Episode #155 – Nick DiSabato On Research And Testing No Online Store Should Be Without

by John McIntyre

Nick got his start in the design and usability world.

Now he works with Ecommerce and software companies
on their conversion.

He delves into the real info you need to dig up so you can make
informed decisions.

The questions…

The body language…

The ever-present smile…

He wants answers whether you can handle them or not.

When you’re not testing there’s money left on the table.

Nick helps people find that money.

So watch as he gives real-world answers on how to dig out that
money from every nook and cranny.

Over 4x industry average.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • How to get real answer out of prospects and customers so you can mine real conversion gold.
  • What big ecommerce retailers are failing at over and over. Learn this and double your bottom line or more.
  • The one thing nobody online gets right the first time and the simple fix you can do today.
  • Does your business serve the entire human race? Your answer may explain why your conversion sucks.
  • Is your business “Tone Deaf”? How to “get real” today and find your people.

Email Marketing Podcast Episode 152


Intro and outro backing music: Forever More by CREO

David Allan: Hey, everybody We’re back with another edition of the podcast. I’m David Allan of course and we have an exciting guest on today. I will actually get his name right since I just asked him a few seconds ago how to pronounce it. And Nick DiSabato How are you?

Nick: DiSabato: I’m doing great. And that was perfect.

David Allan: I had practice for a second and a half so I’m good and good this time nice. Now Nick we’re going to start with like we do with most guests and sort of delving into your career trajectory or superhero origin story if you will on that journey from where you were. You know you had a regular job are you in school or whatever started and sort of take us up where you’re at now. You can it can be short it can be long and be whatever you want to divulge and surging up and some more of what you’re doing nowadays.

Nick DiSabato: Sounds great. So I am an interaction designer by trade. I did computer interaction in graduate school and got out and became a frontline developer and that turned out to be a horrible idea. So I started doing more like usability and UXO type stuff of various agencies for five or six years and then I quit my job and started my own consultancy and started to treat it like it was an actual business. I hate to make more money than you spend.
And then I saw I did a bunch of like random wireframe type projects and projects for a couple of years and decided to come up with a retainer for my my work and decided that AP testing wouldn’t make for a really good retainer because you’re still doing design here practicing at Asadi but you’re also measuring the economic impact of it and doing it in a way that solves a really big expensive problem for organizations of certain size and scale.

So I did that about three and a half years ago and it blew up and did really well and I had to go in hard on that side of things since.

Awesome awesome. It’s very interesting.

Was there something about you know where it’s where you’re at now is sort of the A B testing in the research into that and how know construct the design that leads to more conversions or whatever. And the end result is was that something that you’d sort of always had in the back your mind that you were interested in where you interest in them you know like copyrighting and stuff like you know the natural sort of addition to that.

Yeah it always identified as a writer in some capacity and figuring out good copy is you know a big factor of how a site can persuade and how can factor into the design. But I started out with more of like a usability background and put it together AB testing as an offering that was an extension of that.

So the answer is kind of no. Like I said and it’s on point and I eventually learned. OK well there’s this whole practice around a call conversion rate optimization and a very large part of it is the copywriting So then there’s all these people doing the copywriting like Joana we can. And pop a lot of these other people that are much smarter than me. And so you know it was it felt like a new frontier and a lot of ways. And I still get to like work the back side of my brain and I think coming at it from that angle helps me converse with my clients and create something that works a little bit more better.

That’s right.

Well actually it works in a way that actually people want to be using. Right. I try to create technology that is not horrible and that’s a very broad statement. Right.

But it’s it’s still it’s the core of the thing that I’m doing and copy factors into that. Right. It makes it clear more effective at communicating.

Now of course I think we’ve all had that sort of common experience of trying to use something and not knowing where to go what what section you know because you’re looking for something in particular usually when you’re looking you know you go someplace the Internet and you’re going on the Web and we’ve all had that experience of trying to find exactly what path that thing we want to know how to go down. So that’s right up your alley.

That’s what you’re looking for is to make it more clear and more usable so that it makes the process look a lot more direct not exactly right.

So let me start talking about you know some of the basis for how you go about determining some of these things like some of the research like I’m being a copywriter myself.

Course we take in all sorts of information up front from from people from the client. Usually if you’re freelancing or are from your own products or whatever your Hocker and you know it sort of evolves over time as you sort of assemble the different pieces almost. But what sort of stuff do you do when you’re sort of you know delving into trying to make this a more usable situation whether it’s a Web site or a product or an app or whatever.

Yes I think a lot of it comes from having that design background actually and rendering out because one of the underpinnings of user experience design is talking to the customer and understanding the motivations. As far as the actual things I’m doing. Concerned there’s the obvious kind of quantitative ones like Google Analytics diving in there.

I don’t like using Google Analytics. I don’t know anyone who does but there’s a lot of evil stuff in there.

And understanding how people are converting at various rates so oh we find out that mobile is dismal. Well why is that. Or I find out that a specific browser specific platform or specific device is not working well or specific page is taking too long to load. So I’m doing those kinds of things. I’m doing heat maps scroll maps all those sorts of things. And those are things you can do for free or very cheap and none of them are qualitative parts of my research practice are actually recruiting people and getting them on the phone and trying to not ask them leading questions. Figuring out what their motivations are for purchasing this product what objections they had as they went

through vetting competitors who they vetted as competitors what their background is and what their motivations are and how they hope to be using product. All of those things eventually affect the pitch which I’m going to be testing. And so have quite a bit of relevance to copywriting that you can do it in a little bit more passive of a way by surveying people but often you just get two words in a text box so I tend to use lots of data and like more like Net Promoter Score or ranking things on you know strong disagree to strongly agree or something like that. Those sorts of things tend to work a little bit better on the survey side of things. And then lastly the biggest

UXO thing that ends up affecting the pitch often is usability testing. So I have people like user testing dotcom they’re a good resource for this. You basically have people complete a task on your site. Usually it’s like buy something with a credit card or something. Right. And vocalize your inner monologue as you are going through the process of doing that. And so you get a lot of insight into well this doesn’t work for me or this is working well for me. But you also get like I don’t understand what this is for or I don’t understand why they’re they had this headline here like what does this even mean. And then there’s

questions if there’s questions about me and your definitions then you probably messed up your copyright and on the home page or somewhere further down the home page.

Yeah. I mean I see that a lot and generally from my experience it’s just that people tend to who aren’t doing copies you know on a daily sort of thing is that they’re just so vague.

You know it’s trying to it’s trying to be all encompassing and in many ways and yet it’s true.

And you can see because you do it long enough you can sort of see what they’re trying to get at but it’s just so vague that it’s like what it does is often accompanied by jargon which just further complicates matters for your.

So you’re using a lot of online tools to accomplish a lot of the stuff you mentioned.

User testing but common software some other tools maybe could well be interested in sites Google Analytics Google Analytics Mixpanel is another one that if you know javascript and know how to fire events back to mix panel can be insanely powerful and understanding customer behavior especially around software products.

I use jar. Oh T.J. are. And that one is for heat maps scrolled maps Hevia recordings that sort of stuff. He’s at Nio. And I oh for recruitment through usability testing and customer interviews especially so that basically at and exit intent and there are pop up or whatever and asks you a bunch of questions that are eventually meant to qualify you in or out as a lead in and then I follow up with link and hope that you schedule it and give you an Amazon gift card for your time or money. So I do that and other tools that I use Visual Web site

optimizer for AB testing so I go to VW Vodacom for that.

And then the usual suspects it’s like Skype FaceTime audio hijack microphone or other either any sort of questions you stumble across.

You know when you’re conducting these surveys are these you know interrogations if you will I feel like I’m all ears and people when I’m trying to get to the real motivations because often I find as a copywriter when you’re talking to people as to why they’re interested in a product or or the client themselves or what they think about it or why they want to do certain things it’s often like a very surface level thing which is almost like they want to tell you what you want to hear or what they think they should be telling you. And then there’s like the real reason.

Yeah yeah. So first went on just to head that off a bit when there is when it when there is definitely a temptation on the customer interviewee’s perspective to tell me what I want to hear. Right. But I’m not there to be told what I want to hear. And also as consultant I’m usually not there and I don’t have a whole lot of skin in the game right. I’m not there as part of the customer’s team or the client’s team or whatever happy that actually I set up some expectations and ground rules at the very beginning I’m like I have no idea what you’re going to say and I want the most like unvarnished and honest opinions.

I’m not part of the client’s team at all and they’re not going to go blame you or criticize you or do anything there’s no ramifications for this. I’m deadly serious. I’ve got scars that I’m eating with people. I promise to anonymize all of this. And so then when I go to the client they get you know participant number one and they get very broad demographic and purveying like mid 30s who lives in Atlanta like OK great not helpful at all. But you want to make sure that you are also kind of flagging as somebody who’s relatable. So there’s a lot of body language that goes into it. I’m on video call I

smile a lot. If I’m on an audio call I still try to do that so that I sound as stick and convivial because I don’t want to be. I’ve had a bad day. I need to act like I haven’t had a bad day and that I can go in and be relatable on that front. To answer your question about the actual questions that I’m asking a lot of it are like well tell me how you came upon this product. Who told you about it then. Ah OK. Well what were you thinking as you were kind of going through and evaluating it for years. Were there any objections that you had as you went into it. What was the last thing that held you back from purchasing this. That’s another big one. Okkar what other competitors did you consider

before purchasing that. What did you like or dislike about those competitors. A lot of the is I mean that can fill 45 minutes of a 60 minute interview to be entirely honest because most of the time I’m sitting there I’m saying pausing really long so that you end up giving me more information and then doing the classic tell me more about that. Tell me more about this thing. Elaborate on. I’m doing as much as I can to actively listen reflect back to the participant and ask them more probing questions about these things.

And I’m always through this is I’m thinking about the next question to be asking. So you asked me about specific questions and I’m kind of giving more of a process but I think that’s the way. It’s not the same kind of conversation that you usually have between two people. It’s not even the same kind of conversation that I have on a podcast with you know Brian you or anybody else. And it’s it’s a specific way you carry yourself and comport yourself and repair the next question to be asked takes a lot of you.

I like the way you set it up in advance to try to assuage those fears I guess that people have to be brutally honest because those are really there. Yeah those are really the best conversations whether I’m talking to somebody on a podcast or talking to somebody about why they chose the product or why they want to know who they think they’re selling to or whatever. And it’s those conversations I really give you the meat. You know a book needs to get done so I find it interesting now. Have you found. Are you dealing personally mostly with online products digital products and stuff.

Yeah so it’s kind of a 60:40 split between e-commerce retailers and software company and so a lot of it isn’t like Stass businesses like my first big client was dnt simple and they were like a DNS provider it’s wonky.

I’ve done work for Keith Smart shop plus client don’t work for Bell Roy. They make wallet’s on work for a tech blog called The wire cutter back when they were independent. They got hired by The New York Times fairly recently. So yeah it really runs the gamut. It’s they each have their own sets of specific issues and I’ve kind of geek out on both of those and figured out how a testing strategy works and those are paying more and more towards e-commerce these days but that’s more just because the clients I’m happenings to get and there are problems in that space are a little bit more interesting to me right now.

Now do you find when you conduct these surveys in these interviews of people that there are surprising things about the way people are looking for stuff nowadays like how the process that they’re going through you know where they try to search things out.

I think that the process of vetting competitors has gotten a little bit stronger and people are a little bit more wary of converting. So the consequence for that if you’re writing a marketing page is due to more objection busting.

Do a little bit more auditing about what the perspective objections are going to be and try and get ahead of those as firmly as you possibly can and you can do that at every step of the process. That also involves including things like social proof or customer reviews or product comparisons. The thing I’m seeing with e-commerce in particular there are a lot of Prada other a lot of businesses I’ve worked with that have like big accessory lines or they do a historically bad job of promoting what accessories are compatible with what products. So that’s one thing that I find not just on a copywriting

standpoint but also on the usability standpoint if I can get ahead of that problem I ended up increasing average order value significantly. And that makes my clients happier and me happier.

So is that just a matter of they’re not upselling people by trying to package these kits together or just think that they just don’t think about that kind of stuff.

Yeah they’re not thinking about it are they. They use the like stock ways that their e-commerce software does. Right. So on Shopify there’s always like related products at the bottom but it’s like they find a random selection of related products and they don’t say for this model this this and this and they pick like the three top sellers because that is programmatically more difficult to pull off her hands.

People think that they have a good enough solution around that from lay out behavior but also from copyright you can get to the person at the right time and do something that really meets their needs a little bit more effectively.

Right. So when you’re doing a lot with e-commerce as of late for people out there and other people listen to a show that do have e-commerce stores we have you know a lot of printers.

Listen to the show structure and so forth. One of the things you’re seeing which is sort of the most you know the top hit list of things that people are either forgetting doing wrong or leaving out you know sort of the big ones you see because for copywriting you know often when I look at people’s copy I see the same things over and over again same sort of problems. Sure. Probably much to year.

Yeah yeah I feel that there’s definitely a I mean there’s the classic like features not benefits thing. There’s a lot of software companies and a lot of e-commerce they don’t pucca about the pain enough. They don’t talk about the problems we talk about the product.

And my friend Amy Hoye has a article that she basically rewrote her whole marketing page for her home page and framed it such that it goes from pain to dream to fix. So you have this problem. If you have this. So that’s those are some pretty common strategies. Another one and this is another kind of half design half copies side of things but he gets a button text right. Can’t tell you how many creation forms or check out forms I’ve seen that are called submit. OK.

Next step coaling to insert name of step here.

You will do much better.

I know it’s small and simple but that’s of very very important one setting our expectations around account creation and password law is super super helpful. Yeah. All of those are really really valuable.

I have to say I’ve worked on people’s websites and so for their coffee in them and often like you’re saying it is or this you know and people I’m sure because people have told me this is that they’re just using what you know they saw somewhere else. You know it’s kind of like him of like matchy matchy and sort of thing. They’re almost resistant and I wonder if you encounter this more because you’re working with maybe more of the corporate side of things you encounter this almost like oh this is like maybe anti-septic professionalism or something where people are afraid to use or don’t want to infuse their own personality into some of these aspects. No.

Yeah. My favorite Web sites have great button text and stuff that says there’s no congruity what I’m buying from the company and or the person.

Yeah so there is I think that one of the biggest pitfalls that people have is to go to your point is that they don’t inject enough personality or character into their copy. And I tell them to do it and then they just write more words.

It’s not what I mean or they may.

Lately I’ve gotten a few situations where they’ve just ripped off the ones that flag as bad ass enough. Like I get a lot of dollar shave club people right now.

It’s not it’s leg dollar shave club chic right. Like you like this a very cavalier kind of video weird absurdist things smart dude with the beard. OK.

Or another one is against humanity chic. Right right. I don’t just mean to poop jokes that are on the cards that everybody focuses on. But if you know them as a business you know that their copy writing is world class right. That’s what it’s meant to hammer at a specific demographic that have a specific set of expectations and you can’t fake that. Right. No kidding. I think to your point getting people to actually get out of their skin and do something that is a little bit risky. Even even in a more or like unconventional conventional but still like relatively safe way like you want to hate this or something

like that there’s a little bit of sarcasm in it that it’s still safe. Who says that unless they’re is a cocktail party or something like that.

Right. Right now that’s something I always stress to and stressed upon you when you learn about copywriting and stuff too is that it should be a casual conversation. There’s too much of this which was sort of hinting at before I guess is that a lot of stuff has this very what people consider professionalism. For some reason which is this anti-septic sort of like starer I’ll business speak going deaf. Exactly. Exactly that’s a good way of putting and resonate with anybody. I mean wow I shouldn’t say that I guess because there’s other people out there who do seem to ascribe to that who you know I don’t


So you know I’ve always been more trusting of people who are just swear and carry on normally like normal people people like boring people exist out there but I don’t put myself in front of terribly many of them so I I’m with the hate. And so this goes into kind of the AB testing side of it right. Like if you’re afraid of this what’s this comes down to is people rich treats to that kind of institutional corporate tone deaf language because they’re afraid of seeing someone off or having too many opinions and and causing people

to know how out of a conversation and they think are wrong about this they think that they will be able to get more customers by being boring. Right. And that works for like Google and Facebook and not your business. Right. It works for businesses that are meant to work for literally the entire human race. But there are very few of those and you probably if you’re listening to this podcast don’t work for any of them. Right. Towards that and if they’re afraid you can say OK well two things. I interviewed a bunch of people and they have these demographic traits and these attributes. So we have some research that actually bears out a change here some

sort. And now we can run an AB test on that change. And that allows us as impartially as possible measure the economic impact of making our voice and tone change on the home page or on wherever. And that de-risked the thing because then you’re trying it and seeing how it works. Try it with a smaller subset of the customers. And if it doesn’t work then you can retreat back to the boring thing and I tell you I’ve run very few AB tests like that. I come back with research that are liable to fail at the worst case nothing happens and you

wonder what you were afraid of.

That’s right. Now it’s true. Well you know if people want to find you and Nick what’s the best way to go about that if they’re looking to get some testing done or looking for some insights because they’ve you know they don’t want to get their hands dirty on the testing aspect go is complicated or they just don’t have the time.

So you can get a draft. And you add as my business is Web site if you’re curious to learn more about AB testing and especially research driven AB testing you to a free AB testing course dot com and we’ll have I think those will be in the show notes. You can take a look there and get a sense of my work right now and I would love to hear from you.

Awesome. Well that’s true awesome Also we’ve talked about a lot of important things out there today. It’s great information’s been a real pleasure having you on the show and it’s a total honor. Thank you so much. No no problem. And I’m sure we’ll do it again in the future at some point for everyone else listen to this. It’s another episode of the podcast. We’ll be back with another exciting guests weeks from today. We’ll talk to you then.

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