Raphael Paulin-Daigle is the CEO of SplitBase, an e-commerce conversion optimization agency for fashion, luxury, and lifestyle brands. SplitBase combines rigorous customer research with A/B and AI testing to enable long-term growth for DTC luxury brands. SplitBase is at the forefront of conversion optimization, generating revenues of over $1 million for famous brands like Kiehl’s and its parent company L’Oréal, and increasing conversions by double digits for many DTC brands like DIFF Eyewear and Dr. Squatch.
Before founding SplitBase, Raphael led special projects at Blockstream and was a digital marketing consultant. Raphael also hosts the Minds of Ecommerce Podcast, where he interviews founders and executives of highly successful brands on their top growth strategies.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- [03:38] Raphael Paulin-Daigle introduces SplitBase and the services it offers
- [04:56] Customer research and its impact on e-commerce businesses
- [07:49] What conversion optimization challenges do e-commerce brands face?
- [10:04] What are the components of conversion optimization?
- [13:42] Raphael shares landing page optimization tips
- [30:21] How to improve collection and product pages
- [37:43] SplitBase’s customer success stories
In this episode…
Are you looking to increase your website’s conversion rate and revenue growth? What support can help you realize this?
Website conversion is an effective way to increase your sales. However, it requires expertise to build a fully optimized website and to figure out what works and what does not for your website. Conversion optimization expert Raphael Paulin-Daigle recommends hiring a conversion optimization agency for your e-commerce business needs. Agencies utilize tools and approaches such as customer research, A/B testing, and fully managed conversion optimization programs that improve different components of your website.
In this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast, Dr. Jeremy Weisz sits down with Raphael Paulin-Daigle, CEO of SplitBase, to discuss website optimization tips. Raphael talks about conversion optimization challenges that e-commerce brands face, the components of conversion optimization, landing page optimization tips, navigation, cart, collection page, and product page recommendations.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- “[Top Agency Series] Growth Through Acquisitions – What is Your KPI and Northstar? With Jason Swenk” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “Building a Great Team and More Helpful Insights with Jason Swenk Host of The Smart Agency Master Class Podcast” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “[Top Agency Series] Most Valuable Advice When Selling Your Agency With Todd Taskey of Potomac Business Capital” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “Building a Brand from the Ground Up with Josh Elizetxe Founder of Snow” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “[Shark Tank Series] How to Test a Product and Bring it to the Marketplace with Mark Aramli Founder of BedJet” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “[Shark Tank Series] Healthy Food that Tastes GREAT with Ashley Drummonds Founder of ABS Protein Pancakes” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “[Shark Tank Series] From NFL Player to Business Leader with Chris Gronkowski Founder of Ice Shaker” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “[Shark Tank Series] Bringing a Party Punch to the Marketplace with Aimy Steadman Co-Founder of Beatbox Beverages” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “At the end of the day brands just want to grow.”
- “Before you go and test images, or headlines, which yes, can help increase conversion, first, make sure your website is actually working.”
- “The more your website serves your customers, the more clarity you’re bringing to the table, the more you’re providing the right information, and that’s when people buy.”
- “People buy a solution to the problem they have.”
Sponsor for this episode
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The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.
Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.
Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.
Insider Stories from Top Leaders & Entrepreneurs…
You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.
Jeremy Weisz 0:22
Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of inspiredinsider.com where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I have Raphael Paulin-Daigle of founder and CEO of SplitBase, you can find him at splitbase.com. And Raphael, I always like to point out other episodes, people should check out of the podcast. And since this is kind of going to be schooling people and direct-to-consumer stuff, and also agency stuff, I had Jason Swenk. And that’s actually how we met for the introduction, two episodes with Jason Swenk, how he built up his agency to over eight figures, and also how then he’s been buying up agencies and what he looks for in buying agencies on that front, Todd Taskey. He’s got the Second Bite Podcast, he kind of matches private equity with agencies help sell agencies and sometimes they make more on the second bite after private equity sells than the first bite. And so he also talks about the valuation of agencies and what he looks for and how those deals get put together. And I’ve had some DTC brands on here, Raphael and some that you’ve worked with. I had Josh Elizetxe, founder of Snow who you’ve worked with, I’ve had some interesting when I looked back, I’ve helped some of the DTC brands, I’ve had a bunch of Shark Tank companies on. I had the founder of BedJet. Mark Aramli, I had ABS Protein Pancakes, and Ice Shaker and Beatbox Beverages, and they all kind of just shared their journey. So those are interesting ones. And this episode is brought to bear Rise25. At Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect their dream 100 relationships? And how do we do that we actually help you run your podcast. We are an easy button for a company launch and run a podcast and we do the strategy, the accountability and the full production execution behind the scenes. Raphael, we call ourselves a magic elves that work behind the background and make it look easy for the hosts in the company. For me, and you know me a little bit this point, but the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way over the past decade to profile the people in companies I most admire and share with the world what they’re working on. So if you thought about podcasting, you should, if you have questions, you can go to rise25.com And I’m going to share Raphael’s podcast as well on this but without further ado, Raphael Paulin-Daigle is the founder and CEO of SplitBase. Now what they do is they’re a conversion optimization and landing page agency for direct-to-consumer e-commerce brands. What that basically means is, he helps them make more money. I mean, that’s what he does. So he’s helped brands like Dr. Squatch, Piper Ice and L’Oreal add millions to their bottom line. And he also hosts The Minds of E-commerce Podcast where he is top e-commerce brand share growth strategies. So Raphael, thanks for joining me.
Raphael Paulin-Daigle 3:10
Yeah, well, thank you for having me. Super excited to be here.
Jeremy Weisz 3:13
Before we hit record, I was like, yeah, we got to talk about some of the companies you’ve helped and you’re like, oh, I’ve Dr. Squatch on like, I know. And don’t ask me why within hands reach I have, you’re watching the video. I have Alpine sage, I have another one at home. I keep one here just in case I need to run out. And you know, I’m sweating from all these interviews that I’m doing. So I keep going here. But just start off telling people about SplitBase and what you do.
Raphael Paulin-Daigle 3:38
Yeah, well SplitBase, just like you said, we helped e-commerce brands make more money. But no, of course, that’s what we do. Maybe it’s a bit more complex than that. And we help them grow, make more money. And at the end of the day, I like to say we help e-commerce brands make better business decisions by helping them figure out what’s working and what’s not working with their website and their marketing. Right. Obviously, we do that through experimentation, AB testing. But I mean, we also do a ton of customer research for our clients. And we are usually pretty good at finding out why people are buying from your site or why they’re not and the words they’re using and how to have your customers feel like they can relate with your brand more. Right? So that’s really what we do, obviously, all in the spirit of increasing conversions, increasing AOV, having a better website and yeah, growing your e-commerce company.
Jeremy Weisz 4:34
It’s interesting, Raphael, some of the best marketers on the planet are very humble about what they think their customer wants or needs or says, and you actually dig into the research on it. What are some of the customer research that has surprised you or maybe your clients when you started digging into what they actually say or what they want?
Raphael Paulin-Daigle 4:56
I mean, I think customer research surprises client every single time to be honest with you. Because the way we do it right is we like to do it pretty qualitatively. So for example, one of the ways that we’re going to do this is we tend to send this like, qualitative, open-ended survey to people who bought from the brand, maybe in the past month, right? And we’ll ask questions that seems just so unrelated and maybe so hard to analyze, like, what can you tell us about yourself? Or how would you describe this brand to a friend, or what made you buy from I don’t know, Dr. Squatch, right. And usually what happens is by not kind of predicting, or giving multiple choice answers, we don’t know what the customers is gonna say, right? Like, we don’t know what they’re gonna say. So very often, we end up finding things that are quite surprising. And I can think, for example of one pretty big brands we’re working with, we once discovered that women were a big part of their audience. But this was like a super manly brand. And we didn’t realize that, women were actually buying this product for their husbands, boyfriends and family and whatever. Right. So that lead, I mean, I’m sure we utilize that in the work that we did. But I mean, they took that, and they started building a bunch of marketing campaigns around it. Right, which was, I mean, to me, that’s the one of the best things to see. Because, sure, we did this work with the aim to improve the website and increase conversions, but then they were able to utilize those insights across the company. And we’ve seen that over and over again, we’ve had clients who change their product packaging based on that to reflect the words that their customers use the most. Yeah, sometimes we realize that, hey, the way that the brand has been describing the problem to the audience is very different than how the audience communicates it. Or sometimes, yeah, we just find out things about the audience that we totally in your and then once we start adding those, I wouldn’t say demographic info, but just like personality traits that we discover from the audience, or activities or hobbies that they do, well, then we integrate that within the website or the marketing, and then we see conversion rates go up. So yeah, I would say finding things that brands don’t really expect, but that really helps them improve their marketing is something we see every day with that research. And I think that’s why it’s so exciting to do.
Jeremy Weisz 7:33
Raphael, what are people coming to you with in the beginning, right? Because I don’t know if they wake up in the morning, go I need better conversion rate optimization, but what are they saying? And what are they asking of you and how they finding you?
Raphael Paulin-Daigle 7:49
I’ll be honest with you, though, they pretty much say yeah, we need to increase conversions. That’s usually what they say. Now, here’s what we tend to realize, sometimes we start doing that work, start doing that research. And sure. They want to increase conversion, but to really grow the brand. And actually, for them to make more money, sometimes you discover that they have to do a bit more than increasing conversions. Or maybe they should focus on something else that could also help with increasing conversions. But that isn’t necessarily doing something to increase conversion rate directly. Right. So I would say yeah, most of the time brands, I mean, at the end of the day brands just want to grow like our clients are very result-driven. They’re very ambitious people. We work with a lot of CEOs, even if the brands are like $50 million, $100 million. It’s not rare that the CEOs are still on those calls with us. Right? Like they see, they end up realizing that conversion optimization is not just to see if they can increase conversion rate, they start seeing over time after working with us for a while that they can utilize conversion optimization as a way to test their business decisions and make sure that what they think is a good idea is it actually going to do the opposite and tank their performance because that happens sometimes. Right? So they see us as a channel to innovate, but also sometimes as an insurance policy, but they come in as I increase my conversion rate, and then it kind of goes on from there.
Jeremy Weisz 9:24
I want to know, and by the way, if you are listening the audio, we’re going to pull up some sites, I took the liberty of pulling up some sites that I’m going to put Raphael a little bit on the spot of walking through some sites. What is he saying? I want to get in the mind of him and how would the SplitBase process work? So I’m going to pull up some sites in a minute. But when someone says out to you, Raphael, I want to increase conversions. What are some of the components I’m sure like a laundry list of things run through your head. What are some of the things that you are thinking through as like okay, we need to check make sure to check this this this this.
Raphael Paulin-Daigle 10:04
Yeah, well, I think when someone says that a lot of people gravitate towards what are the best images I can use to improve conversions, what’s the best headline? The truth is, that’s probably the last thing you should be looking at. And here’s why. What we do is we tend to follow something called the Eisenberg’s period of conversion. That was like the Eisenberg brothers, by the way, or those who kind of coined the term CRO like in it was maybe in the 90s. I’m not sure. But it was a long time ago. And when I learned CRM about 12 years ago, I learned it through one of their courses. And the pyramid was pretty important. And what it states is that before you go and test images, or headlines, which Yes, can help increase conversion, well, first, make sure your website is actually working. And I know it sounds super basic. But, I mean, it’s not a coincidence that they created a framework out of that, it’s because a lot of brands don’t do it. And we’ve had brands, I’ll give you this example of this very successful, highly funded, direct-to-consumer e-commerce brands in the fashion space at the time, we started working with them that were probably doing close to 40 million a year had a really, really smart team of developers and just yeah, great team. And when they hired us to help figure out how they could improve conversions, they said, hey, we actually have a bit of a problem with our mobile checkout flow. And by the way, this was like slightly before most brands were on Shopify. But when we started doing this analysis, they said, Well, we’re working on a project to redo mobile checkout. And we’re like, okay, well, let’s figure out what needs to be redone. Because maybe the problem isn’t a huge problem. So as we kind of dive into it, we test the entire flow on different devices, different browsers, different screen sizes, under different circumstances. And turns out what we found through usability testing and session recordings mixed with our analytics, is that for 15% of mobile users to continue checkout button in the middle of the checkout flow was simply not visible, like there was a bug that it wouldn’t appear. Which is crazy, right? When you think about it. So that’s why we say, hey, before we go, and we test what I call the sexy stuff, images, text, things that can help with motivation, or tactics, right, let’s make sure everything is working for everyone. And you know what, in most cases, most brands that start working with us in the first couple of weeks, yeah, we’re gonna find some bugs, maybe not as dramatic as the example I just gave. But, yeah, that I would say is the first step. Let’s make sure accessibility below all of that works and make sense before we try to focus on other things.
Jeremy Weisz 13:05
Yeah, there’s a lot of low hanging fruit and something may be broken. And just the flow itself, like you mentioned before even going in deeper. Yeah, I love that. If you’re watching the video, you can see where it’s splitbase.com. And one of the things I like about your site Raphael is you have, there’s a swipe files tab that you can click on. And what are some of the things that we’re seeing here that, obviously, you know, and think they’re important, because you have them a swipe files, tell me about some of these?
Raphael Paulin-Daigle 13:42
Yeah, what we wanted to do with the swipe file is we wanted to have like, finding a landing page for a brand tends to be a little difficult, because you have to go through there, like, add library, and then click on their ads. And most brands aren’t using landing pages, unfortunately, are leaving money on the table, but whatever. So we wanted to have like a collection of both great and maybe not-so-great examples, as well of landing pages. So we ended up building that collection internally for our own teams, because we referenced it in our Slack channel all the time. But we said hey, it’s hard to sort through Google Drive. And why not make this public because so many clients sometimes asked for an example. So we just uploaded everything on our site. And what you see here is kind of phase one of many things you want to do with it. But it’s a pretty big project. Now we’ve got over 1000 examples of landing pages, navigation bars, carts and PDPs on our site, but the next step is we’re gonna start scoring each of those so people can at least see based on the SplitBase methodology, I guess, the heuristics methodology, do we think this is a great page or do we think it’s maybe weak on a couple of areas. And of course most of these brands aren’t necessarily clients. So there’s hundreds and hundreds of brands in here. So we don’t know how each of them perform. But from a heuristics standpoint, what do we think is good? And what do we think is bad without saying what we’re saying is gospel, right? Because again, we don’t have proof.
Jeremy Weisz 15:21
It’s all about testing. Exactly. Yeah. So as we’re seeing here, you can see landing page navigation cart collection product page. Why don’t we start with the landing page? You mentioned landing page a few times, which one should I click on? And we can talk about?
Raphael Paulin-Daigle 15:36
How about that Neuro MD, because that’s one page we built. So that Neuro MD page, now you’re seeing the mobile version here. Neuro MD is a brand they make this medical device that helps people with back pain, get long-lasting pain, free back pain relief, without meds or surgeries. There we go. I’m reading the headline, right, that page had just actually kind of backtrack. One of the challenges of the brand is this is a medical product, right? It’s got a lot of, I mean, it doesn’t have a lot of features. But at the end of the day, people will have a lot of questions about this product, because it’s a medical product. And most people who’s had like pretty severe back pain have tried a lot of things.
Jeremy Weisz 16:26
Right up my alley is perfect. Yes. My background is biochemistry as a chiropractor. So I get that.
Raphael Paulin-Daigle 16:33
Super interesting. Yeah. So that’s the thing, right? Like, so many people also don’t want to get meds or don’t want to get surgeries. And there’s so much information to communicate, because it is a medical product. But you’re also not selling this to doctors, you’re selling this. I mean, there’s other pages that are selling it to doctors, but the goal of this page is to sell it to just regular people through Facebook ads, right. So the brand was pretty successful, the product was proven tons of great ratings, but how do we improve conversion and performance? When you look at that page, so we designed that, and we wrote the copy, we came up with the strategy. And just to kind of cut to the chase, the performance of this page was between 52 and 56% better than the previous landing page that they used. Now, what’s I think great about this page, and it’s also why I believe this page works and this is our entire methodology is the information that we have on this page, the words, the layout, the flow wasn’t just random. It also wasn’t just based on best practices of what we think should go at the top and what should go at the bottom. When we did that customer research, customer surveys, we did polls, we looked into customer support tickets, right? When we did that research, we really got to understand what do people care about? There’s a million things that can be said about this device. But if we say what made you buy from Neuro MD, what will people say? So even if you just scroll up to the very top of the page, right? Like the headline I just read, get long-lasting pain, free back pain relief without meds or surgeries, that hits exactly what the words that people were using and what people were saying, the 60-day trial money back guarantee, right? Well, this is an older audience that tends to be maybe a bit more skeptical of buying these products online. But they’ve also tried everything. So how do we make them feel more secure into making a purchase when they feel like they’ve tried everything? And on that note about trying everything? If you look at the sub-headline, it says Neuro MD is not just another device. It’s the solution that’s helped over 50,000 Americans who felt like they have tried everything finally relieve their back pain for good, right? So again, it kind of Telenor one of the potential unset objections by using the words that the customers are using. And now, we’re just talking about the top of the page, but…
Jeremy Weisz 19:04
And social proof there of 1000s of reviews.
Raphael Paulin-Daigle 19:08
50,000 Americans as well, right. But that’s just the top of the page, but sure, yes, the entire page is built based on that. And that’s how we build landing pages. And that’s how we tend to run experimentation programs. So yeah, I would say, that’s why I love this page so much.
Jeremy Weisz 19:27
Yeah, and Raphael, I want to point out like these fundamentals work for any type of business. I mean, what you’re saying here is using the cut doing the research using the customer’s words of why they’re buying, providing the social proof, providing them safety to buy and guarantees like these fundamentals. So even if someone’s listening like why don’t have a device company, it doesn’t really matter, right? It’s for any company actually these fundamentals apply and if you go to this page, if you were again listening this pages long. It’s got a lot of information. But like, the joke that I’ve heard a lot of direct response marketers uses, there’s no such thing as long copy, just boring copy. So if it’s doing its job, and you can see, people especially you mentioned for this type of device, they want more information they want that backed they want what other? Where’s this going to help me you have pictures, your videos, you have weird is this going to help me exact location of the device? So again, this is probably all coming from the customer research of what people are asking or wanting or doing. And each of these pieces on this page relates to that.
Raphael Paulin-Daigle 20:38
Yeah. And look like generally, here’s the deal, like older audiences tend to read a bit more than younger audiences. So there are still some things that we’ve learned from, SplitBase has been around for six, seven years now or something like that. So there’s obviously things that we’ve learned over the last couple of years that tends to be true in most cases, right? We’re not going to have entire hypotheses that only rely on best practices that we’ve seen work without any customer data, but we can still utilize a little bit of those insights to inform some decisions like we’ve done in that case. So yeah, go ahead. Yeah, good. No, go ahead.
Jeremy Weisz 21:19
I was gonna say, so like, that’s a great example. And if you want to check them out, you can go to splitbase.com. And check out their swipe files. And that was the landing page. And they have a bunch of landing pages here. You can check out let’s talk about the navigation for a second. What’s a good one for navigation?
Raphael Paulin-Daigle 21:35
Yeah, maybe uncheck landing pages, because now both just. Oh, you Yeah, perfect. Yep, you’re good. There we go. Now Awesome. Yeah, oh, we have so many examples that at this point, I haven’t had the chance to even see each and every one of them. All of them recently, but let’s say we would be a good example, maybe. Let’s just click, keep scrolling, keep scrolling. Let’s see if there’s one that I think is doing a good let’s click on that, Opositive. I remember seeing that.
Jeremy Weisz 22:17
I was like, I love health aid. But we’ll go with that, I like kombucha, but go ahead.
Raphael Paulin-Daigle 22:24
I have no idea what this brand sells, by the way. O-positive. But it looks like they sell things for PMS, digestion and skin. There’s one reason why he told me to click on this. I think it’s pretty interesting because the way that their navigation is focused is very much based on concerns. And this is a trend. I mean, I don’t even know what to call it a trend. I think it is just like, if you’re trying to make your website more customer-focused, by the way, which I think that’s actually how you can increase conversions is, the more your website serves your customer. That means the more clarity you’re bringing to the table, the more you’re providing the right information. And then I believe that’s when people buy. What I like about this is I see a couple of things. One, there’s a big focus on concerns, right PMS, skin digestion, immunity, bundles in shop. So instead of just talking about the product names, which may or may not say anything to customers about it, they’re really going and tackling concerns. We’re seeing this skincare and beauty has actually been one of our biggest industries since we started. And one of the things that we’ve seen over the past six, seven years of evolve, that’s nearly always working with these type of brands, is especially for skincare, if you have multiple types of moisturizers or cleansers, right, specify what is this moisturizer good for have people navigate by concern. We work with some brands that sell shampoo, and pretty much all the time when we test shot by hair type or by hair concern like frizzy hair, dry hair, oily hair, whatever, right? That tends to perform better, because people don’t want to buy just another product. They want to buy a solution to a problem they have. Right. So that’s what I love about this navbar. And I also love the focus on bundles and an incentive to get the bundles meaning bundles up to 40% off, right? I think a lot of brands are still underutilizing bundles. And they’re like an easy way to kind of push AOV a little higher by also giving people maybe a more complete experience of your brand instead of just letting them buy a single product. So yeah, I do think that’s a pretty solid look. I don’t know their data again, disclaimer, but from a Uristik point of view that navbar is pretty neat.