A founder’s relationship with debt

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For years, I’ve used the software that today’s guest created.

A lot of companies claim that they are powered by AI. This company is actually using it.

Oli Gardner is the founder of Unbounce, which allows you to create landing pages without coding.

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Oli Gardner

Oli Gardner

Unbounce

Oli Gardner is the founder of Unbounce, which allows you to create landing pages without coding.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I keep interviewing the founders of today’s, uh, company companies called unbalanced. I’ve talked to them for years because I’ve used them for years. What they did for me was create a landing page to my very first product that I sold at Mixergy and they made it look great.

And boy, over the years, they have stuck with really good looking pages that convert. And what they’ve been adding is more, well, let me introduce the founder, Oli Gardner, and one of the co-founders of Unbounce. They are a conversion intelligence platform. The reason that I pause is because I think, unless I introduce you, it’s going to sound ridiculous.

You added artificial intelligence. I feel like it’s one of those things that companies just say they’ve added so that it adds like this perception of quality and invincibility. And in reality, it doesn’t really do anything right. But one day will. And what you’re telling me is no, with unbalanced artificial intelligence does something.

It doesn’t do everything, but what it does will help marketers. And we’re going to talk about how that works. I’m going to talk about how the company is doing now, how it’s grown since last time I’ve done the, uh, an interview with Ali back in, uh, 2018. And about raising money and so much more, we could do it.

Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first, if you’re hosting a website, use the company I use, I use HostGator and you could get a really great deal on them at hostgator.com/mixergy. The second, if you need good email marketing, I’m going to tell you later, why send in blue is the company to work with, but I’ll talk about those later.

First. Ali. Good to have you here.

Oli: Great to be back. Thank you.

Andrew: There was a potential issue with the way that I express revenue. Last time, the, the interview was 2018. You went back and you like fact D I said that at the time you had 25 million in recurring revenue

Oli: annual. Yeah.

Andrew: annual.

Oli: Yeah.

Andrew: and

Oli: Which was, correct, but it was Canadian dollars.

Andrew: okay. And today, where are we in Canadian dollars?

Oli: at 28 us, so like 33, 34, depending on the exchange

Andrew: Okay. And I remember we talked a little bit about, um, not going bankrupt, but what was the term that you use

Oli: Consumer proposal.

Andrew: That’s where you were. And I

Oli: when we started the company. Yeah.

Andrew: personally, and today you’ve raised money for the business. Can you talk a little bit about the raise for Unbounce?

Oli: yeah, we’ve always kind of held off. I mean, we’ve raised like under a million Canadian back in the day, we’ve held off on doing it because we’re like, we’re not going to raise money unless we have a really good idea what we’re going to do with it. We’re not just going to get it and then blow it on fancy cars or toys or whatever.

Uh, was just wasted, but then at the time felt right, because we are in the AI space now and we needed to accelerate that. And, you know, we found an amazing partner. It was, it started to come to us to be honest. And then we thought, okay, we’ll take this seriously this time. And yeah, we found a great partner called Chris rock.

And they were aligned with our values. Didn’t want to come in and change anything. And the great thing about them was, and we took a bit off the table as founders and every shareholder, like everybody got a piece of this deal. It was, it was amazing to see the little bit of a life change that it could have on, you know, 150, 200 people.

That was one of the best things for us.

Andrew: I read in tech crunch. It’s 38.4 million. Us dollars is the raise. You’re saying some of that went to the people who work at Unbounce. He did

Oli: every single option and shareholder got something because we cleaned up the cap table. Um, cause we had, even though it was a small raise last time, it was quite a big pool. Uh, and then all the employees that had a piece, it was just a bit of a messy cap table. So we cleaned that up. Everybody got the same as the us, we sold 47% of the company.

Everybody got 47% of what they. Had available coming to them. So we all shared in the exact same percentage of what we got.

Andrew: And how much of that money then went into the company?

Oli: And then we got 10 million us into the company, which is massive because now. Now we’re looking at, you know, in the space of acquisition and things like that, which is it’s exciting for us. And it means we’re going to grow, accelerate even faster on some of the things we’re doing. So it’s, it’s a super great time.

We were looking at other deals and then they were more in the ballpark of, oh, but we’re gonna, you know, we’re gonna add some debt in here or do you guys want to like, ah, you know what I mean? We turned down more money. Because we want to do it with people we respected and who weren’t gonna ruin things and who wanted to put some money in, you know, posts instead of just like putting us in a worse position, we would have got more,

Andrew: Do I have a good understanding of who your early investors were, was Eric Reese, the creator of lean startups. One of your early investors. He was Howard Lenzen.

Oli: Well, uh, so how it worked right at the beginning, we got an advisory panel of five people. Uh, five. So Eric, Chris was one Rand Fishkin. Um, everybody

Andrew: Hauser, Dan Martell, David Hauser of grasshopper, Dan Martell. Who’s now like an angel investor and

Oli: Yeah. Yeah. and it’s interesting. They all put five grand in, apart from rent. He put nothing in, but he has been, yeah, he has been the most helpful and fundamentally, can I swear on your show? Fucking wonderful. Cantor par like a friend and supporter of ours. And he’s always been there because MAs were kind of like, I mean, he’s moved on spark Toro now.

Uh, but they were like a big brother to us. They’re in Seattle. We were Vancouver. They were a few years ahead of us still SAS So. They share he’s shared so much. And we did like a, we took 20 people in the team. One down for a couple of days, met with the exact same 20 people from Mars. Went out for dinner, all hung out, exchanging kind of insights and things.

It’s just, it was a great relationship and it was just a, yeah, it’s always been an amazing relationship with Roundy’s.

Andrew: know, what, what I wonder about with Mo with Rand Fishkin, the creator Mazda is I wonder if he’s hurting himself by being too nice. Like,

Oli: I know all about that.

Andrew: spending all his time with you for the same upside as David Hauser. My guest is David. Houser’s a really like sturdy, good guy, but he’s not spending it a week of his time on you.

Oli: No, I’m in, right. But, but this is, you.

know, little pieces, but that’s, that’s Ron’s thing. He has so much capacity in him.

Andrew: I’m saying he might be better off not making it as thing so much, you know?

Oli: Maybe so,

Andrew: It’s great for

Oli: maybe he wouldn’t be who he is. Right. He wouldn’t be talked about in the same way. He wouldn’t have achieved what he’s done, because he wouldn’t have been, you know, helping all these people out. You can’t tell. Right. You don’t know, but

Andrew: I, um, I think it’s great for the rest of us. I don’t, I still wonder for him, let’s come back to something else that you told me in the last interview that we did. I asked you if, if going through, what is it called again? The consumer or something? It’s basically bankruptcy.

Oli: It’s similar. Basically what you do is you take your debt and you have an intermediary and they go to all of your debtors and they say, Hey, bankruptcy.

is probably going to happen. Um, but we’ll pay you 33 cents on the dollar, but then negotiate that. So you’ll get something

Andrew: And just go, let’s get rid of all the debt. You’ll get some

Oli: you’ll, you’ll get something. Is that of nothing that helps everybody

Andrew: time that you had this?

Oli: Like the total amount?

Andrew: For? What, what was the credit card debt?

Oli: A credit card, a line of credit, uh, all kinds of crap.

Andrew: Okay. All right. So you had that and then you got rid of it, and I asked you how, what your relationship was like with money. And you told me essentially that you still had trouble spending money. This was in the early days of unbalanced. You’d. You had to go through this process. I asked you, what do you spend money on?

And I think the big splurge that you told me about back then was we needed some charging bricks around the house. And I did it. Do you feel like now that you’ve taken some money off the table, do you feel comfortable enough to spend on something more meaningful than you?

Oli: It’s it’s funny. I don’t even remember what they were, but. Um, I have a problem with spending money as I’m bad at it. I spend too much, I’m terrible

Andrew: you do spend money now. You still spend a lot of money on

Oli: well I have in the past, but kind of why I got myself in trouble. Well, partly I got in trouble also because I got really sick and Costa Rica when I was working down there.

So I was just, I was just knocked out for

Andrew: Again, early days of unbalanced, six months couldn’t work. Okay.

Oli: But now, yeah. Um, now I have to be careful cause they got a bit of money, not

Andrew: a big splurge that you what’s something that you spent money on that you couldn’t

Oli: we, we bought a house,

Andrew: Okay. Now look a lot more than that.

Oli: uh, like, like.

Andrew: you get anything more fun than a house?

Oli: Oh, we’re fun. Yeah.

of course. Um, I’m I had a workshop. We moved from Vancouver to Victoria on Vancouver island. So that was a big change, also. Great for COVID cause there was Berkeley, nothing here. Um, so I sold all my workshop gear there cause I’m a big, big woodworker. Um, and then upgraded that massively for here.

Uh, I haven’t set it up still yet. We moved in August, but I caused a fire

Andrew: Okay,

Oli: in our, I almost burned down your house down.

Andrew: because of this wood shop that you’re trying to put together.

Oli: Yeah, I was, uh, Okay.

You can’t see it, but right here, there’s a stage. I built a stage. Um, I can get up on it.

Andrew: Oh, I see it. Yeah, it does look great by the way.

Oli: Um, so I was, and I understand this, uh, what I did wrong. I already knew about it.

I shouldn’t have made this mistake. So I was staying at, and I thought I bought water-based thing. It was all oil based and I know the oily rags. Uh, what base rags, whatever oil-based rags, you have to dive in late in the sun to like completely dry and throw them away or put them in a can full of water. I put a whole bundle of them together and I’ve been back in the garbage bag and just left them.

What happens when they’re like that they get a bit of heat and then they spontaneously combust.

Andrew: Woo.

Oli: So we woke up at 3:00 AM. Luckily we just installed new fire alarms that weren’t there before blazing, like smoke and fire in the garage. Luckily it was. Two feet. It was two feet from three-quarters of a ton of wood that I brought with us from my last workshop.

Andrew: All right.

Oli: Anyway, I digress.

Andrew: You know what? Maybe you shouldn’t be spending money. All right, let’s get back then to how you’re earning it. The thing that strikes me about Unbounce is a lot of other co a lot of other companies have gotten into the landing page, conversion business. And those that were in it before. So I wonder about competition for you, but then those are, that were in it before decided that they were going to do more than just landing pages.

Well, if you have a landing page, you also need to collect credit cards. So they’re going to do the credit card payment also. Well, if you have a landing page, you’re going to collect email address. So they’re going to do the email marketing also, and they just branch off and it’s a natural because consumers.

Many of them struggle to connect an email marketing software to the landing page software. Um, and then once they do use you for email, they’re much more locked in. You decided at Unbounce not to do that. I wonder how you make a decision like that.

Oli: Yeah, it’s a, it is a natural evolution. And, you know, we have churn from people who are like we’ve outgrown it because we need these connections. We integrate with, you know, a lot of native integrations and then Zapier to everything. So the problem doesn’t exist if you’re willing to go that route for people.

Um, but. I, I think when we made the decision, you know, cause we were growing, adding different products, but then we were heavy on R and D for the AI and machine learning side. If that hadn’t given us, given us a signal that we were getting somewhere, we may have done that.

but

Andrew: How long ago did you go into artificial intelligence?

Oli: Uh, I mean, it’s been an R and D for probably I’m just going to guess and say four years.

Andrew: okay. So four years ago you said let’s dip our toe in this. If it makes sense, we’ll go here. If not, we’ll go somewhere else. And then how long did you know, how long did it take to know that this was a place to put all your chips?

Oli: Um, after about a year, it slowed to a certain point, but we started getting to the point where we could, like, when we talked last time, we could predict with 90% certainty, whether a page would be a high performer or low performer, we started getting these signals and. We learn more and more and more.

And we moved into the traffic analysis kind of thing. so all of the on-page was about coffee. We’ve done some design analysis as much harder. We had some universities help us to do studies about the effects of design using neural networks and all kinds of things to figure it out. That side of it, ours has been primarily copied.

Then we added in traffic. All of the factors you can find out about someone when they’re arriving and pairing those things together, gave us so much more power. And that’s what we built our technology on the kind of combination of that.

Andrew: so it’s not artificial intelligence that will create the landing page for me, or create the variants for me. It’s artificial intelligence that says this marketer has multiple pages with us. And people coming from multiple channels for each person who comes, which of their pages is most likely to convert.

And I’m using pages of shorthand. I know you do more than just landing pages, but that’s essentially what we’re talking about. Right?

Oli: Yeah. So if we rewind to the traditional AB testing model, This replaces that. So an AB testing AB test is inherently a lossy system. What I mean by that is imagine a JPEG compression. You have a nice image at the end of the day, but you lost a bit of the detail. You might not be able to tell if you don’t go too far, but you have lost some forever, right?

AB testing, you’re running it that a da a wins by 20%. Let’s say you throw be away. This one, one, the problem is there are some people who would only ever have converted on B. Now you’ve lost them forever. Right?

You’ve compressed them away

Andrew: yeah.

Oli: But. With our system, basically you create a whole bunch of variants and we give you insights to help you make those.

And they will be automated something to be in the future in the builder. But right now we’ll give you the insights to help you make more of them. And the algorithm will pair the person with the page. They’re more likely to convert on based on what we’ve figured out, their algorithm, um, based on things like location, time of day device.

Browser, all that kind of stuff. And the on page stuff we’re analyzing and our customers. So basically if they were going to run an AB test, they can click a button. It turns into being smart traffic. That’s what the feature is called. And they’re seeing an average of a 30% lift in conversions just by clicking that button

Andrew: Yeah. And it’s coming from, you said

Oli: you’re not throwing away these losing pages. Cause they’re slight, they’re, they’re a perfect page for this person. So You keep them all. And everybody gets to go. Cause everyone’s nuanced pages have been nuanced too, and we find them

Andrew: You know what I found? I found a few things when I’ve, when I’ve done AB testing on landing pages. The first is, it seems like no matter what the new thing is, it’s more likely to succeed over the last one. I don’t know why. And then the other thing, no, huh? I just tried to make a face at that.

Oli: every single person in the world fails at AB testing. The first time they all do it wrong. I did

Andrew: What’s the mistake that we do.

Oli: Well, there’s two things. There’s not understanding the statistical significance angle, but in simple terms, not running it for long enough, like say three weeks, they’ll get 250 conversions per variant, blah, blah, blah.

Um, people, what happens at the start of every AB test is there’s a spike because it’s such a small sample size. Oh, a convert 10 times to two, because it hasn’t run its course. I was like, oh wow, this one’s five times better throw that away. No. It’s a complete failure. Then you potentially push forward a page that is going to perform much worse.

Cause you haven’t let it run the course. And it’s complicated. It’s hard. It’s hard to design a page. That’s going to perform better unless you become an expert in that finding those pain points, what the points of friction are and knowing how to design a solution to that, it’s very difficult. So it’s frustrating and people stopped doing it and, especially.

Since COVID we’ve, we’ve had to deal with a foundational market. Are people coming online for the first time or doing everything themselves, running a business trend, do marketing. They can’t get into that. That’s impossible. It’s too much to learn. It’s too much. It’s too

Andrew: and PR, and then that brings me to the next issue. For most marketers, AB testing just doesn’t have enough. They don’t have enough traffic to do it. It’s not until they

Oli: That’s the only thing.

Andrew: ad, spend that it starts to make sense. Right.

Oli: Yeah. What you need to do immediately is use a sample size calculator. That’s the first thing you should ever do. It’ll tell you how much traffic you need. And if you, and it depends on the conversion rate, like say that, um, but you might need, let’s say this thing will tell you, you need 25,000 visitors to get a significant result that you can trust.

And if you look at your traffic and it says, oh, we only get 15 hut might take a year.

Andrew: right.

Oli: Or

Andrew: Or even a month.

Oli: to run a month is fine. Three weeks to a month. That’s fine. You don’t want to go longer than that. You start getting kind of inverse variances that can pollute it Um, but a lot of the times you’ll see, especially if getting paid, if you’re not a big company, your pay traffic is. going to be tiny.

You should never run an AB test in your life.

Andrew: And, and that’s why it feels like for unbalanced, if you’ve got newer marketers who are using you, then. Adding email marketing software into your, into your software, adding features that lock people in and get them to cancel the other software that they use seems like it would have been a better bet.

So beyond the, the, beyond the early wins that you were getting from AI, I was wondering if you also noticed that you wanted to go for these higher powered customers like the agencies, because they’re more they’re power users of your software. They’re more. They’re more profitable and that’s where you wanted to focus your energy.

Oli: Yeah, I have to say, uh, AB testing, you need a lot of traffic with smart traffic. It will start optimizing in as few as 50 visitors. You don’t need a lot of traffic And we’ll start optimizing

Andrew: then at what point does it start to show results? Start to actually know who to show immediately. So you’re saying after 50 visitors, you already know

Oli: It’s going to start doing its business, um, because the algorithm is so intelligent that it’s learned from billions of conversions, probably hundreds of millions. We’ve had billions since we started the company, um, So it gets some insight from your specifics, but it’s so intelligent outside of that, that it can make the decisions way quicker than it would if it was just looking at you by itself.

Um, so anyway, but back to your question, um, Agencies. Uh, so yeah, these foundational markers, that’s the new kind of people coming in. We still have the others like agencies and SAS and econ agencies and are our biggest kind of segments. That’s a target we go after. Um, so yeah, they have the budgets. They have.

It’s interesting. The conversion benchmark report we just put out, which is based on all of the data studies, we do shows things like different industries, how they perform. Um, and there are certain industries that. Vary quite wildly, like year over year, we’re seeing a big change, a lot more traffic this year, probably because of COVID.

Um, because people are getting online for the first time, but companies, things like Sasson real estate, their conversion rates haven’t really changed year over year, a slight increase, but there are other industries that have made a massive leap. Uh, cause I think it’s just a wild change in how things work.

I have information here, but it’s hard to. Pull it all out of my, out of my head.

Andrew: You’re talking about your benchmark report to talk about what’s happened over the last year. How online conversions shopping and just general interaction have changed.

Oli: Yeah. , traffic to landing pages is up like 30% year over year.

Andrew: because of what? Because people are buying more. Marketers are buying more online ads. Now

Oli: Uh, there’s probably more emphasis more spend, but maybe they’re getting better at, and this isn’t just cause more customers. This is the average that they’re, that is getting sent out there. COVID probably has a big impact on that, you know, because people are panicking to get online.

Andrew: Let me do this. Let me talk about my first sponsor. Then when we come back, here’s what I thought we could talk about. I’m wondering how you added artificial intelligence to your business. It’s not an easy thing. You didn’t have the internal expertise. Right? What did you do to add it in? The other thing I’m wondering about is some more of this data that you found by, by looking at all the marketers who are using unbalanced.

And then I’m also curious about what happened, uh, after COVID. I feel like the world changed dramatically, how you dealt with it is helpful for us to see how to deal with the next big issue that we’re going to have. And then also it’s a, it’s going to tell us what you’re seeing as is different in the marketing world.

But first I’ll tell you and everyone else. My first sponsor is a company called HostGator Ali. Let me ask you this. If you weren’t running on balance, if you had no money, no reputation. All you had was a HostGator account. You could run any website. Is there something that you would run today if you had to get back up on your feet?

Oli: I’m about to launch a new business, but I probably shouldn’t monopolize this

Andrew: Talk about it. Yeah, go ahead. Is it talk about it? Go ahead.

Oli: Okay.

But for the team’s sake, I’ll just touch on briefly. Um, it’s based on my passion for the last year’s public speaker. So it’s called BZ keynote, and it’s all, it’s everything you need to become an exceptional public speaker and virtual presenter, which is why I have built a stage.

And these are the core values of, of The

Andrew: The lights over your head. So wait, this is going to be a content business where you teach people on a blog. I’m assuming how they could give them some tips for better speaking, convert them into people who, who get the free download of some kind, probably a PDF, if not a course.

Oli: Some courses, there’ll be like a, a foundational major flagship course.

which is a presentation experience design, um, which will be everything I know. How about how to do that. And then there’s going to be a membership Perry where there’s a lot of tips, a lot of videos, a lot of heavy, heavy video training.

Um, and yeah, blog of course,

on the, you know, for the inbound side. But yeah, I’m really excited. Yeah. I’m a one man show. I gotta do everything. So yeah.

Andrew: listen up everyone. Whether you’re taking an idea like this or anything else, if you need a place to host it. Do it all he did. He went and got WordPress. It’s free. It’s portable. If you’re not happy with your hosting company, you can move over to somebody else. It’s extendable. And more importantly, right now you can get started inexpensively and fast.

If you go to hostgator.com/mixergy and Ali, did you start off by saying, what am I good at? Or what do I, what do I want to spend a lot more time improving? What’s the how’d you find the topic of public speaker?

Oli: Um, I started doing it maybe seven years ago. I was coerced into doing it. I never wanted to do it. I was shit scared of it. Uh but it completely changed my life once I actually did it, you know, it’s how I met my wife. And, you know, she saw me doing a gig in Vegas. And Yeah.

everything changed since then. My confidence, my knowledge, because when you become a speaker, you have to dig way deeper into what you know, to be able to communicate it.

And I met, made lifelong friends with all these other speakers.

Andrew: And so you said, this is what changed my life. I want to spread the gospel to others. Got it. That makes it total.

Oli: Yeah. How was doing coaching and turning people from nervous, not good speakers and to being amazing speakers, who’d get on stage. And then they get a new job offer and leave on bands. So I was very successful, but That, doesn’t scale. So I want to make something that I can, you know, empower hundreds of thousands of people to get

Andrew: You know what a lot of topics that people get that excited about that have changed your lives, but can be modernized. I’ll give you an example. My life was changed when I read the book, how to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie. Somebody recently asked, what’s your favorite book? I wrote that on as a response on Twitter, a bunch of people liked it, talked about it, so there’s clearly energy for it, but I’ve got to tell you that book, their stories are outdated.

The company behind it is a really solid, good company. It’s outdated and not modernized. I don’t know how to present in the, in the, uh, Podcast YouTube, Instagram world. Can you imagine if somebody says my life was changed by learning about how other people’s operating systems work and as a result, I have better relations.

But, um, I don’t use the old language of, of how to win friends and influence people. Dale Carnegie is, is about a hundred years old, his, his concepts. Right. Literally. And so imagine if they said I’m going to take these concepts and modernize them and think about what would happen there. Alright. I’m gonna close out this whole ad by saying whether that’s your idea, we take an old concept and you make your spin on it.

Something that’s helped you and you make it interesting for others because you want to pass on to them. Or frankly, some people have said, I just want to learn. And by, by teaching, I get to learn whatever your idea is. If you go to hostgator.com/mixergy, they’re going to give you the lowest possible price and they’ll take great care of you and their hosting.

We’ll just work. Go run your business and come back here and hopefully do an interview with me about how you did it. But it all starts with hostgator.com/mixergy. All right. Why don’t we start with the AI? Where did you go when you said we want to add artificial intelligence? How’d you find the right person to lead it?

Oli: we found a guy called Tommy levy, who at the time was working at plenty of fish, which is a online dating company.

Andrew: The free dating co company, uh, that was acquired by match.

Oli: Yeah, I it’s hilarious because then another employee Unbounce, I believe, um, found their wife through plenty of fish or his algorithm helped change this person’s

Andrew: So wait, how did you connect with them? I found that that company is interesting, but because Marcus at the that’s his name, right? The founder,

Oli: I forget. Sounds

Andrew: kind of quirky. Fascinating. I couldn’t stop reading him and following what he was doing by creating this free dating site. I found that they were. It was hard to penetrate that, that business.

How did you connect with him?

Oli: I, I th I imagine I wasn’t involved in the, in meeting him. I imagine it was the meetups in Vancouver, and it would have been the other developers in the company they met through those means,

Andrew: And it was just talking

Oli: a little bit at some of those things. So I think that’s probably how.

Andrew: and so you get to see what he’s done for plenty of fish. Do you hire him as a consultant

Oli: no. We hired him

Andrew: full time?

Oli: an AI team

Andrew: You said, build an AI team before and you guys didn’t have that much money in the bank. You still decided to invest in this person and the team before you knew whether this would pay off.

this isn’t like a little bet. Let’s see if there’s something here. This is, let’s go into it. We feel strongly about it. And as long as there’s enough to justify that belief we’ll keep investing. And when we see that there isn’t, we’re going to have to accept it. That’s what it was.

Oli: Yeah, cause there’s so many competitors coming along and we just, there’s just a market share. We couldn’t get all of it. You know, like it’s big market share, but it was diminishing. So we had to be better than them other than the fact that our brand and our people are better. I’m sure they have great people too.

But our reputation is

Andrew: well, I’ll tell you what you always have that others, that others in the space don’t have. There’s a certain taste to your company, right? Lots of other companies come out there. They’re more, feature-based, they’re more there. They have other reasons why people might sign up to them, but there is a taste to Unbounce.

That’s hard to duplicate. What do you think of that assessment?

Oli: I’ve never heard it positioned like that, but I totally agree. And I think, you know, it’s, the people we’ve hired, but, and it, but it began with the founders. We we’ve just always had. I certainly ethical kind of, or just certain personality. I don’t know. It just, it just translated into that.

Andrew: it is a certain personality, certain taste sense of like this minimalism sense of style. Right. Um, like I’m not surprised when I look over your shoulder and I see that there’s there. There’s a nice wall there. There’s this whole design there. Right? You put thought into it. I asked you, uh, if you wouldn’t mind recording your side of the conversation, my plan was to give you access to zoom.

Before I even said zoom, you said I would never use zoom. Let me use my own connection because zoom just doesn’t cook it, compresses it in this way. I go, all right, this sounds good. That’s

Oli: Well, you have to know that the first major piece of content I’ll be launching and be the keynote is the ultimate guide to giving virtual presentations on zoom. It’s the biggest piece of content I’ve ever written is 30, 30,000 words and massive, massive videos and everything. So I know a fair bit about zoom from the last couple of months of research.

Andrew: Hey, cause I, uh, I feel like we’re all learning a lot about zoom let’s all right. So now I see how you ended up in artificial intelligence. I see how it’s, how it went. Let’s go into COVID COVID hits. I wouldn’t have thought that you’d be scared. And you know what, in retrospect, it seems so ridiculous for any of us to have been scared if we’re in tech, because this, this was the world.

Uh, unfairly shifting our way. Right,

Oli: Yeah, I just don’t think we could imagine a, how much initially, because one of the fears was ad spend will plummet.

Andrew: Yep.

Oli: Uh, I think it went up in a lot of ways, but yeah, our, our signups went up because of the mad rush to get online because all these offline businesses had to start doing deliveries or switching their business model and they needed a way to communicate.

They needed a platform to communicate. So they turned to us and it was surprising and it was amazing. So we raised money in a pandemic and the global recession, we, we kept hiring during all of

Andrew: when you went through that scared period, you’re not alone. I’m telling you I interviewed entrepreneurs in the early days of the pandemic who were flipping out. Right. And I thought we were going to go into a recession. I was ready for it, but, um, I didn’t want it, but. I was ready to cut back on. I remember in one of the early interviews saying, I can’t believe we used to drive around and I would always go and get a nice cup of coffee while I was driving.

Why can’t I just make one at home? I was leaving from the house and meanwhile, none of that mattered. But talk about when you were freaking out, what was your freak out? Is your

Oli: Well, you were just,

Andrew: you personally Ollie?

Oli: um, well, we were scared. We’d have to lay people off,

Andrew: Okay.

Oli: but for me, I think it Was you know, 12 years in now and it’s exhausting and. We tried to raise money before, because this process has been going on before COVID hit. And we tried a few years prior to that. And at the last minute the plug got pulled. it? was, it’s just exhausting going through that. And then we’re going through everything looked great. We had several companies interested and then COVID hits. They all run away apart from the one we went with because, because the, they valued the longterm. And one of the greatest things they said to us was, We’re still interested. We’re not going to change our offer. I’m not going to go down because of this situation you believe in this let’s still do it. And we’re like, yeah, fuck. Yeah. And so it was the fear

Andrew: 12 years. And now just

Oli: lose two opportunities.

Andrew: I’m going to have to got it. And so that’s why I’m surprised that you would go and do the speaking thing on the side. Why not say, you know what? I think I could take a month off. I think I could make 20, 21 be my sabbatical year. Still run Unbounced but take some space.

Oli: I already took my, we give people a five-year and a 10 year sabbatical. I, yeah, yeah,

Andrew: I had no idea. So you took a sabbatical two years ago.

Oli: it was about a year ago.

I took man. It was. Is it before COVID I forget. Um, yeah, But it

Andrew: a year.

Oli: No, it wasn’t that it was, it was a few months. Um, it was right around the time I coupled it with, cause I had a kid, we had a kid. Um, so it was perfect timing actually COVID was perfect in a couple of ways because it stopped public speaking.

I mean, I’m not scared about my new business because virtual speaking is much bigger than public speaking and everyone get back to it speaking anyway. But that aspect of my, my life, which is all I did, I traveled the world as a public speaker. That got cut to zero overnight. At the same time I was having a kid, which is perfect. So I do, I got to not miss a single day. So

Andrew: COVID hits. You get worried suddenly you discover, you know, what. We’re actually doing okay, more marketers are coming on, but it’s new marketers are, people are so experienced. They understand what an AB test is. New people don’t know what a or B means, let alone how to do one. Right. And so you, how did you realize that?

Did you know that that’s something that was an issue for you and then how’d you deal with it?

Oli: How about the, this, this new kind of cohort you kind of went right back to the day. One almost where. You know, cause we were the first self-serve landing page company. It was all very new then. And testing was a very new thing to the masses. There were hardcore people who were doing it?

before that and big companies who coded all themselves, the testing and everything.

Um, but most people have not ever done it or heard of it. So we had to educate those people way back then. So we were used to doing that. We didn’t have to really do it as much anymore, but so we just kind of had to go back to our roots,

Andrew: How’d you know, I’m about to talk to Paul English, the founder of kayak. Everything I see about him is constantly talk to your customers. He would force his engineers, one of the first entrepreneurs to force his engineers, to do customer service calls. I think even not just email calls, he’s a guy who was known for driving around Boston, in his Tesla as an Uber driver, so that he could take notes on what people are talking about to understand, right.

He loves that stuff. What was it that you did that helped you understand that helped you see, Hey, things are shifting.

Oli: Uh, it would’ve been the support calls, you know, the

Andrew: You get on support calls too,

Oli: now we did it, we did it at the beginning, but that those are the signals we got. The questions changed, right? It was no, there were a different type of question, um, often about how do I do all this? Versus how do I, how do I set up a C, C name or how do I connect to Salesforce?

It was about how does this all work? What do I do? So we’ve got from a content perspective, we’ve gone right back to helping people kind of onboard into the concept of being a marketer as much as anything else.

Andrew: all right, I’m gonna talk about my second sponsor. Then I want to understand what are you noticing across the board? You’ve got lots of marketers who are using your software. I want to know what’s working. What’s not how we can learn from them. First. My second sponsor is a company called send in blue.

They do email marketing. And the first thing that I think most people think about when I say that is, oh, another email marketing software. We’ve got tons of them. What’s the point? What’s sending blue though. A lot of points. Number one, the thing that lights up, a lot of experience marketers eyes is this.

They know that when they started out with their email software, it was inexpensive and it worked okay. The more they grew, their email list, the more the price just kept going up and up and up. And at some point they said, this is unfair. I’ve had one entrepreneur, I interviewed, he sent out one email and that tipped him over to some other tier.

And suddenly he’s paying tens of thousands more because of that one email. And so it’s unfair. It’s an it’s. It’s. It’s not unexpected, but it feels like it. Like why would they suddenly do this to me? Our business didn’t change that dramatically. And this expense is suddenly becoming significant. And that’s one of the reasons that people go to sign up for sending blue, with send in blue, does is it lets you start for free, especially if you use my URL and then it keeps the prices.

Inexpensive, none of this sticker shock, none of this shocking. And then they have all the features that people like, like, uh, that experienced marketers want when they’re ready for it. Like marketing automation. If somebody does something, you want to be able to send them a different email than if they didn’t do something.

Right. All right. If you’re out there and you want to get started with them and they do work with Unbounce. What I want you to do is go use them for free. Right now. I’m telling you they’re inexpensive and they’re going to start out free. If you go to send in blue.com/mixergy, send in blue.com/mixergy. All right.

The benchmark report. Why are you guys flogging this benchmark report? What’s what’s going on with this thing? You guys are so hopped up and excited about it.

Oli: Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s our second one. And it’s amazing. Basically we it’s 16 industries, we analyzed 44,000 landing pages, three 30, 3 million conversions on those pages to get insights onto what actually influences conversion. And it’s more useful than ever. Because of, you know, these new markers coming online, because it.

gives them a benchmark of where what’s a good conversion rate.

What’s an average. so where they kind of sit on that scale, but then it gives them advice, commercial insights about what they can change. Like as

Andrew: I could see, for example, if I’ve got an education company, I’ve got, I give away a free video, I can see the percentage of what the conversion is for other companies like mine. On a video giveaway. Am I right?

Oli: no, it’s more, well, there’s some general things like that industry in general, what is the average conversion rate, but then it gets more nuanced looking at, uh, things like. Um, number of words on your page, uh, the sentiment, the emotion that are reading these. So for example, SAS, the reading ease. That’s how easy it is to read on the flesh.

Reading is scale. When you go from low as hard to read high, as easy to read when you go between 20 and a hundred on that reading scale, the conversion rate for SAS businesses jumps from 4% to 11%.

Andrew: Ah, okay.

Oli: That’s insane. Right? So that’s an insight.

Andrew: improvement.

Oli: So focus on simplifying your language. a social pate is the most predictable channel, but it averages at 2%.

Conversion rate email is at 22%, but it’s got a wide variance from five to 40. So knowingly socials in the middle for, um, education. You said, uh, social is a channel to focus on there. That’s what we saw as the best channel, uh, legal lead gen for legal Facebook versus Google ads. A 6.1% average, 3.5.

Andrew: Wait, wait, wait, say it again. So Facebook, Facebook first. What?

Oli: yeah. Facebook ads for legal industry lead gen, um, 6.1% average for Facebook ads versus Google ads. 3.5%.

Andrew: Got it. So for, for legal, do Facebook, not Google, assuming the prices, uh, the price is the same and you do it until.

Oli: be cheaper on Facebook. I think, uh, uh,

Andrew: Got it. Okay. All right. And

Oli: finance don’t go more than two form fields, uh, try And bring it down there. Cause some, it doesn’t matter an awful lot, the size of your form, but for legal go pass too. And we saw different conversions and fear and sadness in the copy. These, these emotions, we saw emotions.

In general year over year have dropped significantly like more anxiety, more sad, fearful words going to copy. Uh, but it makes sense. Cause the COVID not sure if that’s

Andrew: you’re saying Sater language converted more. At worse over COVID. So people thought having that sympathetic in tough times thing would, would communicate empathy that would then get more people, more of their customers to convert. And in reality, it turned people off. They weren’t ready for that.

Oli: Yeah for finance. It, it.

ranged from 15% down to 8%

Andrew: Just by going to that negative in these tough times. Blah-blah-blah, you know what? I found that in my email, whenever somebody would pitch me in an interview by saying in these difficult times, we need somebody who can help us get through them. Our guests can show you, can we make an introduct? I just would get so turned off.

I wouldn’t consider the guest, which is not the way it should be proceeding, but

Oli: But every email started with like it’s no, just get to your point. We’re all going through this. You don’t

Andrew: wish somebody should do that also for email to just be able to, I guess, Yesmail did that for email and talked about how shorter messages work and nobody listens, you know? Right.

Oli: We saw that as well. Um, overall shorter pages in terms of word length, converts better, but year over year. Pages are getting longer in terms of word count. This should be doing the opposite. So simplicity of language in general and shorter word count we’re seeing is converting better. So this is what can help these, these marketers who are new and experienced.

You’d never know this. It’s impossible for you to know that and we

Andrew: I wouldn’t. I do like also how you break this down based on the industry and, um, and so on. So I can see, for example, if I was in home improvement or nutrition, fitness, I can, I can tap on it in this report and go see what, um, uh, what your data shows for that industry. What I’m wondering is why are you guys doing this?

Is this like, is this your way of recruiting, experienced marketers? This is a pretty intense report that you put together and you’re out there promoting it.

Oli: We just want to. We want to help businesses succeed. I mean, yeah, sure. If they become a customer because of that, that’s the goal, but we want people to convert more. The one you want to use us because we’re the company that helps them get more business, you know, get more customers and survive, you know, like, especially for these small businesses, they need every bit of help they can get, they’re not enterprise that has money to pour expertise and things like that.

So we want to, I don’t want to use, I mean, it’s, it’s. Cliche term democratize the access to this kind of insight, but that’s what it is essentially

Andrew: I do you find that smaller businesses are using you guys?

Oli: way more now. Yep.

Andrew: They are. How

Oli: I mean, we priced away from that over the longterm because we were looking for different segment. I apologize. My Mac is hissing like an angry snake. So we’ve raised our prices to get the customers we want, but we saw these other customers coming in again. And so now we have to help them and it’s this kind of thing helps them.

And it’s the content from this. That is the type of thing that will be fed into our platform. Then you build a where we’re building. We’ll have some of these insights baked in and more and more as we grow it. So

Andrew: So if I

Oli: a report. Now it will be in the tool.

Andrew: you’re saying Unbounce in the future. We’ll say, Hey, Andrew, you’re going longer than is recommended for a site like yours

Oli: Uh, no, cause it won’t be AB testing. Well, you can still do that. It will. Oh, I mean,

Andrew: as I’m writing it in the builder. It’ll

Oli: we’ll analyze it. We’ll say the reading is it’s too, it’s too complex based on your industry, you should be trying to do this. Um, so yeah, I’ll analyze the language, the length, all these kinds of things.

And I guess eventually if you tell us what channels you’re using, we’ll give you advice there. So there will be a lot more insight coming out. As we extend it so that this report then kind of lives inside

Andrew: 12 years. How do you keep yourself going enough? Feel burned out.

Oli: adding things like this, really. I mean, this, this gets exciting because I was the marketer. Right. And we started the company, the conversion expert. I’ve always wanted the answers to these questions. I’ve always wanted to be able to get up on stage and say, Here at 25 things we thought we knew about conversion that are total bullshit.

That’s the talk I’ve always wanted to give. Uh, so it’s exciting to me to have those answers. Those questions answered.

Andrew: But that doesn’t, that doesn’t get you over. The fact that everyone at the company is counting on you, that you need to solve problems that you need to figure out what’s next that you need to deal with so much.

Oli: They don’t, they Don’t need me at all.

Andrew: Don’t what’s your day to day. You’re just the guy who’s out there talking, doing

Oli: That was my job. Yeah. Um, so now, I mean, I work with the marketing team primarily on content with them. Um, but I have not been in an operational role for a long time. Other founders are part of that. We have a new president. She she’s amazing. She leads the company. Um, Rick. still CEO, um, Carter, who was the president, he’s still a strategic advisor, so we’re still there doing what we need to do, but They’re self-sufficient, they’re good at what they do.

They don’t, you know, I, I can help by being in places like this and speaking when I haven’t, I mean, I’m still speaking, I’m doing virtual conferences. Uh, so, you know, that’s the value I bring, but they can do their work without my help.

Andrew: all right, let’s close it out with this. What works for giving virtual presentations? Like the zoom meetings. Webinars the courses, the heavy thing.

Oli: You need to understand that you need some simple lighting. You need to, if the most important thing, when you’re giving a virtual presentation is the recording. Yes. Does the, in the moment experience for the audience, but for you, you need an excellent recording. Cause then you can, virtual events are often using prerecorded sessions.

So you can shop that around. You can scale your talks. Now, if you do that, you can put it on your speaker page to help.

Andrew: Other other events we’ll take a recording of you instead of having you live.

Oli: that’s how a lot of them are setting up now. Uh, because virtual is so complicated, so many things can go wrong from a tech perspective, having a prerecorded. Edited well packaged piece of content and the good ones you still show up. So you’re live chatting with the audience as the presentation goes on, which is amazing because you get feedback, they’re like they’re laughing or they’re going, what was that about?

And, you know, uh, but it makes a better, a better, uh, event typically, but because of that, it’s great for speaker. So, you know, Present over zoom or whatever, but make your own recordings. Now I’ll be getting to all that kind of stuff. The texts set up in that, but

Andrew: What else? All right. So the tech, the tech is important. It’s easier. I think now than it had been in the past. Right. You get a nice microphone, get lighting. You’re good. What else? But look, I’m highlighting. My lighting’s making me look like I’m ill. I got to, I got to dim it. You’ve got a lot of lighting it’s making you look like, like you’re an even wider than you are and mind’s making it look really red for some reason.

So, all right. Maybe lighting is a pain in the butt.

Oli: Yeah, And you know, also a slide design. A lot of people don’t understand, well, Hey, they need to get better at it, but there’s a big difference in virtual presentations. If you have animations, they’re going to look like crap. Most of the time over zoom. Cause they’ll, they’ll be jerky. If you’re playing, if you have audio in your slides, If you have a setup where if you need something like loop back some software that will actually take the system, audio parent with yours and send it through.

Because if you have very common thing for present to they’ll have headphones on, right. And the little mic, white headphones, uh, eight. that’s not very good quality, but the system audio won’t play. You play your video. Nobody hears it.

Andrew: even if you tell zoom to play the audio from the computer,

Oli: You can try that. And sometimes it works, but doing that, it’s a, it’s a bit of a

Andrew: So you’re saying get the audio out of the computer and into a mixing board and then back

Oli: no, uh, there’s this free software. I just want to loop back, which is cost

Andrew: Oh, I know what it does.

Oli: some virtual

Andrew: from, uh, from your computer. Sucks in audio from your mic and then mixes it into

Oli: Exactly it makes virtual sources. You can take from keynote or PowerPoint from Chrome. You can play YouTube video, you package them all through with your mic to one single audio source. That source source that zoom then uses. And it.

all goes through.

Andrew: All right. What else? What about for content and for, for being interesting while people are watching you

Oli: Interesting. That’s a wow. That’s a, that’s a tough, that’s a tough, um, you need to remember now that one of the most important things with a virtual presentation is you way more than the slides cause, so you need to have you as a much of a presence as possible. Sometimes that’s telling people, Hey, you can move the screen like this.

So I’m bigger or things like that. But also because people are often doing something else. While they’re doing this, they’re not in a conference hall. Uh, you have to change your delivery. So you need to go, you

need to sometimes sometimes whisper what’s he whispering or just shout out Bush, shut off, off the mic.

So it’s not like totally painful for everybody. Uh, so they sense this rhythm change and they go, oh, I’ve got to come back to pay attention to that. Or specifically tell people, Hey, take a look at this slide. Instruct people what to do. They’ll come back to it from do

Andrew: I have noticed that good speakers do that. They say, this is a slide you want to see because there’s noticed this part of the slide because varying, uh, volume helps a lot. Also do write that down for yourself.

Oli: The way I

Andrew: of time or is it just from practice? You know, this

Oli: practice, but the way I designed my presentations, which is what the course will be. It’s why it’s called presentation experience design. I map out a flow of different experiences and like, this is an aha moment. This is a funny moment. This is a tweetable moment that I make sure there’s a good flow of those broken up.

Uh, and Yeah.

and I practice them like a comedian as bits. Each little part of the talk is a bit you nail that, you know, when it’s coming, you’re like, oh, you get excited. So I’m getting to that part. And that part is funny. Or like, and if you do that, then you can string them all together to make a greatest hits deck.

You can do all kinds of things because you know, that little part, you can tell that story perfectly when you get to it.

Andrew: you know, the hardest part is that we can’t see the audience. Mark, Cuban’s got a new company called fireside for podcasting. Um, and one of the things that they’re trying to do is. Do podcast recording live and let the audience clap so you can hear their applause and your ears. Let them, I guess, hit a button to laugh.

So you could see when they’re reacting as a way of gauging how people are feeling. I hope that’s going to help. I don’t know if it will. I told them what they should do is give us video at least to the person we’re interviewing, because. There’s a lot that people don’t realize that they’re, that they’re feeling, but their face communicates.

And so we want to see that I saw Tony Robbins give this presentation where he was staring at a wall full of zoom videos of people, you know, so he could see their faces when they were reacting. That kind of thing is really helpful to watch people’s faces as you’re, as you’re giving a presentation. I think a lot of times when you give a presentation, it’s just you talking and your slides and everyone else can, can be off camera.

But

Oli: It’s hard. And my biggest thing, what I get most joy from is, is being funny in my talks that I know I’m succeeding if the audience laughs. So that. is really hard. As a virtual speaker, cause you don’t get it. You’ve just got to imagine some of it’s muscle memory or memory from when I gave this talk. I know people are laughing at this point, but it’s, it’s difficult.

And eye contact is a really tough thing. So it’s positioning your camera correctly. Ideally you’re you’re

Andrew: Okay.

Oli: like I teach people to, you know, have a wireless clicker and set it up So you can do this because then the angle. The angle there is, I’m looking at you in the eye. If I’m sitting at my desk like this, I’m doing that, you know, I’m not looking at you.

Cause I keep looking at my slides. So.

Andrew: I’ve noticed that too. In the early days of doing these interviews, I did them live. And I noticed that there was one guy that the people in the audience thought was being very arrogant. And I couldn’t understand why I went back and I watch a video and I realized he had his eyes down the whole time.

I knew what he was doing. He was looking at the chat so that he could use it for feedback and guidance conversation to them. He wasn’t paying attention to them because he wasn’t looking up at the camera. So after that I started telling guests. Put my window, really small little thing that you see

Oli: there.

Andrew: in and put a right underneath the webcam.

So when you’re looking and if you want to do it with the chat, make that small enough that it doesn’t take up the whole screen and then move it under the webcam. So you could see that, you know what else I noticed that’s really helpful. Um, my wife will sometimes do team building activities with, uh, her team via zoom and they’ll mail stuff out so that they, they made this candle.

For example, while they were talking, they made a candle. My son had my sister did, um, A scavenger hunt around the house. And so he got to go and hunt for things. I wonder if there’s a way to get presenters, to bring some, get the audience, to bring something in, to do something, to see it, to experience it. I don’t know what, but if you could just come up with a thing for them to do, even if it’s just go get a knife and a bar of soap and cut it into something, I don’t know what it is.

They’ll get an I, and it doesn’t hurt me, I’m virtual, but I think these, these activities where you ask people to go and bring a thing that they get to do and do something that they couldn’t expect, something that they would be expected to have around the house that would get them a result that they’re not expecting to have would be interesting.

Oli: Yeah. And you could, I mean, you could send things out to certain people. If you, if you collect the Right.

information, um, when people are, if it’s a paid gig or something and paid virtual event, or you can send something to 10 people’s houses. So that like, um, they’re the lucky ones who you have the window there with them, so they participate or whatever, but yeah.

the, we have to innovate because this is not going no way.

Andrew: we do. And ideally, I guess the innovation would be better if it happened by software. If you could say, okay, everybody now go, now we’re all gonna try to hit this thing. And we’re all going to try to do this one test, not test, but this one little video game or the one little thing together. And then we see what the results are.

And I’m going to show you one trick and go try it again. Now you see how your results are better. It’s all because you learn this one thing. I don’t know, something like that. I feel like some kind of interactions is so useful, but, um, See now I’m just getting into this dreamy space. Where, what else can we add to this, this, all right.

The website, obviously for everyone out there wants to go check it out. It’s unbalanced. But if you want to see that report that we’ve been talking about, you can go to unbounce.com/ . C B R conversion benchmark report, right? unbounced.com/cbr conversion, benchmark report. And I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen.

The first, if you need a website hosted, go to go to the company. That’s hosting my website. It’s called HostGator and it’s available at hostgator.com/mixergy and O. No, no. Imagine like some, no, I was thinking, can you be a coach that takes all of Ali Gardner’s tips and then you do it for people. Imagine that if they just say, look, I went to his course, the first thing he tells you to do is get better mics.

And you’re not going to want to go and buy Mike a buy for you. He tells you to put this software, you’re not gonna wanna do it. Just give me access to your computer, using zoom. I’m gonna adjust the whole thing. There’s my services. Okay. All right. If that’s what you want to do, you can go to hostgator.com/mixergy set up a whole business.

Where what you do is you set up people’s zoom systems remotely. So they’re ready to go. Number one, and number two, I want to thank the second company, which will do email marketing, right for you. It’s called send in blue and you can check them out. Use them for free send in blue.com/mixergy. Oli, thanks so much.

Oli: Thanks for having me on again. It’s always a pleasure, Andrew.

Andrew: Same here. Bye everyone.

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