Interview with Tim Ash
How has the web changed since you started your career?
There was no web when I started my career… I have been involved in Internet marketing since 1995 and have seen the whole evolution of the web. Of course there has been an evolution from the crude visual designs of the early days to the slick multimedia experiences that are possible online today. But the biggest change has come with our ability to track every online action and the targeted marketing that this opens up. As online marketers we can be incredibly responsive and create relevant personalized experiences for our visitors. By being relevant and truly useful to people, we can dramatically increase their response.
What got you interested in digital marketing?
Digital marketing is a combination of the hard and soft sciences. On the one hand we can measure and track everything that happens – which many traditional marketing channels have been unable to do precisely. On the other hand, the insights needed to persuade people come from our understanding of the human brain – which is rooted in psychology and the unconscious mind.
My undergraduate and graduate work at the University of California, San Diego was in Computer Science, and Cognitive Science. So I guess you could say I was preparing for a career in internet marketing without knowing it…
What is strategic conversion rate optimization?
The goal of conversion rate optimization (CRO) is to create more effective online experiences, so that a higher percentage of your online visitors take the desired action (filling out a form, buying something, watching a video, or calling your toll-free telephone number). Unfortunately, many people have reduced CRO to simple split testing – Do the visitors like the green button or the orange button on the page?… These kinds of page-level tactical changes can make a difference, but they will not drive the long-term growth of an online business. By contrast, strategic CRO considers the whole business – not just the on-site experience. My agency, SiteTuners, has worked with enterprise and nimble mid-sized companies all over the world to drive online growth.
As a result, we often get involved in aspects of the business that go way beyond a simple website. Typical areas of improvement might include the call center and customer service staff, email communication, branding and positioning, packaging & merchandising, the business model, as well as offline touchpoints. We also want to make sure that the underlying marketing technology stack for the business is sound. These days it is very difficult to be a leader in any online category unless you have solid capabilities in areas like personalization, predictive analytics, marketing automation, third-party data append, and programmatic media buying.
Since 2010 I have been running a conference that covers all aspects of strategic CRO in the US, UK, and Germany. Check out http://DigitalGrowthUnleashed.com for more details.
How do audiences gain from your keynote presentations?
I think that they get a powerful mix of knowledge and passion! I love what I do, and advancing the art of online persuasion is something that I truly care about. So I work very hard presenting powerful insights in a way that is memorable and will be acted on by the audience.
Do you have a favorite experience from your speaking career?
A few years ago I keynoted at a conference in Moscow, Russia. They were expecting a well-regarded expert from America with simultaneous translation. So when I got onstage and started speaking fluent Russian and showing them old black and white photos of me as a small child in Moscow during my intro, they really flipped out! I was born in the former Soviet Union, so to get to keynote in my home city decades after I emigrated was quite a thrill.