Usability Tools, Personas, & Speed-Talkin’ Tactics: Inside the Brain of Bryan Eisenberg

Bryan Eisenberg is, in the world of online marketing, generally a man who needs no introduction. Co-author of bestselling books, frequent keynote speaker and session sequencer at an array of conferences, co-founder of this, advisory board member of that, authority and pioneer in persona marketing, conversion rate optimization, persuasion architecture and more. Wait, this is turning into an introduction. Let’s just get to it!

Next month at Search Engine Strategies Chicago 2011, Bryan will take the stage on Day 1 to contribute his insightful two cents to the Conversion Tools of the Master Craftsman session. On the advent of #SESCHI, I had the chance to share a candid Q&A with Bryan on a variety of topics, from his professional background to thoughts on marketing personas, favorite conversion optimization tools to favorite vacation spots. Read on for the full scoop.

| AIMCLEAR: You’ve been a familiar face on the search marketing landscape for years as a keynote speaker, session programmer, author, and more. Care to share a bit about how you ended up in this industry?

Bryan Eisenberg: I have been tinkering around with online interfaces since 1983 when I first ran my own BBS (bulletin board system) on my Atari 800 with my 1200 baud modem and would change the menus to “persuade” people to visit different parts of the BBS. By the mid 1990s with the dot com boom hitting like mad, I was working client-side helping an online niche grocer increase sales by doing basic conversion optimization and some SEO. By 1998, Jeffrey, my brother, and I were working closely with an Internet incubator and the head of the incubator told us we should focus on what we do best, which was conversion optimization since there were so many others doing SEO. He was right. So we turned out to be right but way too many years early.

| aC: What are three conversion optimization tools, free or paid, you wouldn’t want to live without?

BE: Ok, you know I am a tool junkie and I keep a list of over 150+ tools to improve your website and marketing efforts at but you are limiting me to just 3… what torture!

  • – There is nothing like showing executives and their teams video of actual people using there website.
  • Feng-Gui – You got to love a tool that can show your designer why they may be costing you money.
  • BoostCTR – Does anyone really have enough time to keep writing better PPC and Facebook ads? This service uses crowdsourcing and their network of writers to compete in A/B tests with your best ads to find a better one. Bonus, you only pay when their ad beats yours.

| aC: You know that was intentional on my part 🙂 . Okay, @TheGrok… I’ve turned to Google in an attempt to decode this alias but let’s get it from the source. What’s it all mean?

BE: It was a nickname given to me back from our Internet incubator days. Grok comes from Heinlein’s book “A Stranger in a Strange Land.” It is a Martian word that literally means ‘to drink’ but taken to mean a deep ‘understanding.’ They gave it to me because I “grokked” why people do they things they do online.

| aC: Enlightening 🙂 . Favorite adult beverage, vacation spot, and wild animal, GO!

BE: Never developed a taste for alcohol, so does unsweetened iced tea count? Orlando with my 3 kiddos and wife. Rhino – do you get my point?

| aC: Yuk yuk! The afternoon of SES Chicago Day 1 will find you speaking on the Conversion Tools of the Master Craftsman session. Can we snag a sneak peek at what you’ll tackle?

BE: This week some interesting research about conversion rate optimization came out from eConsultancy. What they found, mirrors what I found, is that the more tools you use to improve your conversion rate the more you tend to master control over your conversion rate and have a higher conversion rate. In my session, I’ll cover what I consider all the main categories of tools from insight gathering, analytics, testing, landing page creation, A/B and multivariate testing, personalization, and campaign optimization tools and how to use them to clobber your competition.

| aC: Very cool. Speaking of speaking – anyone who’s heard you present at a conference knows your word-per-minute rate is pretty much off the charts. I’m from the East Coast– I get the whole fast-talking thing. But, seriously… what’s your secret?

BE: If you look at the audience in many sessions you almost always see them busy on their laptops or smart phones instead of paying attention. That’s partly because the pace of the speaker is too slow to keep up with the pace inside their heads. While I speak too quickly for people trying to take word for word notes (sorry, Lauren, for making you work so hard), I know that psychologically people can take in stuff pretty quickly by hearing versus trying to type. Anne Holland also found this concept of moving along quickly was key to keeping audiences engaged (of course, you still have to have a good presentation, too).

| aC: Yeah, I’ve come away from sessions of yours I’ve live-blogged with smokin’ fingers and blisters to boot. *Bonus question from Marty*: Are online marketing personas a bunch of bullsh*t, or do they work now?

BE: There’s a lot of BS making the rounds in our industry. Many agencies try to use “design” personas as developed and described by Alan Cooper in his book The Inmates are Running the Asylum. Some other try to use marketing personas or buying personas. They’re all directionally correct. However, the personas we developed were based more on scriptwriting than from a design or outbound communications point of view. Our personas are more concerned with creating deep empathy for the buyer’s experience while crafting a carefully designed micro-conversion to macro-conversion narrative of the  buyer’s story as they engage with a company digitally and across channels. I’m sorry, that’s too short of answer to be precise and too long of an answer for the question you asked.

| aC: Good stuff. Thanks for your time today, Bryan! Safe travels, and we’ll be seein’ ya in Chicago 🙂 .

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