Get to know keynote speaker Tim Ash
24 June, 2014 - 07.12 AM
Hi Tim, you are CEO at SiteTuners. Please, tell us about the relevance of conversion optimization for your work. What are you doing in this field, and where do you want to go within the next year?
My work is conversion optimization. I wrote a couple of bestselling books on it and started the Conversion Conference to help the industry grow. There is no more important activity in online marketing – getting the most value out of the visitors to your website should be at the heart of everything.
We are seeing this explode internationally, and already work with clients around the world: UK, Germany, Brazil, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, Cyprus, Israel, and several more countries that I am forgetting at the moment. My goal is to grow our international business even more, and strengthen our reputation as the most capable strategic agency for CRO.
Is conversion optimization getting sufficient attention in corporations today? If not what do you think needs to happen to change this?
Unfortunately driving traffic is still where the focus is. That’s where the money is spent, so that’s what people try to tune and optimize. CRO is a diverse activity involving usability, copywriting, testing, content strategy, back-end software and workflow, website development, business models, and neuromarketing. So unless someone is spearheading the CRO efforts and “owns” that activity as their exclusive focus, it is very hard to keep it moving in the right direction.
Like all complex and new activities, CRO is being currently handled by specialized agencies like ours. But we have recently developed a new practice area within our agency – Conversion Management. We engage with clients on an ongoing basis, and work side by side to help them become more effective. Often, the long-term goal of this support is to explicitly create a CRO capability and culture within their company. We do this with knowledge transfer and training, as well as having them apprentice by lookin over our shoulder as we work on projects for them.
We have developed a detailed Conversion Maturity Model to diagnose and grade a company’s current abilities in the areas of People & Structure, Tools & Technology, Measurement & Accountability, and Process & Culture. Once we know where they are, we create a roadmap to take them to the next level. Often this involves significant changes in structure, compensation models, and systems. So we are a trusted change agent who facilitates their CRO maturity over time, and tailors it to their unique company culture.
You are a keynote speaker at the upcoming Conversion Conference on 4th & 5th of November in Berlin. The title of your keynote is “Conversion Mythbusting – Debunking the Lies On The Way To Higher Profits”. What makes this topic so important and relevant?
A lot of companies have a quick success with some landing page testing and suddenly get the conversion optimization religion. But they approach it in a haphazard tactical way and often don’t get the full benefits because of their assumptions or underlying belief systems. We have worked with over 100 thousand clients in a wide variety of industries. Based on that experience I will share some of the common misconceptions we have found.What can participants of your session expect from your presentation – and what do you expect from the attendees?
They can expect to have their assumptions challenged. I hope to provoke them into re-thinking their approach to CRO and making it much more effective. I hope they can learn from our client’s mistakes and not have to repeat them
Machine Learning, Big Data, Agility, Holistic Optimisation are all hot topics in 2014. What do you think is pure hype and what could be a substantial change for conversion optimisation?
I think that all of these topics are important – our most advanced clients are seeing 500-1000% improvements when applying some of these techniques. But they play out differently based on your company scale. Small companies do not have big data, so they often can’t take advantage of it. Large companies have it, but it is often locked up within departmental silos and can’t be easily analysed. The mid-size companies seem to be flexible enough and able to get enough data to do something with it. Also, it is important to take care of your basic optimization issues first before deploying anything costly and advanced. Walk before you run.
Please make a prediction for conversion optimisation: what trends drive conversion optimisation in the upcoming 1-2 years?
Mobile conversion will continue to be a hot topic as more of our usage migrates to smartphones. Tools for mobile testing (like Optimizely), or mobile usability (like UserTesting) will be critically important.
And one more personal question: what is your favourite conversion optimisation tool or method? And why?
There is no such thing as a favourite tool to me. Each tool should be judged by its fitness for a particular purpose. So it really depends on your situation and needs. We have catalogued over 600 companies in the conversion optimization ecosystem. If you really want to understand how extensive it is, please check out our free http://ConversionNinjaToolbox.com directory.
What mobile device can you not live without?
My Galaxy Note 3
Can we take a peek at your phone’s home screen?
It has a screensaver of my two kids
What app do you use most often?
What social media network or website do you frequent most when you’re not working?
Facebook. I have invested a lot of time fine-tuning my inbound feed and organizing my 4500+ closest “friends”. I share my personal and work life there so it is a very eclectic mix. I also use it to stay in touch via private messages – it is nice to have the whole discussion thread in one place instead of digging through emails.
What’s the first thing you check on your phone in the morning?
Take me through your typical workday.
Come in after walking my kids to school and my morning powerwalk. Check my email and social media. Look at my calendar. Do whatever needs to be done. Go home around 6:30. I will also check email and occasionally work at night when the kids are asleep.
What work challenge keeps you up at night?
I like my sleep – so it would take a lot to keep me up at night.
What has been the most exciting work development this year?
We have created a Conversion Management practice area within our agency. Prior to that, we worked exclusively on a project basis. But many of our clients were asking for ongoing help and support, and to have us as a long-term part of their team. So we created a flexible program that allows us to work alongside of them. We can help with testing, best practices redesigns of websites for higher conversion, tuning of their business model, or mentoring them to develop their own in-house optimization team and culture.
How many miles have you travelled this year?
I am trying to cut back on my travel this year because we are doing a major house remodel, so I am planning on only about 15 trips. Not sure about the miles, but I have been to the following places this year: San Francisco twice, three events in my home city of San Diego, Las Vegas twice, Park City Utah, Chicago, Cleveland, Gold Coast of Australia, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, and may be going back to Sao Paulo and Moscow again later this year. But this is much easier than a couple of years ago, when I had 24 events. My children have threatened to cut up my clothes if I leave again for longer than 17 days…
Can you tell us something about yourself that your team would be surprised to know?
I was the fencing Sabre Team captain and Athlete Of The Month at the University of California, San Diego. I won the Southern California Conference championship, and had a 31-2 win/loss record my senior year.
What other career would you like to try?
Acting – I think it would be a lot of fun and you would meet lots of creative people. I am an extrovert who does a lot of public speaking, so it would be an easy transition…
What does your desk look like right now?
Two 24-inch monitors, USB headset, a phone, and that’s it.
What is the last business book you read?
Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff
Outside of your company’s efforts, what marketing campaign or video caught your eye recently?
I love the HBO series Game of Thrones. There is a meme that will resonate with anyone who has watched the show. “Winter is coming” sends absolute chills down my spine whenever I hear it…