This week on the Boagworld Show we have talks on better communicating with clients and improving how people view your website.
Paul: Hello and welcome to the Boagworld show. The podcast on all aspects of digital design, development and strategy. My name is Paul Boag joining me as always is Marcus Lillington. Hello Marcus.
Marcus: Hello Paul, how are you?
Paul: Yeah, good. I’ve had a very mellow day up until this point and then it’s all got suddenly busy.
Marcus: Oh dear.
Paul: I’ve been sitting in the beer garden drinking cider.
Marcus: Ooo, very nice.
Paul: So I’m a little worse for wear.
Marcus: I can’t really face any more drink. I’ve had most of Caroline’s relatives over for the weekend because it’s her father’s, it was her father’s 70th birthday party and we hosted it all. So I’m a little bit pleased they have all gone.
Paul: Ah, yes. Well, what I have been struggling with right? So I had an article that I was supposed to be writing today and it’s like, you know, I can’t work out whether I’ve… I really didn’t feel in the mood to write it. The weather was glorious, all the rest of it. So the question is "have I been procrastinating by going down to the pub or am I just making… taking advantage of the, you know, solo lifestyle that I now work with and instead of working because I feel I have to I wait until I’m most productive to work?
Marcus: I think you are just probably not fancying it and thought you would just go for a pint.
Paul: Yeah, I think that’s probably right.
Marcus: You could say that you needed a change of scenery to get your inspiration.
Paul: yeah, that sounds good. It is true mind.Its funny, I discovered that… Obviously when I was working with Headscape, you know, there were other people involved so you had to keep some kind of sociable hours and work when other people were working but I have since discovered that actually I seem to work best in the evening. I get a load more done when I am working in the evening than I do when I am working in the day.
Marcus: I used to be like that but not any more. I think it’s…
Paul: Well you go to bed at 9 now don’t you?
Marcus: Well, 10 certainly. But I think it’s, I used to stay up late because I had little kids, like 10/20 years ago and it was the only time I got to myself so I sort of called myself a night owl but now they have kind of flown the nest as the saying goes, I just sort of go like “Oh, go to bed, read a book.” Getting old aren’t I?
Paul: Well, you know.
Marcus: I get the most done… if I’ve got loads to do. What I used to do back in the… I’d say 10 years ago. If I had “gotta get this done, got to finish this proposal” and all this kind of thing stay up until two or three in the morning getting it done. Now that I do is go to bed at 9 and get up at 5. And I get loads done in that sort of five, 5:30 until 9 AM when everyone logs on. So is the same thing, just the other way round.
Paul: Yeah yeah, I mean, actually it’s not a problem when I’ve got loads to do. You know, I just crack on and do it. It’s times like this where I’ve got stuff I should do that if I put it off until tomorrow is not the end of the world. And then the sun is shining and oh, it’s dreadful isn’t it!
Marcus: Oh, I’m dreadful at… If I’ve got a week to do something then I’ll leave it until the half day with one to go. I’ve always been like that.
Paul: And I never used to be like that but I become like that more recently. It’s like “la la la la la.”
Marcus: Yes, I used to do my homework, I didn’t do it on Sunday evenings I did it on the way to school on Monday morning.
Paul: Oh, that is terrible. (Laughter) See, I had to do it… I always had to do it as soon as I got home from school otherwise I would just spend the rest of the weekend worrying about it. But that seems to have changed. Life changes, you get older.
Marcus: I had a mate that did that, Ian Samways, he always used to do his homework on Fridays as well. I just couldn’t comprehend that, you come home from school on Friday and do your homework! It’s just insane!
Paul: Yes, that’s what I would do.
Marcus: No, how could you do that! I was always insanely jealous that it was done.
Paul: Yes, it’s the way to be.
Marcus: I’m not as bad as I used to be. I’m painting myself out to be more of a rebel than I actually am or was but yes, I am a bit of a kind of “Oh, it’ll be alright. Do it tomorrow, be fine.”
Paul: Yeah, my trouble is I’ve got this tendency of going “Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow, it’ll be fine.” Then I feel guilty that I haven’t done it which is precisely what I’m doing now. It’s like… And you end up ruining… I had a lovely time down the pub. Although I had to come back and do this stupid arse podcast with you! (Laughter) That ruined it. That’s brought me back to reality.
Marcus: We could have done this this morning Paul it would have been fine.
Paul: Well we should have done it when I was at the pub! Even better! Although I wouldn’t have been quite as far gone. Am I holding it together quite well?
Marcus: You don’t sound tipsy or anything like that so I think you’ll you probably get away with it.
Paul: Yeah, it wasn’t too bad to be honest I only had a couple.
Marcus: You’ll be all right. I haven’t had any. None at all.
Paul: Ah, stone cold sober. The biggest problem I have with drinking in a beer garden in the sun is that it makes me sleepy.
Marcus: Any lunchtime drinking.
Paul: Yeah, that’s it now.
Marcus: Especially if it accompanies lunch as well, that’s it. Come back snoring. Again, sign of age.
Marcus: Have to fight my way through it. So I tend to not bother with having a drink at lunchtime.
Paul: Yeah, yes. Right, let’s talk about our first sponsor and then we’ll get into actually web design related stuff, which would be good.
So our first sponsor is obviously Fullstory who have been supporting the whole show and as you have gathered by… Whole show? Whole season. And as you have gathered by this point I am a huge fan of. An interesting thing has come up recently, for some reason I have found myself talking about Fullstory a lot recently with various people which is a bit strange concidering they are not actually paying me to, off of the show! But it is like I am in constant podcast mode. “Have you heard of Fullstory? An excellent analytics tool…” No, no, no it’s just that it seemed relevant a couple of times recently so have been talking about it. The re-occurring response I get every time I seem to explain Fullstory and I’m just wondering whether some of the people who were listening to this show kind of fall into the same category, is that “Oh yeah, we use… To record and watch sessions back.” So it’s like, they go “Oh, we’ve already got this product or that product that does the same thing.” But no! You are wrong! It doesn’t do the same thing all. Fullstory is more than just a screen recorder. And this is the thing that I need to get across to people. When I pin them against the wall and say “No, you’re not understanding me!” That’s what I’m getting at. So it doesn’t just record sessions it records the whole of the Dom, right? So everything that is happening in the document object model it is recording. So that means that, A), if you do support and you are trying to support customers you can see exactly the error message that they have got, how they have got that error message, you can even inspect the code to understand what went wrong behind the screen. Which is incredible. But also, and in my opinion more importantly because I don’t care about support! I don’t support people! But more importantly you can also query absolutely any item in the Dom to see how people are interacting with it, without having to 1st add an event handler to track that particular thing. So I will give you an example of what I mean. I was watching a video and I noticed that a person clicked on an element in my webpage which was not clickable. I was just watching a video of some other user session. I wasn’t looking for that particular problem but I noticed it as I was watching the video back. I wondered “I wonder if anybody else did that?” Now, with a lot of other apps I would need to now go in and tag that particular element as “I want to track this and know what’s happening” so I can then filter all of the user sessions where users clicked on that item. But with Fullstory because it has recorded the whole Dom I can instantly look at any video of anybody that ever clicked on that particular element, even though it was non-clickable. And I could look at it straightaway and realise “Hang on a minute, I’ve got a problem here because a lot of other users are doing the same thing as this one user.” Make sense?
Paul: So that is totally different. Let me be clear on that! There we go.
Marcus: I wasn’t one of those people that was claiming I used something?
Paul: No, I’m not blaming you Marcus. Marcus, I would never blame you! Okay, you can sign up today and see for yourself and see if you get, you can actually try this and see how it is different from a normal screen recorder. You get a whole month absolutely free and then after that you can either sign up, obviously and pay for the service or you can continue free but it will only record a thousand sessions per month. Trust me, as somebody who has just hit my limit of the number of sessions I get on my plan you will want to pay because you can’t live without this thing. I’m getting all twitching now because I can’t go in and see what people are doing on my site. Well I can, I could look at Google analytics but who wants to look at that! Anyway, if you do want to sign up and have a go it is Fullstory.com/boag, B O A G. So there you go.
Now, here’s an interesting one, talking of sponsors. Because our first speaker on today’s show is actually the guy that runs our second sponsor which is Teacup AdWords and Teacup Analytics. So he is the guy that runs behind it. He was saying “Would it be a bit weird if I kind of submitted a talk because I would really like to submit a talk.” And I was like “No. Ideally, as I’ve said to everybody, don’t turn it into a big, you know, promotion for your product or your service or whatever but yes.” Which he hasn’t, in fact he hasn’t written about… He hasn’t even talked about analytics! Or AdWords! He is actually talking about something completely different so he took what I said somewhat to the extreme. So it is Dean, Dean is the guy, he is the founder of Teacup Analytics, you will hear about in a little bit of a while. He is South African but he has spent in the time in the US and is also currently in, I think, Israel. He is a bit of a serial entrepreneur as you can hear. He is going to talk about one of his previous applications that he has sold to Go Daddy which was an email newsletter management software. But obviously now he obviously does Teacup Analytics. What he is going to talk about is writing the perfect email. Which is really interesting, I mean, he’s focusing on customer support and customer agents and that kind of thing but actually I think what he’s got to say is much more wide-ranging and has got much broader applications than what he applies it to. But we will talk about that afterwards. First of all check out what Dean has got to say.
How To Write The Perfect Email
Play talk at: 12:22 – Dean Levitt has trained dozens of support agents and teams on how to communicate beautifully via email to customers, clients and colleagues. This lightening talk reveals his 5 step process and other tips to crafting the perfect email.
Hi, my name is Dean Levitt and I would like to chat to you about writing the perfect email. First let me tell you a little bit about myself and why I care so much about email. I used to be an owner of an email newsletter platform called Mad Mimi which was acquired by Go Daddy in 2014. During that time I wrote a little under 200,000 emails to customers and clients and I trained dozens more on how to write their own beautiful emails. We had an amazing net promoter score and some years we would have over 5000 unsolicited testimonials to our customer support quality and we only offered customer support via email. Most of the questions we dealt with were your typical customer support stuff. “Why isn’t this working?, How do I do that?” Or “Please, just give me general marketing advice.” These are the kind of emails everyone deals with every day whether you are a web designer dealing with your small business clients or whether you are in an office dealing with colleagues or people in different departments. Email is a major form of communication, everyday we write dozens of them and yet it is something that we do so poorly. When I challenge people on why they write emails that are terse, sound kind of grumpy or just plain send the wrong message entirely. Well, they tell me that they are busy. The fact is a waiter in a restaurant is busy too and yet when you sit down and that waiter is engaging with you you expect them to be polite, to engage with you, to listen to what you are saying and in the end to deliver the food you ordered your table. If a waiter only communicated to you as if they were so busy, well, you would be justifiably annoyed. So why do that in an email? I consider there to be to 3 lousy emails that we all write. The first ugly email is what I call busy executive. It’s the kind of email that I imagine George Costanza from Seinfeld writes when he is feeling flustered. There is usually no punctuation, sometimes the entire body of the email is in the subject line. The recipient always feels like they have kind of annoyed the sender. When you are that sender you don’t want to impart that vibe. The second type of email is the never ending thread. This is the one where every question is answered with another question. You never, kind of get to the end point. This often happens when you are trying to set up a meeting with someone that you don’t know. You write something like “What time suits you,?” They respond to say “Well, whenever.” And you respond to say “Well, what about a Tuesday?” and they say “Yes, what time?” and you say “10” and they can’t do 10 et cetera, I’m already irritating myself! So that’s the second type of email. The third type of email is the worst of them all. This is one where you don’t get an actual response to the question that you asked. You might get a lot of words written down but not the answer you needed. This often happens with customer support that answers from stock answers that doesn’t really read the email originally that they are responding to but either way nothing frustrates the recipient quite the same as a simple question that is left unanswered. Well, I am going to show you some steps to avoid all of these. Before we get to my five-step process we have got to start with building a foundation and this foundation is empathy. When a client, a colleague or a customer writes to you you have to think about their mindset. What is their motivation for reaching out? Did they have an issue they are kind of cranky about the whole thing? Are they just curious and looking to learn from you? Sometimes clients will write emails because they are simply scared, they feel a little bit out of their depth with whatever is bothering them and looking for reassurance. Whatever their motivation is it’s usually fairly easy to glean from the tone of the email and subject matter because they are writing to you as the expert, you should be able to figure this out. Where most people fall down is where they are not caring about the motivation of the writer. This often goes awry in a crisis. When someone writes to you stressed out because something has gone terribly wrong and you are respond without any urgency both in the speed of the response and in the tone of the email things can go from bad to worse. Relationships are ruined over the over a lack of empathy. So I guess what I am saying is the understanding and be nice.
Okay, let’s get down to the five steps to write the perfect email. Step one, what is the question that they are asking? Step two, what is the question that they are really asking? Remember, you’re the expert, you’re the specialist and so the person asking the question of you might not know how to best frame their question or they might not have the right words so you have to kinda figure out what their actual goal is in asking the question. And that’s what I mean here. Now, at this point it is time to write your response. But before you hit send we ask the next questions. Step three, does my response answer the exact question that they ask? Step four, did I answer the real question? In other words step four is, did I help them achieve the goal that they were trying to achieve when they wrote in the first place? Step five, does my email look good? This fifth step refers to appropriate punctuation, not using paragraphs that are too long, using their name, adding full stops. Basically the basics of letter writing.
So let’s discuss some examples. Let’s say a client writes to you, a web designer and says “Hey, I’d like to access my website via FTP so that I can upload some images.” Now, let’s go through those steps. Step one, what is the question that they are asking? They are asking how to access their site via FTP. Step two, what are they really asking? What are they trying to achieve? Well, they are trying to upload images to their website so now we are at the stage of writing our response we have to make sure that we are keeping their goal in mind. They want to upload images. So, step three after you’ve written your response, did you tell them how to access their site via FTP? Great. You don’t have to answer it in excruciating detail because we know their goal is uploading their images. So step four is did you tell them an easy clear way for them to upload images to their site. Perhaps FTP doesn’t even come into it. So, that step three and four and step five, make sure the email looks good. If you are giving them steps to uploading their images did you use a numbered list to walk through the steps rather than squishing all the instructions into one paragraph? Did you greet your client by name? Are your sentences easy to read? Et cetera. Let’s look at another example. This example comes from my own experience. I remember training someone on customer support and a customer wrote in and said “Do you offer A-B testing with your email newsletter platform?” This new customer support agent, who was still in training, just wrote back saying “No we don’t offer A-B testing.” Full stop, done. So that violates pretty much everything that we have discussed so far. They exhibited no empathy so the foundation isn’t even there. While they answered step one they answered the direct question, at no point did this agent think about the motivation behind the question, which in this instance was a small business owner wanting to get the most out of their email newsletter. So what they should have done is looked at step two and understood why they were asking this question. They wanted to get the most out of their newsletters. So in steps three and four this agent should have explained that “No, we don’t offer A-B testing but here’s why we don’t of A-B testing, here’s how to A-B test on your own without this specific feature, or better yet, here’s ideas to actually optimise your newsletter.” And then step five would obviously have been to make sure that the customer name was used in the email, that the explanations were clear and easy to read, et cetera. I think you get the idea. But if you apply this five-step process to almost any customer support interaction you will kind of get the idea of why it is so important in an email. I will give you another example from my own personal life here in Tel Aviv where I live. I am a surfer and I went to a local surf shop to get a long board. Long boards are generally much easier to catch smaller waves with. So I went to the local shaper and I said “Hey, do you shape long boards?” He said “No, no we don’t.” At that point he could have written me off but instead he asked me why I wanted a long board for the local wave. So I told him “Well, the waves are small.” He explained "The problem is is that the waves are also very steep and so what’s better than a long board is a short board with a lot of volume. So he took the time to explain the reasons he doesn’t shape long boards as well as the reasons why he’s got a better solution for me. If you apply that to an email you will have a far better relationship to the people that you are communicating with and, like this local surfboard shaper, you will make a sale if that’s what you are aiming to do. I ended up buying a short board and a couple of years later I still use it almost every week. It was the perfect choice. So, to recap before we get into a lightening round of email tips let’s just run through those five step process again. Step one, what is the writer actually asking? Step two, what do they really need from you? What is the goal that they are trying to achieve? Step three, did your email answer their basic superficial question? Step four, did you help them achieve their goal? And step five, does your email look good?
Now those five steps are pretty clear let’s discuss some simple tips to make your emails look good and read well. First things first, say “I” not “we.” When you’re communicating with someone as a business it still is always more meaningful to say “I think you should do this” rather than “We the business think you should do this.” It’s just helps to relate to people better. Next, try and greet people by name and sign off by name. It helps show a connection and it also imparts a feeling of personal investment in this communication. If you are trying to set up a time always suggest the time or use a scheduling tool. When it comes to step two and step four of this five-step process, when you are not sure what they are really asking or if you have really answered their question or helped them achieve their goal, guess. It is totally okay to guess provided you let the recipient of your email know that you are doing your best to solve their problem but you are certainly open to elaborating or hearing more about their needs so that you can help solve their issues or achieve their goals. Spacing between paragraphs is important. On mobile phones and in the many email clients two sentences can feel like a lot. Three or four sentences feels like a giant body of text. So I often recommend putting in a new paragraph spacing after two or three sentences. It helps the recipient parse the information appropriately. When giving instructions use bullet points or numbered lists. Giving instructions in a paragraph often is really challenging to follow. I’ve already mentioned this earlier but punctuation really matters. Use full stops capitalise at the start of the sentence, it goes a long way to showing your professional bona fides and being easier to read. This tip is one of my favourites, show your work. Behind the scenes you have put a lot of thought, effort and time in helping your colleagues and clients achieve their goals. Help them understand that by explaining your thought process, the work you’ve done, the things you tried. And my last tip of all, if you need something from your customer or colleague, be clear on what you need. Open ended endings like please advise, tend to be really challenging for someone to actually respond to and get you the information that you need. If you need clarification on something be very clear on what that is. And that’s it. Following this five-step process will help you communicate beautifully with everyone you work with. Be empathetic and write with a smile. Cheers.
Paul: So there you go, that was a good one wasn’t it?
Marcus: Yes, very much up my street.
Paul: I thought so.
Marcus: Yes. I’ve always… I’ve listened, and you are one of those people Paul who have kind of put down email as kind of archaic and a thing of the past, for years now. And I thought “I use email all the time and I think it’s really good.” And I also agree wholeheartedly with a lot of the things that Dean was saying about clarity. But also the stuff about just write stuff that’s nice and be polite. I can’t remember what… He had an analogy at the start about, oh, it was about a waiter wasn’t it?
Marcus: You know, and it’s like “Well, yeah!” Why do you get one line emails with no introduction, no thanks, and often littered with, not necessarily miss-spelt words but shortening of words like it’s a text or something. Just write normally!
Paul: Oh, you’re sounding so old!
Marcus: It’s true though.
Paul: I know it is. I have to say I write really grumpy, terse short emails.
Paul: Because I can’t be arsed!
Marcus: Because you’re busy Paul. Is that right?
Paul: I’m busy. I’m too important for the likes of people! Yes, so I did feel a bit kind of, shamed listening to this. Because he did make some really good points. And I think…
Marcus: I always, sorry Paul, I always thank people as well. If somebody sends me something I always say “Thanks for that,” or whatever. Because I just think it’s polite. And it’s like, “Oh, aren’t you wasting production, productivity time?” But it takes seconds just to go “Cheers” or whatever. It’s polite and engaging. I’ve written here. Yes!
Paul: He also said, I thought was a really good line, that kind of reinforces that. “Be empathetic and write with a smile” I liked that. And to be honest, if I’m honest, I was listening to this as it was playing back going “Ner, ner. Email, keep it short, get it done!” I see what you mean about customer support but generally emails, “No, this doesn’t apply, blur blur blur.” Then it occurred to me that actually everything he was saying is the same advice I give about creating a webpage. Right? Did I answer the users question? Did I help them achieve their goal? Is it well-written? Is it written in the first person, well, we talk about we and not Headscape, for example. Is it empathetic? Does it have personality? And I thought well if I’m applying it to webpages I should apply it to emails really as well shouldn’t I?"
Marcus: Yes. I also think with emails because I will often, sometimes I’ll go back and check something out for some reason or I will search my email for something to find and if the email thread between me and whoever was written in a way that is, clarity, thoroughness, if all those things are there then it’s just much easier to kind of find what you are looking for.
Paul: Hmmm, hmmm.
Marcus: So, from now on Paul…
Paul: You’ll get polite emails. Well, you won’t but everybody else will! (Laughter) It’s really funny, I listened to this yesterday, I think it was I listened to it, and already it has really made me change the way that I write my emails. So that’s quite good. But it is the fact that it is, I do think it is applicable to so much more. It is applicable to webpages but I also think it is applicable to sales. You know, perhaps that’s why you’re better at this because that’s an area that you focus on. For example, don’t just give customers exactly what they say they want but look at the underlying goal. You know, so that you can offer alternatives.
Marcus: Yes, don’t assume that people know what’s your response is going to mean as well. They might ask you a question, you might reply and they are none the wiser. You should be able to kind of think “Is this person likely to understand my response” If the answer to that is “No.” Then you need to explain it.
Paul: And then also there was that bit… he talks about showing your work. And I think that applies in sales very much. You know, why we’ve proposed the solution that we have. And it certainly applies when you are in projects. You know, one of the things I always say is when you are presenting design for example you need to explain the background of it, why make the decisions you do. Whether that is via email or in person makes no difference. So that’s why in some ways I think Dean was selling himself a bit short by just talking about email because actually I think this applies in any communication in any circumstances really.
Marcus: Yep. No argument here. Don’t be lazy people!
Paul: I do just have to say, I hate stock answers. You know when you get customer support and you ask them one question. I actually wrote back. I wrote to one company where… No, I will say the company because screw it, they deserve it. It was PayPal, right? I had a question for PayPal so I wrote them a question and I started off the email by saying “At face value this will look like… But please don’t send me a stock answer for that question because that is not what I am asking.” I swear to God that is what I wrote to them because I dealt with them before. What did I get back? Stock bloody answer.
Marcus: From a robot.
Paul: And you just think “sigh…”
Marcus: Yes, nothing more annoying. I mean… The emails that come back from… If you send in a support query or something like that and you get the email back “We’ve received your email.” But they are often disguised as more than that. And it’s kind of like don’t fluff it up. It’s an automated response just say “We have received your email, it is in the systems we will be responding within a maximum time of whatever.” End of.
Marcus: Anyway, we’ve kind of gone off the subject a bit.
Paul: No, because the subject is that email is shit, is what we are saying! It’s a bad form of communication. And you just haven’t come to terms with that yet.
Marcus: It’s so not. What is a better form of communication? The telephone Paul?
Paul: Oh yes! No, let’s face it the telephone is a better form of communication.
Marcus: Yes it is, give you that one.
Paul: But no, I think, no actually if I am honest I have no problem with email whatsoever, in theory. So in other words it is asynchronous which I like, in other words it’s not like a real time conversation so people can answer it when they want to, which is a good thing. It’s as long form as you need it to be, which is a good thing. It is easy to follow threaded conversations unlike in something like slack where things get, kind of disappear and stuff like that. It’s got so much going for it. I think where I have been down on it in the past is for two reasons. One is the fact that we now have a new generation of people that whether we agree with it or not are not using email. You know, if you look at an average millennial, I hate that term but you know, if you look at somebody of that kind of age they don’t really use email very much at all. They don’t particularly like email. So I’ve got a problem with it from that point of view. The other reason I got a problem with it is that it’s… So many people use it so badly. My problem with email is the fact that people are allowing it to interrupt them the whole time, that they are not managing it in good way and that when they write email to other people they are so badly structured. I mean, some of the advice that Dean gave, you know, the whole thing about links, sorry, bullet points and that kind of stuff. It’s just, you know, sometimes you want a bit of politeness in it and a bit of humanity in it but sometimes there is hours of waffle in an email just to get to the frigging point. Dean was talking about that as well, that you need to be clear and concise and so many people aren’t via email.
Marcus: Clear and thorough.
Paul: But that’s not a reflection actually on the platform. That’s a reflection on how people use it.
Marcus: Yes, and I know what you are saying about millennial’s and maybe they don’t use email in their kind daily lives but then I guess I don’t use it that much to kind of, talk to my mates or whatever. It is a work tool. I view it as. And I think no matter how old you are you are going to be having to use email.
Marcus: So do it well!
Paul: I do think the other problem with email is just spam, isn’t it? I mean you get so much crap coming through that’s just frustrating.
Marcus: It’s not as bad these days, I think the filters are pretty good.
Paul: Okay, of totally unsolicited stuff but it is… I get a load of… I sign up to loads of stuff and then that’s it then, they’ll email you for the rest of your life.
Marcus: Yes, all your family!
Paul: The trouble is I know the other side of it as well. I recently got an email from somebody saying… I won’t use the exact words he said but “Take me off of your mailing list” but with more expletives in. And said “I never asked to be signed up for this.” But I have no idea… He must have because I have never bought any links. How he got on there, it’s a double opt in so he not only… Somebody couldn’t have added him on his behalf. He’d obviously just forgotten he had added himself years ago. And that’s fair enough, I understand that. And the fact that every single one of my emails always has a unsubscribe click, single click, at the bottom. So, I can see the other side of it as well. They think that they are emailing real people that actually care but a lot of the time they are not.
Paul: Anyway. So yes, thank you Dean.
Marcus: Yes, I enjoyed that one. As you can tell.
Paul: I won’t dwell too much on Dean and who he is because I am now about to promote him, he is playing me to promote him. So, you know, there’s that. So, as you gathered Dean runs a couple of tools. One is Teacup Analytics which is built on Google analytics and helps you actually understand what is going on with Google AdWords and build dashboards for your clients and answer questions and stuff. But what he currently is asking me to promote for him is Teacup AdWords which is a slightly different thing. Essentially AdWords helps you build AdWords campaigns, as you would expect. So, the thing is that when you create an AdWords campaign Google kind of tries to encourage you to create and Ad groups where it takes 25-ish keywords and you kind of group them all together and you create an Ad for that group of keywords. You push everybody to the same landing page. But the trouble with that approach is that out of that kind of set of keywords some will perform much better than others and it turns into a bit of a headache to manage them all and work out which ones are working and which ones are not. Whether you should optimise the landing page for this keyword or that keywords et cetera. So the alternative to that is to create Ads for a single keyword only. Because that means that you can then be much more targeted obviously in your landing page, in the Ad itself. You can still have variations of the keyword. So in other words, you can have, you can pay more to get an exact match for that keyword and slightly less for a phrase match where, you know, it’s got both words but not necessarily in the same order or a broad match et cetera. But it is essentially the same keywords so that means that your landing page and the Ad itself can be very specific to that keyword. Of course, the downside of that is that it is a lot of effort to do that, right? It will create much, much better results but then that is a lot of ads you have got to create and a lot of landing pages and that is where Teacup AdWords comes in because it will create all of that for you and help you build all of that. So it will build all of the landing pages it will create all the ads and it will also uncover the new keywords related to the one that you are targeting specifically. So, you know, it automates a lot of the process so that you get a better return on investment at the end of the day. So, they are currently running a limited beta of this tool and they are looking for people to sign up for early access to work alongside them to improve it and make sure it is right. So if that is something you are interested in you can go to Teacup Analytics/AdWords.
Alrighty, so now we come onto Meghan (cough) excuse me, sorry.
Marcus: Paul is dying in the background! Oh, you weren’t very well last week, are you feeling a bit better?
Paul: Yeah, I’m feeling fine now. Just, you know, a bit of man flu. So it is Meghan Hartman at craftingcreative.com. She tells you a little bit about herself in the talk so I won’t say too much other than that she is a web design strategist, does all kinds of cool stuff. So you can check her out at creating creative, craftingcreative.com. Now, she’s going to talk about something called the know-like-trust factor. Phew. Have you heard of that before Marcus?
Marcus: I had to look it up.
Paul: I had vaguely heard of it but I did have to look it up as well. Apparently according to Megan it is ubiquitous. Who knew?!
Marcus: Well, you know, whenever I hear something like that I think “It’s just because I’m old.” Or, lazy. And/or lazy, one of the two.
Paul: Yes, so, as I understand it it is a thing that is used quite extensively in the marketing circles and it is the fact that the client has to know you or a user who is coming to your site has to know you first in order to come to the site and then they have to like you and then they have to trust you before they are willing to buy. So it is fairly self-explanatory in the name but what Meghan does is look at how to increase your know-like-trust factor. Which is what she talks about and there’s some really good stuff in it so let’s hand over to her.
How to Increase Your Know-Like-Trust Factor on Your Website
Play talk at: 41:08 – If you have an online business, you’ve probably heard of the ubiquitous “know-like-trust factor”. It’s that conveniently vague concept that online marketers throw around when they want you to feel like they’ve got the secret to 6-figure success. But they got one thing wrong….
If you have an online business you’ve probably heard of the ubiquitous know-like-trust factor. It’s that somewhat vague term that online marketers throw around when they want you to feel like they’ve got the secret to six-figure success. If you’ve got a know-like-trust factor then you’ll have a waitlist of raving want to be clients and mountain of cash piling up. But they got one thing wrong. The know piece of the know-like-trust factor isn’t about your audience knowing you it’s about you knowing them. When they feel like you really get them then the like and the trust will naturally follow. So how do you do that? I’ve got five tips for you. But first let me introduce myself. My name is Megan and I am the web design strategist behind craftingcreative.com where I work with other creative entrepreneurs to craft websites that convert.
So, step one for increasing your know-like-trust factor is to research your users. First things first. You’ve got to know your ideal client. A good place to start is with observation or listen only mode as I like to think of it. So you want to observe how people in your target market talk about their problems and desires. You can do this in Facebook groups, on blog comments and Instagram captions. Or on forums like Reddit or Cora. To get a copy of the Google sheet that I use to track these comments you can follow the link bit.ly/userresearchsheet. And that’s all one word, Lowercase. So, next after observation you want to talk to them however you can. You can ask them questions and listen with blog comments or in Facebook groups, you can send them surveys or you can have Skype chats. So look for patterns in the way that people describe their struggles and their desires and use those exact words or phrases in your website copy. I can’t emphasise enough just how important this research phase really is. It treally is the foundation that will inform every other aspect of your website.
So step number two is interpret the data. I want you to go beyond what you hear them saying they want because this is what they think they want but think about how you can synthesise this research to pull out some grain of truth that they are not fully cognisant of yet because this is what they really need. So for example, during your research you find that your ideal client describes herself as an idea person or a visionary. She says her problem is that she lacks follow-through. But then digging further you realise that her problem isn’t with follow-through it’s the fact that she is an overachiever, she says yes to every project that comes her way and then she fizzles out before she can finish any of them. You see, now you have struck gold. Now you can describe your ideal client situation in a way that makes her say “Yes, you get me.” And you can offer her up this “Aha” moment of clarity so that she thinks “Oh my, that is so true!”
So step number three. Once you have elicited those connection building responses the next best thing you can do to increase your know-like-trust factor is to give generously because you have to give before you can receive. Some examples of offering value might be your opt in freebie or content upgrade on your website. You can create detailed or insightful blog posts and tutorials. You can offer free spreadsheets or downloads that don’t even require an email address. You can share exclusive content with your email list, you can offer actionable video lessons or podcast tutorials. Whatever it is just make sure it is something that aligns with what you have found your ideal client needs.
Step number four, be specific. Specificity is really the key to success in this business and I could teach a whole lesson just on being specific. But here is the Cliff’s Notes version. You want to be specific with who you serve. You don’t just serve anyone, think about who that person is that you have been researching. Be specific with what you do, are you a web designer or do you specifically designed e-books for people who want to self publish. Be specific with how you work, is there a certain process that you always go through. Be specific with your calls to action, your buttons, your links. And be specific with your website copy in general. So when you were doing the research you were highlighting those key phrases that people were using and you can use those again in your copy. Be specific with how you describe your ideal clients situation because if you just say something like “You’re feeling overwhelmed or drained.” Well overwhelmed is a word that looks differently to different people. To one person when she feels overwhelmed that might look like she is jumping around from one thing to the next and never finishing anything. To someone else thats overwhelmed that might look like she just shuts down and she doesn’t interact with people and she kind pulls away from everything. So that is why it is so important to know who your ideal client is so that you can be really specific and detailed in your copy.
Then, step number five is to look legit. You’ve heard the phrase “Fake it till you make it.” Well, that’s a great confidence boosting mantra but it’s really a credibility killer on your website. You don’t want to fake knowledge or act self-important. I know it seems a bit counterintuitive but you are actually more trustworthy if you are seen as relatable rather than as a powerful authority figure. So it is crucial to be candid but you also have to be professional with your website because it is your digital storefront after all. People buy from people that have got real results for other people so make sure that you show off that street-cred with some genuine testimonials.
So, to recap, to increase your know-like-trust factor on your website you have got to show your site visitors that you know them, like really know them, offer them something super valuable free, make sure you are super specific in how you talk to them and showcase your success stories. And don’t forget, if you want to grab a free copy of that Google sheet that I use when I am doing the beginning stages of user research then you can just head to bit.ly/userresearchsheet. Once again I am Meghan thank you for listening.
Paul: So, I like that.
Marcus: Yeah, the reason why I probably didn’t know know-like-trust is because I’m not really a marketer.
Marcus: So, I listened intently and thought “I’m not sure I’ve got an awful lot to say on this.” Other than… One thing she did say was the first step of research, the kind of listen only bit where you kind of just go in and read what people are saying about you in Facebook groups and things like that I thought “We could do that!” Because we dive straight into testing or surveying which is all kind of structured stuff isn’t it. We are asking you specific questions, do this or do you understand this?" But just going in and watching, I quite liked that, I thought maybe that was something that we could do as well.
Paul: I quite liked that as well. The reason I liked it is because you learn how people express their problems in their own words. That idea I thought was really good because I mean, obviously that’s great for copywriting and most importantly, well, not most importantly but also importantly is it is good for SEO as well if you can actually frame things in the language that people understand. Then obviously, as well, it makes people feel like you know them and you understand them. And that I thought was very good, the way she turned that know around to being not that they know you but that you demonstrate that you know them and understand their problems. That is such a big thing, especially for selling. Especially in my situation or our situation of selling our services. You know, clients want to know you understand and get the problems that they are facing so being able to express that is really, really important. I really agreed with her on that.
Marcus: Yes, the thing that came out of the three know-like-trust thing and comparing it to what I or we do, is yes, I get that I need to understand… Say if I am responding to a proposal I need to illustrate that I understand what their issues are so that we can help solve them for them. I also know that I need to do stuff or write stuff in the proposal that is going to make them think that “I can trust these guys.” But it’s the like bit isn’t it, and that’s what pitches are for.
Marcus: It’s like, can you… Can I work with these people do I like them and I thought “Well all these things, three things apply very much to what I do as well.”
Paul: Yeah, well I think they apply to most things. They apply to user experience. It’s just like the email one, you know, that we had before. You can apply the principles in multiple situations. You know, the other thing which she said which I so agree with is that whole thing about giving generously. You know, putting stuff out there and showing that you are going the extra mile, and not just for clients but for potential clients or being involved in the community and all of those kinds of things. And with the trustworthy thing as well when she talked about, you know, being trustworthy is about being candid and relatable and it’s okay to say “I don’t know,” or “I haven’t got the answer in this situation.” And that brings you back to pitching again. That is the… absolutely the most important thing you can do in pitching is to be willing to say I don’t know and not ballshit!
Marcus: Yes, don’t ballshit because you will fall over very quickly!
Paul: Yeah. You know, and it’s like the one example of that that really gets on my nerves are people like me who, people like me! I’ll just stop there!
Marcus: End of. Full stop, moving on. Right, what’s the joke? (Laughter)
Paul: So, people like me that run their own businesses…
Marcus: Who refer to themselves as “We”
Marcus: You’ve got it.
Paul: I mean, I see this all the time. I was working with University recently who… They are very small, it’s a small university, right? And they do everything they can to cover up that fact. But actually I’m a great believer in you take what your perceived weakness is and turn it into a positive. Actually, there are a lot of people that would love to attend a small cosy intimate university where you actually matter and you’re not just another number in a book. You know?
Marcus: Yeah, yeah.
Paul: So in all these things that we perceive in ourselves as weaknesses some other people will perceive as a good thing. You just need to play off that and attract those people. So, yes.
Marcus: That’s a kind of, it’s an old-fashioned way of dealing with the public. You know, if you are a sole trader, I don’t know, a plumber or whatever, you will… I’m sure it is drilled into you or it was in the old days that refer to yourself as “We” to make yourself seem more important. But with kind of… Because we study customer services so much these days that kind of thing doesn’t… It has the opposite effect.
Paul: Also, I think the difference is that there was… There is no doubt that to some people, there are some people that want to hire a bigger company, right? So, back in the day if you are trying to attract customers you were limited to attracting customers just in your locality. So you couldn’t afford to alienate anybody. Right? But these days you can attract customers worldwide. You can work with people all over the world. That means that there are no shortage of potential customers out there. That means it is absolutely okay to be yourself because there will be enough people out there that want to hire somebody like you. It’s like I was speaking at a conference recently and I bombed quite majorly at it, right? I can’t remember whether I talked about it on the show or not. You know, they found me loud and obnoxious and all the things that I am, you know, those are absolutely valid criticisms, you know. My instant reaction is “Oh, oh then I can’t be that any more, I need to conform.” But in truth there are enough people out there that want to work with someone loud and obnoxious, enthusiastic, over-the-top. That actually find that appealing. And as long as there are enough people in that audience to do that then why the hell not, why be something that you are not and be awkward and kind of uncomfortable in that.
Marcus: Absolutely Paul. Be yourself, that’s the lesson that we want to teach everyone today.
Paul: Be a big hippie and just be yourself. Or, put another way, you can take lessons that you learn about one thing like email or marketing or and apply them in lots of other fields too. Right, Marcus do you have a joke for us?
Marcus: I do. I saw this one on Twitter from Stuart Langridge.
Paul: Oh, Stuart. I haven’t spoken to Stuart in a very long time.
Marcus: Well it was actually retweeted by Bruce, but anyway, here we go, I like this. Mountains aren’t just funny they’re hilarious.[hillareas]
Paul: Oh no! Yeah, that’s actually quite good I do quite like that.
Marcus: Anyway, yeah.
Paul: Thank you Stuart and Bruce. Much appreciated. Just to kind of emphasise a point before we wrap up. You remember last week I said we have three slots available and that people would say “Oh, it’s not worth sending anything in because if there’s only three slots available they’ll go so fast…?” We still have three slots available. So…
Marcus: Leigh has promised. He has promised.
Paul: I don’t care what he has promised. Words are cheap.
Marcus: Yes, they are. There’s a saying along those lines isn’t there? I can’t think what it is of the top of my head.
Paul: Oh, there we go. So, we will see. Now we’ve announced on the podcast “Leigh Howells will be submitting a talk.”
Marcus: Yeah, there it is.
Paul: And if he doesn’t submit a talk you can send tweets to him @leigh. L E I G H. Make sure you harass him accordingly. Thank you very much.
Marcus: He’ll appreciate that a lot.
Paul: Yeah, he will do. He will love it. All right, thank you very much for listening to this weeks show. We will be back again next week with two more talks. I’ve no idea what they are! See you then. Bye Bye.