Interview – Oli Gardner about Conversion Centered Design, Red Bull Addiction and Holistic Landing Page Optimization

31 July, 2014 - 10.06 AM

Oli Gardner - Closeup

Oli Gardner about Conversion Centered Design, Red Bull Addiction and Holistic Landing Page Optimization

Hi Oli, you are Co-Founder of Unbounce. 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?
Our vision as a company is to empower every business to create better marketing experiences. Optimization is about more than just conversion, it’s about the brand experience that occurs with every marketing interaction. My personal mission is to bring this message to the marketing world, and show them through my writing and speaking, how to deliver delightful landing experiences that convert. Within the next year, I want to continue to develop my Conversion Centered Design theories and educate marketers on how they can deliver better post-click experiences.

What mobile device can you not live without? My iPhone (affectionately named oPhone).

What is your favourite T-Shirt? I have a yellow Hendrix shirt that I love.

Can we take a peek at your phone’s home screen? Absolutely.

Oli Gardner - Home Screen

What app do you use most often?


What social media network or website do you frequent most when you’re not working?

I don’t really stop working #startupfounder – Twitter.

What’s the first thing you check on your phone in the morning?

KISSmetrics report for previous day’s signups

Take me through your typical workday.

Wake up. Check email. Check Twitter. Listen to very loud rock music (and/or Kelly Clarkson) on commute to work. Drink 2 Red Bulls. Write 300 words on anything. Check LinkedIn to see if there are any invitations for speaking gigs. Check in with the marketing team to see what everyone’s doing. Forget to eat breakfast. Answer interview questions ☺. Check in on any A/B tests I’m running. Celebrate or commiserate based on the outcome of said tests. Write part of whatever epic blog post I’m working on (I’ve forgotten how to write short posts). Eat half of my lunch. Come up with new test ideas for our latest marketing campaign landing page. Do random searches to look at PPC landing page examples. Bitch about PPC ads that send traffic to a homepage. More writing. Go home. Eat dinner. Drink red wine. Write more. Suck at sleeping.

What work challenge keeps you up at night?

Ensuring we maintain our position as the product and thought leader in the landing page space.

What has been the most exciting work development this year?

Changing my role from Creative Director to public speaker.

How many miles have you travelled this year?

45,478 by the time I arrive in Berlin.

Can you tell us something about yourself that your team would be surprised to know?

I’ve had 3 near death/goring experiences at the horns of bison in Yellowstone.

What other career would you like to try?

Inventor. I have the perfect solution to duvets that slip around in duvet covers.

What does your desk look like right now?

Oli Gardner - Arbeitsplatz

What is the last business book you read?

How to deliver a TED talk by Jeremey Donovan.

Outside of your company’s efforts, what marketing campaign or video caught your eye recently?

It’s a little while ago (Christmas 2013), but the WestJet Christmas Miracle is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. I dare you not to tear up by the end of it.

Is conversion optimization getting sufficient attention in corporations today? If not what do you think needs to happen to change this?

That would be a big no. Even when it’s known of, there is still a huge reticence among many senior managers to empower their employees to run tests. With today’s cost effective landing page building tools and A/B testing software, there’s absolutely no excuse for letting these opportunities go by. Part of it will be continuous education on the benefits of optimization, but then I also think we need to see marketing teams take the initiative and start running tests to prove it works. Act first, apologize later.

You are a keynote speaker at the upcoming Conversion Conference on 4th & 5th of November in Berlin. The title of your session is “Getting it right – Holistic Landing Page Optimization”. What makes this topic so important and relevant?

You can’t optimize your landing pages unless you understand both the pre-click experience and the relationship that happens after a conversion. All of this knowledge needs to be brought together to make sure your landing page experiences aren’t created in isolation. This goes for all aspects of web design, interaction and usability. Always design in context.

What can participants of your session expect from your presentation – and what do you expect from the attendees?

My goal with every speaking gig is to educate, entertain and inspire. I think you need all three of those things for a successful and engaging talk. So you’ll learn, laugh and think bigger. And you won’t see me pitching or selling anything.

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 don’t have a good answer for this one. So I’ll pass.

Please make a prediction for conversion optimisation: what trends drive conversion optimisation in the upcoming 1-2 years?

I think we might see mobile marketers push back from obsessing over responsive design (which is great for information based sites where every word should be available to all regardless of device), and turn more to designing mobile experiences that are based on conversion goals and not accessibility goals.

And one more personal question: what is your favourite conversion optimisation tool or method? And why?

As far as tools go, it’s really hard not to be biased here because I use Unbounce every day, for every campaign we run. But that is also my genuine unbiased opinion. As far as methods go, I’m working on a simple landing page design method I call WWWH. What, why, when and how. It’s a very simple linear design methodology, the ultimate goal of which is conversion through clarity.

Thank you for your time and answers! We look forward to welcoming you in Berlin in November at the upcoming Conversion Conference!

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