On this week’s show, we are joined by Matt Curry from LoveHoney to discuss how they are successfully encouraging users to step out of their comfort zone.
- More on Balsamiq.
- More about Fullstory.
- My book on building user-centric culture.
- My card deck of techniques for building a user-centric culture.
Paul Boag: On this week's podcast we're joined by Matt Curry from LoveHoney to discuss how they've successfully encouraged users to step out of their comfort zone. This week's podcast is sponsored by FullStory and Balsamiq.
Paul Boag: Hello and welcome to the Boagworld Show, the podcast about all aspects of digital design, development, and strategy. My name is Paul Boag and joining me on this week's show is Marcus Lillington. Hello, Marcus.
Marcus Lillington: Hello, Paul Boag. How are you today? Things are better, aren't they?
Paul Boag: They are a little bit better. I'm in my home. It is chaotic still. It's still essentially a building site, but just by … We've done one room which is the study, the room that I work in. It's still not complete, half the electrics aren't done, the skirt boards not on, and all the rest of it. But it really drives home what a difference a nice working environment makes.
Paul Boag: Going from where I … My office wasn't bad before, was it? I had quite a lot of space. You've seen it. But having … We've now got these big bi-fold doors, and it's been a beautiful day, and I've had them open, and it just lifts my mood. It makes such a difference to me to have all that light and that space, and it's just wonderful, so I'm very happy.
Paul Boag: But also, most of all, I'm very happy, because I've got internet back. It's been quite traumatic the last few days.
Marcus Lillington: Yes, you're like you didn't have an arm. An arm was missing or something like that.
Paul Boag: It's terrible, isn't it? How reliant you are on it. Of course, we're really spoiled these days compared to what it used to be, because you've got 4G. I'm using my mobile data and stuff, but everything doesn't work quite right and is slightly more difficult. Talk about first world problems, it's unbelievable.
Marcus Lillington: Yeah, but I think that is a genuine first world problem though, because we're so used to it and so reliant on it now. If it's not working, it affects our daily lives. We can't do our jobs basically. How many months have you been out of your house, Paul?
Paul Boag: I think it's been about eight months.
Marcus Lillington: Wow.
Paul Boag: I reckon, something like that.
Marcus Lillington: I don't think I could do that, because I watched Grand Designs and just think, "Nah. I could never do that."
Paul Boag: Well, to be honest, if I'd known what it was going to be like going in … I knew it was going to be tough. These things always are. But if I'd known quite how big it was, I don't think I would have done it. Although now it's done, I'm glad I did do it, does that make sense?
Marcus Lillington: Totally, yes. It's a dangerous place for me to go, but it's the kind of thing women say, once the memory of having a baby is gone, they go, "Oh, I could have another one."
Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah. To be honest, I'm a bit like you, if I'm … Losing my creature comforts and all the disruption doesn't really appeal to me. But my wife really wanted to do it, and she made the right call. It's absolutely brilliant. But it's still so much to do. Have you seen any of the photographs, I've posted on Twitter?
Marcus Lillington: I've haven't. No, I went to go and have a look, and then I got distracted by something. Somebody mentioned it in the slack channel, "Oh, I'll go and have a look," but no, I will.
Paul Boag: There's just our lounge at the moment is just boxes floor to ceiling. It's just horrendous. We just cleared some space and were making progress, and then IKEA arrived and tripled the number of boxes in a single visit. All of that needs assembling, but you know, it's fun.
Marcus Lillington: I quite like assembling IKEA furniture.
Paul Boag: Oh, do you?
Marcus Lillington: Yeah.
Paul Boag: Well, feel free to come over.
Marcus Lillington: No chance.
Paul Boag: No? That's a shame.
Marcus Lillington: I do quite like it. The most difficult thing I've ever done are their double wardrobes with mirrored doors. That you have to hang the doors on the front of this thing, and it's horrendous.
Paul Boag: Yeah, that's so not me. Fortunately, I married an engineer, so she does things like that.
Marcus Lillington: You just have to hold things.
Paul Boag: Exactly. Yes. Another show and a show where I feel settled and prepared and on the ball, and then immediately I've got to apologize for the quality of the interview. Because what we talk about is really good, but Max Audio I didn't get right, did I? I messed it up. I'm sorry.
Marcus Lillington: Yeah, it's a bit fuzzy. I've made him sound as best I possibly can. Yeah, and he didn't record himself, bad Matt.
Paul Boag: Well, to be honest, it's certainly listenable to, isn't it? What he said, it is one of my favorite interviews. We've got Matt Curry on the show, and I'll introduce Matt later. We won't get into too much now. But as I teased at the end of the last episode, this is possibly the weirdest and most bizarre discussion about user experience you will ever have, so prepare yourself people.
Marcus Lillington: It's good, very good.
Paul Boag: But before that, we've got the far more interesting Marcus's "Thought for the Day".
Marcus Lillington: Yeah, my little thought for today. Now, I'm going to talk a bit about proposals.
Paul Boag: All right.
Marcus Lillington: I had said to myself that I wouldn't cover proposals, because I've done it so many times before. But I thought … Something came up in the Boagworld slack channel about, what software do you use? It just got me thinking about proposals. I thought, "Well, I'll take a slightly different tack from maybe the ones I've done in the past on the show."
Marcus Lillington: Really just to say that … Obviously, I'm going to say this, but proposal documents are really important. Sure, you may have a lovely chat with someone about a piece of work they want that might even be in-person. But that person might not be the final decision maker.
Marcus Lillington: For that person, their first impressions of you may be that document landing on their desk. Therefore, that document not only needs to answer the brief, it needs to be a representation of you and your brand. It needs to say, I don't know, "minimal and efficient," or "rich and impactful," or whatever it is that you are. In essence, it needs to be designed with the same care that your website deliverable would be, or whatever it is that you're tendering for, in our case, websites.
Marcus Lillington: That seems like an obvious statement, but I've seen a few over the years and quite a lot of them aren't very well designed. Really, what I think what it comes down to is just consistency, because it's very easy if you're doing a Word document or a Pages document or something like that just to randomly do stuff. I'm going to make this bit bold and this bit italic and this bit green and that bit blue. But you need to make sure that you have the same level of consistency in your proposal document that you would have, say if you were building something like a website. Your headings, body text, bullets, captions, quotes, image, styling, placing, spacing, and all that kind of stuff, should all be super-consistent across the document. That's design.
Marcus Lillington: Content-wise, I have said this before, you make … The most important thing is you need to answer the brief, not answer the aspects of the brief that you want to answer. Because I think that's something that … It's very easy to look through a brief and go, "Hm, that doesn't make sense. That doesn't make sense, so I'll ignore those two bits."
Marcus Lillington: But if you disagree with something, then you need to deal with it head on. Though, obviously, you might … I think I mentioned this in a previous episode, a few episodes ago, if you do want to deal with something head on and argue the point and suggest something different that might end up losing you the work, so beware of that. But don't ignore it, I think is what I'm trying to say.
Marcus Lillington: The final point is don't get lazy. Because writing proposals, they can be really quite in-depth, long documents where you've got tons and tons of stuff to cover. Basically, if you put loads of effort into the first 80% of your document, don't rush the last 20%. Don't go, "Oh, that'll do," with those last few bits.
Paul Boag: Because normally the last 20% is the pricing, and that's the bit they look most carefully at.
Marcus Lillington: Well, that's true, yeah. Actually, I tend to do the pricing very early on, because it guides everything else in the document. But it's those last … It's usually the bits that you don't want to deal with that are your last 20%. Just make sure you put the same amount of effort into those that you did with all the rest of it.
Paul Boag: There's another aspect I think as well when it comes to the content of writing with some personality. As well as the design should be reflecting who you are, I think the content should as well. Having a level of professionalism in the way that you write as well, things like spelling mistakes and grammar, and one that I did recently which is oh, I've accidentally left the name of a client, a previous client where I've copied and pasted it from one to another that kind of thing.
Marcus Lillington: I'm taking those as givens, Paul.
Paul Boag: Oh, are you? Those are so basic. But I'm still failing them. But it's the halo effect, isn't it? This idea that they will look at something like oh, the design's not particularly nice, or the copy isn't very well written, and they'll presume that what you produce in the project will be shoddy. It all reflects on, doesn't it?
Marcus Lillington: Absolutely, yep. They're really important basically, bottom line.
Paul Boag: He's a very wise man is our Marcus. I'm very conscious, right? That this season, because you do more work than me really in this season, because you're doing the "Thought for the Day", and you've got to come up with the joke, and I just interview people. We should rename it Marcusworld this season.
Marcus Lillington: No. No, no. That would just feel wrong, but, all right.
Paul Boag: We certainly can't call it Lillingtonworld.
Marcus Lillington: Lili-lingling, Lili-lingling, no, no. Even I can't say my surname.
Paul Boag: Do you know? It's so funny. Whenever I've got to do the transcription every week, and I use a service called Rev.com to do the transcription. One of the things you can do is you can add in the speakers' names, right? You can say who the speakers are. It won't let me put your name in. It's too long.
Marcus Lillington: What?
Paul Boag: It won't let me put Marcus Lillington. I can-
Marcus Lillington: It's not that long a name.
Paul Boag: I know.
Marcus Lillington: It's not as long as my wife's name, Caroline Lillington.
Paul Boag: Oh my word, yeah. No, apparently your name is too long, so there you go.
Marcus Lillington: That's ridiculous. I'm offended.
Paul Boag: I have to go in and change it by hand afterwards. But interestingly, actually, I received an email from Rev.com only this evening saying, "Hey, we noticed you use the notes feature a lot. Would you mind jumping on a call and giving us some feedback about it?" I shall be giving them some feedback about it.
Marcus Lillington: Well, okay.
Paul Boag: But isn't that great? Isn't that great that they're contacting their customers and asking for feedback? That's what they should be doing. Good for them.
Marcus Lillington: Yes. Well done.
Paul Boag: Talking about companies that know how to get it … Oh, see, nice-
Marcus Lillington: Hey.
Paul Boag: … transition there.
Marcus Lillington: You're such a pro.
Paul Boag: I know, right? I got a lovely email from Balsamiq as well today. He's one of the sponsors on our show. When you get an email that starts off with, "We just wanted to drop you a line to say how happy we are with everything you're doing," right? What comes next at that point, right? It inevitably goes, but here's a load of changes that we want, right?
Marcus Lillington: Usually, yeah, yeah.
Paul Boag: Doesn't it? Doesn't it?
Marcus Lillington: Yes, fantastic job, here's a list of 20 things.
Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah. I got an email that started off exactly like that from Balsamiq, and do you know what? It didn't. It was just glowing encouragement from beginning to end. That is so nice. It's really … It was really bizarre. Perhaps a …
Paul Boag: Because you know I'm doing this course with them at the moment. I'm creating a master class with their help. I think they basically have been reading what I've been writing, because I did this whole thing on appreciation, and how important it is to appreciate users. I think they were just basically throwing it back at me.
Marcus Lillington: They're just saving up the follow-up email for tomorrow.
Paul Boag: Yeah. Oh, and by the way, now you mention it …
Marcus Lillington: You've got that lovely warm glow, Paul. Now-
Paul Boag: Yeah, they're going to slap me down tomorrow. I tell you I need all the warm glows I can get at the moment. My life is so hectic.
Paul Boag: Anyway, let's talk about Balsamiq. If you haven't come across Balsamiq, and to be honest, I'm not convinced that you work in the digital field, if you haven't come across Balsamiq, because they're one of the, probably, the most well-known wireframing tools out there and, probably, the easiest to use. In fact, I think they probably are the easiest to use.
Paul Boag: It's designed to be easy, if not even easier than using pen and paper, because it's all just drag and drop. You just, "Oh I want a calendar widget," drag it in. You don't even need to draw it.
Paul Boag: It's great for meetings where you want visualize ideas in real time. It's great for selling ideas with minimal effort, which let's face it, we all want to do. It's so much … A picture paints a thousand words and all that bollocks. It's much easier to just show people what you want to do rather than try and describe it. Balsamiq makes it really quick and easy to do that.
Paul Boag: It's also really good for collaborating on a design and actively engaging stakeholders in the process. Of course, the more you engage a stakeholder in creating the design, if they feel that they've been involved in it is some way, then they're going to be less likely to reject it.
Paul Boag: I'd really encourage you to go check it out. You can find it at Balsamiq.cloud. You can get a 30-day free trial. If you then do decide you want to go on and use it on projects et cetera when you come to sign up, if you enter the code "boagworld" alongside your billing information, you'll get the first three months for free, and that's on top of your 30-day free trial. That's four months for nothing, which is always pretty good, isn't it? Okay, so that is Balsamiq.
Paul Boag: Right, let's talk about this interview that I've probably hyped up out of all proportion.
Marcus Lillington: It's not that [crosstalk 00:14:30].
Paul Boag: I'll tell Matt that. I'm really fascinated by … We've known Matt Curry for a long, long time. We originally worked with him when he worked at a company called Wiltshire Farm Foods which sold ready meals to old people. Then he made what can only be described as the most ridiculous career switch known to man. He went from selling ready meals to old people to selling sex toys to middle-aged housewives. That's a huge sweeping generalization on that second part.
Paul Boag: He went to selling sex toys and, of course, that's not the kind of thing that you normally hear about on a web design podcast. But I tell you, it is absolutely fascinating from a user experience point of view. The challenges associated with selling sex toys, and, particularly, the way they've positioned themselves, which is trying to sell sex toys to people that never bought them before. There's all this anxiety that goes alongside of it. All this unsure … The sense of risk, these questions that people have. I find it a really interesting subject.
Paul Boag: Yeah, we got Matt on the show to talk about it. I don't think there's anything too disturbing. I think once or twice he mentions particular campaigns. If you are a little bit sensitive disposition this may not be the best interview for you. But it's not obscene by any means. But maybe not safe to play on your speakers at work, I don't know. But you've been warned anyway. Okay, so here's the interview with Matt.
Paul Boag: Matt, thank you very much for coming and joining us on this season of the podcast. I think probably the best place to kick off is if you could tell us a little bit about your role and about LoveHoney and how you got involved with them and that kind of stuff.
Matt Curry: Oh crikey, right. I have been with LoveHoney for nearly eight years now.
Paul Boag: Is it really? Wow.
Matt Curry: Eight years, oh my lord. Interestingly, Neal, who's one of the founders of LoveHoney, heard me on the Boagworld podcast.
Paul Boag: Oh, really? How bizarre.
Matt Curry: Yes, he did, all the way back in the day. Essentially, he stalked me online for about a year saying, "Please come work for us. Please come work for us." Of course, you would think that would be career suicide working for a sex toy company. But he slowly convinced me regarding the [inaudible 00:17:29] of challenges that they faced, and that they were currently undergoing a rebrand. That was very interesting to me in terms of how can you position a company that you would normally consider in quite a tawdry business to be quite casual essentially.
Matt Curry: The goal of LoveHoney is to make buying sex toys as normal as buying a toaster from John Lewis. That is what we aim for in terms of our [inaudible 00:18:03] design, in terms of the breadth of knowledge, in terms of the friendliness. That this is an everyday purchase, and it should be an everyday purchase. You shouldn't feel seedy or tawdry in any way by buying these sorts of things.
Matt Curry: Yes, that was very interesting to me. In terms of my role here, oh, it has evolved, Paul. It has evolved.
Paul Boag: That doesn't surprise me that.
Matt Curry: Nowadays … Well, people say, "Oh, you sell sex toys for a living?" I say, "Well, theoretically yes. But mostly I fill out spreadsheets and send emails to people telling me to do stuff."
Matt Curry: I am head of e-commerce. Head of e-commerce looks after all digital analytics for the business, all inbound digital channels, so your PPC SEO display, affiliates [inaudible 00:19:01], wherever you like, and I feed into UX. We have a separate UX department which started up early of last year, and so we tend to work very closely together in that e-comm world.
Matt Curry: Formulate hypotheses that will go over to UX for wireframing out solutions to those hypotheses. We will then test them, so no one is marking their own work, present back the findings, and any suggestions of reiteration then the cycle continues. It's quite a nice little workflow.
Matt Curry: We also look after any form of martech, so any shiny thing that marketing wants to do that involves tracking someone to the nth degree, maybe not from May 25th. Generally involves me "MacGyvering" my way to try and figure out how on earth we're going to do it.
Paul Boag: Interesting. There's so much in what you've just said that I want to just dive into, but let's just take a step back a minute. You said that when you joined LoveHoney that Neal was going through a rebrand, right?
Matt Curry: Yeah.
Paul Boag: At that point, did they know that they wanted to position LoveHoney in this very mainstream, accessible, non-seedy way, or did that evolve through the process of rebranding?
Matt Curry: Well, LoveHoney was always meant to position itself as non-seedy. Essentially when they founded the company back in 2005, or 2002, lordy, it was … The sex toy industry was very seedy. It was essentially very sex-driven websites, largely aimed at men, pornographic imagery. It was not a pleasant place to shop.
Matt Curry: The fundamentals were already there. For example, we already did instructional video. This is not what you'd expect an instructional video would be like. Essentially, getting a proper presenter in, to say like, "Here is this vibrator. This is … Showing let's watch proof. This is how loud it is. Here's how the functions work. This is how you put the batteries in."
Matt Curry: All this stuff, and essentially the … We call it, "Going the extra inch," that little bit extra effort in just explaining these products to people. Most people have not touched a sex toy, and so just showing them a little picture of something and a big add to basket button isn't going to work. You have to explain these things to people.
Matt Curry: Most people don't really understand the difference between a vibrator and a dildo to be honest with you. You absolutely have to slow them down, hold their hand, and slowly take them through. This is the stuff you need to be thinking about here.
Paul Boag: The videos that I've seen on your site are almost … They almost remind of tech demos-
Matt Curry: They are.
Paul Boag: … like tech reviews.
Matt Curry: They are.
Paul Boag: Yeah, very much that kind of feel.
Matt Curry: Because it is essentially stepping away from the product a little bit. Because we all know what these things are for and where you're going to put them, but we essentially are a consumer electronics company.
Paul Boag: Yeah.
Matt Curry: Ultimately.
Paul Boag: Yeah.
Matt Curry: When I'm looking at inspiration for functions that we should be implementing, I don't look at sex websites. I don't look at lingerie websites. I tend to look at places like Appliances Online or Amazon or anything where there is a level of technical detail that your common visitor will not know about and so will not know to be thinking about at that point of purchase.
Paul Boag: Immediately go off on tangent from my list of pre-prepared questions which I do all the time. It's very interesting to hear you talk there, because you're talking about most people don't know the difference between a vibrator and a dildo, and they don't know anything about this product all the time.
Paul Boag: Now, you've worked at LoveHoney for eight years, I know you a little bit from back in the day. This must all be so natural to you now. You took me around your office, and you're surrounded by sex toys every day, all day. How do you as a company maintain that perspective of what it's like not to be a part of that world, for the product to feel absolutely alien to you and maybe slightly scary and a little bit strange? There'll be a lot of people that are listening to this right now thinking, "Oh Paul, what a weird choice of a person to have on the show."
Matt Curry: Yeah, no, absolutely. It is incredibly difficult to. You become, for want of a better word, desensitized to sex toys very, very quickly. It is, I can't put myself in that mindset. All I can do is look at user research, data studies, and see …
Matt Curry: We had a brilliant piece of work done last year by [inaudible 00:24:42] who did an entire experience map for newbies. Thinking about not just from when they came to the site, but way before they come to the site. What kicks off the conversation with their partner? If there is a conversation at all about buying a sex toy. If there isn't a conversation that then makes a completely different customer group.
Matt Curry: Because that person is what we call an "anxious gifter". That is someone who wants to improve their sex life, thinks sex toys is a way of doing that, but is for some reason afraid to ask their partner. What they come to do is buy it as a gift. In that there comes various psychological challenges in that they want to buy something good, so something quality, but they don't want to spend so much that it can't be laughed off later on as a joke. Yeah, yeah, it's complex.
Paul Boag: But that's what makes it so interesting. That's why talking to you is such a great thing, because it's all the problems and challenges that any e-commerce manager faces but magnified.
Matt Curry: Oh, yeah.
Paul Boag: Even the thing about not being able to connect with how people feel. Everyone, if you sell insurance for a living, you forget how a normal person feels about buying insurance. It's the same problems but just kind of magnified because of the semi-taboo nature of the product.
Matt Curry: It's an emotive subject. The thing is if people … From their first purchase, if they buy the wrong thing that might [inaudible 00:26:31] out of the category for life.
Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah.
Matt Curry: They could completely dismiss it as, "Oh, I tried it once, never again." We really have to make it work first time and make sure what they're buying is the right thing for them.
Matt Curry: The difficult thing for us is that we stock so many of the damn things. We sell, in total, I think we have nine thousand different SKUs. We sell 73 different types of bullet vibrator alone. There is … Because we have a core audience who will buy frequently. We have to have the range for them, but also there is a massive issue of choice paralysis. If your brand-new to the site, your brand-new to the category, you don't know if you want a bullet or a rabbit or a wand-
Paul Boag: Or even knowing what the difference is between those things.
Matt Curry: Even knowing what the difference is. How do you do that? How do you communicate to people that there are these different styles and these different facets of those products that you need to be thinking about? Now, when I say-
Paul Boag: How do you do that? How do you deal with choice paralysis?
Matt Curry: Well, well, well, you know when I said that I look at electronics sites for inspiration. I was in the market for an American fridge/freezer a few years ago. If you go on Appliances Online, they have an American, a fridge/freezer finder. Which essentially says, what size do you want it to be? Do you want it to have an ice maker? How much do you want to be freezer? How much do you want to be fridge? So on and so forth, and you click the options, and the little number whizzes down [inaudible 00:28:19], we found six, view the six.
Matt Curry: And so we built the vibrator finder.
Paul Boag: That's awesome.
Matt Curry: Yeah, yeah. If you go to LoveHoney, you'll see there's banners everywhere for it, the vibrator finder. Essentially, it shows you in iconography, so they don't actually show product, just [inaudible 00:28:37] iconography, here's the main six types of vibrator. How much do you want to spend in three different bands? Do you only want to see things that are four stars and higher? Do you want it to be powerful? Do you want it to be quiet? Do you want it to be remote-controlled? Click those things. A little number whizzes down, show me my six options.
Paul Boag: Brilliant.
Matt Curry: Yeah, and you don't get that sort of thing by looking at a lingerie shop or [inaudible 00:29:08] or something like that. You have to consider these things in terms of … It's a bit nervy. It's very nervy. But you have to think of these things in terms of these are products that are tricky and their attributes that people don't know about.
Paul Boag: Yeah. It's fascinating. Obviously, really understanding your audience has been key to LoveHoney's success to a large degree. Because LoveHoney's huge now, aren't you?
Matt Curry: Yeah.
Paul Boag: Are you the biggest sex toy retailer?
Matt Curry: In the UK now, probably, yeah, worldwide, no. We're probably number three, maybe number two in the US now. We're number one in Australia now.
Paul Boag: Crikey.
Matt Curry: LoveHoney is about 15 times the size it was when I started.
Paul Boag: Yeah.
Matt Curry: Yeah, this is a very different world. Going from tiny, tiny [inaudible 00:30:05] to where I am now, there's no comparison. We've got to the place … LoveHoney used to do a lot of things on gut feel. We used to do, was this fun, or did this seem like a good idea? We can't do that anymore. There's millions at risk, if we make a bad decision.
Matt Curry: Now, when I say I mostly fill out spreadsheets and send emails, that's because I'm working on strategy. I'm working on metrics and the performance measurement framework, and all this stuff that means I can't do the old style, "Oh, let's change this button another color and see what happens." [inaudible 00:30:53].
Matt Curry: Nowadays, everything has to be these are the objectives. This is the strategy of how we're going to achieve them. This is how we're going to be measuring them. That's the thing, so you think LoveHoney is a sexy, sexy business, and it's a 24-hour orgy.
Paul Boag: I really didn't think that, Matt. But now you've said it, now that's all I've got in my head.
Matt Curry: It's essentially … If there weren't sex toys everywhere and on people's desks and constantly in view, we could be selling anything. We could be selling photocopiers. Because everyone's just got Excel open and are furiously working at a formula.
Paul Boag: But at the same time, it's not like selling a photocopier because of the nature of the product and because of the attitudes towards the product. That's what really makes it different is that need to be incredibly sensitive to user's objections. Because a lot of it, a lot of sales, isn't it, is objection handling isn't it? It's why they might not go and buy whatever it is that you're selling.
Paul Boag: I often use actually LoveHoney when I'm talking about persuasive design, because you've got videos on your site that say … I can see you sat down somewhere and listed, all right, what are all the things that might freak people out about this?
Matt Curry: Oh, yeah.
Paul Boag: What's going to be on their credit card? How's the package going to arrive?
Matt Curry: People are worried that a giant pink box is going to turn up on their doorstep with the word dildo written on it.
Paul Boag: Exactly.
Matt Curry: You have to have that supportive content. But the big thing is getting people to the product in the first place. People tend not to worry too much about what's going to be on their credit card bill and what the package is going to look like until after they've placed the order.
Paul Boag: Yeah, I could imagine that.
Matt Curry: Then they panic. Our biggest task is getting them to the product in the first place.
Paul Boag: Okay.
Matt Curry: This is the thing. If you know they're coming in the classic GA shopping funnel stuff, [inaudible 00:33:10] landing, this percentage of people viewed a product, this percentage added to your basket, this percentage checked out that sort of thing. I can't give any stats away, but the percentage of people who actually view a product on LoveHoney is not good.
Paul Boag: Right.
Matt Curry: It's not … You would think that 100% of people who visit LoveHoney view a product, and they do not.
Paul Boag: What do you think happens there? You must have researched that kind of stuff. Because I imagine if I sit down, and I get as far as typing LoveHoney.co.uk in, I can understand there being apprehension-
Matt Curry: That's fine. If you typed in LoveHoney.uk, you're kind of aware of LoveHoney. You're aware of what we sell. You're coming with a level of propensity already.
Paul Boag: Ah. It's people that are clicking on an ad or a search engine.
Matt Curry: It's the people typing vibrators or typing sex toys in. People who type sex toys into Google are the very interesting people to me. People who type sex toys into Google massively skew male, massively, like 88% of all the people we see who've typed sex toys into Google are male.
Matt Curry: Why do men end up leaning on such a generic term, like just sex toys when women have vibrators, bullets, they have this entire vocabulary of sex toys available to them. Men lack that vocabulary.
Paul Boag: That's fascinating.
Matt Curry: Men have heard of [inaudible 00:34:47] maybe and push, but there is absolutely no common word for male sex toys or the variety of male sex toys. If someone put sex toys into Google, what do you want to show them? Do I assume they're male? Then start showing them a bunch of random [inaudible 00:35:11] and all that jazz or … What do you do?
Paul Boag: Because even if they are male? They might not be looking for a toy-
Matt Curry: They might be gifting.
Paul Boag: … for themselves. They might be looking-
Matt Curry: Exactly, they might be gifting, and so what do you do? There's an idea that okay, well, then you sit two massive graphics in front of them saying, "Well, are you a man, or are you a woman?" Well, not everyone's a man or a woman for a start.
Paul Boag: No.
Matt Curry: Sex toys are sort of naturally not gender. It's a minefield from then on anyway. My next big idea, and I've started doing proof of concept, do you remember Choose Your Own Adventure books?
Paul Boag: Yes, I do.
Matt Curry: Yeah, if you want to fight the dragon turn to page 30. Can I get a man to the right category and subset of products by asking them just a series of narrative questions?
Paul Boag: Are you talking about doing this in some kind of chatbot format or …
Matt Curry: Well, I literally … There's a nice little Choose Your Own Adventure building program called Twine.
Paul Boag: Yes.
Matt Curry: [inaudible 00:36:20]. Yeah, that sort of works with a proof of concept, and now we're looking at chatbots. There's a third-party service called Landbot.io, that's quite nifty for this sort of thing. We've got [inaudible 00:36:39] … They're currently on the site, experimental chatbots, I don't know if I can spare one this podcast.
Paul Boag: Yeah, you can. Don't worry.
Matt Curry: We have [inaudible 00:36:48] bots and [inaudible 00:36:49] bots. Depending on what you're trying to buy. Just to see if we can get people … Because people don't want to pick up a phone generally to talk about these things. Certainly, men aren't going to chat to their mates about this sort of thing. If you say explicitly this is a robot that you are talking to, that's pre-programmed to get you in the right place, will that help people?
Matt Curry: [crosstalk 00:37:41].
Paul Boag: How do you approach that?
Matt Curry: Well, fortunately for us, the 18 to 25 demographic is much more open about talking about their sex life-
Paul Boag: Okay.
Matt Curry: … than other demographics. The stigma is slowly decreasing with younger audiences. The way that we approach recruitment is by saying, "We want to speak to people who have bought a sex toy in the last six months," not necessarily from us, doesn't matter, doesn't matter who, and then we can talk them through … Because it will still be reasonably fresh in their mind. We talk them through what was the process that you went through in order to get to buying a sex toy.
Matt Curry: We don't want to know really which one you bought. We just want to know what triggered the conversation? Over what time did this happen? Was it multiple conversations? Did you decide to buy together [inaudible 00:38:47]? Which one initiated it? What were your fears at the time? What budget did you have in mind at the beginning?
Matt Curry: It's those sorts of questions that people, they don't actually mind answering. Because you're not asking them, well, what was it like? You're just asking about how they felt at the time. They don't have to actually go into their sex life. They should just talk about, "Well, we had a conversation about it. We thought, well, we'll spend 30 pounds." It's those sorts of questions [crosstalk 00:39:19].
Paul Boag: How valuable … Because this season of the podcast you're talking about culture as a whole. It is obvious that from the top down you've had a very clear leadership in terms of the tone that you're adopting, and the way that you're working.
Paul Boag: But I'm also quite interested in terms of how the different parts of the organization work together. You've already talked about how you and the UX team work very closely together. What about you and the customer support people? Because I'm imagining you get lots of really valuable feedback from the people that are on the end of the phone the whole time.
Matt Curry: Oh, yes. Oh, yes, we do. Well, interestingly, customer care is not just one department. We have three customer care departments around the world. We obviously have our office. We're now in three different buildings now, Paul.
Paul Boag: Oh, are you? Wow.
Matt Curry: Yeah. The customer care team are based [inaudible 00:40:25].
Paul Boag: Now, can I … Sorry, can I … Sorry to break into your train of thought, but that raises a really interesting thing. Now that you're spread over multiple buildings, have you found it harder to liaise with the customer support team? Because before, they were literally sitting next door, and every time they came in for a coffee, you would be talking to them. Is that distance creating a barrier?
Matt Curry: A little bit, I would say. Obviously, we get the weekly feedback sheet. There's 30 people in customer care who will email me, and I'll email them. We'll be in the group chats and all that sorts of stuff. We don't … I'm not as close to the call [inaudible 00:41:09] as I used to be admittedly.
Matt Curry: But then, we've got the customer care office in Brisbane, and the customer care office in Atlanta, so you're always going to be distributed in one way or another. All you can do is get the best feedback loops which sounds incredibly business wanky, but it's true. Get the best way of gathering feedback as much as possible.
Matt Curry: I think the issue is when someone calls customer care that is not a typical user.
Paul Boag: Yeah, I know. Yeah.
Matt Curry: Where my focus is, is the people who … What are people doing before they get to customer care? If there's specific instances of customer care speaking to someone who are buying their first sex toy, that's useful stuff to me.
Matt Curry: But it's really, when people have thought about buying for the first time, what do they type into Google? When they land on LoveHoney, what is their first impression? Is this a site for people like them?
Matt Curry: One thing that I'm really keen on at the moment is the idea of what we call heightened normalization, which I think is named after a film, that we need to make these things look as normal as possible. One thing that we're working on is if you're viewing a particular product, we'll tell you how many other people viewed that product in the last 24 hours. If you go to the reviews, all our reviews, they're from real people, and it will tell you a little bit about that person. They're a married woman, mid-40s, in a relationship for 20 years, that sort of stuff.
Paul Boag: Yeah, that's good.
Matt Curry: That's so much more useful to people than if it's some 18-year-old boy. Yeah, we have to make this stuff not look like it's for weirdos. Because it's not. Everyone does it. You have to just normalize the damn things.
Matt Curry: I think sometimes we go too far the one way. In that we can sometimes just burp out products on a page without any form of context or explanation. For example, if you're looking at a particular vibrator we'll say, "Well, we also recommend you buy this lubricant and this cleaner, and you'll want this storage," and so on and so forth, and we don't particularly explain why.
Matt Curry: We all know why. Because if you haven't got a storage bag, it will gather … The silicon will get dusty, and it will be very unpleasant for you and all that sort of stuff. That's something that I'm trying to work on, is a way of intelligently, programmatically giving people context to what we're recommending them.
Paul Boag: You seem to have a very intuitive grasp of what's going on with your customers. Now, the last time I interacted with you was admittedly probably almost eight years ago.
Matt Curry: Yeah.
Paul Boag: If you think of it that way. You were very heavy on multi-variant testing and analytics, and from the sounds of what you were saying about spreadsheets, you still very much are.
Matt Curry: Yes.
Paul Boag: But it sounds like that's very much been balanced by something else. Is it usability testing that you're doing regularly? Do you actually get to sit down-
Matt Curry: Usability testing, I'm not sure if I actually believe in anymore.
Paul Boag: Oh, interesting.
Matt Curry: Because I've had a lot of usability consultants march through these doors and user experience consultants march through these doors and proclaim all these things that we end up testing and don't make a jolly bit of difference.
Matt Curry: I like the idea of a properly spec'd UX test. I often talk about [inaudible 00:45:21]. Where you can just go in and change a bunch of stuff for the sake of it to see what difference it makes. I think back in the day, I was probably guilty of that.
Matt Curry: But now, it has to be our user research says that people are anxious. People want to find a good thing at a low value, and they want to check out as quickly as possible. That is our hypothesis, or our hypothesis is right, so we have various steps in the process that are slowing people down. What can we do about that?
Matt Curry: If someone … Can we introduce a buy it now button, for example, now that that Amazon patent has expired? Can we [inaudible 00:46:11] buy it now button on product pages? That's something I've been testing in Australia. Yeah, it works quite dramatically, but it only works for new visitors.
Paul Boag: Right okay.
Matt Curry: Because it's them, it's those new visitors their first visit anxious, want to buy something quickly, don't have time to research, click that button. Then you have to think about the [inaudible 00:46:39] side of it. If people have done that how can I make it even better for them?
Matt Curry: Every … We worked with a company called [inaudible 00:46:49], bunch of ex-Maximizer guys, we worked with, I think, three or four years now. Who essentially do our front end development for us. Whenever we come to them with a test that we want to do, they [inaudible 00:47:06] a document in front of you saying, "Fill this out."
Matt Curry: What is your hypothesis? What are the metrics that you are trying to change? Why do you believe that you will change these metrics? How long do you think you're going to be running this test for?
Matt Curry: Then you've got a whole debrief section that's for afterwards saying, did these metrics actually change? Were there any segments within those metrics that had a higher confidence for that change? Essentially, [inaudible 00:47:34] that segment there or that segment there. It might be demographic. It might be geographic. It could be anything. What is your next iteration?
Matt Curry: It's boring paperwork. But you get so much more out of your testing, than literally just flying in and changing a bunch of stuff, because you've got a hunch.
Paul Boag: I 100% agree with that. I absolutely see where you're coming from and that loop of identify a problem, form a hypothesis about potential solutions, test those solutions on a small-scale, iterate, improve, then push live, and then continue to monitor, absolutely, totally agree with.
Paul Boag: What I'm quite interested in, is the start of that. At the very beginning of that is the identify a problem. Obviously, your analytics to some degree are helping identify a problem, but you gave an example there about how you want somebody … Users want to do this very fast. Users want to do … It doesn't really matter what. Identifying what it is that users want to do, are you doing ongoing user research there? What are you relying on to come to that conclusion?
Matt Curry: Well, analytics will always come first. Obviously, you're looking at your shopping funnel and your checkout funnel to begin with. We also have a system called SessionCam which is a viewer session recording system. It's got a level of intelligence in it that there's people with these characteristics don't have the same add-to-basket rate as the rest of your population, and so that will then let us know where to start digging essentially.
Matt Curry: From there, we'll then construct some other metrics that will then give us indicators of what might be the problem. It could be dwell time on the page. It could be what have they highlighted. It could be all sorts of things. Have they looked at a [inaudible 00:49:40]? Have they read the review? Have they watched a video? What else have they looked at?
Matt Curry: From there, I can then go to the UX department and say, "Okay, I think we have an issue here." I've got a very good example of this actually. Through our Spanish website … We have a lot of websites now, Paul. When I started it was just one, now it's nine.
Paul Boag: Oh, there you go.
Matt Curry: There we go. For our Spanish website, I noticed that there was a significant drop off on the shipping address page of our checkout, and that's just in GA funnels, actually GA enhanced e-commerce. I could see on the shipping address page there was … People were dropping off here. I could do some classic Formisimo-style click tracking, so which field did they drop out on? Let's find that one first. Which fields are they dwelling on the most? Let's find that. It was the … We have an address lookup field, and so I've got a problem there. What I could see is then people in my session recording, what people were actually looking for. A lot of it is masked out for privacy.
Paul Boag: Yes, of course.
Matt Curry: But I can see the first few things that they're typing and what [inaudible 00:51:03] it's in. What I noticed is that they were really typing in their address, and what was being returned from the address lookup was a bunch of addresses in California, because they're Spanish. We can then go and say, "Ah, okay, somewhere in this, someone hasn't set the lookup country for Spain. They've set it to global." Then I can say, "Okay, let's test if we change that to purely look up Spanish addresses what happens." Unsurprisingly, it worked massively.
Paul Boag: That's a good example mine of the caution that you've had to adopt these days. Because it would to be very tempting to go, "Oh, look, that's the problem," fix, without actually testing. But I'm imagining that's come back to bite you at some point in the past.
Matt Curry: Yeah, you can always just make things worse without testing them. For example, videos, we did a change to our product page layout, PDP layout, that elevated the position of videos. We tested it in the UK, it was great, and then we applied that globally. In the US, it was a disaster.
Paul Boag: Oh, crikey.
Matt Curry: We ended up having to retest it in the US, and it seems that because all our videos are done with one of our presenters, mostly, Anabel, who has a cut-glass [inaudible 00:52:32] English accent, it wasn't working in the US audience. It was working fine in Australia, where they don't mind such things, but in the US, they do. Yeah, you can't just think about one site anymore.
Matt Curry: Within the US, you can't even consider the US like one territory. It's lots of different territories bunched together into one country with very different opinions of things.
Matt Curry: That's probably the biggest thing I've learnt now is previously I had to think small, and I can't think small anymore. When I'm thinking about Canada, obviously you've got Quebec as a separate issue. But the experience of someone in Vancouver will be very different from the experience of someone in Toronto, [inaudible 00:53:22] shipping times and tax. It's, yeah, it's a lot to think about. If you're just busy spending all your time on your UK site, you're not getting it right.
Paul Boag: Yeah, wow. Well, Matt that was absolutely fascinating. I'm not sure how much we actually spoke about culture.
Matt Curry: In terms of … The big thing that we haven't covered in LoveHoney is our culture. [inaudible 00:53:51], but literally, there are little cards for every staff member that says these are our core beliefs. They're things like, Go the extra inch, Believe in what you do, Don't judge others, If it makes someone happy, and it doesn't hurt anyone else you should support it. There's all sorts of things like that.
Matt Curry: Actually, those become our objectives. When we're getting performance reviews, every half year, it says, "How much do you live by the LoveHoney values?" They're literally listed.
Paul Boag: Excellent.
Matt Curry: You have to say how you have lived by those values.
Paul Boag: That's good.
Matt Curry: It's enforced.
Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah. That's really good. We really ought to wrap up, but there is one more question related to that.
Paul Boag: I remember back in your Wiltshire Farm Foods days, one of the things you said to me once is when you first joined the company you had to do the customer support for a bit, right?
Matt Curry: Yes, yes.
Paul Boag: Do you do anything like that at LoveHoney? Because that always struck me as a really good idea that everyone in the company whether you work in accounts or legal had to go through this process of interacting with the customer.
Matt Curry: It is, it is exactly the same at LoveHoney. I have done my week on customer service, it gives me nightmares. Because mostly you're on LiveChat, and so there is a level of anonymity when someone is chatting to an agent on LiveChat, and they will ask you the weirdest stuff. I was asked, what I would take to a lesbian sex party? I haven't been to many lesbian sex parties, Paul.
Paul Boag: No. No, that doesn't surprise me.
Matt Curry: I've been asked to measure certain ornaments. Yes, yes, but you have to, you have to, because then you get an idea of not just, oh, there's some people who want to have a bit of a joke. But this isn't … It's not life or death, but it's incredibly emotive for some people. They are essentially hanging their happiness off this thing they're going to buy. But your heart goes out to them, and you really just want to help them find the right thing.
Matt Curry: That's part of our returns policy. When you buy something, your product is guaranteed for a year, even if you've used it. Don't worry about keeping your packaging. Even if you've used it, don't care about the packaging. If you don't get on with it, even for a year, you can send it back.
Paul Boag: I say that in workshops I run, because I think that's about objection handling, isn't it? I don't know whether I'll like this. Well, you can try it, you can try it and see. The reaction I always get when I say your return policy is, "[inaudible 00:56:42]," because people think you're going to resell it.
Matt Curry: Then you can tell them about our recycling policy. Literally, vibrators go off to an electronics recycling facility in Kent where they will be turned into toasters and used dildos turned into pliers and all sorts of things.
Paul Boag: Oh, that's great. But intimately, once people get over that "[inaudible 00:57:06]", it's "Oh, wow, that is a big change thing." When you think, I can just buy it. If I don't like it, I can send it back. That's incredibly liberating.
Matt Curry: That's pure [inaudible 00:57:22].
Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah.
Matt Curry: Yeah, that's again one of the [inaudible 00:57:27] we looked at when we're thinking about, how can you sell sex toys like a customer leading company? You look at [inaudible 00:57:36]. You look at John Lewis. Look at all these companies who put the customers' needs first, and, ultimately, that helps your business needs.
Matt Curry: You think, well, if we've got a year return policy, won't people use it as a sex toy lending library? Well, there is a few who will, and we'll talk to them after a while. But the vast majority … Frankly, our returns policy, it could be five years, because the vast majority of returns happen within two weeks. You either get on with it, or you don't.
Paul Boag: The benefits, the amount of additional sales that you get from providing people with that safety net, outweighs the potential cost to the company, so it makes sense.
Matt Curry: Absolutely.
Paul Boag: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much, Matt.
Matt Curry: Well, thank you, Paul.
Paul Boag: It's an absolutely fascinating area. I never get bored of hearing your stories about it really. Long may you stay there and keep me entertained.
Matt Curry: Oh, thank you, I'll do my best.
Paul Boag: What did you think of that one, Marcus? Of course, you've heard a lot of it before. You've known Matt for as long as I have.
Marcus Lillington: I have indeed. Always great to hear what he has to say. He has to be, even more than Chris Scott, the Google Analytics maestro.
Paul Boag: Oh, yeah.
Marcus Lillington: Unbelievable. But more importantly than that, they have the best mantra ever, "Going the extra inch" just made me laugh out loud.
Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah, it did me as well.
Marcus Lillington: Brilliant.
Paul Boag: I also like the idea of it's like extreme user experience, isn't it? It's one of the most extreme positions you can ask people to visit a website over. I'm struggling to think of examples where there's more baggage associated with it.
Marcus Lillington: Yeah, people going in with so many potential hang-ups. Interesting what he was saying about the fact that he used to just be able to practice, "I'll try that. I'll just slap that out there and see if that works." Now, he's got the much more Amazon-like, "We will test this for six months on three people and then see what happens." Which must be a little bit frustrating for him, but then he's got a whole team of people to do that for him, so less so.
Paul Boag: Also-
Marcus Lillington: Sorry.
Paul Boag: … he's not testing … He's not having to test for six months now because of the obscene levels of traffic he's dealing with. He can do multi-variance testing, I imagine, quite quickly. But yeah, everything has to be a lot more considered. He wasn't very complimentary about usability consultants, was he?
Marcus Lillington: No.
Paul Boag: Did you notice that?
Marcus Lillington: He wasn't. Usability testing in general is getting a bit of a bad rap at the moment, I think.
Paul Boag: Oh, is it?
Marcus Lillington: Even you, I'm preempting what you're going to say about FullStory, but you say, "People in usability testing lab situations will always be … They'll react in ways unlike they would at home."
Paul Boag: Yeah.
Marcus Lillington: Somebody posted a really interesting article, I should have their name up, my apologies, on Boagworld slack channel today about how people like you and I who have facilitated these sessions, completely bias people. It's like, "Mm-hmm, yeah." Yeah, just that idea that usability testing doesn't really work for him was kind of interesting and underlying that a bit really.
Paul Boag: Yeah, I don't think … I certainly don't feel as strongly as Matt does over it. I see it as being a part of the mix. I think there are certain problems where you can't just resolve them by looking at numbers. Sometimes you need to understand the motivations behind that. I think sometimes usability testing can help with that. But it is certainly now just one tool among many as our tools have become more sophisticated which is fair enough.
Marcus Lillington: We've always said in the past, you can't help but being biased. Just by asking a question in a deadpan voice, the words in the question will probably bias what people think. You ask people … You say to people, "This isn't a test." But they're just going, "Test, test," in their mind, so things like that.
Marcus Lillington: It's this idea that we in the past even knowing we were biased about something going, "Well, we learned something," but I think what people are starting to question now is, is that thing that you learnt correct? I still don't know the answer to that. I'm not sure.
Paul Boag: Yes, but this is where you get into those dangerous ground for me anyway, because … What happens is, is somebody starts to … They discover usability testing. They start to learn more about it. They get really enthusiastic. They use it a lot.
Paul Boag: Then they start to find its shortcomings, and then they start talking publicly about, "Well, actually usability testing isn't that good, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla." Then what they do is they put off the next generation of people that maybe haven't started doing it. They go, "Well, perhaps I shouldn't bother doing usability testing."
Paul Boag: I actually … Yes, usability testing is not perfect. Yes, it has its shortcomings. Yes, you need to take what you learn with a pinch of salt, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. It doesn't mean … Because just the action of getting in front of users, seeing real people is really important, and that …
Paul Boag: If you noticed in the interview with Matt, I came back to that point of, "Well, when do you actually ever spend time with users?" I asked it more subtly than that, because I'm nice. It became very obvious that actually Matt is spending time with users. He might not be doing usability testing with them, but he's still getting to know them and to understand them and empathize with them and all of those kinds of things. There are different ways of doing it.
Marcus Lillington: Yeah.
Paul Boag: But you're right. It is just one tool of many, and that does bring us, as you say, nicely on to FullStory. There is another tool in your arsenal, and I was talking last week, wasn't I? About how session recorders fit somewhere in between usability testing and analytics, because they enable you to observe people without them realizing it, which means they act more naturally.
Paul Boag: But actually what I want to talk about today is that actually FullStory can be very useful in dealing with internal stakeholders as well. When you're trying to convince colleagues that they need to make improvements to their websites, it can be quite difficult sometimes. There are those people that respond to stats and to numbers and to data and that kind of thing, and then there are those people that respond to seeing a user struggling with a particular problem. Actually, that's one of the things I like about FullStory is it actually gives something to both of those groups.
Paul Boag: It's actually a great tool for winning colleagues over. For those that are more empathetic, you can show them videos of users struggling. You can see them rage clicking. You can see them getting frustrated as they try and navigate around the site. But it's also got all of the numbers and the statistical data, and the huge number of people that you couldn't do a usability testing around.
Paul Boag: In many ways, it is for me that sweet spot between analytics and usability testing. It doesn't replace either, but it certainly reinforces both.
Paul Boag: You can sign up and get a month free for that of their pro account, no need to enter a credit card. They're not going to tie you in or anything like that, just give it a go for a month, see how you get on.
Paul Boag: If you get to the end of the month and want to continue using it but can't quite justify the fee, you can get up to a thousand sessions per month absolutely free. But it is well worth the money, I tell you. You can find that by going to fullstory.com/boag.
Paul Boag: Okay, Marcus, you want to finish off with a joke?
Marcus Lillington: I do. I have to ask better quality jokes on the Boagworld joke channel, please. I've had to-
Paul Boag: We ought to say, if you want to join the slack channel, just to provide Marcus with jokes, although we've been … We've mentioned it several times, in this podcast, you can go to boagworld.com/slacking to join up.
Paul Boag: Sorry, Marcus.
Marcus Lillington: That's okay. I've just had to dig out an old classic Tommy Cooper.
Paul Boag: Ah, good stuff.
Marcus Lillington: I backed a horse last week at 10 to one, but it came in at quarter past four.
Marcus Lillington: Send me more. If you want better than that send me more jokes.
Paul Boag: I know.
Marcus Lillington: Simple as that.
Paul Boag: You can also email Marcus jokes at-
Marcus Lillington: You can.
Paul Boag: … firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul Boag: All right. Well, thank you very much, Marcus, for joining us in your evening. We're recording in an evening for a change. I know it's past your bedtime, so it's much appreciated. Thank you, dear listener, for enduring lots of talk about vibrators and dildos. It's been an interesting show, and normal service will be resumed next week. Thanks for listening and good-bye.