Johnathan Dane is the founder of the successful digital agency KlientBoost. In our podcast, he illustrates the impact of design on conversion rate optimization, explains the Breadcrumb Theory, and shares how he hires new employees.
Johnathan Dane is the founder of KlientBoost, a leading California-based creative digital agency specializing in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and high converting, landing page design and testing. His passion revolves around analytics and creativity, which is also reflected in his agency’s work method.
Creating Better Results Via Design
Johnathan is the CEO of Klient Boost, one of the most known PPC agencies in California. Until a decade ago he dreamt of becoming a professional soccer player. The turning point came when he was 21:
“Well, I’m half-Danish, half-American, came over here when I was 21 and wanted to finish my college degree. Learned about Craigslist and all the opportunity that it had from a marketing perspective, and things just kind of snowballed. And so, I’m 31 today, have an agency of about 55 people. I don’t feel like I’m young anymore. I feel like I’ve been in this game for a little bit now.
… I was actually washing and detailing cars on Craigslist, so detailing like waxing. We live in Southern California, so a lot of people have decently nice cars that they want to keep intact. And what I learned then, when I was competing against other people who would wash cars and stuff like that, and this sounds kind of crazy, I would look at their ads, and I would figure out, well, how can I make mine better. They didn’t have before and after pictures like they didn’t show any of the progress that they were doing. It was just all text space. And, from then and as I learned about PPC later on, I just had a look for what are other PPC agencies missing and how can I be better?”
How did Johnathan manage to set his agency apart from his competitors?
“One of the big things that we do that a lot of other agencies don’t do is the conversion rate optimization. So, like the scientific aspect of design and why you design your website or landing pages in a certain way. It’s because we can figure out what to change to make it perform better. And so, that was the big part of the equation that I think a lot of agencies were not thinking about and not caring about. And so, it kind of let us find a sweet spot there when a client would come on board, and they wouldn’t necessarily know how valuable the scientific design or the commercial and optimization would be, we would just offer it as part of our package. And it allowed us to hit goals a lot faster than if we were to only do pay per click marketing for them. So, that was a big, big differentiator for early on, and still is today.”
Johnathan's Secret Ammunition
Johnathan says his passion revolves around analytics and creativity. We asked him if he still prefers to focus on one of these two contrary, yet complementary sides:
“It’s funny because, I mean, you need kind of both to be a very dangerous combination in a good way. The funny thing is that most of the big wins and our big learning lessons almost always come from the design side. Like they always come from the conversion optimization side. And the reason why is, because that allows you to increase conversion rates. And when you increase conversion rates, your cost per conversion can be reduced, and your conversion volume can be increased. And that’s really tough to do within the world of pay per click alone, simply because you can change your bids, you can change your ads. But the actual improvements are so small but combined they can be a big deal.
But again, with the design aspect that we focus on, that’s, I think, where I have the most fun. Also, seeing where the type of traffic can perform differently, depending on the design experience that they receive. And so, that’s where the most creative outlet is for me and also our design team. And I think I speak for the whole company when I know that they’re our secret ammunition that we have when it comes to improving performances in general.”
Most Important Factors in CRO
When asked what were the key factors in CRO that he found over the years, Johnathan said:
“So, it’s funny most of the time because there’s a lot of different parts of the website or the landing page, you mentioned copy. There’s layout, there’s the colors, there’s the sections, the hero image, and stuff like that. The biggest thing that we found, again and again, is what the call to action is and how it relates to the actual traffic and the intent of that traffic to convert. So, there’s a lot of differences between let’s say search traffic compared to display compared to social compared to video. And, within those, there are different types of conversion intent as well too.
So, again, and again, and this is only because we’ve worked with over 500 companies so far, in our existence, the call to action paired with the form, for example, or whatever that may be. So, you’re a fast company, you have a funnel, or if you’re lead gen, you go through. With Ecommerce websites it’s a little different because there’s a complexity of the products and the shopping cart and things like that too. But it’s not so much the copy, it is way more how you position call to action, make sure you’re matching that to the traffic that the page is getting.”
And then, what we also found is that there’s something called the Breadcrumb Technique that we follow too. So, imagine your traditional website based form, right? You usually have a name, email, and phone number. And what you’re taught to do is that the less the amount of fields you have, the higher your conversion rates will be.
So, what happens in the downside of that is that, if you continue to remove your form fields, well, you’re left with the ones that you have to keep, which are usually name, email, and phone number. Yeah. To get in touch with the person, right? So, when a person that comes through your ad or anywhere from, email or organic, and they’ve seen that your form requires that and that is their first impression of you, there’s a very high likelihood that they’re going leave because they know that they’re not going to get an answer to their question because they have to give their contact information for somebody on your side reach out.
So, what we’ve learned about is, again, something called the Breadcrumb Technique where you ask these pre-qualifying, anonymous questions in your form fields first. So, if it was you guys, for example, if it was us like let’s say the example would be, I’m a school, or I’m a college, for example. Well, I want to know what year you graduated high school and what you’re interested in. What degree are you trying to pursue? Right? Is it science? Is it math, and what are the specifics of that?
Well, if I was you and I would try to improve the performance of my website or landing page, I would ask those questions in the form first. And then, on the second step, I would ask for name, email, and phone number. And it’s something called compliant psychology. And so, when you start something, you’re more likely to continue to finish it. And so, it’s a lot easier for them to ask of that small requests while they’re still anonymous to go through that. And now, again, they’re kind of hooked after that happens at a higher rate than a single page form.”
Invest in Your Own Content
Although PPC campaigns are what Johnathan’s agency specializes in, we asked him whether he would recommend freelancers and small agencies to invest in paid campaigns. His answer was very honest:
“So, it’s funny, it sounds very ironic because we’re a paid agency, right? But the interesting thing for us is that we’ve invested in it and still do very heavily in our brand and very heavily in our content. I care more about creating evergreen value first, because as soon as you shut off those PPC campaigns, nothing is going to continue to give you any value. You can’t really say that for your blog. You can’t say that for your videos and things like that too.
So, and if it was me and I would start fresh again, I would do the exact same thing that I started from day one, because we are now sitting on this snowball that keeps getting bigger and bigger for every blog post we publish. And you can’t say that with paid. I think it’s smart. I think you can do like remarketing to begin with, if you’re getting started, that’s a good idea. But I treat it as people who are running off to the next deal because they got to talk to their network or they got to ask for referrals.
One, it’s super, super taxing to do that yourself if you’re the owner of the business, because don’t want to be focusing on sales forever. You want to be able to scale that and give that to somebody else, but they can’t talk to your network because they’re not you. Right? So, if I were to be anything and come with a recommendation, I would say invest in your own content, because it’s the only thing, I think, as things get more and more competitive, that’s going to separate you from everybody else. So, that’s just my two cents.
Always Audit Your Work
Before ending the interview, Johnathan was kind enough to share a valuable tip:
“The thing that’s been the most value for us is, think of yourself as somebody who’s always trying to figure out what’s wrong with your own business. Like how are you, what we call auditing, and how are you always trying to make things better, and how are you trying to make progress?
One thing that, in my college career, coming from Denmark over to the U.S., I think I ignored everything that I learned in school because it was just a lot of wasted time in my opinion. But there was one professor that I still have the note on my phone from when I actually took his class. And he says, success is the realization and the progress towards a worthy goal. And it doesn’t matter what you’re making a month, but what really matters is that you feel like you’re always making progress.
So, that’s my biggest thing is, audit what you’re doing. Is there a way to do it better, easier, faster, quicker. And, from that, you kind of get this mindset like, wow, I’m going to have the confidence to continue to build, is greater and greater. Because, when I started, I did not have the answers. Right now we’re sitting at 600 thousand dollars in monthly reoccurring revenue in the little over three years that we’ve done this. And I think there’s a lot more we can do, but it’s only been because of that mindset of trying to always get better. And you actually have to believe that too. So, that’s the biggest nugget I can pass along.”