original use, the term refers

Hacking on tinkerers in the context of a playful, self-referential dedication to technology and a particular sense of creativity and originality.”.

Yes. And that's hacking and that's growth hacking:

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

Originality, creativity, technology, dedication and a special sense, just make sure that things become more successful.

And it works. It is working! That works if you can. Organizations - small and large - then get to think bit by bit in hacking thoughts, to think from the user's perspective.

And get rid of this whole damn discussion in marketing teams.

I go to a meeting, there's a marketing team there and the first thing I hear is: "Yes, we've wanted to change that for a long time, it's already in the pipeline.".

Yes Perfect! You can all have ideas.

But you also have to implement them and if he doesn't implement them, I don't care about your ideas, because this "Yes, yes, yes, yes we know, we want to do it anyway" doesn't do any good. 

First of all, you probably haven't really thought it through in detail, because it's just that this idea was thrown off somewhere in development, they made something out of it that wasn't thought through in the end and this "sometime" just sucks, it just has to be done, someone has to worry.

"What are the priorities now?", and that has to be implemented first. And when I notice the first thing and I bring it up, I don't really want to hear "Yes, yes, yes, yes, it's kind of planned" but then I want to hear: "Oh yes, we have to prioritize that, we have to we will implement now!”

And this whole discussion in marketing teams often revolves around this topic.

This “well, we kind of have it on the list, but when we want to do it now – well”. This is also often called the “Hippo problem”: Because everyone looks at the “highest paid person” and wants their opinion, the “highest paid person's opinion”, but that's not the point, we in marketing teams have to develop a way of thinking that we concentrate on the important things. And also this: “No, the SEO agency doesn’t want that.” Yes, bullshit!

What's that supposed to mean? The SEO agencies - and like almost all agencies - often work with ideas and techniques and approaches that are simply old.

When the SEO agency says: "But there has to be a lot of text on it and I can change the text if I do, because then we will no longer rank on Google.". Yes, I can only ask two questions. 

First: What is more important ranking or yours?

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

Alone? And that will only be able to use exactly this text and not be able to format others and not be able to format it differently, incorporate it into the page differently, so that the page really converts better and works better? Man, man, man, man.

Or this “the shop software can’t do that, no, the plugin can’t do that” and so on and so forth. It's unbelievable what kind of things are put forward because you either have no idea, because you somehow don't feel like it and so on and so forth. 

I have already worked for so many shop operators, on so many shop systems, and we have always found solutions to implement things quickly.

It is often enough to do a proper briefing, then the agency usually already understand what they should do and are no longer so defensive, but which marketing department works with proper wireframes, for example? Everyone always says "Wireframe, yes, yes, yes I know what that is", but why not work with it? Use the tool. But everyone: "Can I access your tool?"

Yes, the tool costs 29,95 euros a month, I don't understand why this is not such a standard tool in every company - there are a bunch of wireframing tools.

I've been using Pidoco for a long time, now I use mockups and it's my primary brainstorming tool and I can explain to everyone very easily what I imagine without opening Photoshop, without designing for two days, just kind of be quick and really creative and myself don't let it be distracted and broken off by something like that.

And I find it particularly funny – I just got an email on exactly the same subject, so it comes to mind – “Yes, the agency manages the budget completely independently, we have no access to the ad manager.”

What ?! As?! How is that possible?

No access, means I can't even look at the statistics, so I rely 100% on the agency? How much agency are many companies believing? The head of online marketing, the brain of optimization, the brain of e-commerce must be in the company! I can't outsource my brain.

I can use an extended workbench if I know exactly what they are supposed to do, then I can give them that with the right KPIs and so on - that's fine with me. You don't have to hire your own people for everything and that, which sometimes makes sense, but good. But I'm not allowed to give it out.

When I talk to agencies, I sometimes get asked the wildest questions. I recently worked for a friend of mine that is involved in a bit of social media marketing and the agency asked: "Yes, how much budget should we spend on Facebook and how much on Google?"

Google was also an issue because it should generate leads for some study.

That's when I start, "Well, that depends, what do you think you can achieve?" "Yeah, we don't know that yet, we'll have to see." 

“Yes and Google, what methods do you want to use at Google? Do you want to use remarketing on Google, which we got from Facebook, or do you want to book AdWords or do you want reach, simply with display ads on Google, what do you want to do?" "Oh yeah, wow, I don't know now, I have to... or do I have to ask someone on the ads team."

This lady really has the courage - or just no idea - to ask me how we want to divide the budget and she lacks the minimum information. I then drove her until she at least made a plan for me, where she says what positioning she books, which CTRs she accepts, which conversion rates she accepts, which motifs she wants to switch where so that we had a plan and have not just spent wild budget and also.

So that in the next step, when we have this plan and realize that things are going differently because, of course, things never go according to plan, then I also know how I have to change it - I already have assumptions and stuff like that further - but overall the whole agency approach doesn't make sense to plan for so long. You have to approach it in a very pragmatic way, especially when it comes to Facebook, especially when it comes to social media advertising, I have to be much closer to it and the obligation-to-bring attitude that many agencies have gets on my nerves. “Dear customer, please provide us with the motifs, texts – where is it supposed to go and so on.”

After weeks, I might be told: "Well, maybe the motives are just not the best!" Yes, what is that?

When I look at it, when I look which motifs can be used for

one of my customers, then I just go through their YouTube videos, through their website, through their old Facebook and Instagram posts, what is there and see what you can use from it and think about it and then have maybe feedback. "Hey, hey, the picture is a bit different," or I just take what's there and then have this huge pool that's just there. Very often I say just send me everything you have.

Give me a share on your server, give me everything you have, I'll flick through it and pick out what's good and then tell you what to use. But this "I'll deliver maybe five or ten motifs to the agency" is nothing.

Then they don't have the opportunity to optimize at all! But that's how people work very, very often. And conversion hacking is just something else entirely. With conversion hacking, we have to think about where the potential is.

We have to look, we have to address the right things that the users want, are we leading the users correctly, are we using the right technologies? So, for example, I am surprised that the tracking is simply bad in many pages and that you simply gamble away the great opportunities, great potential, to address users again in a very special way via advertising networks. So there are enough possibilities, not just normal remarketing but a bit more data-driven and AI possibilities, which all ad networks offer.

Yes, and then it goes on, for example, that I also have to look at what conversion goals I have, maybe I collect a little more email addresses, maybe I collect them sometimes to set up a corresponding lead nurturing process behind it . But it also has to be well done. What email do I send out? Lalalalala this overall construct. 

And you don't state everything at once, but then you really have to think about where the potential is and then you have to concentrate on that and not be distracted by it. If you let yourself be distracted, then somehow you do on a small flame, 15% conversion hacking and the other 85% somehow still do everything else and if it shifts a bit, 40/60 or so, then you are with so many other things

then still burdened, that is just too slow and you can easily achieve a lot within four to eight weeks and if you do it right, then you can easily change the whole attitude in the company

so that you work much more efficiently, because all this “we think long-term, we have to think about the brand” and all that. It's all irrelevant. What we have to do is sell and I'm sure of one thing; there are always competitors out there who are much more aggressive and who may sometimes break the law - I don't want that at all - but they do it and they are successful with it. 

For example now here, what are their names; Lieferheld, who have now sold to Lieferando, have just been fined around € 200.000 for not handling user data so properly, that's crap, of course, that's a lot of money. But they sold their shop for just over a billion euros, and that includes the € 200.000. 

And how did you get this billions valuation at all? 

Because they first stole menus from pizza.de, then because they didn't handle user data properly, and so on.

These are the things we know, these are the illegal things, we leave them out. But this attitude behind it: Hey, let's test the limits! This is where we all need to get to. Because then we have the edge over our competition and these limits are first in our heads and they are usually not that far away. And they're not like "oh god, oh god, oh god, we have to crawl the competitors on a large scale and really now..." No, no, no, no!

The limits are often very small ones. We just put 100 different motifs on Facebook, put a little more budget on it and see what works really well.

It's not such a big deal, but when you talk about it in the company, a lot of people say "Oh God, oh God, oh God", or another limit: Let's minimize the navigation in the online shop and really only try that highlight relevant elements that you want the user to click on, because don't forget; he has only one click, then he is on the next page. So offering a thousand options might not help at all.

Yes and just cross this limit in your head.

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

So now I've been talking for almost 20 minutes, I didn't want to talk that long. I thought we'd do the first episode for 5-6 minutes. Well, well, I've already shot a little something, everything so thoughts.

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