Ben Wills started Decoder in 2011 to help organizations reach their potential through high value, data-driven marketing. After getting his start in the non-profit world, Ben saw an opportunity to bring the same level of integrity and focus on impact to the marketing industry. His philosophy is "do great work and the rest will follow," which has led to a long list of raving clients and exponential growth for both them and Decoder.
Now the Q & A...
Q: Thanks for being a spotlight for us, can you explain in detail what your title is at Decoder and what you do there?
A: I’m the owner and CEO of Decoder, which basically means I’m glorified janitor, cat herder, and a people pleaser.
Q: What is Conversion Optimization?
A: Conversion Rate Optimization is a scientific approach to making marketing more efficient. Rather than just focusing on driving more people to your site, the focus is on getting more of those people to take action — whether that means becoming a new lead, buying something, making bigger and more frequent purchases, or all of the above.
We do that by developing and statistically testing ideas for improving messaging, site flow, design, and on occasion even the overall business strategy. This is often confused with A/B testing, which is an approach we use to validate our ideas, but it goes far beyond that. The hardest part of testing is knowing what to test — and that requires a great deal of research, strategic thinking, and creative execution to get right.
There’s this common misconception that somewhere out there is the perfect combination of headlines, images, button colors, calls-to-action, and so on, and if you just manage to run enough tests, you’ll stumble on that Holy Grail and it will totally transform your business. That’s wishful thinking. The reality is that it takes a lot of hard work, detailed execution, and uphill battles to come up with transformative ideas and bring them to life.
Q: What is it important in today's marketplace?
A: Conversion Rate Optimization is often the most powerful lever that any digital marketer can pull, but it’s, unfortunately, the most neglected. People get caught up trying to drive more traffic, or with this or that marketing fad or tool, and don’t realize that they’re missing half the picture.
Sure, you need people to find your business and visit your site, but all of the traffic in the world won’t make a difference if you can’t get them to take action. Being successful online means both reaching the right people and inspiring them to do business with you.
Q: How does it help both the client and end user?
A: It helps the client by making all of their marketing more effective and efficient. They start getting more leads, making more sales, and growing their customer lifetime value with the traffic they’re already getting, which makes everything they’re doing more profitable.
And if you’re making twice as much as the next guy off of every dollar you spend on marketing, you can also afford to spend twice as much, which begins a virtuous cycle where they start to pull away from the pack and own more of the market.
For end users, conversion optimization makes everything clear and frictionless — you know how easy it is to make a buying decision on Amazon with near complete confidence that you’ll get what you’re expecting? That’s because they relentlessly test every aspect of their site, from the search results to product descriptions and reviews, to pricing and product recommendations.
Ultimately, that seamless, easy user experience is our goal with every project. We get insight into each customer’s needs, questions, concerns, and behavior so we can get them where they need to go and talk about the things they really care about. People don’t mind being sold to if they want what you’re selling and you can deliver on your promises.
Q: What is your favorite part of conversion optimization? And you explain how you add creativity to your work?
A: I love strategy. Diving deep into a client’s business, products, customers, industry, and finding golden opportunities that will help them reach their potential makes me excited to come to work every morning. That, and seeing the results roll in — I’m a total data nerd, so I love seeing what works and what doesn’t, getting a more nuanced understanding of their business and customers, and of course watching their leads, sales, and revenue grow month after month.
Honestly, I leave the creative part to more talented minds than mine. I can hack together the overall ideas, flow and messaging for our tests, but I let our far more experienced writers, designers, and developers make it sing. They can tell you exactly why each individual word, a bit of code, and aesthetic touch is there. Watching it all come together is kind of thrilling. It really elevates our work bringing together true experts in each discipline.
Q: What is key for you to win the hearts of your clients?
A: For me, it’s blowing them away with incredible results, making them look good to the rest of their company, and providing informed, honest guidance along the way. We’re very collaborative and love educating our clients, but at the end of the day, I think they keep working with us because they know we’re in their corner and we’re always pushing for their best interests.
Learn more about Decoder's conversion optimization services