Chris Dayley started his Conversion Optimization agency Dayley Conversion in 2014, which he later merged with Disruptive Advertising, where he currently works as VP of site testing and optimization.
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The Hustle – Chris’ small business resource
Extreme Ownership – Chris’ Top Business Book
DisruptiveAdvertising.com – Chris’ website
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3 Value Bombs
1) Test. You always need to be testing.
2) Constantly build opportunities and fill up your pipeline.
3) Know your priorities.
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(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
[01:04] – Chris grew up in Phoenix, AZ, and then moved to Utah
[02:24] – Chris’ area of expertise is in conversion rate optimization
[02:48] – Website redesign is a necessary evil in today’s world
[03:11] – Chris talks about a friend who spent $350K redesigning their website, which resulted in nothing
[04:28] – Chris ran an existence test on test his friend’s website
[06:50] – Share something we don’t know about your area of expertise that as Entrepreneurs, we probably should: Figure out what your audience wants to see from your website
[07:42] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: When Chris started his business, he didn’t know everything. Four months into it, his only client told him that they might not continue working with him anymore. His wife asked him if he had any other clients lined up, and unfortunately, he didn’t
[09:47] – He realized he was focusing in on this one client, and as a result had forgotten to build a pipeline for his business
[10:27] – “You need to constantly be focusing on creating opportunities”
[11:13] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: Last year Chris decided to get rid of his smartphone and use a flip phone instead. It was difficult and painful at first, but it forced him to be more connected
[13:31] – “Anything that is worth it in life is going to involve some kind of pain”
[17:12] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Self-doubt”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “To reach a goal you’ve never before attained, you must do things you’ve never before done”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “I do daily affirmations”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – The Hustle
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Extreme Ownership
[20:22] – “You need to be willing to test and challenge every business decision you make”
Chris: I am ready, JLD. Let's do it.
John: Yes, Chris started his conversion optimization agency, Dayley Conversion, back in 2014, which he later merged with Disruptive Advertising where he currently works as VP of Site Testing & Optimization.
Chris, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Chris: Yeah. So, first I just wanna express my sincere gratitude to Fire Nation for letting me be on here. I'm a huge fan of the show. I'm a huge fan of yours, JLD, so it's a pleasure.
John: Thank you.
Chris: So, I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. I lived there for about 18 years. And then moved up with my family to Utah where I live now with my wife, and I've got two gorgeous little daughters. I have a 4-year-old and an almost 2-year-old. And that's pretty much my life in a nutshell. I mean, I spend as much time as I can with my kids, which I could not say a couple of years ago. And we can maybe talk about that a little bit more, but I'm loving life up here with beautiful mountains and enjoying what I'm doing right now with Disruptive Advertising.
John: Super cool, brother. Well, by the time Fire Nation hears this, we'll have already high-fived at the speaker's get together at Social Media Marketing World, so I'm excited for that, and now that, again, it's March when Fire Nation's hearing this. It was awesome, Fire Nation; you should have been. You should have been there. And, of course, I'm going to somehow wrangle you to work with my new CTO to get my site up to speed because we're doing a complete rebuild and I need some Dayley inspiration, and that's D-A-Y-L-E-Y inspiration.
But what I want to talk about right now, Chris is your area of expertise. What specifically is that if you could just articulate it in one sentence?
Chris: It's called conversion rate optimization. And, basically, I'll give Fire Nation here a simple tip that literally anybody can try on their website.
John: Well, you beat me to the punch because I'm gonna demand that tip from you. But, yeah, go for it.
Chris: Yeah, well, and you brought up website redesign, so let me just touch on that real quick before we get to my tip here. The website redesigns, this is a necessary evil in today's world. This is something that literally every company does probably every year, if not every other year. It consumes so many dollars, so much time of business owners, marketing professionals. And I will just get into my tip with a story.
So, I had a buddy of mine reach out, and he said hey, I have this company that you need to work with. They just spent $350,000 redesigning their website. And, of course, after you spend that kind of money you expect that you're gonna see some kind of return on your investment, right? So, he sends me over their info. I start talking with them. Turns out they spent all this money on this website redesign and literally nothing happened, okay, which is not the worst thing.
I mean, at least conversion rates didn't drop and they didn't lose a ton of money, but they weren't making any additional money off this new site. And so, they were just stunned. What happened? Why did we spend all this time, all this money going through this effort? So, they hired me to come in and help them run some tests on their website, which is what I do. I help companies run AB tests on their on their site, which is basically you take the existing site, you make a change, and you have a Version B. And you run both of them simultaneously, so you split traffic.
Half of them see your existing site, half of them see this version that we've created with something changed. And by doing this, we're able to see what happened when we made this change. Do conversion rates go up? Do they go down? Does nothing happen? So, we go in and we ran – this is my simple tip here. We ran a test I call an existence test. It is literally the easiest test you can possibly run. So, you can use a testing tool like VWO, Visual Website Optimizer, or Optimizely. These are tools that you can get set up for very cheap, if you just go – it's like a pay-as-you-go plan.
And all you do is you literally take a page on your site, so for this particular company, we took their home page, they were selling a bunch of products on their home page, and you remove something. And you see what happens. When I removed this thing on the site – so, maybe I remove a product or maybe I remove a paragraph of text, and you see what happens.
So, if I remove this text, if I remove this product, does conversion rates go up or do they go down? And this is a test where it's impossible to lose because if conversion rates go down, so you make less money when you remove this thing then you know you've found something, some content, or a product that is important to your audience. If you remove this product or this content and conversion rates go up then boom, you're making more money and you found something that was actually distracting your users.
So, I mean, you can literally set this kind of a test up in five to ten minutes. It might take a little bit longer if you don’t have one of these tools. But go and get set up on one of these tools, put the code on your website, and then you just go in. I mean, it's really as easy as point and click and remove that particular thing on your site.
So, we ran a test on their home page where, again, they had probably 30 or 40 products listed. We tested eight different versions of their home page where we just removed sections of products. We removed most popular. We removed recommended products. We removed all these things. We ran eight different versions of their home page. Six of them increased revenue, six, just by removing something from the home page.
So, what that told us is yeah, they spent all this money on a website redesign, but what their problem was is they just had too much stuff on there. They had spent all this time on the design, making the design look cool and fresh. And they had missed one of the most important parts, which was how many products should you even have on the fricking home page. And so, what we do, what I do is I help businesses figure out what does your audience even want on your website. Do they want the content you have? Do they want other content that's maybe not on there? Do they want the products that you're showing on there? Maybe you're showing the wrong products.
And sometimes it's as easy as removing something to see – with this particular company I'm referencing, we saw $30,000 in increased revenue in one week. It was incredible, just from removing things from the site.
John: Fire Nation, four letters: test. You need to test. You always need to be testing. If you get something perfect today, guess what? Next week it's not gonna be perfect. Next month it's not gonna be perfect. Always be testing; test, test, test.
So, Chris, you weren't always this optimization master. Talk to us about what you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment ever. Take us right to that story.
Chris: There were a lot of them. I am not your typical entrepreneur in that I did not always imagine myself owning a business. So, when I ended up taking the plunge and starting my own business, I had no clue what I was doing. I was literally just this testing geek that had been working in-house, and had enough people say hey, I'd love you to help me with my website. But I thought hey, maybe I'll try this out. Of course, it wasn't that simple.
So, about let's say four months into starting my business, I'm working out of my home. So, imagine this, I'm sitting back on this recliner in my office, working, and my one client that I had at the time – I was very fortunate to have a pretty large client that started right off the bat with me. So, my one client sends me an e-mail and says they're not sure if they're gonna be able to continue working with me.
So, of course, I sit up, I freak out, I pick up my cell phone, I give him a call. I try to figure out what's going on? How can I save this situation? And this is on a Monday. I literally spent the entire week just working on this single client. Course, I didn't have any other clients at the time.
John: What am I supposed to do, watch Downton Abbey? Come on.
Chris: Right. But so, I get to the end of the week and I'm talking to my wife over the weekend. We're laying in bed; and, of course, we're just stressing because, you know, we are fresh into this and our whole livelihood is hinging on this one single client. And my wife asks me a question that oddly hadn't really occurred to me before, but she said so what's gonna happen? What are we gonna do if we lose these guys? Do you have some other clients lined up?
And I was like oh, maybe I should be looking for other clients right now too. I mean, just a stupid moment for me. And, again, this is worst entrepreneurial moment because this is like Entrepreneurial Leadership 101, like don't put all of your eggs in one basket. I had been focusing all of my time, all of my attention on just this one client. I hadn't been building a pipeline for myself.
And so, my wife helped me to think outside the box and think okay, don't spend all of your time focusing on your one problem. You need to also, at the same time, be focusing on creating new opportunities for yourself. And so that is kind of what pushed me in the direction of figuring out sales and marketing for my own business.
John: So, besides multiple streams of revenue and diversifying, yada yada, what's a takeaway that will be beneficial for Fire Nation that you learned from this moment?
Chris: You need to constantly be focusing on creating opportunities, especially if you own a business, if you have the client of your dreams, that doesn't mean stop doing everything and just focus on that client. Continue building your pipeline because the minute that that client's in jeopardy, you're gonna be going crap, we don't have anything else in the pipe right now.
And so you've gotta constantly be continuing to build out those business opportunities; looking for new partnerships, looking for new marketers or influencers that can push your products for you. I mean, be constantly filling that pipe.
John: Chris, what's one of the greatest ideas that you've had to date? Tell us that story.
Chris: Yeah, so this is gonna be one that a lot of people won't like. It's actually from this last year. So, I decided to get rid of my smartphone and I downgraded to a flip phone. So, this is probably – well, actually I know exactly how long it was. It was nine months ago. And there were a series of events that led up to me making this decision. And I'll just give like a couple examples.
So, I'm in my backyard with my 4-year-old daughter and I'm pushing her on the swings in our backyard. And it's a beautiful day out and I'm sitting there having some "quality time with my daughter," pushing her with one hand and I'm on my smartphone on the other hand, and just totally disconnected. And my daughter turns around and goes Dad, put your phone away.
And I was like what is wrong with me? Like here I am spending, like I said, quality time with my daughter, and I'm not even enjoying it. I'm not enjoying this beautiful day out here. I'm not enjoying this beautiful view we have in Utah. I am totally disconnected, focusing on everything else that's going on in my life.
So, amidst many, many other things that kind of pushed me in this direction, I decided you know what? I'm gonna try this out. I'm gonna get rid of my smartphone. I'm gonna put it in – I'm gonna lock it away in my safe. I'm gonna get a flip phone. I went over to the AT&T store and I said give me the worst phone you have, like the thing that nobody's buying. And so, I mean, like the guy literally walks into the back room and he pulls out this thing from like 1990. And the first week was awful.
Chris: It was so painful. So, here's another experience where I knew I was I was onto something. So, in my first week I had a doctor appointment. So, I go into the doctor and they tell me it's gonna be a 45 minute wait. I'm like oh, my gosh, 45 minutes without a smartphone? What am I gonna do? Just sit here and stare at The Price is Right on TV?
John: Hey, wait a second. I won a car on The Price is Right. Let's not diss that show.
Chris: So, it was so painful to me. And the fact that it was so painful made me realize that I was onto something here.
Chris: Because anything that is worth it in life is gonna involve some kind of pain. And so, like I said, I thought that this was just gonna be a short, temporary thing. I'm going on ten months now without a smartphone and I love it. I am so much more connected. I am so much more involved in my business, in conversations that I have, in meetings.
Even though before I would maybe put my phone in my pocket or put it face down on the table, it's still there and it's still just driving me nuts. And any time there's a lull in the conversation, I'm pulling my smartphone out, checking my e-mail real quick, flicking through things instead of thinking of great ideas.
John: Right, we go for that easy high. We go for that easy win. And we don't have that deep thought, Fire Nation. We don't go into that deep work that Cal Newport speaks about so eloquently in his book, which by the way, you absolutely need to read. And, Fire Nation, if you think Chris has been dropping value bombs, you're right. And more are coming up in the lightning round when we get back from thanking our sponsors.
So, Chris, we're back and are you ready to rock the lightning round?
Chris: Let's do it.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Chris: I know people say this a lot, but I was holding myself back. Self doubt. So, like I said before, I'm not your typical entrepreneur. I didn't always imagine myself being an entrepreneur. In fact, I was talking to my mom the other day and she said out of her four kids that we have in the family she thought that I would be the least likely to ever start a business.
And so, I was afraid, and mostly I was afraid of financial risk. And this is something that's powerful. I know you had Tony Robbins on the show; love Tony Robbins; I went to one of his seminars. And I realized that the reason that the financial fear was holding me back so much is because I attached so much of my worth to the job I had, to the income I had, to the car I had, to the house I had.
And so, when an opportunity like starting a business came up that's super risky, and it's like well, I could lose everything, or I could be richer than I ever imagined, that's scary because it's like well, if I lose everything then that means I'm nothing. That means that I suck, that I'm a failure.
And so, lots and lots of encouragement from my wife, from mentors of mine who encouraged me and gave me goals to set and specific milestones that, you know what, here's how you can make sure that you're gonna be successful. If you don't reach these milestones then walk away from the business.
John: Walk away from the business, Fire Nation. Walk away. What's the best advice you've ever received?
Chris: The best advice I've ever been given is to reach a goal that you've never before attained, you must do things that you have never before done. You've got to make changes in your life to see results.
John: What's a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Chris: I do daily affirmations every morning. Daily affirmations that just remind me who I am, what kind of man I wanna be. And that today is gonna be an awesome day.
John: Recommend one internet resource.
Chris: So, I don't read news sites. I do subscribe to the Hustle that I think is awesome. They send you an e-mail every day that just has all of the news highlights that are relevant that you should probably check out.
John: Ooh. Recommend one book and share why.
Chris: So, I've just been reading Extreme Ownership and I love this. It's a book about badass Navy SEALs, which everyone loves those kinds of stories. But it's all about taking ownership for things that happen in your life.
John: Chris, I wanna end today on fire, with you giving us a parting piece of guidance, sharing the best way that we can connect with you, and then we'll say goodbye.
Chris: Yeah, so I've actually created a special resource for Fire Nation. If people are interested in getting started running tests on their websites, I didn't give a lot of how to or tactical, so we have a free download for people that they can go check out how to get started with AB testing, all the tools you need. It's at disruptiveadvertising.com/Fire.
John: And a parting piece of guidance.
Chris: Like I mentioned early on, you need to be willing to test and challenge every business decision you make. Test it, get data-driven decisions in your business, and you will be tremendously more successful.
John: Fire Nation, you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And you've been hanging out with CD and JLD today. So, keep up the heat, and head over to eofire.com. Type Chris in the search bar; his show and his page is gonna pop up with everything that we've been talking about. These are the best show notes in the biz. Time stamps, links galore. And, of course, head directly to disruptiveadvertising.com/Fire for that killer giveaway.
And, Chris, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you, and we'll catch you on the flip side.
Chris: Thanks for having me.
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