Stephen Pavlovich: State of Digital Summer School, Learning from the Experts

Stephen Pavlovich: State of Digital Summer School, Learning from the Experts

4th September 2014

This summer we are taking you back to school! We are focussing on education in Digital Marketing: what is the best education, what background is important? Questions you will see answered throughout the summer by those you can learn from the best: the experts. Those that already earned their stripes and are now willing to share with you how they got there and what you should do to get that far as well.

Today we listen to Stephen Pavlovich, who is known for his conversation rates: those are always high. Being a conversion expert, that’s not a strange thing. But we’d like to know where he got his knowledge! Find out below!

More about Stephen here.

Summer School

What type of education did you have?

I have a BA in English Language and Literature.

Is your education related to what you do now?

Absolutely – to an extent. Conversion optimisation needs very disparate skills: from copywriting to data analysis. My degree obviously helps significantly with copywriting – but more useful was learning what the user wanted (in this instance, the lecturer) and developing a process that would achieve that efficiently.

How did you get into digital marketing?

Back in 2006 I was rude about a friend-of-a-friend’s website. His company had just launched a redesign, which was pretty terrible. He asked what I’d do differently. Off the back of my response, he offered me a job. (We then increased sales 6x within six months.)

Stephen-PavlovichDid you need extra schooling? If so, what type of extra schooling did you get?

Ha, not unless you count Dummies Guides as extra schooling. I read everything I could find: on SEO, PPC, and anything related to conversion optimisation (which wasn’t much back in 2006).

How do you think the state of education in marketing is these days? Do marketers learn what they need to learn?

The most fundamental skills for us at Conversion Factory are a combination of creativity, an analytical nature and a passion to learn. Anything else – like copywriting, UX design, web analytics – is a bonus, and can be taught.

How do you feel about online training courses?

For us, we use online courses to learn core skills – like analytics, Excel, even UX design. For conversion optimisation itself, we need experience that only comes from doing the work itself.

What is your tip for those that want to learn more?

Read as much as possible, challenge “best practice”, and test. Conversion optimisation is such a broad area: you’ll need a baseline understanding of psychology, statistics, design, analytics, copy… and that’s before we get to marketing itself. There’s a huge amount to learn, and we need people who are never satisfied staying still.

What resources are best to learn marketing?

We’re actually making our “essential mandatory reading list” at the moment. These are my top three:

  • “Tested Advertising Methods”, John Caples
  • “Scientific Advertising”, Claude Hopkins
  • “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, Dale Carnegie

Ironically, all these books were written long before the internet existed.

What’s the last lesson in marketing you learned?

Be prepared to fight for what you believe in. If you’re doing conversion optimisation properly, you’re challenging assumptions and will almost certainly get resistance from other stakeholders. But if every hypothesis has clear evidence to back it up – and if you can demonstrate success with less aggressive tests first – then you’ll get increasing levels of buy-in. (Just try not to screw up your first test 🙂


Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
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