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Khalid Saleh On Why We Do What We Do

Episode 25

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Hosted by
Maruf Yusupov

I help people discover their purpose in life and follow their passion to live in prosperity.

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Today Khalid is a Conversion Rate Optimization expert. It means he helps companies sell more by improving their websites.

It all started when he started his business journey as a book store owner at the age of 12.

In this episode, we discussed many lessons from human psychology: why we do what we do.

I hope you will learn a lesson or two not only how to improve your site only, but your habits as well ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Show Notes


Interview transcript

Maruf: Hey, Assalamu alaikum. Welcome to Muslims On Fire. This is your host Maruf. And today I have a special guest brother Khalid Saleh from the US. So he is the most well known, I guess conversion rate optimization will discuss what it is. 

And he’s also the founder of a company called inverse that helps other companies to improve their conversion rate optimization. I know it might sound a bit like technical. We’ll get to that but before that let’s talk to the Saleh and get the full story from him. Assalamu alaikum, Saleh. Welcome to the show. 

Saleh: Walaikumassalam. Thank you for having me. Glad to be here and talking to you. 

Maruf: It’s a pleasure. It’s been a long time since we talked about as it must have I guess. 

Saleh: Oh, yes, I was doing a bit of back and forth between Turkey and the US and I think that’s when we talked. Oh man. It’s amazing to me how fast time flies. It’s true. Just looking at my I always thought of flies fast that the kids get older and we get older.

Maruf: So good. Let’s go back to see usually when we started to have noticed we go back to your childhood. So let me ask you a quick question that are you originally from Turkey and then you’re right back to come to the US?

Saleh: No, I’m not actually. So yeah, every time I tell people, you know, we have an office in Turkey. There are some options that I’m from Turkey and I speak Turkish. I tell them no and not true either. 

So I’m originally from Syria. Yes, but basically we’ve opened an office in Turkey back in 2000, 2011 just those aren’t you supposed to Syria and what’s going on in Syria? It makes sense to be in Turkey. 

But yeah, I grew up all over the place born in Syria. But you know, stories very similar to many Syrians where I end up living all over the place. Although my childhood was mostly spent in Saudi Arabia. 

Maruf: Oh, interesting! Okay, out of all these like it is again Riyadh or Juddah or Mecca? 

Saleh: In Riyadh. I still have very fond memories of the other. My family still lives there. So, I traveled there quite a bit and you know, it’s a silk looking at the childhood Place. Although I just changed so much in the last 30, 40 years. 

Maruf: I see. Tell us this when we look at, you know, another see and you know, the Steve Jobs, he also had a Syrian origin. He used to say you can only connect the dots looking backwards. So let’s try to do that. So tell us this when you look right now, what you do, where you are today and look at your childhood. 

What is out of the connecting dots lets you wear your dinner. Maybe they’re inspirational maybe something namely you remember that my end up, you know being a part of you who you are today. What do you think it would be? 

Saleh: It’s a tough one to pinpoint a specific situation. I had to say. Yeah, I had to say that my father, who had an amazing influence on my life. He passed away about a year ago, you know, he had always encouraged me.

And he was so extremely supportive regardless whatever decision I made so I still remember as a young boy tried to make some money and looking to sell things after prayer at the mosque and he just basically said hey, here’s some money go ahead and go buy stuff and sell. 

When graduating high school, and I’m so just fresh out of high school, never really ran a real business. I’d like to open a bookstore. He’s like sure and we found a place and he literally looking gave me and forgot how much money, like 30000 reals and we went ahead and open up books store, not very successful.

But it’s one of those things that he had always been supportive. You know, I’m handling and I think until now looking at something that I tried this so in my children also provide them with the same support that I’ve gotten some point in my life and you know, it definitely influenced my life and where I am now a days, especially.

Maruf: So yeah, you mention a couple of things. Let me ask you about them. As you said you’re trying to sell things after Mashjid, you know, you’re trying to open a book. Let me ask you this, your father provided you, right? 

Saleh: Yes.

Maruf: So, why bother? So at what age would you do discussing when you were trying to sell things, let’s be clear on that. 

Saleh: Oh my God! I must have been like no like probably 12 year old or something like that. 

Maruf: Yeah, that’s good. Yeah, so tell me this, 12 years old kid, he has a father and a mother providing for the family. What on earth is very cheap to go and try to sell takes after Mosque and go to open a library. Why what is it? What does this come from?

Saleh: I have no clue where it came from. It. Just this is a really is like, you know what I reflect back at it. So my father was a law Professor. I had nothing to do by the way with business, my mom continues to teach Arabic until now but Subhanallah, like, you know, it’s one of those things that and my family is not a business family at all. 

Honestly, if I reflect back at it, we’re farmers in Syria. We have continued to be farmers. That’s what we are known for yet. You know something I had the paper and my father would always supported, so whatever like, you know, selling things after people go to prayers, you know selling perfumes on what that look, it’s no big deal. 

And altogether as like $30 when I look at the bookstore and that was a huge project that was a huge investment, you know, whether it’s in money or time and effort and all that and the fact that he trusted me to do something like that. 

You know what I look back and I’m like wow like, you know, just the amount of trust and the amount of growth that he gave me the opportunity that he afforded me. It’s just absolutely incredible to see well. 

Maruf: Yeah, it is. It’s really incredible when you’re a 12 to 14 years old kid. That’s crazy. 

Saleh: Yeah, the bookstore was actually at 16 or 17. Yes. 

Maruf: Okay. I think you are the first person who opens a bookstore at 16. Usually, people get older but that’s good. 

Saleh: Yeah, it is old. It goes back to also the love of books as I said that talk to you over here. I have like I still have a library of Arabic books that had come with all the way from Saudi Arabia hundreds and hundreds of books that I just it also may be the reason I opened the book stores because I just love book so much and I’ve always read, you know, something else that my father had been seen.

Maruf: That’s very interesting. Okay, let’s do this. So you are from Syrian family that you live in your broad. Have you like, notice that something is a little bit not a quite the same with your family like what I mean is that your original theory about your living in Saudi Arabia and maybe you have lived other places.

Have you ever went back to Syria like you visit where you originally came from or you are always been living abroad, you know, you never would like there’s one back where you came from. 

Saleh: So, we’ve left Syria in the early 80s and honestly, we’ve never went back and probably about five or six years ago, you know, and then that point I had this that the I did not visit my home city, which is a regret that I have, but I visited some areas in the North. 

And then it’s just very strange because you know people always talk about loving the place they grow up and I was like no I’m like for me, having this Arabia think of my life as a  young adult and then like a moving to the US and I tell people I’m like, I’ve constantly moved to the point that I don’t know the place that I grew up in sure, you know, yeah, it’s just feels very strange and I tell you though back in 2000 probably 13, that’s when I went back to Syria for the first time.

And it sounds very strange and I fell in love with the country. I don’t like wow, now I see for those two days. I was in Syria. I’m like, I see why people love their country. That feels very safe to say that like, it’ll be 45 year old man, you know to say like finally now I see the feeling that it’s all about it.

Maruf: It’s a historical place and naturally beautiful as well. May Allah give patients on your people.

Saleh: Amen. It’s a tough situation and that’s one of the reasons that I decided to go back to Syria, trying to get back and I’m stuck a while, you know, I’ve been blessed to have lived in the US and blessed to be able to move back and forth and it was a way to try and help the the Syrian people.

Maruf: We both know a little bit about Islamic History. If we discuss the gold age of Islam that was the center of Bitul Hiqmah, house of wishdom and all those. We all talk about that, you know. That’s where the things that happened.

Saleh: Yeah. Then you had their bassets in Baghdad and it really by the way looking at when I reflect back at it and you know, sometimes you feel sad for what’s going on in either to those two countries Syria or Iraq because the situation is really bad, but I’m always remind it that in big scheme of things, you know like 10 years, 20 years bad time in the history of of civilizations and nations. 

It’s nothing correct. So you go through tough times you go through the ups and the downs and the you have the Moguls at some point we can all conquering and go through that area and that becomes a story that we that we tell afterwards and most of that Mughal Army at some point converted to Islam. 

And also the year of like that. And it gives me some comfort. It’s never really ease the pain that people go through but at the same time You say you know, it’s okay things will be fine at the end. 

Maruf: Absolutely. I mean the way you had. It reminds me the book I read recently. It’s called I think I just keep forgetting the author name but the book is called Factfulness. Have you heard about this? 

Saleh: I have not. No. 

Maruf: I think this is the thing that the professor is from Sweden. Maybe you have seen at least some of his TED Talks. He picks the very complicated the world issues and looks and simplifies them and he find out that in all 

things are getting better, you know, when we look at not the tree, but the forest. 

As a human being, the kind of progress has been very positive, even looking at all the wars and things and famine and I think I get your point. That’s what you mean. And I think I agree we have to look at all the products at all the details, that’s cool. Okay. 

So tell me this, when was the time you kind of made some point you must have moved from is Saudi Arabia, right? But right now in the US. I would like to know when you finish your school and begin to study at the university? What did you choose and why was that? 

Saleh: Sure, so, I finished high school from Siberia. It was time to try and figure out that where do I go to the university. It’s funny because I had several options. Initially, I had scored really high grades and I’m like, okay I have to be in math school that was kind of the typical Arab or Syrian dreamed.

And I actually went to med school for a semester and I’m like, oh man, this is just not for me. So I tried that was not very successful and that’s when I also backed into my parents, they decided to people trying to go to the US and study, go ahead. 

And that’s when I decided to go to the University of Texas. I studied computer science. It’s sort of funny how I made the decision because we never had any family member who live in the US and I like, okay. Well, I’m going to pick the top 10 computer science programs, and I’m going to apply to all of them. So I saw a member looking also and I had high enough great that I got the admission to almost all programs that I applied. 

I am getting better instead. They said you have the grades. However, our tuition costs about $35,000 a year, afford it then I’m like no, I can’t afford it but that aside you know, and so I’m like I look at Texas and I’m like excited before things had gotten also admission to University of Wisconsin. 

I’m like, okay, so that was my choice. I’m prepared to go to Wisconsin and then I get admission to Austin and I’m like all compare the weather if you all sensitive look to Saudi Arabia because constant there is no I’ve never seen snow in my life. I don’t like cold weather. 

It was like literally that’s how I made the decision on the no cold weather and it’s funny because my dad loves cold weather. He loves know. He’s like you live your whole life in this hot weather and when he had the chance to leave it. 

You decide to just continue with it on the guess. I cannot stand cold water. So, you know, so the story goes that is as funny as I talk to you. It’s about the snow and I’m looking at this and my kids are just looking forward to us knowing I’m like guys, you know, 30 years later. I still don’t like cold weather and I don’t like snow. 

Maruf: Yeah, well some people like it, some people don’t. It’s really funny how we make decisions. 

Saleh: Exactly, think that there’s like a very complicated person that let’s see the temperature which is exactly and it really your life and the trajectory of your life on gonna do and who you meet are based on these decisions that you made. 

And sometimes plans that are people going to know where you are. The result of hundreds of decisions that you’ve made and every time you make a decision you think that well as the best decision given the information I have at that point in time later on you might discover that 12 that wasn’t a very smart or wise decision.

Maruf: You know, usually, you know what you mean because when I came to Denmark like 17 years ago, right? I didn’t have much option. I just have to pick one thing and one thing I didn’t take it that is the weather, right? And don’t worry. It’s a lot of cloudy weather. In the beginning I said, you know, I’m going to get used to it. 

Kind of partly I did but now looking back what I can’t understand is that I’m more like, I really like the sun. I used to think about the sun. Otherwise, it affects me one way or another like it’s okay if there’s one or two qualities, but as to what I have to see the sun, it affects me. That’s what I felt and I understand what you come from. 

It’s always fine. I’m okay with the snow as long as not always snowy, right and it is still balanced. Nut sun is in time of the day, so we understand it.

Saleh: And there you go. It’s funny because sometimes people see me and they’re like, you’re always looking wearing layers of clothes. Like you know, what I discovered that  the first weather in Chicago and it’s called the Windy City. 

It is very cold and snowy like why do you we’re looking at so many wears. I told him listen if I don’t want to be annoyed and I want to be in a good mood. I had to be warm and the way I say warm by wearing all these layers of clothes,whether it’s like it on the guy just as long as I’m warm. I always have a smile on my face, so don’t mind those clothes.

Maruf: You choose computer science. Is there a reason you choose that? 

Saleh: You know, after trying med school and deciding that it was not something that I was interested in. The next option, I was really good at math. So it just sort of made sense. My grandfather may Allah also have mercy on him. He passed away many years ago. He was one of the top math authors in Syria and then in Saudi Arabia, so at some point actually look you know all the math books that we sit inside review where he authored or co-authored. 

Maruf: So, It’s in the blood.

Saleh: There you go, you know, so, I’m like, oh, computer science makes perfect sense. So, all honestly is one of those two that’s also looking to just sort of like everybody was sort of expected me and I expect my son looking. Well, not that school interscience, you know, I thought about business school, but this is sort of funny.

Business school had negative connotations and the Middle East because people who don’t score very high grades are the ones who go into business school. So for a little bit, I tried to convince my dad on my clothes to business school. He’s like Really? He’s like that is a school for people who don’t do good grades. 

And it’s funny because years later when I used to have discussions with my father on the call. I want to go through the school. He’s a god remember that unlike no other I remember it really well. So it was computer science. 

Maruf: So, did you enjoy this time?

Saleh: You know that was sort of interesting. So you thought at that point in time, it was one of the top five programs in the US and in all honesty. It was stuff. I remember basically going to school and one of the very first early exams that we took.

So basically I sit there. We’re just starting to learn and it’s an open book exam and I’m sitting there and I look at the questions other than mind you I scored looking on top of my class across that Arabia. So I’m thinking oh my God. I can do really well and I’m reading the questions and I look at the guy sitting next to me.

And I’m like am I in the right exam because this looks very strange. I don’t recognize anything and I saw her look at the number of the professor looks at me and because I’m talking to this guy sitting next to me and she says, you know what you guys can discuss the questions. No big deal. Literally, that’s what she said. I like it. 

I look at the guy. I would try to discuss the questions and I’m like, oh my God, like, you know, I was like because I’m sorry. It’s an open book. We can discuss the questions and yet no one knows, you know how to answer. So it was in all. 

It was an interesting period because at that point in time on the god, I don’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would as I as much as I thought I would enjoy it, you know, so that was interesting because you know, like coming from like, you know getting used to get you full great to a program that really was what stuff than interesting period. 

Maruf: Okay, that’s interesting. So I mean from computer science to what you do today. So how was the transition life? I would like to know that as well.

Saleh: Sure. So I graduated computer science and while I did not enjoy work really studying computer science. I actually did really well when I took my first when I took the job that I check so the first the first company that I worked for was a consulting company at that point was a Fortune 500 that called sapiens.

And within four months. Here’s the kid who did not do well computer science. I made it from an engineer, to a senior engineer. Usually took them about three years to promote anybody but you know just sort of Isis or pushed pushed pushed and within three months I got that promotion.

And I continue to do really well. So within six years after graduating I find myself to be to reach the point of software architect helping basically and very focused on e-commerce and people back in between like, you know, that during that period the early 2000s e-commerce was really still very hot. It was kind of the new thing. 

And here’s this young kid who’s doing lots of big projects. So I helped and I worked with a lot of large companies. I was software architect for their size. So Motorola, American Express go to meeting you mentioned looking at some of those big companies either consulting with them or help lead their teams. 

So it was really incredible and I still remember this. Let me tell you kind of story how I end up leaving computer science altogether. So 2005 I get the scientist large project Motorola.com. They want to build their sides and it was such a big Initiative for them, basically. 35 million dollars in a period that they spent in a period of three months. 

We had about a hundred and twenty engineers three software Architects. I was one of the three running the project and the idea was, you know, we need to build an e-commerce website. Everybody has an e-commerce website. So we figured that out. Can you guys help us? So when I sure so it was a dream for anybody who worked in software because it is high stress, lots of people but you’re doing everything. 

Once we launched the website and I’m thinking to myself. I’m like, oh man looking at this. Is just absolutely amazing because so much traffic, so many visitors to their site that our 16 servers that we had crashed within the first couple of hours. 

So I was like, wow, you know, you have 60 service and we have so much traffic that should crash, so bring them back up exciting, you know, the one thing that I never thought of and I’ve learned about it at that point in time is 30 days later for the 35 million dollar investment is how many orders, we had 10 orders. 

Maruf: Wow. So what about the sale? So that was actually what you guys did. Let me rephrase correctly. During those time because many of us has made it known we don’t have any Shopify. We never any woocommerce or magenta what you guys there. That’s why they spend the money. That’s why you guys built the shop from scratch, isn’t it? 

Saleh: Well, no, it’s at that point of time. We actually specialized and commerce package that was called Sterling Commerce, which now, by the way, it’s IBM websphere. Got acquired several times. Basically there was definitely not Shopify, no Commerce, no Bigcommerce. 

So basically in order for you to buy one of those packages, support packages and people would laugh at them, by the way, if they see them right now, they will be spending on the software anywhere between two to five million dollars. I don’t know. I look at the software, but at that point there was no other options. It was just not a very good package, very complicated. 

And guess what when you can’t just run it because it looks ugly. So you have to hire all these consultants, will customize what you bought, will make, will change the UI and change the functionality and the workflow and how people are ordering and that’s what they paid us. 

And it was such a complex software package. You also cannot just run it on a single server because it will be too slow. So you have multiple servers. Yeah, and the cost basically keep on skyrocketing. 

Maruf: So wow. This is how difficult for us, but you just want to listen is this how difficult was to launch business. Now, you are literally like four, five klicks away, right and like $20 $30 per month and you have the shop up and running.

Saleh: It’s a basic because I am willing to argue that some of like, I’m like now probably a Shopify right now with what is it like 20, 30 dollars? Yeah, but that’s probably does. If you show it to any person that I come out to the $20, $30 not in terms of just like the cost but it’s functionality compared to the 2, 3 million dollar software package that they fought back in 2002, 2003. 

Maruf: So I mean this is exactly what we’re talking about, right? Like what we’re talking about this look this is how the progress going right you look at the forest. It’s like so many opportunities for entrepreneurs, right? Like if you want to get in and do this, the bar has been lowered so much any longer you should have an excuse. That’s what I’m trying to say. Would you agree? 

Saleh: Oh, definitely. You don’t have to say this, opportunity is there, plenty of opportunity but at the same time conflict enough to offset that there’s a lot more competition, you know, I reflect back up to what we do right now. 

So when we started doing conversion optimization, there was only two other companies in the US during that and that was back in 2006 nowadays, there’s tens of thousands of companies. So it’s a lot easier to start a business. 

But at the same time there’s a lot people trying to do the same thing. So it’s just a matter of putting on figuring out like an okay. How are you going to be different, how you position yourself? 

Maruf: So actually, you know, let us go back to this Motorola story like you guys launch 35 is needing to spent three, five million dollars spent, three months, shop is launched after 30 days, 10 orders, what happens next? What’s your consultant? Tell me this.

Saleh: Some people lost their jobs. And some people like myself, I look at my wife and I told her well, I think there’s an opportunity over here, you know, and it’s funny because when I started investment, my wife was at that point of time. Just we had just gotten married about a year into the marriage and she’s thinking about well, what would I do and I tell I won’t be time to look into this. 

Maybe you can help on my companies figure out what’s the problem that we face. So, she actually started the business which I said quote. Let me figure this out and for the first couple of years, she’s known who ran the business up to I think 2008. That’s why she came to me. She said listen.

There’s so many business going on, there’s so much demand, why don’t you quit the job stupid software architect thing that you’re doing and come and help me and this is very powerful because lots of times when people see nowadays that I speak of the conferences.

People always assume that while you know, how did started the company I also am actually it’s my wife. I mean I suggested you know, but she’s the one who really cared the mantle and establish the business initially it, you know worried about all the details and nowadays, but you know, we’re still both continue to work, good working at the drunken teams, but that’s how it became about how we did that. 

Maruf: Interesting. So we should actually talk to your wife why we were talking to you. 

Saleh: Oh man, you’ve got stuck with me now.

Maruf: Anyway, look I see that’s why we started. It’s interesting. So let me ask you this. Look, I don’t know. I think the only people who works inside big corporations, to get this joke when it comes to the working like you have the on the one side you have the ID people, right, rather than the other design folks. 

So this new people come from two different places, on top of them have the managers, right? They are riding with deadlines. You know what I’m talking about, but question is, where did you see yourself in the beginning? 

And where do you see yourself right now like I mean to open a business, to run a business, you have to go beyond any of those boxes right to change it to involve into something else. I want to understand that transition if you don’t mind.

Saleh: So, yeah, so it’s sort of interesting because of course when we first started the business side, – keep on technical background and I had to make that transition and to the marketing world. 

Now we were and I was blessed at that point in time because the field was just empty especially when and the field of war we did having only two other companies do it in the US. no books published on that topic at that point. I remember back in 2007the  first book published on the topic and I’m over buying it on the cob man. This is is really interesting. 

The best marketers are the ones that come from a technical background because we have that technical analytical thinking but at the same time if you’re able to make that cross and understand the creative side of things, the psychology side of things that really puts like, you know, the good gives you a huge arsenal of things that you can do. 

So you understand both worlds and you try and both words the world’s, it’s not easy but is extremely powerful now management. That’s a whole other story the only way we can spend hours because you can understand the creative. 

You can understand the analytical management discipline. Oh now you’re talking about this isn’t exactly an outsole by the way is funny because I was help you own like I can figure out a computer algorithm. That’s easy, eventually puts your mind into it. You figured out the human algorithm is a whole other level is so much more. 

That’s it. There’s also beauty and right in the same law that. So here’s the thing that the question I guess next. One would be blocked or those of us who may not be really familiar. Let’s briefly mention. What do you guys do, what it is, when we talk about conversion rate optimization what I’m talking about?

Sure, so I will simplify it very much. So if you have a website, let’s say you have an e-commerce website. Ultimately your goal is to sell people, correctly like to have visitors come to your website, but you want them to buy from you. 

And basically we say typically an e-commerce website for every on groundred the visitors that come to your website typically a bunch of one or two people place an order the other 98, they just come look around and then they leave the same thing applies us say you have a SAS subscription website. 

You would like to have most people subscribe when they come but the reality of it the most SAS websites converted anywhere if they have a hundred visitors that come to the website only five or ten of them subscribe the other 90 just walk away. 

So what we do is we look at the site figure out. Okay, so but why aren’t people subscribe and why are people buying what is It that’s stopping them from doing that. We figure out the areas of the website. There are broke. Sometimes it has something to do with the design. 

Sometimes it has something to do with the words that you’re using on the website how people are navigating. There’s so many aspects to it and we say, okay. Well here we figured out those 50 different problems on the website. 

Let’s go ahead and fix them and I’ll stop you only don’t the simplest example, we might look at your home page and say listen, this is this is a mistake. Here’s why people are turning away running away from your website as opposed to placing an order and here’s a better design here is 

You know something that you want to use but we always tell people don’t take our word for it. We actually say let’s say you have a 10,000 visitors come to your website. So you have your old design for the home page, we have the new design for the homepage. So we have 5,000 people look at the old design and five thousand people look at the new design. 

So let’s do, we use software for that and then we say, okay. So how many orders did the first 5,000 generates and how many orders did the second 5,000 Jennings? Let’s say you’re comparing and using statistics show. 

There’s still some technical aspects to what we do, which is probably enjoy it, you basically use software to say you’re me 5,000 saw this design and they jump to a hundred orders 5,000 people. 

So I designed the new design and got 200 orders. So I guess the new design was better. So this is kind of the process that we work with and that’s what’s referred to as conversion rate optimization. 

Maruf: This is quite well. So what the nutshell you guys help two companies to sell more. Let’s put it this way, right? So to optimize things on their shop or it doesn’t always apply to shots. It could be sometimes lead generation. 

Anyway, I did that what you’re trying to do is like you trying to help companies to sell more. We’ll see some more. We’re talking about putting extra dollars in marketing, you’re talking about hiding accept people but actually fixing their online presence, right? 

Maybe there’s a button, maybe there’s a element that’s missing, as you said like, you guys understand psychology, why people do, what they do and try to accommodate if there’s something missing sometimes. Yeah, sometimes it’s patchy. Sometimes you have to put it, you know, have to tweak things. 

So to optimize the sales but explains that what you guys do quite well, so let me ask this. Oh, but you talked about this, you also talk about the business side of the things that a lot of companies that are doing conversion rate optimization these days you said like tens of thousands. So, how do you guys, I think this is a good work, good business question for all of us to learn is or how you guys just finished shooting yourself among this crowd?

Saleh: Other companies. I love that question. So I was just giving a talk at one of the large digital marketing conferences and San Francisco last week and I told them because the question or one of the biggest questions for a business that you have to answer, is what is the difference that will make the difference. 

What is the difference in your business that will make the difference in the mind of customers. So I’ll tell you the story. When you look at the top five conversion rate optimization companies. We refer to it as the Arabs companies. We’re one of them. So typically one of our big companies look for a conversion optimization company though contact us. They’ll say hey, we’re interested in hiring you.

Back in 2016, we had this company and then they had branches all over. So, their headquarters in the US And DC but he’s reached out to us and said hey, we’re interested in hiring the conversion optimization company. We’d like to talk to you guys and I will talk to their CMO and he said, you know, he was very Frank and I’ll front you said well, we’re talking to your competitors as well. 

He was talking to the usual suspects on us and the other four and I think to myself like well, you know, we’re well known there’s so many differences between us and it was such a big contract. I’m gonna handle the presentation. So, I walk him through our process and explain, you know, that the whole process. 

And we had a nice presentation and we had established rapport over about two three weeks. We thought and then I call him one day after we’ve done and we’re like we got this. This is in the bag and his name is Michael. So I called Michael welcome and I’m like Michael, you know, I’m checking with him on the contract in the status. And on Michael I had to ask you a question. 

Now, you’ve said through our presentation you’ve heard our competitors presentations. What do you think? How do we stand out? So I wanted to hear it from the mouth of prospect somebody who’s actually evaluating and he was so brutally honest that is really thinking of made me stop and think he said can I be honest? I said sure, please he said, you know what? He’s like if you guys all sound the same.

And I said if I didn’t know that I’m talking to call it. You guys are exactly the same process, same smart people, you know same and I’m like, wow, that’s not good because really ultimately you want to stand out so that’s something I spent a lot of time thinking.

So how can we distinguish ourselves and then for while to clover of time until we figure this out. So how can we distinguish ourselves? So there’s several aspects that we put together. So first, of course I can others the history and second the

conversion optimization, the number of A/B tests that we’ve conducted. 

So we have the largest maybe number of A/B test as a professional Service as a consulting company. We had 15,000 A/B test under our belt compared to any of our competitors who were history of course, in the fact that we were first in the space allows us to do that. 

But fundamentally this goes back to conversion optimization lots of times when people try and increase in website conversion rate, they look at well as the button in the right place. Are we using the right headline number using the right image? 

I always tell people if you think about this, I know she probably heard the famous saying no one buys a quarter-inch drill You by quarter inch hole for himself, if you want to like, you know, like then I just move this new house in Chicago. 

So and I also feel like, you know people repeat the saying that you know, you don’t buy the drill you by the hole in the wall, and I tell them like listen, so we have all these paintings and then I’m looking at your courtesy and that we want to hang up and I want to buy the drill. 

You know, so we have home Depot’s I go there and I buy the drill and I come back and I’m like, you know what? I did not buy the drill nor did I buy the whole and the wall? Yes, I do want to hang the picture on the wall. So yes, there’s the functional aspects. 

But I bought two other things, those two things one is number one is for my wife to stop Tommy when I’m gonna hang the pictures, you know, they’re all over the place.

So there’s an emotional side that I actually bought what I went out to the store and then there’s something else that I bought. 

I actually bought, you know the ability so when my friends come down and then they look at the house and they look at the painting that like, you have all these nice paintings. There’s a social side, social aspect to what I bought. So there are three aspects. There’s the functional, there’s the emotional then there’s a social.

Sometimes when you find increased conversion, people and lots of most companies focus on functional asset. Exactly and that’s fine that helps to increase sales. But guess what that just takes yourselves to a certain level. If you’re looking to really double triple your revenue, it’s a lot more complicated, correct? 

Because you want to establish that affinity where people love the brand. It’s not your naturally, competing at that point. You know, you’re at a whole other level where people love the brand and willing to spend money with the brand that’s focusing on the social emotional aspects and that’s really what we spend quite a bit of time on sort of interesting because kind of following this methodology would see some startups. 

We’ve seen some startups where literally when they said was they were doing about five hundred,six hundred thousand dollars in sales and now three years later, they’re doing about eight million dollars, you know, so it’s a lot more rewarding. 

It’s a lot to also by the way, you like no because I’ll stop people, you know, if something is so rewarding that means the risk in it is a lot higher, correct. 

So is this a lot more work, a lot more thinking. So it comes with this, with its rewards and its challenges. 

Maruf: Yeah, okay. I mean, I like to approach is that looking at the problem the holistic way that I’m just looking at the what is missing in? What’s the button? What’s the color? It’s not always like it’s almost never ever since about the color or the shape of the bottom as well. As you said it all goes back to the question. Why right? Why do it? What makes people buy, what makes people tick, right? That’s very insightful. 

Okay, here’s the thing as the last one of the last questions I would like to ask you is that tell us for the most of the common people who are listening to this audience, at one point you want to study business and or maybe they want to have their website or maybe even in their life. 

So what three things if you can’t leave unless it be a big one. Have you learned from doing what you do like the specially conversion opposition one of the three tips you would you would give to us.

Saleh: So I was done and it’s funny. I spent quite a bit of time reflecting back at the business and I can afford that nowadays because we have a team and I always say, some time to just move when you see the right opportunity got to jump at it something for way to cautious that some people are way too cautious that they spend a lot of time thinking and not executing.

So you gotta know when it’s the right up to teach you to move really fast and things don’t have to be perfect or perfect is the enemy of 

done or complete and  jump on things. And I see that by the way, a lots of times, lots of my friends are just looking to be constantly thinking and evaluating and they end up missing lots of opportunities. So that’s number one. 

Number two kind of like no to balance this out. I always ask myself whenever I’m making a decision because lots of times people are very optimistic, you know, they hope for the best to correct and I think that’s how we start businesses and has how we start projects, but as I run the company, I always ask myself as any new project comes about I’ll ask myself. 

What can’t I see what don’t I see because lots of times you try and make the assumptions in your optimistic with sometimes you find that the reality a year later is a bit different so that balances, you know, the first lesson that I’ve learned where sit there and think about like, what are the things? What are the assumptions that are making that are unrealistic or untrue? And how do I mitigate those? 

And maybe the third tip is spent time thinking. A lot of times, we’re in a rush or constantly, you know consolation when you run your business, you’re constantly executing running projects, answering emails. 

So I spent quite a bit of time really just thinking time in probably a couple of hours a week where I actually have a special notebook that I take a specific problem in and then the business and I try and write my thoughts on it. That thinking time really helps me avoid mistakes and helps also generate opportunities for us. 

Maruf: Absolutely. Well, that’s very insightful. You know, one of the things I really like about what you guys do in general like always opposition is that I think you have this method, right? You can call scientific method as well. It is a method that the play is actually not only in website. Actually, it could apply to anything in our daily life. So the core actually if I get it, right. 

Looks like you have a hypothesis right, how things work and why they things happen the way it happens to say, whatever I do this thing and I believe it will happen this way. So what you do is you go ahead and do that. And this is where we comes your third advice think and reflect and Allah is right, then once you do that, you have to get the data and put it down and say wow, interesting. 

This is how it was. Was this what happened is what I did, this has the effect. Sometimes it happens to chase for good, sometimes to choose for the bad. But as long as you’re changing the one simple there, but I’m not changing a lot of variables, right? 

You can pinpoint that thing and it could happen only websites you come here with your life going to happen in daily habits and like this kind of improved, I’m talking about always like the clip of change, but I believe in a small change, tiny habits, right? So I believe if you can do that over and over there call the code compiler thing. 

And I think you may end up in a place while much better than you expect it like, a set of train to change a whole thing at one at one time. I think to apply to a not only in website. It will be on our wedding night as well. Would you just say the same, it’s something like that what you say?

Saleh: I completely agree. So this is an amazing book. So I’m constantly reading or if I’m not reading I’m listening to audiobooks. So there’s this book that’s called Good Strategy Bad strategy. And it’s an excellent book about strategy everywhere. 

And I love how he starts the book talking about looking at everybody talks about strategy but really knows what it means. It’s like this big big notion is true, but he keeps an example of Starbucks. He said, you know when I was Starbucks, you know had gone to until he saw like know all these Baristas and how they make the coffee. He said, oh his theory is hypothesis. Well, I can do the same thing. I can recreate this experience in the US. 

So, you know, initially the very first Starbucks. Basically it was like, you know, they will have like all these symphonies playing the glittery walking through the first Starbucks. 

There’s a symphony playing you get your coffee in a small porcelain coffee cup, white cup and you have to sit down that was his hypothesis that you know, he’s copied basically what he saw what he discovered that people don’t like Americans don’t like the music, you know, the the symphony playing if you want to buy the coffee on the go. 

And they don’t necessarily appreciate that and it’s sort of funny, Americans don’t like actual Coffee Starbucks what it is. He said he discovered that this actually milk with a flavor of coffee. So he had to adjust and that’s why you have like now thousands upon thousands of Starbucks coffees is the hypothesis. He tested it. 

He saw how we were roughly, you know, react to things that we got to make some adjustments and that’s in terms of business, but you see the same thing in your life where you say? Okay. Well, let me make some adjustments.

It’s funny having the kids, you know, for example we can looking for a visual player. That’s one of the questions that I have and my experiment in different things that I found on my set up. And oh, man. Okay. Now they’re getting up at least you give them to like learned that habit. 

Maruf: So it sounds good. That’s very nice. Well, I mean, yes, please share the links of the book and of course shall we also, you know, we mentioned your website as well. Look, I do want to ask a question. 

There was a question I should have asked maybe I haven’t asked but there something you would like to mention or something you’re working on guys out. This will be the best part two for that opportunity. Would you take it in let us know if there is something you would like to share which I know.

Saleh: I mean at what I would invite people just to visit our website and we spend quite a bit of time doing lots of really very well written research articles on online marketing more specifically, also on human psychology, on conversion optimization. 

It really is a resource and we have about 100,000 people that come visit our website every month. So I’ve invited people, just do to visit and if anybody needs any help, I love the idea of the podcast and then by the way is sort of funny talk about looking at people who think you versus people who executes. 

I’ve always thought that we should have something for Muslims because there’s plenty of Muslims in the workspace and entrepreneurs but you know that we see each other, correct, and we know each other but started a Podcast like this and by Muslims that’s execution my friend, that’s putting the words. It has like instead of just thoughts. You’ve actually done it.

Maruf: Thank you very much. You know, here’s the little secret. You know, I didn’t start this because as you said, I mean, yeah, that’s how it sounds but I started because I’m lazy, what will that mean by lazy? Let me tell you, so, there are people like me who love to write things like blog articles like maybe either, you know, one of those I really love to read them. 

If this analytical thoughts and going to put in writing and I really like to do as well, but in reality, you know, I put a goal and but I have a lot of things to do but it didn’t end of the day I figure out it’s not happening because something to do with the biting that just puts me off. 

Maybe I don’t know whatever the reason is right, but this is exactly what I’m going to suggest, this book to read this book as well. I just finished reading it also tried it myself, is called Tiny Habits by a professor from San Francisco. So this idea is very small. He says look, when you want to do something right in life. Usually let’s say going to gym, right and that’s not what you want. 

Remember you come back to the you want a drink don’t want drill. You know, what? Yeah, that’s the core fundamental question to find my question always comes back to either one of these health or wealth or happiness or the furniture core fundamental things which you only want to do for family or whatever it is, right? 

Let’s look at the gym where you want to go for your health, right? That’s what it is. We’re good. But now, we got the core question then instead of going to gym. Now you can say bring some okay, what are the ways that lets me go to gym, right? For example, it could be hiking, it could be swimming, it could be running and what you do then you go and check it out one by one. 

And some of them like it and some of them don’t like it. So what are you really doing? But there is no one for you. You mean absolutely love it. You don’t yeah, that’s very profound. Like if you look like yeah, that makes sense. And this one like I did for example in my case that what I did is like fate I figure out I don’t like running. I don’t like to go to the gym. I don’t like those but it seems I like walking. 

You know, what I mean walking to be honest in Denmark. It didn’t work right now. I’m looking at the weather is cloudy you strings called. I don’t like cold weather. So what I did is I just changed my clothes into good. 

And what I’m walking actually, even I don’t like walking. It seems but what I really like is that getting a timeout but I have three kids, one or two hours every day and listening and learning. 

So it is nothing I have this common. So what did I put my head and listen to podcast and I listen audio books, right and just change the whole thing for me and my wife asked how could you call in this window? You said? Well, I’m not walking you do Under The Rain. What I’m doing is I’m talking to one of my mentors. I don’t know even know who that guy is when you pick up the book. I’m They’ll learn to pick up his brain and so for me change the whole things. 

I’m enjoying that experience. I Should like what’s going on inside right? It’s like a time out for one hour and two are so the point I’m coming back to what I’m making is that then I figure out that actually applying the same thing in my life to other things and I said, okay, I don’t like writing blog but who cares about blogs anyway, but what I what is that? 

I’m trying to do right that I forget one question. What you’re doing, is you’re doing two things first you are learning, it is insane. You know, that thing is called if you don’t learn things you have to read, if you want to get really good of entropy. If you want to really Master, you know, they say yes a teacher for example in my case. 

I said I’m talking to this all those people but in people as a part of business like you do as well and also I really like to share and learn all the things Messer. I don’t like blog but what else can I do? It seems there are ladders. I do this podcast, you know, like look here. We always talking one hour at the end of the day. It is a phone call, is that it’s okay. It’s just that very funny. Yeah talk to people and it seems the rest is just that. 

After we talked I just like click on the stop recording and I will give it to our editor. They will take it. They will edit it to the things they are online and evening put transcripts that you have a Blog for those who want to believe that you have a podcast. So that’s my kind of hack. 

Saleh: I love it. Yes that works really well because it’s you’re establishing that connection, you’re providing value for yourself at for people who are listening so, you know, and there’s even deeper like I just because looking at also remember we asked about the difference that makes a difference you there’s like, you know thousands of podcast right now, but you’ve found an area where the go here. I can provide value here. And this is very powerful. 

Maruf: That’s true. Yeah, I mean there are a a lot of business podcast out there and they’re also a lot of federal, so I would say that’s a sound Islamic podcast, but I think you get the point, right? So on the PC computer on business, that’s okay. 

I think it’s a bit case of dry, right? We’ll talk about money and as that’s not how we as Muslims. We work on the other hand will come to the stomach podcast. I figure out most of the people talk to you about cheeks and your spiritual part of it, which is also fine. 

But look, there’s a middle way, but look at them in the Prophet (S) and I’m right that he was not just a preacher. He was a businessman right? So I think what we do twenties are finding very fine spot like so let’s talk about Muslim entrapreneurs and let’s talk about why they do what they do, right?

Try to do this. And how did I went so far? Maybe we’re not the top one pocket. It doesn’t really care where that occurs. What we will you try to use like a very small. Like I said this podcast trying to understand to the people and inspire them, like yourself getting the lessons from people like you said. 

We did today and share, you know towards the future generation and the current visualization. This will be in short our legacy now we are on the air. You never know who here is the down the line, but it’s one of the salvage area right like we can share the show like yeah after we’re gone hopefully people. 

So keep listening and benefiting by having said that I’m going to be so much grateful for your time. I know you’re a busy person, you guys are busy. You helped a lot of companies today. We learned how to optimize, not only our websites but also business and also those our lives as well and hopefully, we’ll take a lesson and try to leave that and I hope by saying that thank you very much.May Allah bless you for work. Let’s keep in touch and Assalamu alaikum.

Saleh: Walaikumassalam. Thank you for having me.

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Episode 25