1.3: Guy Yalif: Every Website Experience Starts a Conversation
Sammi Reinstein: Hey, this is Sammi Reinstein. And you're listening to Conversation Starters. On this show, we talk all about bringing conversations back to B2B marketing and selling because if there's one thing we know about doing business in the revenue era, it's that the best customer experience wins. Through the power of our own conversations with drifters, customers and special guests, we'll learn how to deliver a sales and marketing experience that puts the buyer first. Let's get into it. Welcome to Conversation Starters. Hey Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: Hey Sammi.
Sammi Reinstein: How you doing?
Elizabeth: I'm doing great. Always a great day when we're in the studio.
Sammi Reinstein: I love being in the studio. It's my happy place. And I'm very excited about our interview today.
Elizabeth: Yes, a returning podcast guest actually, previously on the Growth podcast with Matt Bilotti and now coming back for Conversation Starters.
Sammi Reinstein: We are interviewing today Guy Yalif, who is the CEO and co- founder of Intellimize. And Intellimize is a platform that drives more conversions with personalized marketing and website optimization. So, we can all learn a thing or two always about websites and creating more personalized experiences.
Elizabeth: Yeah, I'm really excited for this episode. Intellimize is a customer of ours. We are a customer of Intellimize and having sat on the creative team before, I've worked closely with Jess McCormick, who is our main point of contact optimizing the website. And she has learned so much from Intellimize. So, thank you, Jess, for making this connection. And I'm excited to hear what he has to say, and what we can all learn about making our website more conversational. So, let's get into it.
Sammi Reinstein: Guy, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. We gave the audience a little bit of an intro on who you are and Intellimize. But from you, we would love to hear an intro and a little background on Intellimize.
Guy Yalif: Sammie, thanks for having me. My name's Guy Yulif. I'm the co- founder and CEO of Intellimize. Intellimize intelligently optimizes websites. We combine marketers' best ideas with our machine learning to personalize websites for each unique visitor in the moment to drive more revenue, more lease to sales, or more customers. You asked why we started. We watched marketers spending$ 120 billion every year, just in the US, to drive traffic to their website and turn them into customers. But they fail to do so 98% of the time. Like in what world is that okay? How are I and every other marketer in the world not fired immediately? I was our target customer. I was a marketer for 10 years. I was a product person for 10 years before that and designed airplanes before that. And 15 of those years were in ad tech, which closely parallels what we're doing to personalize websites. My two co- founders, they were the two most senior engineers leading a several hundred person team that used ML at scale to personalize the Yahoo homepage for more than half a decade when it was the most popular page on the internet. We see marketers being increasingly data driven, accountable for measurable business driving results, and wanting to better engage their prospects. We also see us marketers personalizing experiences down to the individual in ads all the time. And so, why forget all that when you hit your website? We believe the static low converting website is the biggest squandered opportunity in all of marketing. And we're creating personalized, high converting, engaging websites that meet your visitors where they are on your funnel at the moment.
Sammi Reinstein: That's amazing. Thank you for all of the context. I love what you said at the end there, meeting your buyer where they are. We talk a lot about that at Drift too. And the reason it's so important nowadays is because I expect that as a consumer. And as a business person, I don't expect anything different nowadays. I expect a personalized experience. So, going to that site and then having my needs met it feels like a good experience. And I know that when I get a bad experience that sticks out in my brain. So, these days all about making those personalized experience. So, I'm going to toss you a question. When you hear that phrase, personalized website experience, what does that mean to you?
Guy Yalif: Sammi, what you said resonates completely as consumers, Netflix, Amazon, Yahoo, they all taught us to expect personalization. As marketers, we've actually been doing it out in the open for well over a decade. When Google and Facebook say," Give me five ads, or give me one," I'll figure out the right ad to show each person. I'll show the good ones more, the bad ones less. And I'll optimize for some goal you care about. That's personalization that's engaging down to the individual. We do the same in email. We do the same in other channels. Frankly, as a team, we were incredulous nobody had done this for websites. Yes, there were simple. Like if they look like this show them that rules available, but we expect so much more out of our marketing channels. Why not the same out of our websites? So, to me, a personalized website experience means that I see experiences and content that meet me where I am in your funnel, based on who I am be that a consumer, a buyer, the website should be more engaging, more relevant and useful to me. I'll then, buy more as a result. And exactly, as you said, Sammi I kind of expect this now.
Sammi Reinstein: Right. And, of course, from that personalized content personalized experience, based on where I am in the funnel, we hope that that sparks a conversation with a salesperson, or someone within the company. If I'm a customer, maybe it sparks a conversation with my account manager. So, how do you think a website can be conversational to really spark those conversations?
Guy Yalif: I humbly believe that conversational websites begin with customer intimacy. I suggest deeply understanding your target buyer. Understand how do they get promoted? How do they get their bonus? What are they measured on? What stresses them out. What's hard for them. Maybe listen to recorded calls with sales and customer success. Talk to your AEs and CSMs to understand the pain points they're hearing from prospects and customers. Go talk to customers and companies that you tried to sell, but lost. Read your G2 reviews and more. Get close to your customers, listen to how they talk about the problems they face, and then map that to how you can solve important problems for them relevant to your offering. Walk a day in their shoes, understand things from their perspective, think like they do. And then, to your point about creating a conversation, talk like they do. Use this understanding to create a website that speaks to them about the problems they feel they have using the words they use. And do so differently for different segments, different funnel stages, even better add Drift to your website.
Sammi Reinstein: I am, of course, biased towards adding Drift to your site. But I like what you said too, about listening to customer calls, and really putting yourself in the shoes of the buyer. And that's going to make you more empathetic towards your buyers' challenges and your buyers' needs. And then, hopefully, you can incorporate that into what you put into your website and how you talk to those customers. I used to, when I was in customer success, go on Gong all the time. And listen back to what I was saying. And sometimes I realized in the moment I would just totally not address something that they were saying. So, going back and listening to really what they're saying is very important.
Guy Yalif: Where we use Gong as well and find it incredibly helpful, both for individual coaching and for the meta of like, whoa, hold on that message did not land. Or, to your point," They're expressing this pain, but we're talking over here. We should bring those together."
Sammi Reinstein: Yeah. And speaking of a message potentially not landing, what do you think are some common mistakes that you see on a lot of websites today?
Guy Yalif: We think a bunch of B2B websites go wrong today because that we, as marketers, should meet every prospect where they are in their journey with us based on where they are. And all too often, we simply don't. We'll personalize the experience and ads, email, et cetera, and then create at a one size fits all experience on our website. Or have a handful of rules for a handful of segments. For example, how many of us marketers treat existing customers as if the were brand new prospects when they come to their website? I know I'm guilty of that. It's common sense not to do it, but practically we do. That and more we think are biggest squandered opportunity in all of our marketing efforts. We shouldn't treat everyone the same because they're not the same. Another thought, how many of us change our ad targeting or messaging? That's all of us, 100% of us. That's part of the job. But then, how many of us then adjust our website, or our chat bots, or our training for people staffing our chat accordingly since we're now bringing different prospects or setting different expectations to the people we're bringing to our website? I'm guessing that answer is very few of us. And that leaves, we think, a lot of money on the table at best and hurts our brands at worst. So, a great relevant prospect experience, we think, is the fastest path to a conversion. And that the static website it's not engaging. It's not conversational.
Sammi Reinstein: Yeah. And sometimes when I was building bots with customers, a lot of the times I thought that I was addressing those types of things. And I was creating messaging that I was like," This is amazing. We're going to have such a high engagement rate." And then, I put it on the site and I have to report back to them," That didn't work exactly." We have to go back to the drawing board and A/ B test. What do you think that people should do in those situations? And figuring out what the best experience is to give to someone?
Guy Yalif: I love what you said, you let the data guide you. I think we, as folks who are thinking about our prospects all day long, hopefully have good intuition and experience to have us try things that we think will work that are higher probability plays. But the reality is there aren't rules. If we knew every button color should be red, our jobs would be a lot simpler. There's a whole bunch of spend. We'd optimize better, but there aren't, it is situational. It is down to the individual. And so, the fact that you took the data, were willing to say," Okay, I was confident this will work. It didn't. Okay, now, let me go iterate on that, and try the next thing, and the next thing," in my humble opinion, that's brilliant. That's exactly the iterative approach we should be taking in our ads, email, website, chat. And what we found on websites different than ads having spent 15 years in ad tech, I figure most of the time we would say," This isn't working. Let me go fix it." On websites, if you have something that is automatically showing good stuff more and starving, bad stuff of track, you can spend less time on the bad stuff. And go lean into the good stuff. And go iterate on that. And so, either way you're iterating, but where do you focus your attention if you've got the right setup on your website, you can go lean into the things that are working and try to create more of that success.
Sammi Reinstein: Let the data guide you. I am going to go to my whole team and repeat this. And we're going to dive in. Because, of course, we know that, we think about it, but then our egos can get in the way where we think," No, this is a great idea." But like you said-
Guy Yalif: inaudible.
Sammi Reinstein: Yeah. And, like you said, every person is a person. It's down to the individual. So even though the data might say red, and make this button color this. And then, you try it on your site it might not work. So, letting the data guide you and trial and error, I love that.
Guy Yalif: I'm really glad it resonates. And to your point, it's sometime also hard. If some senior highly paid person says," No, no, this is the way to do it," to be able to come back and say," Thanks, we tried it the data doesn't show that," in some environments that's a really easy discussion. And in other environments it's a really hard one.
Sammi Reinstein: Yeah. Creating that space where you can come and really try new things and experiment. That's one of the things I love about working at Drift is we're always encouraged to try new things and learn and fail forward. Learn from those failures
Guy Yalif: Right on.
Sammi Reinstein: Guy, I recently read a blog that you wrote and it was really interesting, and it caught my eye. And you said that," Optimizing every step in the funnel is an approach you recommend over optimization for an end goal." And it really resonated with me because, of course, all of our end goals is booking the meeting, or jumping right to that last step. But can you explain this approach and why it works better than optimizing for that end goal?
Guy Yalif: Sure thing. This didn't come out of [logic-ing 00:12:58] our way there, it came out of practical experience and, frankly, battle scars. When we started the company we thought, as I think most marketers do, I should optimize for the end goal. The business value's going to come from, as you said, the meeting, or the buying of the product. This is common wisdom on websites. And sometimes used in ads like CPA, cost per acquisition, do that too. However, when it comes to websites, we realized over time that we were wrong. Why? Because there are often steps further down in the funnel that have a much bigger impact on whether or not a prospect converts than any change you might make upstream. For example, let's say you have a 10 step signup flow for a credit card. Not unrealistic in financial services. And you're optimizing language on step one, the landing page. Well the right CTA wording, let's pretend that's what you're optimizing, on that landing page might have a real impact on getting the prospect to start applying to go to step two. On step seven, you've got to enter your social security number or in e- commerce you've got to go enter a credit card that step later in the flow is much more decisive on the path to ultimate conversion. How did we discover this? We saw a lot of results that made no sense. We looked at that to continue with this example, CTA change on step one and saw things that should have done well didn't and vice versa. Okay, part of that's data driven marketing like we were talking about. But there was so much that we dug deeper and realized there's often little correlation between that change on step one, and sign up on step 10. And came to discover when there are interim steps that have high risk actions that's actually the driver when they are there. And so, that often matters more to reaching the ultimate conversion. So with that insight, we humbly suggest, that in most situations it's better to optimize each step in the funnel to get to the next. And the very natural next thing we hear and say to ourselves, frankly as marketers, is aren't we pushing unqualified traffic further into the funnel just before it ends up bouncing inevitably? It's important, we think, then to optimize every step in the funnel. Doing this approach just on one, yeah you might be pushing a bubble of unqualified traffic down. Do this every step from beginning to end and measure end- to- end, we've seen that in general, produce better as results for marketing teams, even though it's not where we thought we'd end up when we started.
Sammi Reinstein: Yeah. It's interesting. It's kind of like you're building trust as you go. You're recommending the right thing for where they are. And by the time they get to that higher ask, they know that it's time to make that decision where they will be more likely to book that meeting. And I think we can take that lesson to email nurtures, or to bot flows. We can take that in so many directions. You have to be a trusted advisor before your buyer is just going to say," Okay, yeah, I'll book that meeting."
Guy Yalif: 100% with you. And to show someone that when they're entering the credit card really important to show them security, social proof, trust related things. On step one that may not be the right thing to show them. In that moment, you may want to inspire them, or talk to them about the value of the offering. And so, to your point, you're building trust for different needs at different stages in that funnel.
Sammi Reinstein: That's so interesting. This brings us to the next question. I'm curious since you've probably seen many, many websites that have been personalized with Intellimize, what is the best thing you've seen on a customer's site that helps spark those conversations?
Guy Yalif: That's a great question. We've seen a lot of creative ideas. The easiest, literally, converse with your prospects. If you're not engaging them in the moment when they have interest in your offering, as expressed by the fact that they're on your website, you're leaving conversions on the floor. So, install Drift, create bots, staff Drift. Okay, that's one. Two, we also see marketers asking sometimes prospects questions directly. Like depending on the space you're in and the intent of your prospect, give them a quiz, ask them qualifying questions, ask them about the interests or needs they have to create a more personalized, engaging, and conversational experience. We've particularly seen this in like two- sided marketplaces. Are you a buyer, or are you a seller? They seem very willing to answer that question. Third, we love seeing marketers infer interest, or demographic, or firmographic information from behavior from the visitor on their website. For example, did the prospect go view a financial services case study? Perhaps infer that they're in financial services and show them relevant info and future pages. Or did they a view a feature that's only relevant to enterprise businesses and further enterprise? Did they click into a page for a specific role? You may have solutions pages for this role versus that role. Infer and personalize accordingly. And last thought, forethought, we see great marketers treating their homepage like a landing page to induce more conversation. Like we're all used to creating one off landing pages for different campaigns and targets the best marketers combine all those literally into their homepage, or some other high traffic page. Personalizing that page for each unique visitor, as you would as if you had created a bunch of landing pages to go engage and start the conversation,
Sammi Reinstein: Starting conversations with personalization. That's awesome. And on those website pages, and as I come back to the website, and my experiences more personalized it helps me as the buyer have the noise be cut. I don't have to do as much searching. You're showing me what is most relevant to me. So, if I'm in an enterprise, there's probably more security things that I might care about that you can show me, or financial services I don't have to dig through the case studies. I can see that financial services case study. S, as the buyer, it really makes you come back and you don't have to do all of that searching.
Guy Yalif: Couldn't agree with you more. You are genuinely being more useful to your prospect. You're being respectful of them and their time and their interest by showing them the things that are more meaningful to them.
Sammi Reinstein: Buyer centric, I love it. Guy, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I have learned so much from you. And I am going to go back to our web team and make sure that we are doing everything that you have just talked about.
Guy Yalif: Sammi, it was a pleasure joining you. I enjoyed the conversation. A ton look forward to continuing it. Have a great one.
Sammi Reinstein: Thanks Guy, you too.
Elizabeth: Obviously, as the co- founder of a website company I knew Guy would know his stuff, but damn...
Sammi Reinstein: He knew his stuff.
Elizabeth: Wow. That man was just spitting facts all episode.
Sammi Reinstein: I love when Elizabeth uses words like spitting facts because-
Elizabeth: Is that even a phrase? I don't even know.
Sammi Reinstein: No, it's a phrase. You're in with the Gen Z. You're in with the-
Elizabeth: Oh good.
Sammi Reinstein: Yeah, no.
Elizabeth: I feel so young.
Sammi Reinstein: I totally agree, Elizabeth. I really enjoyed speaking with Guy and learning more about his thought process. And we are all on we websites every single day. And I'm on websites in my personal life as a consumer. And he's a perfect example of how on a B2B website, we should still have that personalized experience and still have that experience that is buyer centric.
Elizabeth: Yeah, I hope the audience got a lot of takeaways from this episode to implement in your own website. Right after this, I know Sammi and I will be bringing some new facts to our content meeting. And actually, our next episode is going to be even more focused on leveraging data to improve conversations, which is something Guy touched on. So, make sure to tune in next Thursday to learn more about that.
Sammi Reinstein: See you next Thursday. Thanks so much for listening to Conversation Starters. If you liked this episode, please leave us a six star review by clicking the link in the show notes. And hit Subscribe so you never miss another one. You can connect with me on Twitter at Sammi Reinstein and follow all of our shows at Drift Podcasts.
B2C companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Doordash have all taught us to expect personalized experiences whenever we buy something on a website. So, why are B2B websites treating us differently?
Guy Yalif is the co-founder and CEO of the website optimization platform Intellimize -- a company he created to address the 98% percent conversion gap he and his co-founder, Brian Webb, were seeing across impersonal B2B websites. On this episode of Conversation Starters, he joins Sammi to let us in on the optimization secrets he's found to drive more personalized experiences for site visitors, and better conversion rates for businesses. Because at the end of the day, whether a B2B or B2C website, all websites should spark conversations by meeting the buyer where they're at in the funnel.
- (1:49) Who is Guy, and what is Intellimize?
- (4:26) What does a “personalized website experience” mean?
- (5:56) Guy’s take on how a website can be “conversational.”
- (8:02) The most common mistakes Guy sees on B2B websites today
- (9:59) The importance of letting the data guide your decisions
- (12:55) Optimizing your website for every step in the funnel vs. optimizing for an end goal
- (16:29) The most creative ways Guy’s seen websites spark conversations
- (19:32) Episode recap
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