SiteTuners, Neuromarketing, and Conversion Trends: An interview with Tim Ash
Renowned keynote speaker Tim Ash is a conversion rate optimization (CRO) and digital marketing pioneer. His expertise lies in his ability to deliver expert insights to conference attendees all over the globe and to help major US and international brands develop successful web optimization initiatives.
Tim is the CEO of SiteTuners, a strategic conversion rate optimization agency with offices in San Diego, and Tampa. Through his work with SiteTuners, Tim has developed deep expertise in user-centered design, persuasion and understanding online behavior, neuromarketing, and landing page testing.
Tim is the author of ‘Landing Page Optimization,’ a must-read internet marketing manual for readers looking to make their landing pages profitable.
In addition to being a best-selling author and a provider of strategic consulting services, Tim is a highly-regarded keynote speaker and presenter at industry conferences worldwide including Content Marketing World, DreamForce, Inbound, Internet Retailer, Affiliate Summit, Shop.org, PubCon, SMX, and countless others.
He is the founder and chairperson of the international Digital Growth Unleashed event series (over 27 conferences in the US and Europe since 2010) and a frequent contributor to print and online publications such as ClickZ, Website Magazine, Visibility and others. Tim is an experienced podcaster, trend-setter, and consultant. Since 1995, he has authored more than 100 published articles.
We were lucky enough to chat with Tim about the future of content marketing, neuromarketing, SiteTuners, and his upcoming book and projects. Get to know the digital marketing vet below and let us know which expert we should interview next!
What inspired you to pursue marketing as a career?
I have always been interested in psychology and how to persuade people. Marketing is the art and science of influencing people and getting them to act. There is always something new to learn in that area. The mind is truly the last frontier.
Can you tell us a little more about what you do at SiteTuners?
We are a digital growth partner for companies. Our agency works at the divisional level with enterprises, and also with the executive teams at mid-sized companies to grow their online business.
Our focus has always been on advocating for the needs of the customers in order to create more compelling online experiences. However, we are very strategic and often get involved in elements outside of traditional conversion rate optimization (CRO).
SiteTuners can help improve customer service, call centers, internal operations, marketing technology, as well as address company culture. We are not afraid to do the heavy lifting and tackle larger issues, and also seek to teach and transfer knowledge – to help our clients get better at online marketing internally. It is working really well and we have created over $1,200,000,000 in documented value for our clients around the world.
Do you have a favorite keynote you’ve delivered or conference you’ve attended?
I have to say that my most memorable keynote was held in the church of a moated castle in Holland – a very unusual and unforgettable venue.
Every conference has its own flavor and memorable aspects. For me it is not the topic, but rather my connection with the audience that matters. Sometimes you can feel the buzz of energy coming back at you as people are on the edge of their seats. It takes different presentation approaches to create that effect at larger shows versus more intimate ones.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have always enjoyed the science fiction and fantasy of Ursula Le Guin – she had an absolutely sweeping imagination and nuanced psychology. She created breathtaking worlds and explored some very complex topics with them as a backdrop.
Long after readers finish your book, ‘Landing Page Optimization,‘ what do you hope sticks with them?
The book is a very detailed guidebook that I hope people will return to over and over. It is meant to be used as a tool and referenced as needed after the initial reading. I hope that the comprehensive framework it provides will be useful before the start of any online marketing project. The core element that runs through it is to focus on the needs of your online visitors and not only that of the business. Without serving your visitors, you will not realize the full potential of your online business.
Many people consider you to be a top marketing ‘influencer.’ Who has influenced you over the years?
Within the marketing sphere, I have always appreciated the ideas popularized by Seth Godin. He has always been been able to provide perspective that is relevant and needed for the moment. Steve Krug’s has always been an advocate for user-centered design. Andy Crestodina speaks and writes tirelessly and thoughtfully on a variety of marketing topics.
Tech like the Amazon Echo and the recently announced Apple Homepod are gaining traction. Do you think content marketers should start exploring AI and machine learning in 2018 and beyond?
AI and machine learning are great buzzwords, but they do not change what effective content marketing should be. We should always seek to provide useful content in the context that the person has in the moment. So, as much as voice-activated assistants will essentially act as the interface for search and questions, we should make sure that our content is discoverable and can be delivered through that channel.
How do you foresee neuromarketing evolving in 2018 and beyond? Do you think more marketers should start exploring it?
Neuromarketing is the last frontier. Understanding how our brain works as a function of our evolution and environment is critical to persuading people (including when they are online). The great thing about neuromarketing is that it is evergreen – on the timescale of evolutionary change, the brain has essentially stopped evolving. We can study how people behave and identify strong tendencies and irrational biases that can be used for more effective marketing.
In my view the focus should be on understanding the brain. Regardless of the context of modern society or the development of technology, the brain remains the same. There are endless benefits to be mined by focusing on it, and every marketer should use that as the basis for their work. My upcoming book Unlocking The Primal Brain – The Essential Guide For Modern Marketers will be an excellent starting point for those who are interested in this field.
What conversion trends should marketers keep an eye on in 2018?
I think that online marketers should go beyond the website experience. Often it is the follow-up email sequences, call centers, or supporting content marketing that is the bigger problem. So broadening your definition of “online user experience” will allow you to fix those areas as well as drive conversion.
There are millions of pages of content out there and it can be tough for a smaller organization to get their content seen. What would be an ideal first step for marketers looking to establish an audience?
I think the key is consistency. You need to create useful content but do it on a regular basis, so people get into the habit of checking in or subscribing to it. It is also critical to make your content purely educational and useful – don’t push sales or offers too early – there are no shortcuts to building trust. You won’t see results right away, but by tracking your progress and activity over time, you will make progress.
What optimization tools and software do you recommend?
That is a loaded question – there are over 5000 vendors in the marketing technology ecosystem. The right one depends on the scale of your company and what you are trying to accomplish. The basic marketing technology stack should include a content management system, analytics, personalization, and marketing automation for sending intelligent emails.
Podcasting is growing in popularity and it continues to be a great way to connect with audiences. Based on your own podcasting experience, what advice would you give to new podcasters?
I have done over 125 interview style podcasts with online marketing thought leaders. If I had it to do over again I would keep them much shorter – 7-8 minutes instead of a half hour. You have to be respectful of your listener’s time, and realize that they may be tuning in on their commute or at the gym. Make it easy to consume bite-sized chunks.
What piece of advice would you give to young professionals who want to get into marketing?
Don’t focus on the technology – understand fundamental and durable motivations that all people have. Marketing is about influencing and persuading people – never lose sight of that.
Last but not least, are there any upcoming projects you’re working on or events you’re looking forward to?
Absolutely – we have relaunched my conference series as Digital Growth Unleashed to focus on optimizing the whole customer journey. If you want to drink from the firehose about growth marketing, you should join us in Las Vegas May 16-17, 2018, and check out our London and Berlin shows in the fall.
Learn more about Tim Ash and his consulting services by visiting his website
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