AJ Davis is the Founder and CEO of Experiment Zone, a company designed to help online businesses maintain, expand, and improve digital experiences using conversion strategy and testing, site experience audits, and conversion audits. As a conversion rate optimization specialist, AJ is passionate about enhancing business websites to promote sales and growth. She is an advisor and mentor for entrepreneurs launching startup companies, a conference speaker, and host of the Startup Insights podcast, which encourages entrepreneurs to solve problems utilizing user research.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- AJ Davis shares how Experiment Zone helps its customers grow their online business
- The three things to include on your landing page to increase sales
- How AJ founded her company and the keys to her success
- Common oversights that make customers apprehensive of e-commerce businesses
- AJ reminisces on the proudest moment of her career and recalls the mistakes she made as a startup founder
- How establishing a company culture drives business profitability
In this episode…
One of the keys to success as an entrepreneur is learning from mistakes. As you launch your startup, keep in mind that flourishing businesses aren’t created overnight. Commitment, strategy, and a willingness to acknowledge your errors are vital components of a thriving establishment. While learning on the job is the game of entrepreneurship, instating core values before launching gives you a foundation to refer to when faced with opposition.
A year and a half into founding her company, AJ Davis, an expert in conversion rate optimization, realized she had made a mistake by not constructing core values before launching. Without purpose or direction, the company wasn’t progressing. A business coach helped AJ realize a defined culture keeps the company anchored to the mission and brand she envisioned. By reflecting on her values, AJ established values aligning with the company’s mission — giving it the momentum to continue moving forward.
On this episode of the Top Business Leaders Show, Chad Franzen welcomes AJ Davis, Founder and CEO of Experiment Zone, to discuss the impact of core values on company culture and its overall success. AJ shares how her company helps e-commerce brands scale, the fundamentals of her success, and the mistakes she made early in her entrepreneurial journey. She also divulges the three things to include on your landing page and the common oversights hindering the growth of e-commerce brands.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Chad Franzen on LinkedIn
- Email the team at Rise25: firstname.lastname@example.org
- AJ Davis on LinkedIn
- Experiment Zone
- Don’t Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug
Sponsor for this episode…
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Rise25 Co-founders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.
Welcome to the top business leaders show. Powered by Rise25 Media, we feature top founders, executives, and business leaders from all over the world.
Chad Franzen 0:20
Chad Franklin here co-host of the top business leaders show where we feature CEOs, entrepreneurs and top leaders in the business world. This episode is brought to you by Rise25. We help B2B businesses reach their dream relationships and connect with more client referrals and strategic partnerships and get ROI through done-for-you podcasts. If you have a B2B business and want to build great relationships, there’s no better way to do it than to profile the people and companies you admire on your podcast. To learn more, go to Rise25, or email us at email@example.com AJ Davis is a Conversion Rate Optimization Specialist and CEO and Founder of Experiment Zone; she helps online businesses grow their sales by improving their websites. AJ loves bringing life to data to tell the story of what customers need, what they want, and what companies need to do about it to stay relevant. AJ, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?
AJ Davis 1:16
Hey, I’m doing great. Thanks for having me on Chad.
Chad Franzen 1:19
As we get started here, tell me a little bit more about Experiment Zone. And give me an example of how you apply data toward telling the story of what customers need.
AJ Davis 1:30
Yeah, I really have a strong passion for sharing qualitative and quantitative data. So Experiment, it’s all about figuring out what motivates customers, what are some of those things and pain points they have that even motivate them to come to a business for a solution? And then we look at the behavioral data, what are they actually doing? Are they going to certain pages, are they clicking on certain things, what’s drawing their attention, then we bring it all together through experimentation. So we run AB tests of specific solutions to see what works and what doesn’t work.
Chad Franzen 2:00
So in what’s, what’s the typical situation where a client or customer might come to you?
AJ Davis 2:07
Typically, they’re looking to grow. So they’ve generated some traffic on their website, and they’re getting some conversion from one page to the next. But they’re not getting that all the way through to revenue. So they want to see some optimization of the page design, the messaging, all those components that add up to somebody being able to take action and purchase something or fill out a form. And so we help them uncover what’s getting in the way of people taking that final action. And so typically, they’re in a growth mindset. They’re saying, hey, we want to really lean on our website to draw more revenue. And can you guys help us make sure that if we’re spending money to bring traffic to the website, those people are actually going to be able to find what they need and ultimately become customers?
Chad Franzen 2:47
Can you give us an example of some steps that people can take to grow their business?
AJ Davis 2:52
Hmm, so many things, right? But if we’re just talking about your website, I think the low-hanging fruit on almost every single website that I see is the landing page rate, the page that people first come to, typically, the homepage, needs to hit three things right off the bat without any work. So it needs to tell people what the business is, what they offer, who it’s for, and then why you’re the company to solve for that. And you can look at many, many nice, famous brands, and they’re failing to do that. And when they take the time to reflect on that and simplify their message, then they’re going to see a higher conversion rate, people are going to bounce less, and they’re going to stick around because they can see themselves in the message. And then they’re more likely to stick around to then face the other problems that are happening on the website, which then there are other processes for finding those.
Chad Franzen 3:39
How did you get started with experiments? So?
AJ Davis 3:44
Yeah, great question. I have kind of always been an entrepreneur at heart. Like as a kid, I taught piano lessons and had a business for doing that. And I have always loved data. My very first job was as a softball, softball scorekeeper. And I learned how to like crunch numbers and excel and figure out who the best players were. And so all these things have kind of been part of who I am intrinsically. How I fell into this particular business shaped this particular kind of goal. And the objective was, I was a UX researcher by training. I worked at Google, I felt like I was paying. I did the thing, I found a great, wonderful job and got to work on really important project problems for the world. But I still had that itch of how do I, you know, how can I satisfy this entrepreneurial side of me? And so I found conversion rate optimization through working on Google Optimize as a researcher and just fell in love with it. Everyone I talked to was doing the kinds of things I thought were important, like they were figuring out what problems existed, and then making sure that the solutions really held up in the real world. So I, you know, packed my bags, walked out of Google with a lot of people wondering why you’d leave that company, and then worked at another agency for a year before you know Figuring out that I could do it myself and started experiments on
Chad Franzen 5:03
or your business for Experiment Zone to be successful. What are some keys to that?
AJ Davis 5:10
Yeah, I think one of the main things is we really value curiosity, and getting into the nitty-gritty details. And so that shows up in every aspect of how we run the company internally, the way we work with our clients, the way we hire. And so that’s something that over the last six years has really just kind of bubbled up to the surface and every single thing we do, we have internal, like experimentation processes for figuring out like, how do we optimize our own process? How do we optimize our communication with clients? How do we communicate what we do? And so I think a lot of it is just this philosophy that I’ve grown up in professionally of iteration, we are always looking to tweak and iterate and make things better. And doing that in all aspects of the business has helped the team and the company grow.
Chad Franzen 5:56
So you said he would have been working for another agency prior to starting the experiment. So what did you learn most? From the experience of starting Experiment Zone?
AJ Davis 6:09
Yeah, versus having done it in a different way? Good question. Let me sit with that for a second. Because I think, you know, there’s a lot of pieces. And I think I knew I was gonna learn a lot. So there wasn’t one standout thing. I was at a place in my career where I just wanted to be able to do more across the business. And so I thought, Oh, I could go for an MBA and kind of learn about all the different aspects of a business. I have a master’s degree already. So it felt a little bit like a business school, too. So it was like, Well, that might be kind of duplicate effort, but the classes would be slightly different. And I thought this would just be the best way to get a firsthand experience like to fail at things to figure out things. I think something I had picked up at the previous agency, and I just double down on it as a business owner is the importance of delegation, if there’s ever a task that I can write down for someone else to do, especially if it’s repeated, it should not be something I ever do. And so I think the power of delegating instead of always being the one to do the work was something that was a bit of a transition for me as someone who was always very heads down and like, let’s get every detail, right, being able to help bring in other people to help, you know, really scale what we’re doing over the early days.
Chad Franzen 7:23
How did you go about getting clients that people already know you? Or did you kind of have to put yourself out
AJ Davis 7:29
I, I, it’s not a great lesson for anyone else, because I was just really lucky. Or I had developed a relationship in a really specific way. So the company I had worked for, I essentially negotiated for them to be my first client. So not only did I go from the amount of work I was doing as an individual contributor there, but I built out their UX research practice. And that team was my team. So I ended up being able to hire people right out the gate and have kind of a steady set of work out of the gate for that. And so I just there wasn’t that friction at the beginning of like, where’s my first client? How do I find one, it was like the client showed up. And then I helped that helped me figure out how to define the business.
Chad Franzen 8:10
I think he kind of mentioned this, but you know, when you look when you I say, I saw that you do audits, where you do like experience audits and conversion audits, what are some what’s it like? Is that like a common glaring error that is room for improvement that a lot of companies have that come to you?
AJ Davis 8:29
When they know they need an audit? Or is there like a specific like,
Chad Franzen 8:32
like, once you do the audit, where you see like, oh, yeah, everybody does this, they could do this better?
AJ Davis 8:38
Yeah, there’s definitely some themes on things. So there are some themes. So like, we think about e-commerce, specifically, the type of thing that we see again and again, is we make things hard for customers. So there’s like pretty critical pieces of information that every customer is going to want to think about. They want to know how things work. They want to know when they’re going to get your product, they want to know about shipping and returns, there’s a really clear expectation that there should be free shipping and free returns, at least at some threshold of customer experience. They want to know why you’re different, or what happens if things go wrong. And a lot of companies just kind of failed to put that early and often enough in the process. So one of the most common recommendations I wanted for the earliest test that will run for companies is like, should you be talking about your free shipping on every single page? And how should you talk about it? And how far away are visitors from getting the free shipping? How do we promote things that matter to people so that they don’t have to think about it or go do the work to find it, we’re just making it ever present and ever in front of them. And those are the kinds of things that lead to more conversion because as soon as you make somebody do extra work, there’s a great book called Don’t make me think it’s the same idea. Don’t make people think about this stuff. And make sure that they can get and have the information in front of them without overwhelming them with blocks and long series of texts.
Chad Franzen 9:56
During your time with experiments, is there a moment that you’re particularly proud of, maybe a big client success or something like that?
AJ Davis 10:05
Yeah, I think one of my proudest moments was we were working with a client with a really difficult customer to access like they’re highly specialized or building software for this user segment. And in many ways, it was difficult actually to talk to or survey or do usability work around the end user. And so we wanted to find a way to get that information, maybe low-hanging fruit a little quicker, a little more cost-effective. And so what we decided to do was to interview their sales team. And they said, Oh, we talk to the sales team all the time. Well, it turns out the leadership of their team was talking to the leadership of the sales team. And we wanted to talk to the people who were talking to the customer, not the people talking to the people that talked to the customer. And by removing the sort of layers of the organization and treating them like the subject matter experts that they are, we were able to distill down a landing page from maybe 20, scroll links with tons of information in it to three pieces of information that really mattered in the sales process. And then, we validated it with an experiment, and it lifted conversion by over 100%. So those are the kinds of things we’re like, you can creatively problem solve, you can marry together that qualitative input and expertise from people on their team that they have access to, and now we had access to and then validate it on the back end to say, what did it mean to simplify the page that much? And to really get the message? Right.
Chad Franzen 11:32
as kind of a, you know, a new business owner? Were there any mistakes? Maybe that ended up being a great learning experience for you? Sure,[continue to page 2]