Customer Development Process: $300k More In Leads Using The Visitor Vocab Technique

Last updated February 5, 2016
customer-development-process

Here’s the harsh truth about doing business online.

If you want to succeed in today’s crowded and competitive internet you need to understand your customer inside out.

What their goals are, motivations, their pain points and the words they use to describe those feelings.

This means the words you use in your website can literally change your business by hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

customer-development-process

Aligning your copywriting and brand messaging with your customer is essential if you want to get people to read and convert.

Well today I am going to show you a technique that almost guarantees you conversions, new customers and profits.

Keep reading to learn more…

The Visitor Vocab Technique (customer development and conversion copywriting on steroids)


On the 29th of January 2015, Moses Kagan published the latest version of his real estate blog Kagansblog.com

As a graduate of my professional online training course on conversion optimization, Conversion Machine, he had been working to optimize his website conversion rates and profits.

When he started the process on the 10th of December 2014 his conversion rate looked like this:

goal-conversion-rate-before-visitor-vocab-technique

After executing the “Visitor Vocab Technique” on his blog, his conversion rate went through the roof!

goal-conversion-rate-after-visitor-vocab-technique

Conversion rate jumped from 0.33% to 0.92% in just 4 weeks after he launched his changes. That’s a 176.33% increase in conversion rate.

More importantly this meant more leads and revenue for his real estate business.

In fact using this technique will add $300,000 dollars in gross revenue to his business in 2015 alone!

As a bonus his landing page bounce rate fell from 84.93% to 47.61%, a 43.94% improvement. That’s a lot more people sticking around in his funnel!

bounce-rate-visitor-vocab-technique

The best part?

You can do the same thing for your website...and you don’t need a huge marketing budget or an expensive copywriter.

The 3-Steps to using “The Visitor Vocab Technique” to increase your conversion rate and profits


There are 3 basic steps to the Visitor Vocab Technique.

  1. Conversion research: Collect qualitative customer data
  2. Data Analysis: Mine your data for customer learning
  3. Conversion copywriting: Use the Visitor Vocab Technique to turn your data into higher conversions and more profit

Here’s why the technique worked so well (and what it has to do with vocabulary).

Have you ever landed on a website and seen something like this?

bad-value-proposition

This is a great example of how not to communicate to your visitors.

Using complicated language in your value proposition is a great way to confuse your visitors and send them packing, your heading for high bounce rates and low conversion rates.

But how many times do you see brands with over complicated and selfish messaging?

It’s normal to want to sound impressive, cutting edge, especially if you’re a technology company doing amazing new things.

But it is no way to communicate the benefits and unique value of your product or service to a new visitor.

And it’s certainly not the way to speak to your potential customers if you want higher conversion rates and more profits.

Here’s what you should do instead…

A step by step guide to The Visitor Vocab Technique


The first step in this technique is conversion research, remember the getting to know your customer bit.

There are two types of data you can collect during the conversion research process.

Now when you think of collecting data you instantly think about analytics, this is the first type of data, quantitative data.

This data tells us what, which page, how much.

The second type is qualitative data and this is collected through an exploration of user behaviour.

It helps you gain an understanding of the goals, motivations and pains your customers have throughout their path to conversion along your sales funnel.

The source for qualitative customer data in the Visitor Vocab Technique is customer development and more specifically customer development interviews.

What is customer development?

Customer development definition:  A scientific approach that can be applied by startups and entrepreneurs to improve their products success by developing a better understanding of their customers.

Customer development interviews: 10 – 15 minute meetings with potential customers and existing customers where you ask questions and learn about their behaviours.

(Remember you need to know them inside out!)

For Steve Blank customer development methodology has been a core concept for product success since the 1990’s.

It was also popularized in the lean startup by Eric Ries.

Note: Of course customer development interviews are just one small process within the huge topic that is customer development. In this case study we apply this sub process to cro.

Customer development interviews in this case study and for many others bring about huge customer learning and conversion lifts. This is due to a number of reasons.

You are not restricted by the questions you choose

In all automated qualitative research (like online surveys) you have fixed questions, this limits the new learning you can achieve from the customer or prospect because the questions are very closed or the answers already chosen (multiple choice survey questions).

This customer development process allows for more open questioning and when an interviewee says something interesting or new you can dig deeper and learn more.

You can ask why?…

This enables you to learn things about your customer that even the most complex questions logic couldn’t teach you.

Insights that 10 Harvard PHDs locked in a basement for a week couldn’t squeeze out of a survey.

You can read people’s body language

With customer interviews, even if your calls are over video chat, you can read the persons body language.

Not so easy with a poll. Don’t underestimate how much people communicate with their facial expressions and shoulders!

So what’s the process…

Next you’ll learn the exact step by step process used to interview Kagansblog customers.

Step 1: Conversion research: Customer Development Interviews


1.1 Find people to interview

Ok, so it is no secret that getting prospects or customers to take the time to chat with you isn’t that easy.

If you are really struggling to find customers to interview try this checklist below:

  1. Perform a social search using your main topics or keywords and reach out to people
  2. Using Buzzsumo alerts, set up emails that let you know when new content in your industry is published, then reach out to the people who comments or ask further questions using email outreach
  3. Ask for introductions from first degree contacts
  4. Cold call people in your target market
  5. Ask for a referral at the end of every customer development call to find new prospects

1.2 Set the goal of the interviews

This customer development model falls into two categories. Behavioral studies and feedback studies.

In the Visitor Vocab Technique we are trying to understand what your prospect does now…their behavior. What they feel towards their current pain points and processes and if your product or service can remove their pain and help them achieve their one true goal.

The behavioral study helps you pitch your solution better, presenting your offer as the perfect solution to their biggest pain points.

1.3 Create three to five core questions to ask in your interviews

Here are your questions frameworks for your behavioral study:

(I’ve included my entire swipe file of open questions for both types of interviews in the toolkit at the end of the article)

What’s your biggest [your topic] challenge right now?

This teaches you their biggest pain point and frustration

What does [your topic] mean to you?

This teaches you how they express your topic or solution, what words they use and the how they say and mean those words.

What’s the main reason you want to [achieve their one true goal]?

This tells you their one true goal, the main outcome of spending money with you, as seen from their perspective.

You need to record your data with analysis in mind

How you record your customer interview data can determine whether or not it is useful.

Remember data needs to be actionable.

You can use this spreadsheet template included in the Visitor Vocab Toolkit download.

customer-development-process

Let’s walk through the different columns, learn what they are for and how to fill them out:

Name, Sex, Age, Location, Position

These simple demographics and job details are self explanatory. The position of the person is only useful if your business focuses on larger companies where you need to have direct contact with a decision maker to convert a customer.

Questions

These questions should be rewritten using the frameworks above.

Make sure the questions are open and cannot be answered easily, like a yes or no question.

General Comments

This is where you sum up the interview and write down your biggest takeaways, focus on pain points and goals.

Categories

e.g. Bugs, Features, On-boarding, Pricing, Customer Service

In this column you need to categorize each interview or call so we can tally them up at the end and learn what subjects or topics within your industry or product customers focus on the most.

This will help to develop your customer messaging and differentiate you from competitors.

To Do’s

This is if a customer reports a bug or complains about something that needs to be passed to your product team or designer/developer.

Referral

At the end of the behavioral interviews ask the potential customer if there is someone else they could recommend you to talk to.

This is a great way to set up more calls and interviews.

Record your call audio

I recommend to record the audio during your interviews, rather than write or type while you listen. You will be a much more attentive interviewer and will be able to ask more insightful questions.

Then simply review the audio, make notes and transcribe the meeting word for word straight after the interview, while the conversation is fresh in your mind.

If you are doing a call over Skype I highly recommend to use Pamela call recorder software.

Even if you decide to do some interviews over the phone, put some credit on your Skype account and call the telephone number from Skype to allow you to record the calls.

If for some reason you cannot record the interviews, make sure you take an extra person along to make notes. Do not run the interview and make notes at the same time under any circumstances, firstly it is rude and secondly you could miss or lose valuable information.

Talk to at least three people but shoot for ten

This research is qualitative, you do not need to chat with 100 potential customer or all your past customers. If you do you will start to see patterns after ten or fifteen interviews anyway.

Speaking to three people can bring about enough ideas for test hypotheses you can later test quantitatively.

Have a script for your interview

It is important to have a script for your interviews that follows the flow of your data collection spreadsheet.

Step 2: Data Analysis: Mine your data for customer insights


Luckily you’ve taken the time to record all your data in an actionable format, you’ve even categorized it so you know the overall big take away from the calls.

Next you need to analyse the data and learn about your customers.

Your first exercise in analysis should be to take all your call transcriptions and paste them into a word cloud (only the customers answers of course, not your sentences).

This word cloud is from the kagansblog.com customer interviews.

customer-development-word-cloud

You can then get an instant visual understanding of what words and types of vocabulary your customers are using.

You also want to pull out memorable sentences the customers said during your customer development interviews. Make sure you transcribed the exact words they said! Not your interpretation of what they meant.

For example from the kagansblog.com calls we recorded these exact customer sentences:

“I don’t know how to start investing in real estate”

“The most annoying part was trust, knowing who to trust”

“I trusted her expertise in the area and saw that she had a recipe that had worked before”

“Find a strategy and recipe for investment”

The next step is to take the word cloud and customer sentences and create a list of words to test in your new copy changes.

This is the key to the Visitor Vocab Technique, you create a vocabulary of customer words from qualitative data you have collected.

These words then act as an input to your copywriting process.

Here is the vocabulary list from Kagansblog.com.

  • Honest / Trust
  • Properties
  • Local Area Knowledge
  • Expertise
  • Recipe
  • Start

Step 3: Conversion copywriting: Use the exact words and phrases your customers use for copywriting


You now take your new vocabulary list as an input, in this example to write the value proposition and form copy for Moses’s feature box.

visitor-vocab-technique-wireframe

The customer calls will not only provide you with words and phrases to use in your copywriting, in this instance they were also used to decided what type of lead magnet to offer within the feature box.

Tie the wording of your call to action to your title

It is important not only to include action words in your calls to action, try to find the action words your customers used when describing their wants in the interviews. In this example it was ‘Start’.

It is also important to tie the call to action button copy to the headline.

In this example above we use the term ‘Get started’ for both the title and the button.

There is then a consistency and flow throughout the marketing message.

moses-kagan

Here is the final version of the landing page from Kagansblog. Employing the Visitor Vocab Technique increased his conversions and lead generation by 176.33% in 4 weeks.

What can it do for you..

Download the Visitor Vocab Toolkit

Spreadsheet template for logging interviews so data is actionable

Swipe file of my top open questions for customer interviews

giles thomas

Author:

Giles Thomas is the founder of AcquireConvert, the conversion rate optimization blog that teaches ecommerce stores how to increase conversion rates and profits. He is the Founder of Berlin based ecommerce growth agency Whole Design Studios, a head mentor at the Google Launchpad Accelerator and a member of the Google Experts program.

Comments

10 Responses or Pingbacks

  1. viv says:

    Hi Giles,

    Seems you provided him with the theme too however I can’t see any option where you sell themes.
    I like your feature box, what plugin are you using for that?

  2. Josh says:

    Hey Giles, I’ve loved the read, I’ve learned a lot that I can act on to improve my lead generation. It is my main goal for my new business. I’ve been doing customer development by studying my ppc ads. Its working so far, but your tips will definitely improve my work.
    Thanks

    • Giles Thomas says:

      Hey Josh
      Thanks for the kind words.
      Good luck with the new business! Customer development is something every business should do all the time but so many don’t. So you’re already ahead of the game. Keep it up.

  3. […] Brant Cooper’s summary of customer development  (author of The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development) Eric Ries’ summary of customer development (author of The Lean Startup) Steve Blank  gives a lecture about customer development. (Audio, Slides, Videos) Ash Maurya's Customer Development Checklist for a Web Startup (Discovery, Validation) Acquire Convert's Customer Development for Copywriting […]

  4. […] interesting technique called “The Visitor Vocab”. It was diligently described by Giles Thomas here, and basically it’s about customer development process. It’s also a great read with awesome […]

  5. Brian Boys says:

    Giles, as a copywriter I love how you’ve systematized this process. I’ve had clients pay me to interview customers and prospective customers (at events) on camera for the purpose of creating social media videos. But in effect, I was doing what you’ve described.

    If you’re patient and use open-ended questions, real people will always say much better things about the product than I as a copywriter could have come up with.

    Often, the decision to buy is based on some factor the client and their marketing team didn’t think was all that important. But if it comes up repeatedly in interviews, they should jump on it.

    • Giles Thomas says:

      Hi Brian
      I agree open ended questions and really listening to the customer can bring about huge learning.
      Looking for recurring patterns is definitely the game, great insights.

  6. Brandon says:

    Great info Giles… well done! Glad you pinged me and had me take a look… keep in touch, Brandon.

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