Arlen Robinson [00:03]
Welcome to the E-commerce Marketing Podcast. Everyone, my name is Arlen and I am your host. And today we’ve got a very special guest, Ayat Shekary, who is a recognized expert on experimentation and marketing optimization. She is an in-demand speaker who has presented at marketing conferences throughout the world. With over 16 years of entrepreneurial and marketing experience, Ayat’s has helped companies increase online sales, including eBay, 3M, the Special Olympics, DISH Network, Discovery, and many more. Welcome to the podcast, Ayat. 

Ayat Shukairy [00:43]
Thank you for having me, excited to be here.

Arlen Robinson [00:45]
Yes, and thank you for joining us. I’m gonna really excited to talk to you. We’re gonna be talking about something that I know you’re quite an expert in, which is conversion rate optimization and AB testing. I think it’s a great topic for today. When you’re talking about marketing, testing, and optimizing, I think, goes hand to hand. It’s something that has to be an ongoing process. And so…

Ayat Shukairy [00:57]
Yeah.

Arlen Robinson [01:12]
I think most marketers know that. And so that’s where I think this is going to be an interesting and awesome conversation. But before we dive deep into that, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your background and specifically how you got into what you’re doing today?

Ayat Shukairy [01:26]
So, I definitely started out doing a lot of marketing activity with companies specifically doing more like SEO copy. This is way back in the day when that was definitely the trying to inject those keywords into a different copy throughout the site. Obviously, those days are over, but that’s what I was kind of, I was working a lot of different companies doing that. But then, more and more of my clients were requesting kind of just…

Arlen Robinson [01:42]
Right.

Ayat Shukairy [01:55]
well, you know, we’re getting a lot of traffic to the site, but the site actually isn’t converting these different visitors. What can we do to enhance that? So that’s kind of my window into getting into conversion optimization. You know, we started the company in 2006. It was still not very well known. When you talk about CRO, people would be like, what do you mean SEO? And I’m like, no, no. This is like post-click marketing. Once they get to your site, how do you actually convert them? There’s so many different tactics you can utilize.

you know, between just, you know, more persuasive copy, understanding the visitor a little bit more, enhancing trust and confidence on the site, engagement. And so from there, really, we grew into being actually one of the only, there was probably like two or three different companies at the time in 2006 that were offering.

exclusively conversion rate optimization. Now every single digital marketing agency offers some sort of CRO. And we wrote the book actually on conversion rate optimization, so it’s the art and science of converting visitors into customers. And that is, you can find it on amazon.com. So that is just kind of a little bit of background. And then from there actually we created a proprietary software that we would offer our clients.

Arlen Robinson [02:47]
Right.

Arlen Robinson [03:01]
Okay.

Ayat Shukairy [03:10]
And now the software is kind of doing its own thing. And it’s kind of its separate own company, which is FigPy. So again, the journey has been amazing and there’s been kind of always the ups and downs of starting a business, but CRO is my passion.

Arlen Robinson [03:28]
Okay, awesome. Awesome. Thank you for sharing that story. And I really appreciate it. So it definitely sounds like you and your firm are the kind of the go-to people when it comes to conversion rate optimization. And speaking of conversion rate optimization, you know, these days there is so much going on with technology and advancement in technology, and specifically with AI, you know.

with the rapid integration of all of these AI tools into digital marketing, all aspects of digital marketing, we’re seeing this integration happen. How do you see AI shaping the future of AB testing and conversion rate optimization?

Ayat Shukairy [04:12]
Yeah, I mean, even within our own agency, we’ve been leveraging AI as much as possible. So, you know, there’s obviously a lot of data that you need to collect in order for you to come up with really great.

ideas and problem areas identified that you need to test. So sometimes leveraging AI and inputting that data and seeing what AI comes out with has been actually really great and informative and a way to advance things a little bit faster and also getting a different perspective. So you have like the CRO that has the experience that is kind of.

looking at the data and analyzing it and coming up with their own problem areas and identifying different opportunities. And then you have AI also adding to that. We’ve leveraged AI in terms of also like copy and coming up with more persuasive ways of saying certain things on a site. So there’s many ways that we’ve been actually utilizing it, but just even from the A-B testing world, I mean, like I mentioned, we have the tool FigPy that

You know, it is capturing heat map data, it’s capturing session recording data, it’s an A-B testing tool as well. So making sure to connect all of those dots has definitely been a huge, just one of those things that we’re really focused on ensuring that we can leverage AI within FigPy to, again, output.

more recommendations in terms of what experiments need to be tested based on what you already did or based on this heat map data or based on the session recording data or based on the polls that you’re running on through FigPy. Those are ways that I think there’s so much opportunity there, but I would say, again, I know that a lot of people sometimes are afraid that AI is going to take our jobs away, it’s going to make a CRO’s job obsolete. In my opinion, you still need that human…

Arlen Robinson [06:06]
Alright.

Ayat Shukairy [06:10]
factor into it. Because when it comes to kind of like the emotional aspect, the social aspect, understanding the overall context, there’s nothing like that, that human factor. And having that CRO that really understands all of that, but is able to leverage those tools, I think is the winning combination.

Arlen Robinson [06:28]
Yeah, that’s so true. And you know, what you said is, is actually a, a comment that I’m consistently hearing amongst my guests when it comes to AI, because that’s, that’s the ultimate question. Like you said, is it going to replace us all? Do we need human intervention when it comes to doing these things with regards to marketing or with regards to anything? And I think the, the consistent answer that I keep hearing amongst the experts that I’ve been talking to on, on the podcast has been

there’s really nothing that can replace the human creativity and the intuitive nature of humans and to be able to really put all of this stuff together. So I think we can all rest assured that no matter how far we advance with this stuff, it’s, I don’t think these AIs will be able to replace us totally, so yeah.

Ayat Shukairy [07:20]
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think it’s just, again, if you want to stay ahead of the game, it’s just knowing what’s out there and knowing how to utilize it so that you can, uh, you know, advance your career and advance your skills, but not necessarily worry about it replacing you completely, of course.

Arlen Robinson [07:25]
Yes.

Arlen Robinson [07:32]
Yes.

Arlen Robinson [07:37]
Yeah, for sure, for sure. You know, as I read in your intro, you’ve worked with a wide variety of clients, you know, from eBay to 3M. I just wondered, could you share a what you would say would be a transformational success story where your CRO strategies significantly boosted an e commerce business or aspects of the business?

Ayat Shukairy [08:00]
Yeah, so CRO is, I always call it kind of like that overall overreaching umbrella that is really looking at kind of UX issues as well as the psychology of the customer, anything that is kind of involved in enhancing overall the UI, but also like a persuasive aspect to it. And then in order for me to actually see any type of impact or understand what type of an impact

my findings have, I utilize A-B testing. So A-B testing is just a tool within that overall CRO umbrella. So we have had really amazing success with larger companies. I will say working with larger companies isn’t like working with smaller companies. Smaller companies are a lot more lean and sometimes again, more agile. When it comes to larger companies, sometimes there’s a lot of bureaucracy, a lot of red tape, just to get a test launched.

on a larger company site typically takes way longer than it should. And it goes through a lot of ups and downs and whatnot. So I think what I’ve found in my experience is that if you want a successful conversion rate optimization program, you need to be fast. You need to implement quickly. It doesn’t need to be 100%. It could be 99%. But just launch the experiment for the learning and go after kind of that.

Arlen Robinson [09:04]
All right, I can imagine. Yes.

Ayat Shukairy [09:27]
baseline, you’re trying to really try to improve whatever baseline you have. And you’re, you know, you kind of go for a minimal viable product just to understand the actual impact. I don’t need perfection. I just need to understand whether or not this new element, you know, this change, this restructuring, this new copy is going to have an impact on my bottom line. If it is, I can always go back and enhance it after the experiment is over. Once I’ve taken that learning and I’ve kind of gone through that.

Also behind you, it kind of says market or die. I actually, it’s funny because it kind of made me laugh because we’ve always said segment or die. You know, that you need to like segment and understand your traffic and understand the different sources that are getting impacted by whatever changes that you’re making in order for you to advance and understand what’s happening with the visitors and understand what change, you know, what type of.

Arlen Robinson [10:01]
Right.

Arlen Robinson [10:07]
Okay. Yes.

Ayat Shukairy [10:25]
impact that particular change had on your overall site. But, you know, so what I would say is in general, if I’m looking at kind of overall strategy, what has kind of helped, certainly again, the agility and moving fast and trying to implement as many experiments, we have found that to be success correlation between the number of experiments that you run and the actual impact on your conversion rate from running a conversion rate optimization program.

is there’s definitely a correlation there. So speed and number of experiments and the actual results, there’s a great correlation. And then also, again, segmentation, understanding the data really well with larger companies, you have a lot of data. Whereas, of course, if I’m working with a smaller company, I have just a smaller set. So I need to be creative. I need to look at sequential testing. I need to…

Arlen Robinson [11:11]
Yeah.

Ayat Shukairy [11:21]
you know, figure out other solutions and look at sub goals rather than looking at the final goal in order for me to be able to see whether or not the, you know, the test or whatever it is that I’ve launched actually had an impact on my bottom.

Arlen Robinson [11:34]
Yeah, that’s good stuff. Thank you for sharing that. I had it’s, uh, you know, it’s really inspiring to hear how, you know, tailored C R strategies, even for, you know, larger brands, you can do the same thing even for a smaller brand, even though, you know, like you said, you’re dealing with lesser data, smaller sets of customers, you can still apply these same strategies and techniques to, you know, make an impact on the conversion rate and do all of these same testing.

strategies and techniques in order to change things and figure out what you need to change, where you need to change it, and the types of things that have to be optimized. So definitely good to know. For small to medium-sized e-commerce businesses, wanted to see what you thought are some of the top common mistakes that you’ve seen in conversion rate optimization efforts and how can you, how can they typically avoid them?

Ayat Shukairy [12:35]
So number one mistake I would say is just copying competitors. We call it the Amazon problem, where everybody thinks Amazon is the holy grail of e-commerce. So they need to copy everything that Amazon is doing. But you know what? The reality is it doesn’t necessarily work for your customers. Amazon has the brand. Amazon has the notoriety. So they can get away with doing things. And they do things in a certain way that people are accustomed to. And they’re always doing their own A-B testing, by the way.

Arlen Robinson [12:39]
Right.

Arlen Robinson [13:01]
All right, sure.

Ayat Shukairy [13:04]
So, but for your own customers, you first need to understand, well, what do I need to do for my set of customers? What’s going to resonate with them? You have to build your brand. You need to kind of really focus on enhancing the trust and confidence because with smaller brands, the biggest issue is of course they’re not well known. So how do I make sure that I can convince this customer that I’m the solution?

I’m the product that you need to buy versus everything else that’s out there. Because there’s so much competition out there, right? And people are choosing from so many different things you have to really kind of focus in on what value do I provide that none of the other competitors provide in it. It’s challenging depending on the industry. But what we found has really worked is really customer interviews. And we actually conduct specific type of customer interviews, which are called jobs to be done interviews. And this is…

methodology that Clayton Christensen had first developed at Harvard and we’ve kind of adopted for our own CROs to conduct these types of interviews and understand really the social and emotional aspects that impact a visitor because that is what we need. That is the, you know, what’s going to really, you know, help us hone in on the value that people believe this brand is giving them.

Arlen Robinson [14:23]
Right.

Arlen Robinson [14:27]
Mm-hmm.

Ayat Shukairy [14:28]
So that’s been really extremely successful for us where it comes to, you know, those smaller medium-sized brands, we’ll tell them, don’t copy. Let’s actually go ahead and understand a little bit more about your visitors and then be able to provide you with solutions that are catered and tailored to your specific visitor that are going to really resonate with them. I would also say that people just make changes and don’t necessarily measure them. They don’t do any A-B testing. You know, even if you want to make a change, just so you want to add an element. I want to add a wish list. I want to add.

Arlen Robinson [14:47]
Yes.

Ayat Shukairy [14:57]
You know, like a new, like images, I want to add more of a description. Great, just test it. You know, like that’s great that you wanna add the element and if you believe in it, but just see what type of an impact is. You have a baseline already, always measure against that baseline and see what type of an impact it had, cause it could tell you something else. You know, A-B testing for us is actually another tool that provides us with insight about the visitor. When I’ve added the specific element, oh.

Arlen Robinson [15:06]
Yes.

Ayat Shukairy [15:26]
social proof really resonates with this type of visitor, I’m going to try to add that on several different pages throughout the site. I’m going to add it on the homepage, I’m going to add on the product listing pages. I’m going to add it throughout because I see that it has such an impact. And guess what? Each time I add it on different pages, I’m going to test it to ensure that it actually resonated the way that I expect it to resonate. So again, I would say that people in general,

Arlen Robinson [15:50]
Yep.

Ayat Shukairy [15:53]
small to mid-sized businesses just make changes. They don’t necessarily A-B test them and that gets them into a little bit of trouble. And the last thing I would say, some common mistakes are that you test everything and anything, which again, if you’re adding elements, okay, I understand, but I can bring in a designer and they can probably suggest 50, 60 things to change on the site. Does it mean that I should A-B test all those 50 to 60 things? Because A-B testing…

You know, it requires development, it requires design, it requires resources, it requires time, it requires money. It requires a tool. Right now, you know, Google Optimize has become obsolete. So, you know, people are having to actually purchase A-B testing tools in order for them to run their programs. So you wanna make sure you’re focused on whatever it is you’re testing as well. Make sure it actually is meaningful and there’s a reason behind it. You know, like do a little bit of research, understand is this an element that’s actually gonna provide a value or not? And if it is,

There’s so many tools on the web right now that you can look up, even Invest provides this as well, where you can just find out, there’s prioritization sheets that you can plug in the information that I have. I’ve identified these different problems and I can figure out what are the priorities and what I should be testing on my site. This is, it spits out a specific list for you to follow rather than just some blind testing without necessarily having the data behind it.

Arlen Robinson [17:20]
Yeah, yeah, but I totally agree. Yeah, those are definitely some valuable insights, especially for the smaller businesses that are, you know, navigating these, these tricky waters without having all of those resources that a larger company might have. And so, you know, I know avoiding all of these pitfalls could definitely, you know, kind of set them on a path to, to have faster success. So yeah, thank you for sharing those. Um, now I want to see what you think about, um, the concern for online privacy and data regulations.

and how that affects the strategies around A-B testing. And are there any new best practices that you’ve seen that are emerging in response to this?

Ayat Shukairy [17:59]
You know, people, of course, that is super important. What I’ve found, what we’ve done at least is comply with whatever new regulations and actually try to whatever, for example, California happens to be one of those states that has more regulations than other states. And what we’ve done at least through FIGPY, our tool, is apply some of those same regulations to ensure that we’re meeting at least the standard of California. And even, of course, in Europe, we…

are following whatever standards they have as well in order to ensure that, again, that’s a high priority. It’s a high priority for everybody. Privacy is super important. Anonymity is becoming more of a valuable asset that people are trying to go for. So it’s a priority. It makes things sometimes a little bit more tricky in order to capture data and information. But what we’ve always told our clients is ensuring that you’re letting them know.

and prompting them that, hey, we’re capturing this information. Just make sure that you have those things in place in order for you to comply and ensure that people feel comfortable and that once these things become a lot more prominent throughout the United States, we’re actually already ahead of the game and we’re letting people know that we do care about your privacy. So, I encourage clients, I always tell them, there’s no harm. They’re like, well,

Arlen Robinson [19:15]
No.

Ayat Shukairy [19:25]
you know, if we have some sort of a prompt that’s going to let the visitors know that we’re going to be capturing data, they might just leave the site. And I’m like, well, you know, like, again, it’s part of being transparent and showing them that you care and that, you know, your, their privacy is your top concern.

Arlen Robinson [19:41]
Yes, exactly. That’s what it comes down to. That’s very crucial, and you know, especially in today’s environment where we just consistently are seeing privacy being in the forefront of consumers minds. So it’s good to know that, you know, these things are well

you know, on the minds of marketers and these e-commerce brands as well. Now, you know, looking ahead at, we’re looking right now at the current trends, what do you predict will be the next big breakthrough in marketing and optimization overall?

Ayat Shukairy [20:23]
I would definitely, obviously AI and how that’s going to kind of be incorporated. I think that that’s kind of a big thing currently.

Ayat Shukairy [20:35]
I do find a lot more that a lot of companies, I think there’s also some concerns just in general when it comes to marketing and for example, advertisement, you know, like whether it’s kind of like meta or thinking about just Google ads in general, there’s a lot there that are that’s just always changing.

Arlen Robinson [20:54]
Yes.

Ayat Shukairy [20:55]
Like for example, we have a lot of clients right now that are just like suffering from like, meta traffic, it’s not necessarily very targeted, trying to figure out like, what are some other ways that they can kind of ensure that they’re getting kind of that quality traffic coming through their sites. So you know, what I see at least from a landscape perspective is of course, this industry in general when it comes to digital marketing is always changing.

There are new things, Google’s always making some sort of updates. So there’s that kind of aspect that we’re always anticipating. But I also find marketers going back to some of the basics. Like I said, one of the key things that we really have found a lot of success with is sometimes just going back to customer interviews and seeing what type of an impact that has and going back to really enhancing brand values.

making sure that that’s something that is at the forefront of the site and the experience and of the customer’s mind. So I think sometimes going back to the basics and understanding also technology and how that’s always changing, those are kind of just some things we’re always on the lookout for. Also when it comes to just the tools that are out there that are providing some of the data that we need, that’s always changing and advancing and that’s a great…

place to always be on the forefront and understanding kind of what’s new, how can I incorporate this within our marketing strategy in order to capture different data points that are going to really enhance our overall program.

Arlen Robinson [22:35]
Good to know. Speaking of tools, as we get ready to wrap things up, what would you recommend or could you recommend some of what you think are the most effective tools or platforms for executing A-B tests? And is there any way you can possibly discuss any of your personal favorites that you’ve dealt with your company or with past companies? Are there any new discoveries in the field?

that you think are things that we should all kind of keep an eye out for.

Ayat Shukairy [23:11]
So, of course, I mean, I would say in general, it’s one of the basic things that people should have is have a heat map, you know, session recording type tool, because those are just another data layer that helps you understand a little bit more about, you know, how deep visitors are scrolling, what are they doing, what are those actions and whatnot. You know, whether it’s like a full story, a hot jar, even fig pie, they all provide those types of

of tools. When it comes to A-B testing, again, we utilize FIGPY a lot, but we also are pretty agnostic. So we’ll use, for example, VWO or other tools out there that provide that. We used to use obviously Google Optimize when that used to be something. But what I’ve found currently is, of course, people are trying to move a little bit more away from relying on Google Analytics. So they’re utilizing tools like Rutter Stack or…

as just other analytics platforms, the other names aren’t coming necessarily to mind, but just kind of moving away from Google Analytics and trying to move their data into these other tools that are providing them with, again, a different way to look at their data and the different visitors are coming and the segmentation that they provide. They’re a lot more powerful. I think GA4 is moving in that direction. Still a little bit buggy because obviously it just recently rolled out.

But that’s an interesting trend that I find amongst a lot of e-commerce companies is that they’re trying to move away from GA more and try to utilize some of these other analytics tools that are a little bit more development heavy, but they do offer kind of a layer of segmentation that GA doesn’t.

Arlen Robinson [24:54]
Okay, great. Yeah, that’s good to know. Those are just some fantastic recommendations. I’m sure our listeners are going to appreciate the insights, you know, into those tools that could really make a difference in their testing strategies. Yeah, it’s always great to get expert advice on tools, especially these days, because there’s so many tools out there. And I know personally, from, you know, being the co-founder of my company that, I mean, we…

We’ve gone through so many different tools over the years and, you know, have tried things. And a lot of times we come across a tool or we read different blog articles about certain tools and then go a certain way. But, you know, sometimes it’s, you know, it’s hard to know what to do or what to kind of dive into. Because as you know, and most of our listeners that are e-commerce entrepreneurs,

There is a learning curve with any of these solutions and it takes time to understand what to do and to build your campaigns and see if it is gonna work. So yeah, it’s great to know some initial advice.

Ayat Shukairy [26:00]
Yeah, I mean, I would also encourage listeners to say, like, hey, like when you’re looking at tools, try to evaluate tools that have more of what you need. Maybe they provide so many options within that one suite of tools rather than having several different scripts running on your site, because obviously the more scripts you have running on your site, the slower the site is going to be. So, just take caution with that. There are some tools that offer more.

than others and that’s, you know, like a good way to kind of sometimes evaluate which one you should actually move forward with.

Arlen Robinson [26:36]
Yeah, for sure. Well, this has been an awesome conversation, Ayad. I really appreciate having you on. I know our listeners have gotten a lot out of this. I know I have for sure. And but lastly, before we do let you go, I always like to shift gears just a little bit, just so our audience can get to know you a little bit better. If you don’t mind sharing one closing fun fact about yourself that you think we’d be interested to know.

Ayat Shukairy [26:58]
Um, oh gosh, fun fact about myself. Um, well, I’m a mother of four kids. Um, so that’s always a fun thing to know. People are always usually surprised when they hear that. Um, and, uh, and I have like, you know, my kids are all ages. So I have a college age student and I have a student that’s still in elementary school. So I have the full range of kids as well.

Arlen Robinson [27:19]
So, gotcha. Okay, good to know. Thank you for sharing that. I know you got your hands full. That’s kind of running the gamut between different age ranges and generations. And so interesting. And yeah, it’s good to be able to, I guess, when you have children, especially at those different ages, you can kind of see their perspective, the perspective of the different.

children at this different ages when they’re looking at our world today. And so I know you can kind of learn a lot from just looking at how they view things. So yeah, good, good stuff. Yeah. And thank you for joining us. Really appreciate it. Lastly, finally, before we do let you go, if our listeners or viewers want to reach out to you and pick your brain anymore about conversion rate optimization or A B testing will be the best way for them to reach you.

Ayat Shukairy [27:59]
Yeah, awesome. Thank you for having me. It’s been fun.

Ayat Shukairy [28:17]
Probably, I mean, I’m on all socials, Twitter, I’m on Instagram, I’m on LinkedIn. So those are definitely ways that you can reach me.

Arlen Robinson [28:27]
All right, sounds good. Well, we’ll definitely have the link to your website in our show notes and definitely encourage people to reach out to you if they wanna pick your brand anymore. Well, thank you again, Ayat. We really appreciate having you on the E-commerce Marketing Podcast.

Ayat Shukairy [28:41]
Thank you.

Podcast Guest Info

Ayat Shukairy
Co-Founder at Invesp