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How Do You Apply Conversion Rate Optimization to the Entire Marketing Function? | With Talia Wolf
Episode 1122nd November 2022 • The Strategic Marketing Show • Insights For Professionals
00:00:00 00:25:08

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How do you treat CRO, i.e. Conversion Rate Optimization? Is it something done by a small team to your calls-to-actions? Or is it truly ingrained into all of your marketing activities? My guest today certainly believes it should be the latter. 

She’s been invited to keynote on hundreds of stages including Google, MozCon and SearchLove.

She’s also helped several high-growth brands including Teamwork, Sprout Social and Mercedes optimise their funnels, create experiences customers love and generate more leads. A warm welcome to the Strategic Marketing Show - the Founder of GetUplift - Talia Wolf.

Topics discussed on this episode include:

  • Why does CRO impact the entire marketing function?
  • You also talk about the importance of meaningful research and emotional targeting - what do you mean by that?
  • How can different marketing departments work more effectively with CRO in practice?
  • Today you’re sharing details about an enterprise you’ve been working with for over 18 months and the tests you ran for them - how have you helped them out and what were the results?
  • You also collaborated with product and other teams across the organisation - how did you go about doing that?


David Bain:

How to apply conversion rate optimization to the entire marketing function - with Talia Wolf.

The Strategic Marketing Show is brought to you by Insights For Professionals: providing access to the latest industry insights from trusted brands, all on a customized, tailored experience. Find out more over at

Hey, it’s David. How would you treat CRO, i.e., Conversion Rate Optimisation? Is it something done by a small team to your calls to action? Or is it truly ingrained into all of your marketing activities? My guest today certainly believes it should be the latter.

She has been invited to keynote on hundreds of stages including Google, MozCon, and SearchLove, and she's also helped several high-growth brands including Teamwork, Sprout Social, and Mercedes optimize their funnels, create experiences customers love, and generate more leads. A warm welcome to the Strategic Marketing Show - the founder of GetUplift, Talia Wolf.

Talia Wolf:

Hi. That was such a wonderful introduction. Thank you.

David Bain:

Thank you, I'm sure you'll keep the standard up there if it is indeed up there. You can find Talia over at So Talia, why does CRO impact the entire marketing function?

Talia Wolf:

It's such a great question because, ultimately, it needs to have an impact on the entire marketing function. What happens many times is: in a marketing function, and in an entire marketing division, most companies will treat CRO as a tactic. It’s PPC, its SEO, its CRO, right?

It's one part that you can do within marketing, or within growth. But, when done correctly - and when you treat it with the respect and the importance that it deserves - it can impact not only the entire marketing division but the entire business. When you approach it in the way where everything is an experiment - where everything is meant to be surveyed, researched, analyzed, and tested - then it can have a real impact on the actual product that you're selling: the software or the product itself. It can have an impact on customer success, on retention, on every single piece - even sales, the actual sales division, and the people that are answering the calls and taking sales calls. It can have an impact on everyone.

I don't know if this really answers your question, because your question is ‘Why does it impact?’, but I would say you need to make sure it has the right impact - that you're doing it correctly, and you're approaching it in the right way, so it has an impact on everything.

David Bain:

Well, maybe the follow-up question will also dig a little bit deeper into it, because I know that you're fond of a couple of phrases: ‘meaningful research’ and ‘emotional targeting’. So, what do you mean by that?

Talia Wolf:

So, most people think about conversion optimization as changing elements on the page. Essentially: ‘I want to start trials, or I want to get more demo requests, so I will change the color of the call to action button or I will change a headline, and I will test and see what kind of results that brings in.’

However, meaningful conversion optimization actually goes a lot beyond it. The idea behind meaningful conversion optimization is that it is customer driven. It is customer-first. The whole idea is that you want to understand how your prospects and customers make decisions (the intent, their emotion behind the decision) and you want to understand their problems - their pains. Your whole goal is to solve their pain and that's what conversion optimization is about. It's about solving people's problems.

You want to go in, look at the funnel, and understand what's not working. Now it's really easy to see in Google Analytics where the problem is, but it's really hard to know why this problem is happening. What's creating this problem? If you do the right research - if you speak to your customers, if you do customer surveys, if you do review mining and competitor analysis and really dig into emotions, because emotions really impact every decision that we make in life - then you'll be able to understand what changes to make in order to increase conversions. Because, as I said, finding the problem is easy but knowing what changes to make is incredibly hard.

But once you do this research, and once you identify, ‘Oh, these are their pains, these are their desired outcomes, this is how they want to feel, and this is what they want to achieve at the end.’, then you're able to look at your page and your funnel and say, ‘This homepage doesn't hit home. It's speaking the wrong language, we're talking about ourselves, we're not talking about our customers.’ The whole point within conversion optimization is to identify pains and problems - and solve them.

David Bain:

So, there are many different angles that I could take following on from that. A couple of things jumped out at me, including review mining. I'd like to dive into that in a little bit, and perhaps just focus on speaking to customers first of all.

In terms of speaking to customers, is there a best practice? Do you ideally get everyone together in a face-to-face group? Are there certain questions that you need to ask everyone? How does that structure work most effectively?

Talia Wolf:

To first answer your question: the reason we want to talk to our customers is because we want to hear their language, their voice, and their tone. We want to hear how they describe us, how they describe their problems, and the value that they get from us.

If I'm an enterprise, and I have a software - mostly, when I see surveys on websites, it's usually about ‘How well do you like this website?’ or if they go beyond, then they'll send out a survey saying, ‘What was your favorite feature? Why did you choose us? Is it pricing? Is it AI? Is it the machine learning? Is it the support that you get?’ - very technical and tactical.

The questions that we like to ask are further and deeper, and they are about uncovering motivations. They would be questions like: ‘When you weren't using this software, how did you solve this problem?’ and leaving it at that - to understand what were the different things they were doing before and how they were handling it. ‘What would you describe the problem as?’ and great different questions that really dig into the value.

So instead of asking people why they purchase something, or why they signed up, we'd ask: ‘What if you could never use this product again? What would you miss the most?’ or ‘What would you say to a friend? What's the one thing you'd mentioned to a friend if you wanted to tell them to give us a try?’

The idea here is that we're asking questions, that we can later dig into, pull really important insights from, and find patterns of their pains and the solutions and what they're looking for. Then we can use that in our copy when we're writing emails and we're writing landing pages.

So, there's that importance of knowing what you want to actually ask. And for us, it usually is a one-on-one conversation. We'll start with a survey, where we'll reach out to a segment of our customers, and we will ask them a bunch of questions. We'll review the survey, and then we'll choose specific people that we notice are repeating a pattern and are interesting to speak to, and could be interesting to dig in with. We'll invite them for 20 minutes on a zoom call and simply pick their head - talk to them, ask them some questions, try to understand who they really are behind the screen - and go beyond geographical location and age and their job title, and try and get to know them on a real emotional level.

David Bain:

You say a 20-minute zoom call, is not sufficient to do something like get them to record a five-minute video going through your website and perhaps leading them with the types of ‘Why?’ questions that you mentioned there? Is it really necessary to get on a one-on-one call with them and actually listen to their answers and perhaps have follow-up questions based upon their answers?

Talia Wolf:

Oh, yeah. 100%. It’s the difference between getting someone on a podcast and asking them questions - and leading up questions and building the story because you found something interesting - versus getting an email and saying, ‘Hey, can you record a two-minute video telling me what's one thing I should do for Black Friday?’ There's a difference, right?

What you're talking about is helpful, and we've done this before. We usually do this live, though, not pre-recorded - where we want people to walk us through the website and the user journey, and maybe even competitors’ websites, and tell us: ‘What do you see? What do you like? What don't you like? What appeals to you? That word - does that appeal to you? Does that speak to you and who you are? Would you identify that way?

We recently did this with one of our clients. We really wanted to understand if they identify as an ‘agency’ or ‘people that do client work’ or ‘service providers’. We really wanted to know, what is the right time? Now I have an agency and if I saw a website that said ‘client work’, I wouldn't necessarily identify with it. I would be looking for a service (whatever that is) or a solution, that is for agencies. But everyone's different. So, listening to that, talking to that live, and hearing how people describe stuff is a lot better - in my opinion, and from my experience - than asking them to pre-record themselves going through different things.

Now, it's not that it doesn't work, but that's more user testing. I would do that if I was trying to figure out if something doesn't work, where problems are in the funnel where things are broken or don't make sense, or people get stuck on stuff or can't find things. That's where I want to have people record themselves and talk out loud about what they're seeing. But my existing customers and my existing users: I want to chat to them. I want to hear their jokes and the little nuances that you won't get on a pre-recorded video

David Bain:

Understood. So essentially, what you're saying is: user testing is important, but it's only part of CRO and not nearly the whole picture.

Talia Wolf:

Yeah. That's the thing with CRO: you can always dig deeper, like with review mining, which you mentioned you wanted to get into. Review mining is the art I learned from Joanna Wiebe - she's just an amazing copywriter, the OG really. Review mining is the art of going and looking for books, for example, that try and solve the same thing as you.

Let's say that you have a software for accounting, and you want to do review mining. What that would mean is you would actually go to, maybe, Amazon and look for books on accounting. You're not going to your competitors; you're going to these books that are well known, well published, and a lot of people have bought - and you're looking at the comments. What are the reviews that these books are getting?

What you're looking for is: What are the things that are missing in the book? What are they mentioning that they're missing? And, what are the things that they loved? Or what are the things that they felt could have been a bit better? The reason you're looking for that is because it helps you see patterns of specific pains.

If you can identify that, specifically, what really pains someone when choosing an accounting software is X, you can literally say that on your homepage. ‘We know that you have a problem with this, and you also have this, and you've tried 1, 2, 3, maybe even this book. This is the solution for you, and here's why.’ It helps you relate to your customers - it helps you get into their heads.

Review mining is, again, one piece of a whole puzzle. It's the same with social listening: going into communities, looking at different people that use accounting software, and what are they talking about? What are they saying? What are they struggling with? It's putting all those pieces together and finding those patterns and then treating it.

David Bain:

I love that, and I'm glad that you went into that because it wasn't exactly what I was thinking of in relation to review mining. The way you described it, it can be a wonderful way to potentially even develop a product or hone your product before you launch it.

But what I was thinking of as review mining, potentially, was actually seeing what people were saying about your existing product, looking at negative things, and then perhaps improving your CRO based upon that. Is that not necessarily what you do?

Talia Wolf:

Well, we also do that. There's a lot to it. We look at all the reviews, especially when it's eCommerce, that's the thing. When it's in SaaS, it's a little harder to find comments, but what you can find, sometimes, is conversations on Reddit, or if you have a help center then you'll see a lot of people talking about different problems that they have there, or they'll be talking about it in a group.

Within eCommerce, we definitely do review mining - where we mine all the reviews that our customer (our client) is receiving and then you go through everything and identify the different patterns. We do the same for SaaS and enterprise, but it's a little bit different because you don't really get reviews, per se, unless you're going to G2 crowd and Capterra - which really are sourced by companies, so they're not as genuine as you'd like them to be.

David Bain:

Today, you're also sharing details about an enterprise you've been working with for the past 18 months or so, and the tests that you run for them. So how have you helped them and what were the results?

Talia Wolf:

When we started working with this client, they had an idea of who their ideal customer profile was - they were starting to identify who that person is. When we started working with them, we essentially dove really hard into identifying exactly who that person is - their different pains that are leading them to their website - and identifying what the key pieces that make them switch are.

This is a Project Management Solution software, so most of the people are switching from one platform to the other - or are switching from nothing to this product. It was on us to identify the motivators: What's causing them to actually make this change? Moving from one Project Management Solution to another is really hard work – a lot goes into it - and the same from nothing. Starting from scratch and trying to implement all of your procedures and everything on a Project Management Solution isn't easy. We wanted to identify why people were making these moves, and then, what was their shopping list? What were the things that they had to make sure they had when finding a PM Solution?

In addition to that, we wanted to identify the different personas within that. I'm not talking about customer personas - the fluffy personas - but more: who are the people and what are the jobs that they're trying to get done?

Within Project Management - in a platform like this - you have: the manager that wants the overall, ‘Give me time capacity. Tell me what's happening with the budget. Tell me how we're doing for overtime.’ Then, you have a designer that maybe wants to work within the product, leave comments, work with the people, and have a little chat in there. You've got people who are a little higher in management, and they want to PM and make sure that the projects are okay. There's a lot of different tiers, and each one of them is very different. And you've got the people that are working on the product, but you've got the people that are making the decision about the product. There's just a lot of layers to it.

A lot of that for us was interviewing people, and interviewing their exact ICPs. Talking to them, running surveys, then doing actual user testing and just looking at the different reviews that they're getting, and also trying to identify the different pains that their ICPs have. Once we did all that, and we audited the entire funnel - so what existed back then, which was: their goal is to get people to sign up for a free trial. We basically ran an audit on the entire funnel to identify leaks and what's not working.

Once we did all our research, we could look at the website and say, ‘Well, this isn't working. You're speaking to someone completely different. You're too generic, everyone's saying this. We should be saying 1, 2, and 3, and you should have this section on your homepage and this section on your homepage.’

We've been working with them for almost two years now, so we've run a bunch of tests. We've done tests on their homepage, we've done tests on their pricing page - where we really have done a lot of work on how to present a pricing page and what the calls to action should be, how to show the different features, or what the pricing should be. We've worked on comparison pages - for organic traffic and for paid traffic - we've worked on landing pages, and we're now working on menu and navigation.

Talia Wolf:

There really is a lot of different pieces. We recently increased free trials by 54% on the homepage, just by writing very specific copy for their ICPs. Within the comparison pages, for example, - if you're in SaaS, then you know that comparison pages are a big deal. You have to spend a lot of time comparing yourself to your competitors, and most of the comparison pages out there are so bland and so uninteresting and so unhelpful - and you can tell that they're very biased towards themselves.

We spent a lot of time writing a full story and literally saying: ‘If this is who you are, you should go for this person and not for us’, because we look at it as doing a service for our clients.

With landing pages, we've had over 100% increase in signups, and we've had seven times the conversion on some of our other pages. We don't just look at trials, we're also going to look at ICP trials - the people that we want to sign up - and then also the qualifying leads, and how they turn into sales, and what that looks like later. There’s a lot of different pieces to it, we're optimizing their product pages right now.

It goes back to your original question: of what kind of impact CRO can have on your entire marketing? It really is having a huge impact on everything that we do, in terms of ads, and content, and web pages, and emails.

David Bain:

You mentioned ICP a few times, you mean Ideal Customer Profile, don't you?

Talia Wolf:


David Bain:

Okay. That's great. I just want to dive into one specific element of what you said there, just to try and get a practical takeaway from it. You mentioned pricing pages. What is a typical mistake that companies make with their pricing pages? And what is the typical quick win that companies can make with that?

Talia Wolf:

It's not a quick win, but it's also a very important element. From what we’ve seen, and from my experience, the biggest mistake is that we overcomplicate things. We add more and more and more pieces to each pricing tier, and we end up saying a lot but saying nothing.

The mistake is that when someone looks at your pricing tiers, they can't immediately place themselves. What you want to do - with the name of the pricing plan, with the headline of the pricing plan, the subheading, and the different features - is actually say who it's for.

What we've done for our client is we essentially built a pricing plan - the different actual table - that allows you to see: if you're at this stage of your business, this is the plan you want to go for. But when you wanted to actually drill into details, we created a huge table with all the features, but instead of just dumping all the features on the page, we created sections. Each section would say, ‘You could get this result with these features: 1, 2, and 3’, ‘You could get this result with these features’.

We started pairing the value, and the result that people wanted, with the features. That's the mistake that I see: there's a lot of throwing features, there's a lot of shiny objects everywhere, but there isn't an easy way for people to identify what's right for them, and which is the right plan for them.

David Bain:

Great advice. Well, let's move on from what works now to planning for the future. So, in your opinion, what's the biggest marketing trend or challenge for marketers over the coming year?

Talia Wolf:

I don't think this is new, but the world is just overwhelmed with noise, and people that are trying to grab our attention. I think that's one of the biggest issues. What worked 10 minutes ago no longer works, and things that we did at the beginning - a year ago - definitely don't work anymore. That's because there's just so much noise out there. Everyone's trying to grab your attention with ads and notifications and emails, and there's just a lot of it.

One of the biggest issues is standing out in that crowded market. You're no longer just worried about your direct competitors, but everyone. Even the pizza delivery person that arrives at your door is a competitor because if you sent a notification, they opened it, and then they got a buzz to go to the door – they’ve forgotten. They've gone on. Fighting for attention is a big battle. It's been going on for a while, but I feel like it's getting bigger and bigger.

I think that the solution to it - or the start of the solution to it - is really creating a space where you're speaking directly to your specific people. You're creating a community around you, and you're giving them value that makes them want to keep coming back to you. Because ultimately, there's always going to be someone that has better pricing or better features than you. There's going to be a new player next year, and you're not going to be able to outmaneuver them - especially if you're growing and they're small and agile, and they can move faster.

The only way to really separate yourself from that crowd and stand out is to speak to your customers and make it about them, and really put them in the center and make them the hero. That means putting their value above all in everything that you do. Attention, I think, is the biggest thing.

David Bain:

I've been your host, David Bain. You can find Talia Wolf over at Talia, thanks so much for being on the Strategic Marketing Show.

And thank you for listening. Here at IFP, our goal is simple: to connect you with the most relevant information, to help solve your business problems, all in one place.