Myth Busting Conversion Rate Optimization with Tim Ash

Photo provided by Tim Ash
Photo provided by Tim Ash

In this episode conversion rate optimization Tim Ash, CEO at

In this interview with Eric Schwartzman, our conversion rate optimization expert guest talks about the relationship of psychology and content marketing.

Tim Ash has delivered digital marketing keynote presentations events all over the world for Google, Facebook, Pubcon and others. He’s the author of Unleash Your Primal Brain: Demystifying How We Think and Why We Act and a B2B lead qualification expert.

His first book was Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions. We spoke recently to SEO consultant Brian Dean of Backlinko for the B2B Lead Gen Podcast about why he created 10,000 landing pages to sell his courses online.

If you look at conversion rate optimization as simply the end of the customer journey, you overlook the psychological and motivational aspects of what makes someone convert.

Tim comes at conversion rate optimization from the perspective of evolutionary psychology, which he says matter not only to marketers, but to all people. “If you understand the basic operating system for human beings, you understand the whole arc of evolution that made us who we are.”

What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is the art and science of testing the impact of adjusting the text, images, rich media, and graphic interface design on a website or webpage to continuously increase the percentage of website traffic that completes a desired transaction, such as an e-commerce sale, a lead form submission, or content download.

Rather than obsessive over what types of B2B content marketing is most effective, essential digital marketing skills, or B2B lead generation strategy, Tim takes a more evolutionary psychological look at how our physiology as mammals impacts our behavior as customers.

Tim Ash on Tribal Branding

How to Optimize for Conversions

When it comes to conversion rate optimization and demand generation, world-renown conversion rate optimization expert Tim Ash advises digital marketing professionals not to focus too much on the technology.

It’s Twitter today. It’ll be Oculus headsets tomorrow.

“But it’s the human brain we’re trying to influence, and I do a lot of myth-busting on how the brain works. If you wanna have a durable career in digital marketing, you need to understand what you’re trying to influence,” says Tim, whose framework covers all the steps of conversion rate optimization by unifying branding, direct response marketing, and brand monitoring.

There’s usually a war between these strict branding departments (you have to use this font, this color, this voice, etc.) and the direct response marketing people, who do whatever it takes to sell. He cited this experiment where a brand of instant coffee was served at a luxury restaurant – surprisingly, the customers found the cheap coffee as good as the premium product they expected.

“So the brand serves as the frame in which the offer is gonna be valued, and that’s where brand and direct response are gonna be unified.” This means that while you need to have visual consistency in your owned, shared, and paid media outreach campaigns, it’s also important to know what’s working in the field and incorporate that into the marketing.

Tim has done extensive work on landing page optimization, and his book has a whole chapter devoted to this topic, named ‘The Seven Deadly Sins of landing pages.’

Here are three important ones he mentioned:

1.     Messaging Expertise, Authority, and Trust- A poorly conceived page won’t generate trust. Users won’t buy from you without offering proof, authority, etc.

2.    Short Words Win- Way too much text. It’s been repeatedly shown that cutting back the amount of text and anything you can’t objectively substantiate gets much higher conversion rates. Listen to this interview with Joe Romm on viral messaging.

3.     Renounce the Bounce- Don’t betray your promises. Your digital analytics show you how people get to your website. Ensure that the information is clear and that you keep your promises on your page.

Tim Ash on Marketing that Converts

On a broader topic, there’s been much talk about consumers wanting brands to take a stance on social issues. But do they want brands to have a position or their position? What should companies do about that? “You have to be for something or against something”, Tim agrees. That extends to your product offer – “You can’t be Sears, that’s why they went out of business, they were in the middle.” In other words, you can’t be everything to everybody – you can position yourself as ultracheap or ultra-premium, citing Domino’s Pizza as an example of the former.

We’re suffering from an “infodemic,” with algorithms designed to extend session time and reinforce our tribalism. Can AI be of help, incorporating a sort of “truth” ranking into the formula?

As a background in the field, Tim is quite skeptical about that since the databases he uses typically come with built-in biases. “AI, running open loop without human oversight, I think it’s creating new and bigger problems. It requires a kill switch and human beings in the loop.” I wrote more about this idea here.

Tim Ash on Psychological CRO

Listen to the full podcast episode for more insights on evolutionary psychology, the spread of tribal mentality, and conversion rate optimization.

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