While this Insight includes Louis C.K. and Howard Stern, it really isn’t about either of them. It is about one comedian’s desire to make his personal website as positive of an experience as possible for his fans.
$1 million in ticket sales and a sold out comedy tour – in one week.
Louis C.K. and Howard Stern
I’ll admit it, I like listening to Howard Stern. Sure, he’s a shock jock (less so as he ages) but he is also one of the better interviewers out there (more so as he ages). One day while driving into The Good I was listening to an interview with Louis C.K., the stand up comedian, and he said something that struck me:
I made site choices based on what I hated about the Internet.
With this one simple thought, it turns out a comedian can teach us a lot about conversion rate optimization and driving online sales.I made site choices based on what I hated about the Internet. - Louis C.K. Click To Tweet
The more I listened to the interview, the more I was struck by how simple the concept really was – conversion rate optimization is really about consumer experience optimization.Conversion rate optimization is really about consumer experience optimization. Click To Tweet
Here is what Louis C.K. had to say about making choices based on what he hates about the typical Internet consumer experience:
I made the site choices based on what I hated about the Internet. So when my website guy said “Do you want the button pre-chosen that says yes to the mailing list, or the no button pre-chosen?” It’s always “yes”, so I made it “no”.
What if we, as those who set the direction of the consumer experience online, made every decision the same way?
A clear result would be more brands who Stop Marketing and Start Selling. Conversion rates would go up. User frustration would go down.
Strip away all the things you hate about going on the Internet, as Louis C.K. did, and you’ll naturally produce an exceptional consumer experience:
I made it the easiest thing you could possibly buy, you don’t have to join anything. All the things I hate about going on the Internet and trying to watch stuff – I stripped all of that away.
There is no huge secret to conversion rate optimization, or consumer experience optimization. It’s quite simple, really: put your consumer’s needs first and you’ll double your online sales, gain more qualified leads, and be on your way to selling out your first stand up comedy tour in a week.
Here’s a transcript of the relevant part of the interview:
Howard: Tell me your business plan here, you said to your fans “go to my website and buy the tickets.”
Louis C.K.: Yeah, because I had done this special called Live at the Beacon Theater. I had done four or so stand-up specials… then it was time to make another one and nobody really wanted it.
I realized I have some money sitting around, I can produce it, and then I’ll put it out on my website.
I put it out for five bucks, and I made it the easiest thing you could possibly buy, you don’t have to join anything. All the things I hate about going on the Internet and trying to watch stuff – I stripped all of that away. There’s no thing (DRM) where you can’t watch on certain machines. You can steal it, it doesn’t matter.
All the things I hate about going on the Internet and trying to watch stuff – I stripped all of that away.
Howard: You said to your fans, and this is pretty bold, this shows you how much people love you. You said to your fans “look you could steal this thing, but please pay the five dollars, because I got to make some money off of this.”
Louis C.K.: I’m not Warner Brothers, I’m just this guy. The fans paid attention for the most part.
Howard: Yeah, and it generated what? A million bucks?
Louis C.K.: A million bucks in a week.
Howard: In a week, wow that’s pretty impressive. When you sell tickets to your shows, you don’t use Ticketmaster? You used your website again?
Louis C.K.: Yeah, so I had people on my mailing list, from my website. I made the site choices based on what I hated about the Internet. So when my website guy said “Do you want the button pre-chosen that says yes to the mailing list, or the no button pre-chosen?”
It’s always “yes”, so I made it “no”.
You have to aggressively want emails from me to opt-in to get them. Everybody I write to is somebody who bought something and said, “Yes, I want to hear from you again.”
When I put the tickets on sale, me and my agent, we spent about a year putting together a tour of venues that were willing to work without Ticketmaster.
You have to aggressively want emails from me to opt-in to get them.
Howard: Which are not many, right? Because, they’re afraid of Ticketmaster.
Louis C.K.: Well, they get paid by Ticketmaster, not to use other ticket services. Ticketmaster has the capital to keep the system locked up.
Howard: You were able to keep the ticket price low? It was like forty bucks to go see you.
Louis C.K.: Forty-five bucks no matter what seat, no matter what city; that’s what I decided.
Howard: You sold out all the shows.
Louis C.K.: Yeah, I didn’t even advertise or tweet. I just wrote to people who had bought the special and opted in to my mailing list, and said there’s tickets available. Forty-five dollars, there’s no ticket fees, and if you sell these tickets on eBay or something they’ll be shut off.
Howard: It generated four and a half million dollars.
Louis C.K.: More than that, and again, in a few days. We sold out the tour by then end of the day, and then added second shows in almost every city.
Listen to the relevant portion of Howard Stern’s interview of Louis C.K. on Soundcloud:
About the Author
Jon MacDonald is founder and President of The Good, a conversion rate optimization firm that has achieved results for some of the largest online brands including Adobe, Nike, Xerox, Verizon, Intel and more. Jon regularly contributes content on conversion optimization to publications like Entrepreneur and Inc. He knows how to get visitors to take action.