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E89: Johann Van Tonder

Unlock Hidden Revenue With an Effective CRO Strategy

Johann Van Tonder

Podcast Overview

This week we’re introducing Johann all the way from South Africa (we’re not jealous at all…) to bust some crazy misconceptions surrounding CRO and to explain the best implementations to boost your online sales!

Feel like you could be getting more from your site but don’t know where to start?

Get listening as Johan shares some great advice to boost your CRO.

eCom@One Presents:

Johann Van Tonder

Johann is the COO of AWA Digital, and co-author of the bestselling book eCommerce Website Optimization. Having started out in corporate jobs, Johann took the leap into the startup world, and has since been in the eCommerce space for 9 years.  

In this episode, we talk all about conversion rate optimization and the specific thought process Johann and the team focus on every time to help their clients succeed. Johann busts the common myths that surround CRO and teaches us how to avoid the biggest mistakes retailers make when it comes to optimising their site over and over again. 

CRO doesn’t come with a one size fits all template – Johann explains how to determine the KPIs that matter to your business, and how to build a CRO strategy that will specifically help to meet your business’ goals. 

If you want to find out how to get more conversions from your website, then listen in as Johann talks through the steps he’s taken to optimize his clients’ websites for better conversion rates, as well as extra tips along the way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your online store.

Topics Covered:

01:34 – Johann’s journey in eCommerce

04:05 – What is AWA Digital, and Johann’s role there

05:34 – Busting the myths about CRO

10:41 – The actions to focus on to improve your website

14:50 – Using copy to optimise user experience

17:08 – The biggest mistakes retailers make when it come to CRO

19:12 – Determining the right metrics for your business

21:59 – The one thing guaranteed to boost your revenue

23:49 – How Johann works with clients to improve their CRO

29:12 – Intro to Johann’s book, eCommerce Website Optimisation

31:07 – Tool recommendations

32:20 – Book recommendation

Richard Hill:
Hi there, I'm Richard Hill, the host of eCom@One, welcome to our 89th episode. In this episode, I speak with Johann Van Tonder, founder of AWA Digital and co-author of the best selling book E-Commerce Website Optimization. In this episode, we talk about conversion optimization, and the specific thought process Johann and his team focus on every time. Specific mistakes to avoid and where to get cracking and to fix them. And so much more. If you enjoy this episode, please make sure you subscribe so you're always the first to know when a new episode is released. Now let's head over to this fantastic episode. This episode is brought to you by eComOne, eCommerce Marketing Agency. eComOne works purely with eCommerce stores, scaling their Google Shopping, SEO, Google Search, and Facebook ads through a proven performance driven approach. Go to econone.com/resources for a host of amazing resources to grow your paid and organic channels. How you doing Johann?

Johann Van Tonder:
Very well, how are you Richard?

Richard Hill:
I am very good. I'm very good, but we're just chatting a moment before, you're in South Africa. I'm here in the UK. So I think you've definitely got the better end of the stick at the moment I think with the weather.

Johann Van Tonder:
Yeah. I've been locked down in Cape town for the last, what is it, two years almost. And it's not the worst place on earth to be locked down, yeah.

Richard Hill:
I can only imagine. I've never been. One of my best friends goes there regular, he works with a South African bank there and he's in and out of South Africa sort of two or three times a year. And I see the pictures and I get the updates. It's like, yep, it's on my list, so one day soon. Yeah. So I think it'd be great to give our listeners a bit of an overview of your sort of journey in eCommerce and how you became sort of a major part of AWA Digital.

Johann Van Tonder:
Yeah. So I started in corporate, like I think many of us did, and towards the end of my corporate stint I was in charge of a unit that housed a number of eCommerce businesses. And I had sort of stumbled into this and by chance I had recently done an MBA and my brief was to take, was what, five or six businesses that were stagnant and I was told to either fix them, kill them, or sell them. And I used all these recently acquired theories and frameworks and models from the business school. And I found they didn't really work in practice as well as they did in the classrooms. And I didn't know what I was doing. And I started doing what felt like the next right thing, which is picking up the phone and talking to customers. And to my amazement, it actually worked, it actually made a real difference if you just spoke to customers.

Johann Van Tonder:
And I had brought me closer and closer to data and what I started doing without realizing it, and actually this is before the term CRO existed, was doing CRO, without many of the tools we have today. And that finally got results. And then I left corporate to do the startup thing. Although I did a step crazier than leaving corporate to do startup, I went to a company that had about six month runway left. They were definitely going to be bankrupt. And my mission was to do a turn around. We had a three year timeframe for that. We managed to do it in two years. Sold two VCs. And that's when I joined AWA. And at the time AWA was on the ground floor, it had just started. And so I've been there for, what is it, nine years?

Richard Hill:
Yeah. A long time. A long time in eCommerce isn't it? I always as soon as I say sort eCommerce it's like cat years sort of thing. So it's a long time, obviously when we think back nine years ago, it was not quite like it is today, that's the facts. I remember my first website was probably about 18 years ago and it was literally an Excel sheet online pretty much. And that would be quite an exaggeration, I think. But so obviously nine years is a long time. So AWA tell me what you do there specifically and what's your role there?

Johann Van Tonder:
We do CRO conversion rate optimization, and that's a bit of a misnomer but I'm sure we'll get into it. And my role is the COO, so I hit up operations. But you can think of me as a sort of a custodian of our methodology. So how we do things, how effectively we deliver value to clients, that's the bit that I look after.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. I think that's something that's on my mind at the moment actually, that's sort of quite a good topic just on its own. This sort of, I really like the way you explain that, sort of the custodian of the, so the implementation, the quality, what you're doing. But improving all the time and making sure that the quality is being kept. I think quite often that does get missed, doesn't it? And then things slip. And then before we know it obviously things aren't quite what they should be. So yeah, that's quite an exciting role. Something I'm quite [crosstalk 00:05:00] here.

Johann Van Tonder:
And to add to that conversion rate optimization, it is about optimization. It's about constantly improving, getting better, and not being complacent. And so we adopt the same stance towards our own agency and way of working as well. So there's never the perfect way of doing it. There's never the best way. There's always a better way. And you're constantly learning new things, testing approaches that work, testing more approaches that don't work. And so it never stops.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. So what would your definition be then of conversion optimization?

Johann Van Tonder:
I'm so glad you asked the question because apart from it being a good introductory question, it's actually a really important question in the context of CRO, because it's such a misunderstood bastardized term. A lot of what I read about CRO is not CRO. There's a lot of confusion about it. So let's start with the most obvious one, which is that CRO is all about improving your conversion rate. Well, that's an important KPI, but it's not the most important one in isolation. It can be very misleading. You can improve your conversion rate, but actually have less revenue to show for it. Which one would you rather have, higher conversion rate or higher revenue? I'll give you a hint, you can't pay salaries with conversion rate. So that's the first misconception. But then there are a range of others, I'll mention two more.

Johann Van Tonder:
The one is that conversion rate optimization CRO is a list of tactics and you pick one from the menu. That's not CRO. In fact, that's probably the antithesis to CRO. And then another one is that it's a A/B testing, where you run one test after the other, and you look for 95% statistical significance. Now to be clear, that's a very important part, that's at the core of CRO, but that's A/B testing. It isn't CRO. So the way I, now finally getting to answer your question, what is CRO, the way I would define it is, it is using the scientific method to increase your online sales. And I know that sounds a bit pretentious. So let me explain a little bit more, colour it in, make it more human sounding. One thing about scientific method is hypothesis-based thinking. So let me explain, in the traditional non-CRO world, you come up with an idea and if you, at the top of the hierarchy, the CEO or somebody in a high ranking position, you tell the organization to get on with it, and that's what happens.

Johann Van Tonder:
But perhaps there's a bit of a debate about which ideas move forward and that debate can last for days, weeks, I've seen it even for months. And then the idea that survives is usually the one that is supported by high ranking people. And it gets thrown over the fence at engineering and they implement it. In CRO the way it works is that entire life cycle looks very different. Starting with the ideation, how ideas are formed, they're based on observations, based on data, and they're outcome driven. So you are looking to attack a particular problem. You're looking to address a particular opportunity. Look at data and observations and ground your ideas in those. And we can talk for 40 minutes just about ideation, because we're at actually as humans very bad at it.

Johann Van Tonder:
And then instead of debating it forever, there's a prioritization framework deciding which ideas flow to the top. And then instead of debating it, we test it, we validate it. And it could be an A/B test, but there are other ways of validating ideas as well. And then the ideas that are validated, those get put on the dev backlog, and the rest you learn from them and you don't move forward with them.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. I love that definition. I think rather than maybe the loudest person in the room deciding what we're going to test and the test that we're going to make, it's the data, and the actual fact.

Johann Van Tonder:
I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I find that amazing just how many organizations still work in that way. In 2021, almost 2022, it's hard to believe that, talking about fairly mature organizations, big organizations who should know a lot better where... If you think about it, if you look at your financial statements in a year from now, it's really the result of every decision we make today, tomorrow, next week, and so on. And the more profitable decisions you make, the better your financial statements will look. The more negative decisions you make, the worse it'll look. And so if you can have a system where you weed out, you flush out the negative decisions and keep only the positive ones, then it's going to be good for the business, it's going to be good for your customers, and that's really what we talking about.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. I think this is it. I think that bottom line, I think so many people get wrapped up in having days and days of conversation and shiny tools and this, that, and the other. But ultimately I think right at the beginning, ultimately you said you've got to pay the salaries, or you've got to report to your stakeholders, or ultimately you got to make money. And I think people lose sight of that massively, a lot of performance marketers lose sight of that because they're not harping on about how much money they made. They may be harping on about other numbers that maybe don't pay the bills. So I think that's brilliant advice, not just for talking about optimization, but just running your business as a whole. Bottom line is you've got to be making a profit, else you're not going to be here.

Richard Hill:
So can you give me some sort of examples then, what actions do you sort of focus on? And I know it will vary, and I know there's a lot of variables, a lot of different sites and different positions and whatnot. But what sort of actions are sort of reoccurring themes that you see that need to be tested to improve the performance of the websites?

Johann Van Tonder:
Yeah, I mean, what you say is absolutely right. It's different for every, this really is the truth, that it's so unique. I have yet to work with a client who's set of circumstances are exactly the same as another client. That just doesn't happen. And so your business is unique, your product, even if it isn't unique, the proposition has to be somewhat unique, otherwise people won't buy from you, they'll buy from the competitor. Your customer segments are unique, and everything is specific to you. And so the starting point if you ask me what are the things we do? The things that are always similar is we start by looking at the data. We start by understanding the business, and we start by understanding the customer. What are their core needs? That's really where we start. When they buy this product or these products from you, what is it that make them, what problem in their lives are they trying to solve? You can go that level of depth.

Johann Van Tonder:
And then why do they buy from you as opposed to competitors? Why do they buy online as opposed to in-store. And understanding that foundation, then looking at the journey through the site and putting all these different data points into one tapestry, triangulating them, and only then do we start talking about what are the things we are going to be doing, what are some of the interventions. I'll give you one quick example just to put some meat on those bones. And I can't reveal the client, but it's a high tech environment, so they sell high ticket, high tech, products. And when we started working with them, so they're the manufacturer and also have a retail arm online. And they were consistently 20% more expensive than Amazon. So why would people buy from the retailer if they can buy straight from Amazon?

Johann Van Tonder:
And, well, we didn't know, but we knew how to find out. And what we did was we spoke to those customers. We spoke to customers both those who bought from this particular retailer, those who almost bought, but decided not to. And then those who bought from Amazon. And understood what is it that make them buy from Amazon, and what is it that make them especially buy from this particular site and pay 20% more? Why would you do that? And once we were able to understand those fundamentals, we were then able to do a couple of things. Firstly, just in our messaging, use those benefits that we heard from people buying from the site and put it on there, and validate it and then move forward. But also use that information to address some of the actually the business model questions.

Johann Van Tonder:
And this is, let's be clear, this is not talking about moving stuff around on the page. And that's another misconception about CROs, that you're making buttons bigger or different colours. You're moving things around the page. Actually, what you're doing is you're optimizing not the page, you're optimizing what happens in the mind, you're optimizing the buying decision. If you understand the buying decision, and what happens in the mind when the decision to buy or not is made, that's where you really get the big results, the big swings. It's not by moving stuff around the page. The way it plays out, the interventions, might happen on page. But it's not about optimizing the page as much as it is optimizing the mind.

Richard Hill:
So obviously there's quite a few things there, but so copywriting, and the way that you communicate and sell on the page or communicate on the page, I think is hugely, it just get missed every time, almost. It's just like a little bit about us, right, okay. It's massive opportunity to copyright that page, I think people quite often when people... I know, well, a question really, obviously there's writing, there's writing blogs, then there's copywriting, isn't there? There's a huge, huge difference. Is that something that you would agree with?

Johann Van Tonder:
Yeah, absolutely. Copywriting is a core part of CRO. And I think most CRO offerings, you would find that copywriting, persuasive copywriting, would be part of that. And it's because words matter. And the reason words matter is because of what I said earlier, that it's about decision making that you're trying to optimize. And if you think about it, when you go onto a site or into a store and you're looking to buy a product, there are questions that you have about buying this product, especially online. There's no salesperson you can quickly call over and speak to. So you've got under stand as the eCommerce websites, you can understand what are those questions. But also, where do they arise in the journey? Because you want to address them at the right point in the journey. There's no point answering a question when it doesn't yet exist. And you do that through words. And a Booking.com is often held up as one of the big, best examples of experimentation and getting that right. A/B testing. And they've often said that copywriting delivers the biggest results for them. That one word can make a difference.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. Yeah. So I would say, I'm going to ask the list, there's a question to think about, are you all working with a copywriter? And I have a feeling that is going to be quite a landslide "no" there. So I think that's something to be thinking about, look-

Johann Van Tonder:
And add to that. Richard, even if you are working with a copywriter, what kind of copywriter are you working with? Are you working with an SEO copywriter? Because that's something different. Are you working with a PR copywriter, or a product copyright? That's something different. And those are all important roles. I'm not saying one is more important than the other, you need all of these. But you need to understand that writing copy aimed at converting, aimed at getting a user to say yes when there's a remote chance of them saying yes, that is a different skillset. To writing copies, say, to rank high in Google. And you've got to bring it all together.

Richard Hill:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. It's not keyword. Yeah, absolutely. So obviously work with a lot of retailers for many, many years, eCommerce years, what would you say are some of the, obviously you've touched on a few of these things already, but what would you say are some of the biggest mistakes that retailers are making? What are specific things that out of the 100s of people that are listening to this episode is quite likely that they may be making these mistakes and they should be avoiding these things. We've got people that are maybe scaling up, going from that five to 10 mil, and they're about to invest in different things. And what are some of the mistakes that you see that our guys might be able to avoid?

Johann Van Tonder:
The one I've alluded to already, and that is making decisions without validating them. And you can validate them in many different ways. A/B testing is just one, and some ideas should be validated through A/B testing. Other ideas could be validated by other means. For example, it's quite possible to validate an idea, especially early on, just the general direction of travel by just talking to customers. But the skill is in how to talk to customer. Henry Ford said, and everyone knows the story, "If I had asked my customers, 'What do you want?' They would've asked for a faster horse. They don't know what they want." So that's not the way you can ask a question. You've got to ask it in a different way. You've got to ask around the problem that they're trying to address, ask around how they currently address that problem and what goes wrong.

Johann Van Tonder:
And that's where the opportunities come out. But the things that go wrong that I see, especially in the sector that you referenced there, is making the wrong decisions when it's quite possible to validate those decisions. And as I said earlier, these things stack up, and it's compounded the other one I've alluded to as well, which is obsessing over the wrong metric. Say for example, conversion rate. Which is a big theme and hence CRO is a bit of a misnomer. But there's a way for you to determine what is the right metric, what are the right metrics? Have you thought properly about your metric framework, your KPI framework? You could look at frameworks like OKR and GSM. But the goal trees where you start with the corporate objective at the top and then drill down, cascade down, into what you should be doing on a day to day basis.

Johann Van Tonder:
But you've got to really think about these things. Don't just pick a metric just because everyone else is doing it because you can track it. And then the last one I'll mention is a big one as well, and that is copying the competitors, obsessing over what your competitors are doing. They don't know what they... There's a saying in the industry, "Don't copy your competitors, they don't know what the hell they're doing either." But you don't know their circumstances. You don't know their customers. You might be copying a losing test. If you're going to obsess over one thing, obsess over your customers. Forget about your competitors.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. I just love that. We have IP tracking on all of our businesses and we could see like every agency within 20 miles and some of them are on our site like three times a week, we go on and it's like a bit of a standing joke in our agency. Oh, they were on 22 times this month. It's just like, "Guys, come on. Whatever you're seeing isn't what we're doing anymore anyway." As we know, when you look at your own sites, they're usually the ones that get looked at last, but they're still trying to sort of reverse engineer copy, et cetera. But we're maybe like 18 months in front of what you see, but yeah. And the reality is focus on your own stuff, and spend the time on that. Maybe have a glance, but really obviously focus on your own stuff is a great bit of advice.

Johann Van Tonder:
Well I think competing analysis is important. It's important to know what your competitors are doing. It's important to know what messages they put out into the market. So you can see where the noise is and where the gaps are. But let's say you spend an hour, and I think for most people it's actually probably a lot more, but let's say you spend an hour a week looking at competitors. If you from today start using that hour in a slightly different way, and now I'll give you just two ways in which you can use it more productively. The first one by far the number one, the biggest, highest, ROI activity you could do instead of looking at competitors is speak to your customers. Get on the phone to them, do surveys with them. Get some sort of qualitative insight from them.

Johann Van Tonder:
If you're already doing it, great, do more. And the second thing you can do in that hour is learn, spend that hour reading something, studying something, improving your knowledge. If you get going to be copying something or looking for inspiration from someone, it's not going to come from your competitors, and look for it in material that can actually help you.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. So you've pretty much answered my next question, but I'm going to see if you've got one very specific thing. So if our listers were going to go and do one thing right now, just one, only one, to improve conversions or improve sales, shall we say, to improve the bottom line of their business, to end the year with extra cash in the bank and improve the net worth of their limited companies, what would that one thing be?

Johann Van Tonder:
I've already said the one thing, I'll mention another, but to be clear, the one thing would be speak to your customers. And it could be picking up the phone, I actually prefer going into their environments. It could be surveys. But in saying that there's a lot below the surface there. How you approach it, it matters, but that would be the number one thing. If I'm not allowed to mention that, because we've already gone there, I would say start validating your ideas. And be open to the possibility that you're wrong, because you probably are wrong. Most of your ideas are wrong, you just don't realize it. And in fact, what we do typically is when we roll out an idea, we convince ourselves that it was a good idea. And in fact, we'll even find data to support that conviction. Our brains are hardwired to trick us into believing that, because it's a survival mechanism. The fact is, you're probably wrong more than you're right. And find ways to build in checks and balances to validate those ideas.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. Love it. Love it. So I guess offshoot of that then, those are obviously some amazing ideas there, but I think it's given a lot for people to think about. But what would give us a very specific example, and you've given us one little bit earlier on, you don't have to mention names, but a project that you've worked on, some of the things that you've done on that project that obviously you've worked with a lot of big brands and yeah I can see obviously Interflora, Canon, Nike, some of the big brands that everyone will have heard of. But maybe try and make it relatable to that sort of 10 to 20 million pound turnover business which I think is a lot of the sweet spot of our listeners, an example and some of the things that you did and some of the results that you got.

Johann Van Tonder:
Cool. So one of the themes that come up is on eCommerce sites, depending on the category, but specifically with fashion, clothing, furniture, home ware, images really make a big difference. And we see this a lot. So I've spent over the years hundreds of hours in usability testing with people where we just act as a fly on the wall and watch people buying stuff or not buying stuff on an eCommerce site. And the one thing that always amazes me is to what extent people really scrutinize the images, product images. And there are a couple of things that come out of it. So firstly, those alternative images, they matter. And again, it depends on the product category. Yeah. But it's not just about the quantity of images. It is about the content really. It's less about visual variety and more about articulating the value proposition of the product and the business in a visual way.

Johann Van Tonder:
So what people do for example, let's say on a clothing, on a fashion retailer, what I've seen often is they zoom in the images and they're looking for cues, they're looking, they're trying to emulate that in-store experience where you're picking up the item, you're getting a feel for it. You're rubbing your fingers on the fabric. You're looking at the label, you're looking at the seams, the sewing and the buttons, the back of it. You kind get a sense for quality, where it's made, how it's going to hang on the body. And these are all questions, and the customer isn't really able to articulate these questions, but these are the questions that are in their mind when they're looking at those images. And so you can have a dozen alternative images and it will make no difference, because it's just more of the same.

Richard Hill:
The quality isn't, yeah, it's not there.

Johann Van Tonder:
Or you could have half a dozen of images that answer these questions that'll make a big, significant, difference. And the last thing I'll say about this is what I also find amazing is that the decision is really made, I spoke earlier about the buying decision, which is the one thing we really look at. The decision is made on the basis of images. Once a user starts reading the copy, they're really trying to, the decision was already made, they're really trying to answer the final few questions. So what fabric, what are the dimensions? So if you're asking about specifics, we've done a lot of testing around that, around optimizing images, the content, the selection, and all also optimizing, we spoke earlier about product copy, optimizing the product copy, but making the two dance together.

Richard Hill:
Yeah, speaking of [crosstalk 00:27:08].

Johann Van Tonder:
So by the time you get into reading a copy, the right copy is in front of you. And it's not prose, it's not about using crafty language, it's about answering questions.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. No, I think that's great.

Johann Van Tonder:
The kind of results we've seen, in some cases, double digit improvements in whatever the metric conversion rate or AOV by doing that.

Richard Hill:
At the end of the day when you land on a store and especially if you're running ads, product ads to products, you're landing on a product page, ultimately aren't you? You've got a product. You've got a selection of product images and you've got your copy. Obviously there's a lot more to it than that, of course. But they're the biggest two elements. And that visual element, especially like things like fashion and that type of industry where there's so much, a shirt can be certain quality or it can be a whole 'nother end, and everyone's got their own preference haven't they? And something looks great even on the hanger, doesn't it, but when you get up close in a store and you touch it, feel it, oh okay, that's just cheap. Or that's just not the material, that's too thin, that's too thick, that's too... Yeah. So some of the real detail, if you capture that in the imagery. Yeah.

Johann Van Tonder:
Exactly. And then there's the, you spoke about those two elements, and that's right. And then the third one which is equally important, maybe more important, is the hidden one, the one that you can't control, but you have to understand and optimize. And that's, as I said earlier, what happens in the mind. And it starts with, you spoke about people coming from, say, search, paid search, landing on the product detail page. What you have to figure out is where in the journey is a particular prospect. Are they quite high up in the journey, at the awareness stage and they're just kind of scratching the surface, or are they at the point where they're ready to transact, where they're ready to act? And that makes a difference depending on they are, how you address that, how you deal with that.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. No, fantastic. Now I know you've got a lot of resources on your main website, but I see you've got a lot of different eBooks. But you guys have written a book, haven't you? I think maybe not just one. But it'd be good to tell us a bit about that. Because I think it's not, I'll be completely honest, I have not read it. But I have got it in my basket ready to go. So I'm really intrigued to find out a bit more about it. Because obviously it's very, very specific to the industry. Now, I think it'd be very interesting to get your sort of two minute version for our listeners.

Johann Van Tonder:
Sure. It's called E-Commerce Website Optimization: Why 95% of Your Visitors Don't Buy, and What You Can Do About it. And it's published by a Kogan Page. It's now in its second edition. And the second edition, which was released last year is completely revised and updated because things move so fast. But the two minute version of it is it's not a list of tactics, because of what I said earlier, don't expect to see many of things that you can pull from and implement, what you'll get is not the fish, but how to fish. We'll teach you how to do it. And it's specifically aimed at eCommerce owners, managers, owner-managers, it's not aimed corporate. And it's written for our younger selves. And when we sat down to write that book it was coming from this question of if we knew what we know now, what would we have told ourselves 10 years ago? And it's hard won knowledge gain from the trenches. But the practical bits are how you're going to do it. It's not the list of tactics that you can-

Richard Hill:
Yeah. And it's not a sort of theory based. It's factual. So yeah. That's fantastic. Yeah. I have a feeling I'm going to like that book a lot. So yeah. We'll link that up in the show notes. Now, any tools, and I know and sort of obviously you've said obviously, you can't just sort of say, "Use this tool, everybody," because that's not how it works. But are there any tools that you would really sort of say to our listeners that are part of your toolkit that are sort of in that sort of sweet spot, sort of sub 20 million pound turnover businesses that will get benefit from certain tools you would think?

Johann Van Tonder:
If I just single out one tool, it would be Hotjar.

Richard Hill:
Okay,.[crosstalk 00:31:31]

Johann Van Tonder:
And I think many people are using already, but if you aren't, definitely have a look at it. It's a tool that gives you sort of, at a really attractive price point, gives you sort of a bouquet of services. And you can do things like heat mapping, session recording, but also run onsite surveys. And it's the element that I keep on talking about, which is talking to your customers. And so you can ask very targeted questions, add particular segments at key points in the journey. And when you put all of this intelligence together, that really helps you to have a foundation on which you can do amazing things.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. Yeah. No fantastic. We know it well in our agency, and I think is very well known, sort of came from nowhere about five years ago, did it? Not even that. And then it's yeah, it's huge, huge. Okay. Well, I like to end every episode with a book recommendation Johann. Now, do you have a book that you'll recommend? I know we've touched on a couple of books there already, but if you were to pick just one book, you would recommend. It doesn't have to be on optimization it can be on anything you would like to recommend.

Johann Van Tonder:
Yeah. It's not optimization, I'm an avid reader so there's a lot. But if I had to single up number one, in the context of everything we've said today, I would say Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed. And it's about earlier I spoke about how we get things wrong, and how the brain is hardwired to get things wrong. And if you read this book your eyes will open as how that happens and to what extent it happens. And what you can do to counter it. Fascinating.

Richard Hill:
That does sound fascinating. Yeah. You've sold it. You've sold me, again. Well, Johann, thank you so much for being a guest on eCom@One. For the guys that are with us still, what's the best place for them to reach out to you, to reach out to AWA, and find out more?

Johann Van Tonder:
Find me on Twitter, I'm active on Twitter, or if you type in my name you'll find me, or awa-digital.com.

Richard Hill:
Fantastic. Well, thank you very much for being a guest on eCom@One. I look forward to speaking to you again.

Johann Van Tonder:
Thanks Richard. Good to talk to you.

Richard Hill:
Thank you. Bye-bye. Thank you for listening to the eCom@One eCommerce podcast. If you enjoy today's show, please hit subscribe and don't forget to sign up to our eCommerce newsletter, and leaves a review on iTunes. This podcast has been brought to you by our team here at eComOne, the eCommerce Marketing Agency.

Richard Hill:
Hi there, I'm Richard Hill, the host of eCom@One, welcome to our 89th episode. In this episode, I speak with Johann Van Tonder, founder of AWA Digital and co-author of the best selling book E-Commerce Website Optimization. In this episode, we talk about conversion optimization, and the specific thought process Johann and his team focus on every time. Specific mistakes to avoid and where to get cracking and to fix them. And so much more. If you enjoy this episode, please make sure you subscribe so you're always the first to know when a new episode is released. Now let's head over to this fantastic episode. This episode is brought to you by eComOne, eCommerce Marketing Agency. eComOne works purely with eCommerce stores, scaling their Google Shopping, SEO, Google Search, and Facebook ads through a proven performance driven approach. Go to econone.com/resources for a host of amazing resources to grow your paid and organic channels. How you doing Johann?

Johann Van Tonder:
Very well, how are you Richard?

Richard Hill:
I am very good. I'm very good, but we're just chatting a moment before, you're in South Africa. I'm here in the UK. So I think you've definitely got the better end of the stick at the moment I think with the weather.

Johann Van Tonder:
Yeah. I've been locked down in Cape town for the last, what is it, two years almost. And it's not the worst place on earth to be locked down, yeah.

Richard Hill:
I can only imagine. I've never been. One of my best friends goes there regular, he works with a South African bank there and he's in and out of South Africa sort of two or three times a year. And I see the pictures and I get the updates. It's like, yep, it's on my list, so one day soon. Yeah. So I think it'd be great to give our listeners a bit of an overview of your sort of journey in eCommerce and how you became sort of a major part of AWA Digital.

Johann Van Tonder:
Yeah. So I started in corporate, like I think many of us did, and towards the end of my corporate stint I was in charge of a unit that housed a number of eCommerce businesses. And I had sort of stumbled into this and by chance I had recently done an MBA and my brief was to take, was what, five or six businesses that were stagnant and I was told to either fix them, kill them, or sell them. And I used all these recently acquired theories and frameworks and models from the business school. And I found they didn't really work in practice as well as they did in the classrooms. And I didn't know what I was doing. And I started doing what felt like the next right thing, which is picking up the phone and talking to customers. And to my amazement, it actually worked, it actually made a real difference if you just spoke to customers.

Johann Van Tonder:
And I had brought me closer and closer to data and what I started doing without realizing it, and actually this is before the term CRO existed, was doing CRO, without many of the tools we have today. And that finally got results. And then I left corporate to do the startup thing. Although I did a step crazier than leaving corporate to do startup, I went to a company that had about six month runway left. They were definitely going to be bankrupt. And my mission was to do a turn around. We had a three year timeframe for that. We managed to do it in two years. Sold two VCs. And that's when I joined AWA. And at the time AWA was on the ground floor, it had just started. And so I've been there for, what is it, nine years?

Richard Hill:
Yeah. A long time. A long time in eCommerce isn't it? I always as soon as I say sort eCommerce it's like cat years sort of thing. So it's a long time, obviously when we think back nine years ago, it was not quite like it is today, that's the facts. I remember my first website was probably about 18 years ago and it was literally an Excel sheet online pretty much. And that would be quite an exaggeration, I think. But so obviously nine years is a long time. So AWA tell me what you do there specifically and what's your role there?

Johann Van Tonder:
We do CRO conversion rate optimization, and that's a bit of a misnomer but I'm sure we'll get into it. And my role is the COO, so I hit up operations. But you can think of me as a sort of a custodian of our methodology. So how we do things, how effectively we deliver value to clients, that's the bit that I look after.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. I think that's something that's on my mind at the moment actually, that's sort of quite a good topic just on its own. This sort of, I really like the way you explain that, sort of the custodian of the, so the implementation, the quality, what you're doing. But improving all the time and making sure that the quality is being kept. I think quite often that does get missed, doesn't it? And then things slip. And then before we know it obviously things aren't quite what they should be. So yeah, that's quite an exciting role. Something I'm quite [crosstalk 00:05:00] here.

Johann Van Tonder:
And to add to that conversion rate optimization, it is about optimization. It's about constantly improving, getting better, and not being complacent. And so we adopt the same stance towards our own agency and way of working as well. So there's never the perfect way of doing it. There's never the best way. There's always a better way. And you're constantly learning new things, testing approaches that work, testing more approaches that don't work. And so it never stops.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. So what would your definition be then of conversion optimization?

Johann Van Tonder:
I'm so glad you asked the question because apart from it being a good introductory question, it's actually a really important question in the context of CRO, because it's such a misunderstood bastardized term. A lot of what I read about CRO is not CRO. There's a lot of confusion about it. So let's start with the most obvious one, which is that CRO is all about improving your conversion rate. Well, that's an important KPI, but it's not the most important one in isolation. It can be very misleading. You can improve your conversion rate, but actually have less revenue to show for it. Which one would you rather have, higher conversion rate or higher revenue? I'll give you a hint, you can't pay salaries with conversion rate. So that's the first misconception. But then there are a range of others, I'll mention two more.

Johann Van Tonder:
The one is that conversion rate optimization CRO is a list of tactics and you pick one from the menu. That's not CRO. In fact, that's probably the antithesis to CRO. And then another one is that it's a A/B testing, where you run one test after the other, and you look for 95% statistical significance. Now to be clear, that's a very important part, that's at the core of CRO, but that's A/B testing. It isn't CRO. So the way I, now finally getting to answer your question, what is CRO, the way I would define it is, it is using the scientific method to increase your online sales. And I know that sounds a bit pretentious. So let me explain a little bit more, colour it in, make it more human sounding. One thing about scientific method is hypothesis-based thinking. So let me explain, in the traditional non-CRO world, you come up with an idea and if you, at the top of the hierarchy, the CEO or somebody in a high ranking position, you tell the organization to get on with it, and that's what happens.

Johann Van Tonder:
But perhaps there's a bit of a debate about which ideas move forward and that debate can last for days, weeks, I've seen it even for months. And then the idea that survives is usually the one that is supported by high ranking people. And it gets thrown over the fence at engineering and they implement it. In CRO the way it works is that entire life cycle looks very different. Starting with the ideation, how ideas are formed, they're based on observations, based on data, and they're outcome driven. So you are looking to attack a particular problem. You're looking to address a particular opportunity. Look at data and observations and ground your ideas in those. And we can talk for 40 minutes just about ideation, because we're at actually as humans very bad at it.

Johann Van Tonder:
And then instead of debating it forever, there's a prioritization framework deciding which ideas flow to the top. And then instead of debating it, we test it, we validate it. And it could be an A/B test, but there are other ways of validating ideas as well. And then the ideas that are validated, those get put on the dev backlog, and the rest you learn from them and you don't move forward with them.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. I love that definition. I think rather than maybe the loudest person in the room deciding what we're going to test and the test that we're going to make, it's the data, and the actual fact.

Johann Van Tonder:
I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I find that amazing just how many organizations still work in that way. In 2021, almost 2022, it's hard to believe that, talking about fairly mature organizations, big organizations who should know a lot better where... If you think about it, if you look at your financial statements in a year from now, it's really the result of every decision we make today, tomorrow, next week, and so on. And the more profitable decisions you make, the better your financial statements will look. The more negative decisions you make, the worse it'll look. And so if you can have a system where you weed out, you flush out the negative decisions and keep only the positive ones, then it's going to be good for the business, it's going to be good for your customers, and that's really what we talking about.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. I think this is it. I think that bottom line, I think so many people get wrapped up in having days and days of conversation and shiny tools and this, that, and the other. But ultimately I think right at the beginning, ultimately you said you've got to pay the salaries, or you've got to report to your stakeholders, or ultimately you got to make money. And I think people lose sight of that massively, a lot of performance marketers lose sight of that because they're not harping on about how much money they made. They may be harping on about other numbers that maybe don't pay the bills. So I think that's brilliant advice, not just for talking about optimization, but just running your business as a whole. Bottom line is you've got to be making a profit, else you're not going to be here.

Richard Hill:
So can you give me some sort of examples then, what actions do you sort of focus on? And I know it will vary, and I know there's a lot of variables, a lot of different sites and different positions and whatnot. But what sort of actions are sort of reoccurring themes that you see that need to be tested to improve the performance of the websites?

Johann Van Tonder:
Yeah, I mean, what you say is absolutely right. It's different for every, this really is the truth, that it's so unique. I have yet to work with a client who's set of circumstances are exactly the same as another client. That just doesn't happen. And so your business is unique, your product, even if it isn't unique, the proposition has to be somewhat unique, otherwise people won't buy from you, they'll buy from the competitor. Your customer segments are unique, and everything is specific to you. And so the starting point if you ask me what are the things we do? The things that are always similar is we start by looking at the data. We start by understanding the business, and we start by understanding the customer. What are their core needs? That's really where we start. When they buy this product or these products from you, what is it that make them, what problem in their lives are they trying to solve? You can go that level of depth.

Johann Van Tonder:
And then why do they buy from you as opposed to competitors? Why do they buy online as opposed to in-store. And understanding that foundation, then looking at the journey through the site and putting all these different data points into one tapestry, triangulating them, and only then do we start talking about what are the things we are going to be doing, what are some of the interventions. I'll give you one quick example just to put some meat on those bones. And I can't reveal the client, but it's a high tech environment, so they sell high ticket, high tech, products. And when we started working with them, so they're the manufacturer and also have a retail arm online. And they were consistently 20% more expensive than Amazon. So why would people buy from the retailer if they can buy straight from Amazon?

Johann Van Tonder:
And, well, we didn't know, but we knew how to find out. And what we did was we spoke to those customers. We spoke to customers both those who bought from this particular retailer, those who almost bought, but decided not to. And then those who bought from Amazon. And understood what is it that make them buy from Amazon, and what is it that make them especially buy from this particular site and pay 20% more? Why would you do that? And once we were able to understand those fundamentals, we were then able to do a couple of things. Firstly, just in our messaging, use those benefits that we heard from people buying from the site and put it on there, and validate it and then move forward. But also use that information to address some of the actually the business model questions.

Johann Van Tonder:
And this is, let's be clear, this is not talking about moving stuff around on the page. And that's another misconception about CROs, that you're making buttons bigger or different colours. You're moving things around the page. Actually, what you're doing is you're optimizing not the page, you're optimizing what happens in the mind, you're optimizing the buying decision. If you understand the buying decision, and what happens in the mind when the decision to buy or not is made, that's where you really get the big results, the big swings. It's not by moving stuff around the page. The way it plays out, the interventions, might happen on page. But it's not about optimizing the page as much as it is optimizing the mind.

Richard Hill:
So obviously there's quite a few things there, but so copywriting, and the way that you communicate and sell on the page or communicate on the page, I think is hugely, it just get missed every time, almost. It's just like a little bit about us, right, okay. It's massive opportunity to copyright that page, I think people quite often when people... I know, well, a question really, obviously there's writing, there's writing blogs, then there's copywriting, isn't there? There's a huge, huge difference. Is that something that you would agree with?

Johann Van Tonder:
Yeah, absolutely. Copywriting is a core part of CRO. And I think most CRO offerings, you would find that copywriting, persuasive copywriting, would be part of that. And it's because words matter. And the reason words matter is because of what I said earlier, that it's about decision making that you're trying to optimize. And if you think about it, when you go onto a site or into a store and you're looking to buy a product, there are questions that you have about buying this product, especially online. There's no salesperson you can quickly call over and speak to. So you've got under stand as the eCommerce websites, you can understand what are those questions. But also, where do they arise in the journey? Because you want to address them at the right point in the journey. There's no point answering a question when it doesn't yet exist. And you do that through words. And a Booking.com is often held up as one of the big, best examples of experimentation and getting that right. A/B testing. And they've often said that copywriting delivers the biggest results for them. That one word can make a difference.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. Yeah. So I would say, I'm going to ask the list, there's a question to think about, are you all working with a copywriter? And I have a feeling that is going to be quite a landslide "no" there. So I think that's something to be thinking about, look-

Johann Van Tonder:
And add to that. Richard, even if you are working with a copywriter, what kind of copywriter are you working with? Are you working with an SEO copywriter? Because that's something different. Are you working with a PR copywriter, or a product copyright? That's something different. And those are all important roles. I'm not saying one is more important than the other, you need all of these. But you need to understand that writing copy aimed at converting, aimed at getting a user to say yes when there's a remote chance of them saying yes, that is a different skillset. To writing copies, say, to rank high in Google. And you've got to bring it all together.

Richard Hill:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. It's not keyword. Yeah, absolutely. So obviously work with a lot of retailers for many, many years, eCommerce years, what would you say are some of the, obviously you've touched on a few of these things already, but what would you say are some of the biggest mistakes that retailers are making? What are specific things that out of the 100s of people that are listening to this episode is quite likely that they may be making these mistakes and they should be avoiding these things. We've got people that are maybe scaling up, going from that five to 10 mil, and they're about to invest in different things. And what are some of the mistakes that you see that our guys might be able to avoid?

Johann Van Tonder:
The one I've alluded to already, and that is making decisions without validating them. And you can validate them in many different ways. A/B testing is just one, and some ideas should be validated through A/B testing. Other ideas could be validated by other means. For example, it's quite possible to validate an idea, especially early on, just the general direction of travel by just talking to customers. But the skill is in how to talk to customer. Henry Ford said, and everyone knows the story, "If I had asked my customers, 'What do you want?' They would've asked for a faster horse. They don't know what they want." So that's not the way you can ask a question. You've got to ask it in a different way. You've got to ask around the problem that they're trying to address, ask around how they currently address that problem and what goes wrong.

Johann Van Tonder:
And that's where the opportunities come out. But the things that go wrong that I see, especially in the sector that you referenced there, is making the wrong decisions when it's quite possible to validate those decisions. And as I said earlier, these things stack up, and it's compounded the other one I've alluded to as well, which is obsessing over the wrong metric. Say for example, conversion rate. Which is a big theme and hence CRO is a bit of a misnomer. But there's a way for you to determine what is the right metric, what are the right metrics? Have you thought properly about your metric framework, your KPI framework? You could look at frameworks like OKR and GSM. But the goal trees where you start with the corporate objective at the top and then drill down, cascade down, into what you should be doing on a day to day basis.

Johann Van Tonder:
But you've got to really think about these things. Don't just pick a metric just because everyone else is doing it because you can track it. And then the last one I'll mention is a big one as well, and that is copying the competitors, obsessing over what your competitors are doing. They don't know what they... There's a saying in the industry, "Don't copy your competitors, they don't know what the hell they're doing either." But you don't know their circumstances. You don't know their customers. You might be copying a losing test. If you're going to obsess over one thing, obsess over your customers. Forget about your competitors.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. I just love that. We have IP tracking on all of our businesses and we could see like every agency within 20 miles and some of them are on our site like three times a week, we go on and it's like a bit of a standing joke in our agency. Oh, they were on 22 times this month. It's just like, "Guys, come on. Whatever you're seeing isn't what we're doing anymore anyway." As we know, when you look at your own sites, they're usually the ones that get looked at last, but they're still trying to sort of reverse engineer copy, et cetera. But we're maybe like 18 months in front of what you see, but yeah. And the reality is focus on your own stuff, and spend the time on that. Maybe have a glance, but really obviously focus on your own stuff is a great bit of advice.

Johann Van Tonder:
Well I think competing analysis is important. It's important to know what your competitors are doing. It's important to know what messages they put out into the market. So you can see where the noise is and where the gaps are. But let's say you spend an hour, and I think for most people it's actually probably a lot more, but let's say you spend an hour a week looking at competitors. If you from today start using that hour in a slightly different way, and now I'll give you just two ways in which you can use it more productively. The first one by far the number one, the biggest, highest, ROI activity you could do instead of looking at competitors is speak to your customers. Get on the phone to them, do surveys with them. Get some sort of qualitative insight from them.

Johann Van Tonder:
If you're already doing it, great, do more. And the second thing you can do in that hour is learn, spend that hour reading something, studying something, improving your knowledge. If you get going to be copying something or looking for inspiration from someone, it's not going to come from your competitors, and look for it in material that can actually help you.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. So you've pretty much answered my next question, but I'm going to see if you've got one very specific thing. So if our listers were going to go and do one thing right now, just one, only one, to improve conversions or improve sales, shall we say, to improve the bottom line of their business, to end the year with extra cash in the bank and improve the net worth of their limited companies, what would that one thing be?

Johann Van Tonder:
I've already said the one thing, I'll mention another, but to be clear, the one thing would be speak to your customers. And it could be picking up the phone, I actually prefer going into their environments. It could be surveys. But in saying that there's a lot below the surface there. How you approach it, it matters, but that would be the number one thing. If I'm not allowed to mention that, because we've already gone there, I would say start validating your ideas. And be open to the possibility that you're wrong, because you probably are wrong. Most of your ideas are wrong, you just don't realize it. And in fact, what we do typically is when we roll out an idea, we convince ourselves that it was a good idea. And in fact, we'll even find data to support that conviction. Our brains are hardwired to trick us into believing that, because it's a survival mechanism. The fact is, you're probably wrong more than you're right. And find ways to build in checks and balances to validate those ideas.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. Love it. Love it. So I guess offshoot of that then, those are obviously some amazing ideas there, but I think it's given a lot for people to think about. But what would give us a very specific example, and you've given us one little bit earlier on, you don't have to mention names, but a project that you've worked on, some of the things that you've done on that project that obviously you've worked with a lot of big brands and yeah I can see obviously Interflora, Canon, Nike, some of the big brands that everyone will have heard of. But maybe try and make it relatable to that sort of 10 to 20 million pound turnover business which I think is a lot of the sweet spot of our listeners, an example and some of the things that you did and some of the results that you got.

Johann Van Tonder:
Cool. So one of the themes that come up is on eCommerce sites, depending on the category, but specifically with fashion, clothing, furniture, home ware, images really make a big difference. And we see this a lot. So I've spent over the years hundreds of hours in usability testing with people where we just act as a fly on the wall and watch people buying stuff or not buying stuff on an eCommerce site. And the one thing that always amazes me is to what extent people really scrutinize the images, product images. And there are a couple of things that come out of it. So firstly, those alternative images, they matter. And again, it depends on the product category. Yeah. But it's not just about the quantity of images. It is about the content really. It's less about visual variety and more about articulating the value proposition of the product and the business in a visual way.

Johann Van Tonder:
So what people do for example, let's say on a clothing, on a fashion retailer, what I've seen often is they zoom in the images and they're looking for cues, they're looking, they're trying to emulate that in-store experience where you're picking up the item, you're getting a feel for it. You're rubbing your fingers on the fabric. You're looking at the label, you're looking at the seams, the sewing and the buttons, the back of it. You kind get a sense for quality, where it's made, how it's going to hang on the body. And these are all questions, and the customer isn't really able to articulate these questions, but these are the questions that are in their mind when they're looking at those images. And so you can have a dozen alternative images and it will make no difference, because it's just more of the same.

Richard Hill:
The quality isn't, yeah, it's not there.

Johann Van Tonder:
Or you could have half a dozen of images that answer these questions that'll make a big, significant, difference. And the last thing I'll say about this is what I also find amazing is that the decision is really made, I spoke earlier about the buying decision, which is the one thing we really look at. The decision is made on the basis of images. Once a user starts reading the copy, they're really trying to, the decision was already made, they're really trying to answer the final few questions. So what fabric, what are the dimensions? So if you're asking about specifics, we've done a lot of testing around that, around optimizing images, the content, the selection, and all also optimizing, we spoke earlier about product copy, optimizing the product copy, but making the two dance together.

Richard Hill:
Yeah, speaking of [crosstalk 00:27:08].

Johann Van Tonder:
So by the time you get into reading a copy, the right copy is in front of you. And it's not prose, it's not about using crafty language, it's about answering questions.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. No, I think that's great.

Johann Van Tonder:
The kind of results we've seen, in some cases, double digit improvements in whatever the metric conversion rate or AOV by doing that.

Richard Hill:
At the end of the day when you land on a store and especially if you're running ads, product ads to products, you're landing on a product page, ultimately aren't you? You've got a product. You've got a selection of product images and you've got your copy. Obviously there's a lot more to it than that, of course. But they're the biggest two elements. And that visual element, especially like things like fashion and that type of industry where there's so much, a shirt can be certain quality or it can be a whole 'nother end, and everyone's got their own preference haven't they? And something looks great even on the hanger, doesn't it, but when you get up close in a store and you touch it, feel it, oh okay, that's just cheap. Or that's just not the material, that's too thin, that's too thick, that's too... Yeah. So some of the real detail, if you capture that in the imagery. Yeah.

Johann Van Tonder:
Exactly. And then there's the, you spoke about those two elements, and that's right. And then the third one which is equally important, maybe more important, is the hidden one, the one that you can't control, but you have to understand and optimize. And that's, as I said earlier, what happens in the mind. And it starts with, you spoke about people coming from, say, search, paid search, landing on the product detail page. What you have to figure out is where in the journey is a particular prospect. Are they quite high up in the journey, at the awareness stage and they're just kind of scratching the surface, or are they at the point where they're ready to transact, where they're ready to act? And that makes a difference depending on they are, how you address that, how you deal with that.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. No, fantastic. Now I know you've got a lot of resources on your main website, but I see you've got a lot of different eBooks. But you guys have written a book, haven't you? I think maybe not just one. But it'd be good to tell us a bit about that. Because I think it's not, I'll be completely honest, I have not read it. But I have got it in my basket ready to go. So I'm really intrigued to find out a bit more about it. Because obviously it's very, very specific to the industry. Now, I think it'd be very interesting to get your sort of two minute version for our listeners.

Johann Van Tonder:
Sure. It's called E-Commerce Website Optimization: Why 95% of Your Visitors Don't Buy, and What You Can Do About it. And it's published by a Kogan Page. It's now in its second edition. And the second edition, which was released last year is completely revised and updated because things move so fast. But the two minute version of it is it's not a list of tactics, because of what I said earlier, don't expect to see many of things that you can pull from and implement, what you'll get is not the fish, but how to fish. We'll teach you how to do it. And it's specifically aimed at eCommerce owners, managers, owner-managers, it's not aimed corporate. And it's written for our younger selves. And when we sat down to write that book it was coming from this question of if we knew what we know now, what would we have told ourselves 10 years ago? And it's hard won knowledge gain from the trenches. But the practical bits are how you're going to do it. It's not the list of tactics that you can-

Richard Hill:
Yeah. And it's not a sort of theory based. It's factual. So yeah. That's fantastic. Yeah. I have a feeling I'm going to like that book a lot. So yeah. We'll link that up in the show notes. Now, any tools, and I know and sort of obviously you've said obviously, you can't just sort of say, "Use this tool, everybody," because that's not how it works. But are there any tools that you would really sort of say to our listeners that are part of your toolkit that are sort of in that sort of sweet spot, sort of sub 20 million pound turnover businesses that will get benefit from certain tools you would think?

Johann Van Tonder:
If I just single out one tool, it would be Hotjar.

Richard Hill:
Okay,.[crosstalk 00:31:31]

Johann Van Tonder:
And I think many people are using already, but if you aren't, definitely have a look at it. It's a tool that gives you sort of, at a really attractive price point, gives you sort of a bouquet of services. And you can do things like heat mapping, session recording, but also run onsite surveys. And it's the element that I keep on talking about, which is talking to your customers. And so you can ask very targeted questions, add particular segments at key points in the journey. And when you put all of this intelligence together, that really helps you to have a foundation on which you can do amazing things.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. Yeah. No fantastic. We know it well in our agency, and I think is very well known, sort of came from nowhere about five years ago, did it? Not even that. And then it's yeah, it's huge, huge. Okay. Well, I like to end every episode with a book recommendation Johann. Now, do you have a book that you'll recommend? I know we've touched on a couple of books there already, but if you were to pick just one book, you would recommend. It doesn't have to be on optimization it can be on anything you would like to recommend.

Johann Van Tonder:
Yeah. It's not optimization, I'm an avid reader so there's a lot. But if I had to single up number one, in the context of everything we've said today, I would say Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed. And it's about earlier I spoke about how we get things wrong, and how the brain is hardwired to get things wrong. And if you read this book your eyes will open as how that happens and to what extent it happens. And what you can do to counter it. Fascinating.

Richard Hill:
That does sound fascinating. Yeah. You've sold it. You've sold me, again. Well, Johann, thank you so much for being a guest on eCom@One. For the guys that are with us still, what's the best place for them to reach out to you, to reach out to AWA, and find out more?

Johann Van Tonder:
Find me on Twitter, I'm active on Twitter, or if you type in my name you'll find me, or awa-digital.com.

Richard Hill:
Fantastic. Well, thank you very much for being a guest on eCom@One. I look forward to speaking to you again.

Johann Van Tonder:
Thanks Richard. Good to talk to you.

Richard Hill:
Thank you. Bye-bye. Thank you for listening to the eCom@One eCommerce podcast. If you enjoy today's show, please hit subscribe and don't forget to sign up to our eCommerce newsletter, and leaves a review on iTunes. This podcast has been brought to you by our team here at eComOne, the eCommerce Marketing Agency.

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