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[Feature Friday] Mike Olson on Using Data to Make Better Business Decisions - The ROI Online Podcast Ep. 48

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On this episode of the ROI Online Podcast, Steve talks with Mike Olson about quantitative and qualitative data, what using it to better listen to your customers, and how that allows you to make better decisions and succeed in business. 

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We all know data is important for our business. How can you make decisions if you don’t know what your customer does on your site or how they feel about interacting with your brand? But gathering the data and knowing how to use it effectively—without forcing it to do something for you—is slightly harder to grasp.

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Mike started his career in both radio and singing. In his touring and traveling days he took up marketing for the group and started diving into it to get better. That led him to gathering massive amounts of data over the years and learning how to use it to better run a business. 

Even if a lead doesn’t convert, you can still gather data about the interaction and learn from the experience. Finding out what you do well is just as important as knowing where you went wrong and it’s all quantifiable—if you’re using the right tools. The key is to make sure you’re able to look at the data objectively rather than forcing something to come out of it all. 

From Mike’s perspective, data is just a way to understand your customer better. If you always keep in mind who your audience is, and stay away from the mindset of needing to “squeeze one more dime out of this consumer,” you’re more likely to find and maintain your success. 

Mike’s best advice is to always keep in mind what’s happening with your first-time customers. To do so, sit down with a group of friends who have never interacted with your company before and ask them to interact with your website. Take note of how they click, where they get stuck, what makes them leave. You’ll gain incredibly valuable insights into how people use your site and be able to update it accordingly. Things you think are obvious might not be to someone who’d not as deep in the weeds with your company as you are. 


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You can learn more about Mike here:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeolson18/ 


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Topics: Marketing, Podcasts

Mike Olson: 

Part of the reason that I was happy to step out and start moving into being able to do this as a consultative effort is because you find yourself in too many conversations with too many C level folks and, and legal concern saying, how close to this line can we actually get in our conversation? And once once you're thinking in that regard, I think I think you've lost sight of your consumer, basically, to exactly your point you, I think you said it really well, you've pulled this mask over them. And it doesn't just, it doesn't just change your relationship with them from how much you know them, it changes your relationship with them from how you think of them. They're not that human being anymore. They're just, they're just the person that you're just squeezing that one more little drop of blood out of him.

Steve Brown: 

Hi, everybody. Welcome to the ROI online podcast where we believe you, the courageous entrepreneurs of our day, are the invisible heroes of our economy. You not only improve our world with your ideas, your grit and your passion, but you make our world better. I'm Steve Brown. And this is a place where we have great conversations with winners just like you while we laugh and learn together. Michaelson, welcome to the ROI online podcast. Steve Brown is such a pleasure.

Mike Olson: 

Thank you very much.

Steve Brown: 

Now listen, listen to this voice. immediately gets your attention. But it's not only does he have the voice, he's got user psychology bubbling around in there, he's got conversion data, he's gotten marketing mic, a little bit about your background, why why this beautiful voice and why the data

Mike Olson: 

I think bubbling around in there is the right way to have said that That's funny. Um, I you know, of all things. Way back when when I was in college, I was a vocal performance major. And so my, my career actually started out both in radio and in singing. And after about 10 years of being out on the road and getting married and having kids and realizing that I wanted my kids to recognize me, when I was around, it was time to make a little bit of a change. And so I needed to come home and all of a sudden, I had a resume that basically said, you know, stick a mic in front of this kid, or he doesn't know what to do. And, and I had had a little experience while we were touring and traveling, doing some marketing for my own group. It wasn't very good, but it was marketing. And, and I'm nothing if not stubborn. So I started diving into it, just to kind of understand how to get better at it even then. And so when I started looking for a gig, the only thing I could even attach my name to was marketing at that point in time. And I worked my way into basically an admin gig. I was getting coffee and tea for a team of people. I spent about 10 years at that company. And by the time I left, I was their creative director.

Steve Brown: 

So before we go further, what's the name of this group? This group, right? Yeah, she's so busy for so long.

Mike Olson: 

Um, it was it was an acapella group of all things. They You know, there's, there's not many people who need a voice like this in our group, but but acapella did, back when nobody knew what one of those was. And it was, it was a group called lmnop. We still to this day, maybe once a year or so we'll get together and just goof around and sing a concert like in our hometown or something like that. It was it was a lot of fun. We had a good time. Does that. So is this a Denver based group? Well, we were all originally actually from Fort Collins about an hour north of there. But yeah, we kind of headquartered out of Denver, but for the better part of a decade. We sing we sang and toured and recorded all over the country and actually even all over the world. So we were we were pretty lucky we had a really good time of it back then.

Steve Brown: 

Well, how do you get so I'm not from that world. And so these questions may sound dumb or naive, no, no, please but how how does an acapella group stay busy and on tour.

Mike Olson: 

You know, it's it was kind of funny. The way that we stumbled into it. We all went to high school together and then we all went our separate ways. But as we were getting get into the mid to latter stages of college, everybody was gravitating back towards town. We had all done this in unique groups. And you start seeing the weak spots and you start wishing for you know, just that right voice to plug into just that right place. And this this for me kind of dream group of the five of us got together and it was just funny how quickly it could clicked, how quickly we were doing shows that I had never been able to do before. Just because of I, we just there's so many talented folks involved. And more than anything, just just able to start putting some pieces together that way in terms of our ability to both improve, do better. This is a theme, I guess that kind of runs throughout my life and, and start to put ourselves in a position to succeed. For folks in auditions and things of that nature. Suddenly, we're touring all over our state, and we start getting some notice that way. So then we start getting some national gigs, that picks up enough attention that a radio station out of one of the places we're in starts playing us, and that gets us enough attention that we start doing some recording for a small label. And, and I'm not sure how that just kept building momentum, especially for something that people didn't know very well. But suddenly, we're doing paid gigs at, you know, colleges and, and small town arts venues and things like that, that just, it just kept us going. We you'd never heard of us. But there's a lot of musicians out there that make a decent living just just out there, you know, entertaining on the road, and we were having a ball doing it. It was just fun.

Steve Brown: 

So it seems like with your voice with your experience, you would have been a natural fit in radio somewhere. No,

Mike Olson: 

it was actually that was how I would fill in the blanks. You know, we'd be out on the road about it depended, you know, it built over the years, I think our busiest year, we were at well over half the year. And, and in between, I still had to fill in cracks for my paychecks, basically. So yeah, I do a lot of I do a lot of voiceover work, either live on radio, or, you know, audiobooks weren't as big a thing back then. But I still have a little experience in that regard as well. And, yeah, I just got really lucky a couple of folks in my family have very deep voices before me. And I think I just got the genetics, you know? Yeah.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah. So the way you're talking about the label, I just, I think about this Boston song, know that the guys smoked a big fat cigar and battle that car and, boy, the spans out of sight. And is that the experience that happened?

Mike Olson: 

You know, it's it's funny, it's kind of how it worked out? Yeah, is we were doing a show where we ended up opening for a much larger group. America, actually, and, and just a couple of folks who came to the gig actually had come to see them, but actually wanted to talk to them about some recording and pieces like that. And they saw us and they went, Oh, well, wow, let's look at something like that. Right. We also had a couple of folks from a different angle, coming out of similarly. And so it, it actually made for some decisions on our part as to what we were going to do and who we were going to go with it was it was pretty. It was a very heady time. This is not something that happens to most people. And yeah, I'm just a young kid not really knowing any better. So the label that ended up approaching us was called shadow mountain records. And, and they, they we did our first album with them. And it was it was really cool. It was really fun. So So can people find your album on like amazon music or prime music? Or they can actually I would imagine anyway, lmnop is spelled a little differently. But starts it starts with an E if you start e l e, you'll find the rest of it. All right.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah. Yeah. The le.

Mike Olson: 

Le Yeah.

Steve Brown: 

So your title after your name is kind of mysterious and appealing. It's c x. Oh, yeah. Like, who wouldn't want an X in the title of their job there?

Mike Olson: 

Yeah, one of my kids calls me the x men. I you know, and and I was a comic book geek as a kid. So it makes me laugh. But, but yeah, chief experience officer and and this is just a, frankly, a very small concern of me and a couple of buddies who have come to find over these years. There's there's just as much education in this space to be done as there is actual work. You know, there's a lot of folks who don't really understand so much how to play the game of actually online experience and how to blend qualitative and quantitative into, you know, actual feedback. Actually, this is what my consumers are telling me. This is what I should be doing. To take action on that thing, and then how to thoughtfully take action in that direction. And, and I just, I've been really lucky, over the years, I stumbled my way into, you know that that gig and marketing, but there was so much around the creative that I just didn't get, I just didn't understand when I, you know, I do five, something's for, for people to choose between and some Alpha Dog walks into a room with five other people and goes, I like the blue one. And you say, I, oh, okay, why why is that the right one? And by then they're already gone out of the room and you think, are we even making the right choice. And so learning some of this process myself, I was lucky to start working for a company where I got to do qualitative and quantitative at a scale that most people never see in their careers. So it just, it taught me so much about the space. And then when you get out and you start talking to people about how these things actually work, there's so many interesting misconceptions that I do, I find myself talking about it as much from an educational perspective, as I do just in getting people kind of set up in their spaces. So me and a couple of buddies are helping some pretty decently sized companies out that way these days. And it's it's a lot of fun. It's, it's really interesting to me, so I'm a little geeky about it.

Steve Brown: 

Well, let's, let's do this. So, I believe that instead of focusing on SEO, Search Engine Optimization, we actually shouldn't be focusing on Hto human experience, optimization, right? It is exactly right. And so, you know, all these big brands are basically teaching our consumers or clients or prospects, what to expect when they come online. And, and this thing in our brain, the brainstem, I call it the bodyguard is in play at that time, and there are certain sites, there are certain shops or whatever, where we walk in, and we just feel at home, we feel understood, we feel safe. Right? And, and it's not something necessarily you can guess that. And so for the folks that listen, we you know, I've got business owners, I've got marketing directors, I'm, I've got students, you know, these story brand guides, but here's our problem. You're running a business, and you're trying to, you don't have time to dig deep into mountains of data to make a educated call. And so that that scene that you you were talking about where the guy comes in, and just goes, I like the blue one, and he's either have any backstory even. And more, more than that, he doesn't have the time to really dig into that. But how does what you do really become legitimate. And so here's, we'll take a stab at AV testing, but to really get clarity on AV testing, which is, so you're going to show a version, and then the next visitors going to see the B version. And we're only measuring one little piece, and we're going to see which one is more effective over a period of time and a sampling. And then we're going to focus on another thing. Well, you know what that means? That means you have to have thousands of visits to get really good data and guess what small business websites don't have.

Mike Olson: 

They don't have. Yeah, they don't have that quantitative capability, basically. And so in that way, the only way that I've seen small businesses use quantitative really effectively that way is to be paying attention to the only times they touch something in their stack, that actually makes the needle move enough, right? If you still look at that from a from from a sheer stat StG perspective, you still might see things on occasion, typically things like calls to action, either in your headlines or your buttons or whatever. Those are the places that you're still going to see those of seismic jolts, right when you do something. And and one of the things that's tough for those small businesses to understand is oftentimes the first few times you touch those things. Those seismic jolts do not move this direction, right. They don't they're not about, you know, they're there. They die if they take a big nosedive. Right. And that's when people typically walk away from quantitative very quickly. They go everything I did mess things up. Yeah, right. And, and, and I understand that what your consumer was telling you, though, and this is I have to talk to big companies about this just as much as small companies because everybody's really proud of how often they don't lose, right? But losses are actually the way that your consumer is at least telling you this thing matters. To me, this is very important to me. That's, that's important knowledge to have. And it's an important button if you've got it even as a small business to kind of keep poking at because one of those guesses is going to make that jump the other direction. And, and you've got to have the stomach to keep trying it if what you're looking to do is improve that way. But what you do have still is you got qualitative, you know, you've still got your consumer feedback. So you need to figure out then instead, how do I use those channels, effectively with my consumers to engage them in a conversation? Not, you know, you don't, you still can't, if you're, if you're approaching them in a relationship, you still can't approach them basically by saying, here's what I need from you. You need to engage them in conversation to say, What is it you need from me? Basically, right. And that's the big difference in in how you get qualitative to not only stay effective, but actually something that you continue to converse back and forth with your consumer about. So you hear them as to why they keep banging into walls. And that's how that's how companies get to that more intuitive, safer, I understand you space that you're talking about basically,

Steve Brown: 

right? So let's cover a little vocabulary, just sure for me. So we said stat SIG,

Mike Olson: 

yellow statistical significance, sorry, statistically significant. Meaning that the way a stat SIG calculator works is basically to remove randomization from the picture. Right. And so you talked about thousands of consumers on each side. And typically, that is true, you for most static measures, what you're changing is a small enough change that it doesn't make a big enough disruption for you to say, I have flipped a coin this many times. And the results that I have gotten are telling me right, the way I end up teaching this in a class is actually very noisy, because I will sit down with a group of 50 to 100 people, and I'll have them all flip the coin 10 times and keep track of their results, right. And you look at the different results across the room. And somebody in that room. I've had folks actually, very rarely, but flip heads or tails 10 times in a row. Right? The the conversation you have quickly is okay, you got seven heads and three tails, can you expect heads to land at 70% for the rest of your life, and and and they immediately understand that that's not going to happen. That's not the way that works. And what that means is at least in that example, you've not flipped that coin enough times, right. But it also doesn't mean that you, if you do see 10 heads, and then you see 20 heads and then you see you know, 27 out of 30 or heads, there's a point in there that a statistically significant calculator is going to say, that's, that's not random. I don't know if it's as big or as small as as what you're initially seeing. But that is certainly not random. And that's how you use it to at least kind of feel around in the dark that way and say, Okay, I found what's important, these are at least the spaces that I can keep changing until I find a headline, I find a call to action I find meaningful copy that tells my consumer, this is where you thought you were gonna be, basically.

Steve Brown: 

Okay, so then there's so that is leads us to quantitative, meaning that I'll let you explain it but

Mike Olson: 

you bet quantitative is, you know, a B testing is a great example of exactly what you were talking about. And there's there's other types. There's multivariate testing, there's there's multi armed bandit testing, there's, there's different methods into this idea of I show unique presentations to a consumer. And then I lock them into that presentation every time they come back so that they have that same experience, because sometimes I don't convert them the first time that they come, you know, sometimes it's the second or third time they come. So I make sure that I lock them into that experience so that I understand how they're responding to it. Somebody else has a different experience, I watch enough of those to basically have that mathematics in the background. And that stats a calculator, say, Here's something, here's something that is unique, and that's actually standing out, basically, so, so quantitative is basically it's that asking the consumer, which of these things do you prefer more, and then watching enough people respond to it until you actually feel like you've got an answer to the question.

Steve Brown: 

And the advantage in this case is that you're not

Mike Olson: 

asking them where they're actually thinking and trying to guess what answer you want to hear. They're reacting to presentations. It's exactly you know, this is not this is certainly soft science. When you look at it this way, right? A typical scientist would look at a lot of this and say you've got a lot of Holes in how you're examining this, but you're at least examining it from a scientific perspective. And in this case, the person who is having this experience does not know, as they're having the experience that they're basically being watched in that regard as to how they respond to that. Whereas qualitative, and I'm sure that, you know, wherever you don't don't mind, that's where we were probably headed. Qualitative is more the conversation actively engaged, right? I want to know what you like, I want to know what you dislike this is, this is where you have to be much more careful to not lead your consumer with your own opinions, basically, right? This is why you have to not go to your consumer and say something like, why does this page suck? Basically, right? Because then the consumer looks at that page from the perspective of, oh, that page sucks, actually, okay, why is that? what's what's wrong with it, I'm only going to give you feedback now of why I think something is wrong with it. You know, and companies don't think so much about how they influence their consumers, when they have that conversation when they talk to them, because they're so busy trying to get what they want out of the conversation that oftentimes they don't think about the human being on the far side of that, and how their responses are going to go. And you've got to be careful with these types of studies. I mean, I'm just seeing your logo, influences the people who are at least pleasers in that crowd, and just want to tell you, I love your site, there's nothing wrong with it. Everything's perfect. That's why I come back here time after time. Well, that's beautiful to hear. Right? It doesn't help me get better, basically, right. And so you want to be careful about how you approach that consumer and say, you know, what, what was your experience? What can we do better? What did we do great at I you know, you want to hear those things, but you want to really be thoughtful about not leading them into your opinion, basically.

Steve Brown: 

So this is excellent. here's, here's the struggle, though, for 98% of the businesses in the States at least, have 20 or less employees. And so what that means is the owner of the company, or the leader of the company, seven wear all these hats, okay, data, assuming they're engaged, they really want to do this data can be extremely misleading, and you can miss read it and make all these mistakes. And yet, we're competing against organizations that have highly weaponized, armies, artificial intelligence, data, technology, harvesting, all of these inside, they even have all the visits. Sure. And so that's the big, giant villain that we're finding gets here. And what I'm excited about in this conversation is someone that's been in that realm has paid the dues, done the reps, you start to see commonalities or fundamentals that start to reveal themselves that could actually be in play without eating all of this wrong.

Mike Olson: 

Actually, no, that's exactly it. And that's exactly. You know, I love how you said that, because there's really a ton of practical application in this, frankly, not just in my opinion in business, but in life. There's there's a lot of ways that this these principles, just from what we've talked about, from an overarching perspective can be applied to how you come at your business decision making how you come at your consumers, and and how you continually improve this way. I think you're absolutely right, that there are mountains of data, and it's easy to make poor choices, and poor guesses, and all of that. And I think sometimes that's because we are still not thoughtful and methodical in how we approach those steps, we will take a first step of say, qualitative data. And we'll see three out of 20 consumers tell us that, you know, I really hate that headline. And suddenly, we're just fixated on a headline that do you expect more than 17 out of 20 people to be in love with the way that you talk to them? You know, that's, that's, that's maybe not something that you necessarily need to be spending that time on. If if you're only getting that level of feedback, if seven out of 20 told you, I'm not sure I care for how you phrased this, that's probably something more than you know. And so it's still that thoughtful moment of saying what did the data actually tell me as opposed to looking at the data and saying I have to get something out of This data doesn't tell you something every time. There's there's not an answer. Every time. You're looking you're ferreting around for what matters, basically. And and it is it's, it's a long exercise and it can be an exercise in frustration. But even at that level, even with 20 employees, you know, your consumers are giving you feedback. If if they are not converting, they're still giving you some form of feedback. You know, there are some really simple, thoughtful, free tools out there to be able to at least reach out to them and say, Hey, you have just a couple minutes to tell me why you're leaving to tell me why you didn't complete the cart to tell me, you know, where we got close? Where did we go wrong, basically

Steve Brown: 

want to pause here just for a moment and talk to you about a program that we have just released, called the ROI quickstart Academy for authors. Every day, I talk to business owners just like you who struggle with quickly getting their fundamentals in place, we want to create a great foundation, and we want to grow our business. But the things that are in our way, our lack of knowledge about the specifics, we should put in place, what kind of technology what kind of messaging and what kind of campaigns and that problem exists for authors as well. And we just chill so good with authors because, well, I'm an author, and I understand everything that you struggle with, you have a great idea, you have a great book, but what do you want to do, you want to get your book in front of more people, you want to make it easy for them to find you learn how they can schedule a time to talk with you hire you for a conference, or maybe sign up for the services that your book promotes. So what is the Quickstart Academy for authors? Imagine working with a small group of like minded authors, and the experts from the ROI quickstart team, it's a great way to get your messaging clear to be confident with the technology in your marketing automation, and how to run a strategic campaign to get you more of what you want from the investment of your book. To learn more about the Quickstart Academy for authors, you can visit ROI online.com or click in the link in the show notes below. And now back to this episode. No, I'm just thinking, the trap. Here we are where we've got humans coming and experiencing whatever our platform is just like if they walked into your store, there's a virtual representation of your store or your your office or whatever it is. And yet there are humans and that brain is in play. But here's the problem. The trap is being too logical and too consumed with the analytics and the data where it takes you into an anti human mindset. Yeah, you could be actually leading or misleading the expectations of the data and totally overlook what is human with the brain in the name and our hopes and dreams and a family is needing from you when that moment.

Mike Olson: 

Yeah, I you know, it's it's funny, as you say that bit, I actually find that to be even far more the province of the big company, the large company tends to lose track of who their consumer is, they tend to lose track of that that part of the equation, they've become the 800 pound gorilla more often than not to the point of just basically saying, here's my thing, take it or not, you know, because because they've graduated to a point that that conversion at a much smaller levels still still make the business roll, you know, they can think about bigger, broader things that way. I tend to find that small businesses that at least have gotten to a point of past sole proprietorship, you know, even when you're getting into that five or 10 range, nine times out of 10. Those are the folks that really understand their consumer, and they really understand their consumer base, they may not know how to have that conversation with them. That's a very different animal, mate, but they they know that they know what they're looking for. They know who their core audience is. Sometimes it's that 20 to 50. It's that 20 to 100. That gets to be a challenge because you know who your core audience is, but they're only big enough to get you to. Now I need 20 bodies to run this. If you want to be a business that needs 100 bodies to run it. Sometimes you've got to go out and then find those other audiences who need your offering and just don't know it yet, and that's where it gets that's that's where all this comes in. You know,

Steve Brown: 

I would argue There's this tipping point in organization, when it gets a certain size, it stopped seeing the people that are buying their products or appreciating what they do are really drawn to them and stop seeing them as humans, and starts to put this consumer costume on it, which covers their face. And so make some faceless, nameless credit, they have credit cards that we how are we going to exploit this potential? consumer. And that's where it gets off the rails. And I think that's where marketing is broken.

Mike Olson: 

I couldn't agree more. I couldn't agree more, I think. I think so many times in that particular aspect, as you start really rooting around for how do I squeeze one more dime out of this consumer? You know, how do I get one more something one more month subscription, you know, out of this consumer, we part of the reason that I was happy to step out and start moving into being able to do this as a consultative effort is because you find yourself in too many conversations with too many C level folks and, and legal concerns saying, how close to this line? Can we actually get in our conversation? And once once you're thinking in that regard, I think I think you've lost sight of your consumer, basically, to exactly your point, you've I think you said it really well, you've pulled this mask over them. And it doesn't just, it doesn't just change your relationship with them from how much you know them, it changes your relationship with them from how you think of them. They're not that human being anymore. They're just they're just the person that you're just squeezing that one more little drop of blood out of and I you know, I'll tell you, the folks that I think are always doing it best are the ones that are not that short sighted are the ones that understand that this has to be a mutually beneficial something between us. For it to be long lasting for it to be something that long term, you have faith and trust in me. So

Steve Brown: 

yeah, that's, I think that's there is just this, once you stop seeing that human there Think, think about your mindset, I'm in charge of writing, copy or designing some asset that we're going to be presenting to these faceless, nameless consumers. Think about how you would approach it, and what energy you would put into their insights to be way different than if you were designing them for your buddy that you're gonna have sit and have a beer with later. Yeah, you're gonna design two very different assets. And yet, yeah, guess who's really evaluating your assets?

Mike Olson: 

Yeah. Well, and it's a slippery slope, right? I mean, yeah, when you when you get to where you want to be, you know, that that day down the road, and you really are seeing millions of consumers coming through your site, it's, it's almost impossible to not lose track of that face a little bit. Because now all of a sudden, it's well, this is this group broadly fits into this category, or this is this is true about all of this group of people and you start to blur those lines. It's, it's interesting. I, I argue, so that I always say our world has become industrialized. So it's our marketing or the way that communication General has become industrialized. And I believe it's happening at that point where

Steve Brown: 

I'm when I say industrialized, as like, your brain wants to be free range and just run amok and, and eat grasshoppers at its own. And yet we're wanting to herd them into this industrialized milking station, that you're allowed. And if you have a credit card, because we're just gonna, we're just gonna machine and machine eyes this.

Mike Olson: 

It's exactly right. It's exactly true. And, and because of that, loss of sight of who you're treating and how you're treating them. It really does get to be sort of a processing, lather, rinse, repeat, you're not so concerned about who you lost as long as you gained more than you lost. And, and I watched it be a very affecting thing. It's, it's, it was even more disheartening. Sometimes when you do some of those tests and you'd see a psychology work on an audience for a while. And then that psychology would go away as, as people get smarter and wiser up to the tactics that are behind that original thought, right. And so in a long way, it gets to be a bit of a chess game. And there's a lot that there's, there's a lot of dehumanization to that you're you're basically saying, Well, if if you're not going to buy now that I'm going to take this this half step further. Right, and and that's, that's a tough game to keep playing over the long haul. So yeah, it's it's very true if you're absolutely right.

Steve Brown: 

So let's say that you, you were our buddy, and you knew we had a company and one day, we got a couple of beers in you and convince you to come over. And yes, just helped me revealed several fundamentals that are always in play, no matter the size of sampling, what is given three valuable things that we can pull in and apply pretty much in most cases.

Mike Olson: 

In most cases, you can always, I don't, I don't care how good you think you are at it, you can always do a better job of listening to your consumer. I am shocked at how often and I mean, 90 plus percent of the time, companies tend to be presenting from the point of here's what I need from you, instead of instead of here's what I am offering you. I think there's always room to continue to improve in that regard. And that is, that's a huge piece of the puzzle, just in understanding that consumer base, I think I think that is always a truth. Give us

Steve Brown: 

some examples how we can do that.

Mike Olson: 

That's absolutely, when I, when you've got whether it's a product or an offering or a service, more often than not, the way that that has been pieced together and presented is by you and your team. talking through, here's who we are, here's what we have to offer. Here's, you know, we're going to put our best face forward on this idea, whether that is a physical or whatever sort of a product. It is so rare for that team that has been so far down that rabbit hole that has made all of these assumptions about here's everything we've learned in our expertise. And here's all we know, it is so rare for that to then be turned around and presented as. And here's how I would say that to somebody who is seeing it for the very first time. Mm hmm. Basically, right. And so the curse

Steve Brown: 

of knowledge. Yeah, exactly. Right.

Mike Olson: 

Yeah, you you, you'd now know, you've you've been in the apple, basically, right? And you cannot unknow as it were, it's it's a real trick. It's a real habit for folks who sit in professions like mine to try like crazy. When you're looking at something for the thousandth time to kind of shake that up, just sketch and try to be there for the first time again. And that's why invariably, you need to understand what's happening with your first time consumer. And if that's just you sitting down with a group of your friends in your living room to say, I want to see you interact with my website. And then you've got to be smart enough to get out of their way and actually let that happen. Watch them make those mistakes, watch them stumble in spots, that the interaction doesn't work well for them. Watch them get confused. And stand far enough back from that in whatever regard you can to basically, watch people have a hard time with the things that you thought were obvious.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah. So you can't be sensitive. You can. Like that's my baby. Yeah. And another trap, I've noticed is you can fall into would you give me a nice testimonial back? I'm right. Instead of like, Where's this baby ugly?

Mike Olson: 

Yeah. Yeah. And I think well, and I think the funny thing is, you know, relationship marketing actually offers you a great opportunity at some of this type of qualitative feedback. It's not as if this needs to just be strictly a research effort, a slog. You know, this can be a part of just your typical interaction with your consumer where you're saying, Hey, I'm going to give you x for doing why this can all be folded into that part of the relationship where it can be a much more congenial, collegial, hey, just just tell us how we're doing. Right? Because more often than not, that not only gets you a few of those quotes from the fans who are saying, I can't live a day without your product. Those are that type of social proof is important stuff to get up in front of your consumer. Right You know, if somebody likes it As much maybe I will, too. So I definitely understand what people are driving for that. But in that same conversation, if you just step it back to this degree to just say, tell us how we did, you're also going to have a few folks who come in see that experience that that happy, shiny experience and go, this was not for me. And they're going to tell you why. And if you can get even just a few of those, you're going to get some good thinking and opinions around, here's how I can improve this to still keep capturing even more of that fringe, you know, unless you're getting 100% of your folks. It's a conversation worth having.

Steve Brown: 

Alright, so that was a good number one. Good.

Mike Olson: 

I, I am very much, you know, you you had illustrated very well, how quantitative can be such a difficult piece of the puzzle for a small business who is getting such such small feedback that way, but I,

Steve Brown: 

I hate to interrupt you, can I give you an example of why

Mike Olson: 

I'd love that, please.

Steve Brown: 

So we have all these visits, and one of the things you look at it is your bounce rate. Oh, your bounce rate so high or whatever. But if you're a small business, and people are going to the phone books anymore, how do you know they're not just showing up to see what the phone number is to call you?

Mike Olson: 

That's exactly it. So I think something else that I have seen become really powerful these days. And this is kind of a blend, you know, we've talked about qualitative and quantitative, this is kind of a blend of the two sight recording tools. There are a ton of them out there these days. And it used to be only a spot that the big dogs could play in because every last one of them that came out in you know, 10 years ago to five years ago was so expensive. And and was such a heavy lift to put onto your website. And I'll I'll say a little bit more about it, because a lot of folks may not know what I'm talking about. But basically, it's just something that sits in the background and watches how people interact with your site from a click perspective, from a time on task perspective. From a, you know, if they're trying to get something to go through, did somebody click on this thing 15 times because it made them angry. It just gives little insights into how people are actually interacting with your site. And you can see things like what you're talking about, you can say, Oh my gosh, I not only 40% of my bounce rate, or what I was calling my bounce rate giving air quotes here is actually somebody just coming to figure out how to call me. You know, that ends up being really good news. It doesn't mean that that's the end of what you should do with that piece of feedback, right? Because if you didn't look at that, and realize, Oh, crap, I should have my phone number at the very top of my page, because I just made everybody scroll down to find it. And that's why everybody's been bouncing. Okay, take take that piece of data, do something with it, try this thing and see if you don't actually not only reduce your bounce rate, but but actually have people getting through to you more more easily more frequently. Heck, go out, go out to Google and get a secondary phone number. Try that on your website and move that to the top and see how many people start calling it. There's still there's still data to be had out there. Even even in the onesie. twosie sort of a sort of a way, you know,

Steve Brown: 

I'm so we have what's called Lucky Orange.

Mike Olson: 

Yeah, they're good.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, yeah. But truthfully, you know, I don't I don't know how to really take advantage of the insights on there I am, you know, I'm confessing I'm in this business. We have it on our site. Yeah. I love looking in there, but don't truth me. Here's my here's what I struggle with. I see an insight there. And then I go to my designer, and they push back. Right? And I'm so I don't know, I don't have this authority. I don't have all this experience. I'm not clear. And it's not that they push back. What I'm saying is how can they take that data and not be sensitive about their design and really become this beautiful, human oriented designer for online experiences? It's

Mike Olson: 

you know, it's the first time I ever saw the phrase was actually breeding some some Stephen King, he was talking about writing but he you really do have to be ready to kill your darlings. You know, in this case, you can't be married to that thing. And, and believe me, I come out of the design field as I come into this so I, I understand that feeling of I really loved that. I poured myself into that thing. That doesn't mean that that's going to work best for your consumer. I've, over the years and all of those tests, I have often come to find that at least with certain audiences, you have got to design down. You know, if it looks too slick, if it looks too inviting with certain audiences, it turns them off. They, they they come into this thing, and they think, oh, you're just trying to, you know, sell me into something, then and I don't, I don't have time for this level. It's like, Is it safe? Yeah, it does not. Exactly. It doesn't, it doesn't give me that warm fuzzy that makes me want to hang out with this trigger. And, and so the way that, frankly, I tend to, I run into this problem in more spaces than just with designers, right? It's not just designers that want to push back. I mean, heck, you get to big enough companies. Now you're talking to the legal department who's saying we can never try that. We can never say that. And, and so the way that I tend to pull anybody who's not into this process in is making them a conspirator, making them a collaborator, basically, right? saying, look, here's what, here's the feedback we're getting. You are a creative soul, helped me figure out how we're going to make this happen. And suddenly, you're in this fight together. It's not you coming and saying, Hey, what is this design suck right here? Basically, right? It's more you saying, okay, we're, we're big enough that I've been able to hire you, I've got enough of a crew. I mean, we figured some of this out. But we want to keep going. Here's what we're trying to get to. How do we take what you've already done? and make this happen even further. And that's, that's where the conversation, that's where it gets fun, actually, and Andrew, great tip, you almost never, you know, and so that, you know, the session recording tools, I think is tip number two, I think you can learn so much from out of that stuff, even even at the level that you're looking at it, Steve and sure there's are there a lot more deep dive insights to be had for a company that has somebody that can just sit and route around and that stuff all day? Probably. But these tools similar to what we talked about in quantitative are primarily designed to give you the here's the biggest stuff. Here's what the numbers are telling me, somebody, you they call them rage clicks that that click, click, click, click, click click, I can't get this to work, right? Yeah. Like, I see, I see what you know, 10% of your traffic rage clicking in this space, you're going to get some feedback from your tool about that. Right. And that's an important something to know. I think that that's a powerful something there. And then, you know, I, I think you were you were already kind of pointing in this direction as we were wrapping up that last piece but but to me, number three, that I think is really important for for small companies to get their arms around this way is that it's it's constantly in motion. And it is about that conspirator piece together, because what everybody needs to understand in this game. Well, here's here's a better way for me to approach this. Over the course of my career. Now, just from a quantitative perspective, I've run almost 18,000 av tests. Over the course of my career, right, I've seen I've seen a lot. I've seen, I've seen a little too much that way. And I have run thousands and thousands of qualitative tests as well. And, and the math that bubbles up out of that, at the end of the day, is that you are wrong. Far more often than you're right. And you need to understand that walking into this is that even if you've got the right idea, oftentimes, you're going to take the wrong execution The first time you do it, that doesn't mean it's a bad idea. It means that you need to keep thinking through how to get that to click with your consumer until you do and, you know, a lot of companies even if they do have the opportunity to do quantitative and qualitative, they will walk away from a win or a loss the first time as if it's everything that they could have gotten out of that piece of data. You know, have you have you ever tried moving the button to the other side of the page? We tried that and it lost? Okay, how many times did you try it? How many ways Did you try it? Well, no, if that was something important, exactly. If that was something important, right? Or we tried that and it won and that's why it's sitting there. Cool. Did you try to get any more out of that? When does you know if your consumer liked it? 10% the first time is there another five 810 percent to squeeze out of that on top of that because they've already told you this matters to me. Right? So be ready to do this from the person spective of, you're going to lose more often than you win. The second you lose, stop. But keep going until you find that win in there. It doesn't mean it was a bad idea, it means that you just got to give it a few tries. So,

Steve Brown: 

you know, I think one thing that can help someone that doesn't have the luxury of someone liking a C x, oh, Ryan and doesn't have all these visits, you can go steal good ideas from big weaponized websites. Absolutely. The trap is you say, here's a law firm. So show me some websites that you like, and they go, Well, I like law firm, whatever, offering whatever what those websites are, maybe you like them, but they could be just a bunch of guessing. But you're insisting on that when you go look at a website is totally disconnected. But you study your buttons, their colors where they put them. There's a lot of stuff, great ideas you can steal?

Mike Olson: 

Absolutely. I would say that the places you want to steal from aren't always your competition. And don't get me wrong, competitive review is 100% unnecessary step in all of this, and trying what you see other people trying in that regard. If you have the opportunity, you should absolutely be doing that with your competition, because if they have stumbled across something, they're just handing it to you basically to try, right. But I think the place that you want to spend as much time as you can, whether it's in your space or not, is where your audience is. Right? What are the messages they're listening to? What is the design style that seems to be working for them? What What is accessibility mean to them? Right? You know, if your consumer is sitting in the 60s or 70s? Why does every site they visit have larger text on it? I mean, and I, you know, I say that tongue in cheek with a smile on my face, but it's but it's just the fact right? It's just the truth. You know, just just think about who you're talking to, and stop going back and saying, well, I really like this site. Well, that's true, but their audience doesn't match yours at all right? In the slightest, right? Think, think about who the conversation is with and go see where those people are gravitating to see where they're converting. Start thinking about why you think that's true. Don't just go well, you know, let's let's go back to that same example. Well, a RP has, you know, burgundy buttons all over their sight. So now I'm going to burgundy buttons. That's that's not the point. You know, why? And the same Cialis, my good one. But why? Why is that working? You know, why is that working for them? What about the approach is making that accessible? And what can I learn from that? And how can I apply it to my own space?

Steve Brown: 

All right. So where would this have been? I really enjoyed this conversation. You're a great guest.

Mike Olson: 

Oh, you're very kind. Thank you. I've enjoyed your show. I've listened several times over. And then once we hooked up this way, we pretty well ran the gamut. So.

Steve Brown: 

So what's like, what's, like a great question that I should have asked what I did? Oh, gosh.

Mike Olson: 

That's a good one, you have a really thorough today. Um, I think I think the biggest thing, and we touched on this in that last point, but this is this is hard. And this is a slog, but it is 100% worth it. It is literally compound interest in motion, right? Anything that you can do to make these improvements when you when you experience those losses, as painful as they are, you can shut them off and walk away from them and understand still that you're dealing with something sensitive to your consumer. But every time you put one of these winds into your experience from a conversion revenue, just kept my consumer longer perspective. You're dealing with the compound interest of continuing to do that with your consumer time over time, and that will only continue to build on itself. And and that's, that's the game, you know, you even even out of the gates you're going to be wrong. 60 70% of the time, if you're doing it thousands of times, you're going to be wrong 80 to 90% of the time because you're going to be covering ground that you've routed around and that if you can win 10% of the time. You're going to make money. You just got to know when to show Got it off when to move along and when to step on the gas. And and it's it can definitely get to be a lot of minutiae. And and I understand that that may not appeal to folks. But the answers are in there, and they're there telling them to you.

Steve Brown: 

I'm curious one more question. Yeah. So when you go to a website, or an online platform, is it really obvious to you, they, they've hung out in this area that you're in?

Mike Olson: 

Typically, yes, typically, I can see when I've hit a site that is has has done some testing, you know, more often than not, though, I cheat a little bit in that regard, because there's always tags in their code. So I have been doing this a little too long. That way, I just I just tend to do it that way. But yeah, more often than not, you can typically see when folks have spent some time having this conversation, somehow, you know, what, whatever measures they have, they've, they've made some distance that way. But that said, you know, people do land in a very positive spot for themselves all the time. It's not as if, you know, these folks that we're talking about that have not experienced this, they've built this business, somehow they do have some of this understanding. It's just now trying to get to how do I how do I get to that next step? So it's, it's not always that it's not always that obvious. Sometimes people just get their consumer and they landed in a good spot to start.

Steve Brown: 

So folks that listen to this, I'm sure there's a handful of them that are curious and maybe want to talk to you can you can you kind of Sing us a little bit how they can contact you or find you.

Mike Olson: 

You know, I think the way that I always kind of easily slide out of this is, you know, the bass never sings the lyrics, actually, the bass always sings just these words like bomb and digga, and do and all of those things. And so, I think that would be boring for everyone. But I am, first off I am easily found on LinkedIn, we have just gotten the business off the ground. So I do not have even the website formulated, we it's funny. We've we've started with enough clients that we're we're too busy working to put the rest of the pieces together. But I suppose that's a better way to go at it than the other way around. So so I'm hoping that we're going to have our site up in the next couple months to basically be able to be better contacted in the interim, because I wanted something to do with visible just so I'm easily found. If you don't find me on LinkedIn, which is pretty easily done. You can also reach me at visible mike@gmail.com I'm pretty easy to touch base with and I love to talk about this stuff all day.

Steve Brown: 

So yeah, so michelsen visible insights. Can you do your kids say daddy's thing basin and Mama's seeing dinner?

Mike Olson: 

You know, it's it's funny. My my kids have beautiful voices as as does my wife. But my kids are with my x. And she and I were both Vocal Performance majors actually. So she she sang pretty low Alto, she was close enough to tenor. I guess we could have done that song. If I'd thought that'd have been fun.

Steve Brown: 

All right, Mike, did a great guest. Thank you for being on the

Mike Olson: 

ROI on line. I really appreciate it, Steve. I love what you're up to. And thanks so much for including me. All

Steve Brown: 

right, that's a wrap. Thanks for listening to another fun episode of the ROI online podcast. For more, be sure to check out the show notes of this episode. And feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn where we can chat and I can help direct you to the resources you're searching for. To learn more about how you can grow your business better. Be sure to pick up your copy of my book, The Golden toilet at surprise, that golden toilet.com I'm Steve Brown, and we'll see you next week on another fun episode of the ROI online podcast.