Meet the Maker Khalid Saleh
from FigPii

11/11/21 | Interview by Stuart Goulden

Photo of
                    Khalid Saleh
FigPii is a conversion optimization tool for SaaS companies. It pinpoints where visitors are getting stuck and recommends easy wins for improving your site. A conversion consultant in a box. We spoke to Khalid about how FigPii makes sense of mountains of data (something he calls ‘data obesity’) and helps ecommerce store owners to focus on what matters most to visitors. How FigPii evolved from an internal tool for his clients to full-grown SaaS. And the biggest learnings and wins along the way, plus some priceless tips for anybody embarking on their own maker journey. It’s a good one!

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  1. Hi Khalid. Please introduce yourself and a bit about yourself…

    My name is Khalid Saleh I am the co-founder of FigPii. It’s a SaaS conversion optimization and user experience platform.

    I come from a software development background. I used to be a software architect in my previous life.

    And about 16, 17 years ago, I’ve noticed that all of these big companies spend millions of dollars building very complex systems, hoping that these systems will generate sales for them.

    But then, everybody has a dream or a plan until they get punched in the face.

    They release these systems that they might’ve spent 10 million or 30 million or $50 million on them for people to come to the sites and don’t convert.

    So I figured that this might be an interesting problem to tackle, and the rest is history.

    I’ve started a consulting business focused on helping companies, improving conversion rates with my wife. And then, because we’re not busy enough, we decided to add a SaaS platform. And that’s what we launched a couple of years ago.

  2. How would you describe FigPii to a layperson?

    FigPii is designed to help website owners and marketers in different organizations but mainly focused on e-commerce to help them understand how people are interacting with their websites.

    Imagine if you have a million people coming to your website, visiting different pages. Well, you don’t know what’s the experience.

    That’s all those people are having on your website.

    So what FigPii does is it helps you see how people are navigating and clicking through different pages, going from one place to the next.

    It combines the data from all the different users and shows you if you had:

    Ten thousand people came to a particular page of those 10,000, 2000 people clicked on this button.

    Five thousand clicked on another button, FigPii allows you to ask those people who were coming to your website so many different questions that you’ve always had, but you never had the answers to.

    So it gives you a tool to be able to ask those questions.

    You come up with new designs.

    Hey, this is a great design. My designer just came up with it, but I’m not sure.

    Is it going to help me improve the customer experience on my website? Is it going to help me generate more sales?

"FigPii is a tool that allows you to measure the impact of that new design on your bottom line."

- Khalid Saleh

And then finally, FigPii has a machine learning algorithm. It watches all the people coming to your website and gives you suggestions of things that you should be fixing on your website.

That’s, in a nutshell, what FigPii does.

So it’s designed to help you measure how people interact with the website.

It helps you measure any new design that you’re using on your website, how it’s impacting your bottom line, and it helps you by giving you suggestions on what to fix on your website.

  1. You talk about companies struggling with ‘data-obesity’ - why is that such a big problem?

    In 2000, as I started working with different companies, most marketers and business owners struggled with not having enough data on their websites.

    So if you look back in 2008, 2009, there were very few marketing technologies available.

    And of course, the solution was to collect as much data as possible about every person coming to a website and analyzing the data.

    Now we’re on the other end, where there are almost 4,000, 5,000 different marketing technology platforms out there that give tremendous amounts of data.

    And if 20 years ago, we struggled that we do not have enough data right now, we’re on the other end, where we have too much data to the point that marketers are paralyzed.

    Trying to figure out what is useful, what they should be looking at to make informed decisions. And that’s one of the biggest challenges.

    That we can collect too much data, but 90% of that data is not very useful.

    90% of that data is just noise.

    You want to avoid the noise, find the right signals, and make your decisions based on those right signals because if you’re making decisions based on the wrong signals, you’re making the wrong decisions.

    And that’s what I mean by data obesity, where you always have to ask yourself, okay, I have access to this piece of data, but the real question is not whether they have access to it or not.

    The real question is, “what are you going to do with that data? What are the decisions you are making based on that data?” if you cannot make an informed decision based on data, then it’s probably nice to have?

    And it’s not something very useful that you can rely on as a business owner or marketer.

  2. What’s your background?

    I always joke that I am a recovering software developer. I used to work with big companies to help them build e-commerce websites. So I’ve worked with American Express. Go-to Meeting, Go-to Webinar, Motorola, and many, many others.

  3. How did the idea for FigPii come about?

    Running an experimentation program required our clients to sign up for different tools: AB testing, heatmap software, session replays, and online polling. For larger clients, these tools were expensive.

    But it does not stop there. These tools were slowing down our client sites. We seemed to be fighting with IT teams to convince them to keep these tools in place. CTOs complained that we are causing performance issues.

    These tools tracked visitors in different ways. So, an AB testing tool told our clients that they get 500k visitors/month. The heatmap tool told them they only have 350k visitors/month. And not to be outdone, the session replay tool told them they get 600k visitors/month.

    You get the idea.

    Frustrated with all this, we decided to build an internal tool that our clients could use. A year later, FigPii was born. We started using it with our existing clients.

Immediately, things got better. The cost is down; no more complaints about sites slowing down because of all the different scripts.

- Khalid Saleh

We can also add useful features that can help us understand visitors better.

Many clients suggested that we release the tool publicly. Although the idea is attractive, we knew that a bigger spotlight would be shined on the tool if we did so.

There is a big difference between a tool that you use internally and a tool that is available to the public.

But we kept hearing the same feedback - release it; people will love it.

In January of 2020, we made the tool available to the public for the first time. We had about 400 companies sign up for an account within the first month and start using the tool.

Our consulting projects have driven the features that you see in FigPii. Now, we are getting constant feedback and suggestions of things to add. We love that.

  1. What do you believe is the most powerful FigPii feature?

    There are so many different features in FIgPii that are applicable to different situations.

    And I think each of them, based on the specific situation, can be very powerful.

    You have a particular page where people are not conversing on that page.

    People are not taking action you want them to take on that page. While you have a hundred thousand visitors, you don’t know why they’re not buying from that page.

    I think that’s where the FigPii session recording tool is very powerful because it allows you to zoom in on different sessions and watch how people interact with that page.

    So that is very powerful. Ok

    But I have 100,000 visitors.

    That’s a lot of sessions that I’m going to watch.

    That’s where heat maps come in and become even more powerful.

    Now I need to zoom out, and I need to look at the picture from a 30,000 foot to say, okay, so of those hundred thousand visitors, how do I aggregate the data to make informed decisions?

    So that’s where heat maps are very powerful.

    Lots of marketers talk about having conversations with their customers and collecting something meaningful from their customers, but very few marketers do it.

    And that’s where our onsite polling is very powerful because now you have a way to start those conversations with your website visitors.

    The two features that make a ton of money for our customers are our AB testing platform or a module.

    And our recommendation platform, our recommendation platform says, you know what, you’re a marketer, you’re busy with a million things, you don’t need more data you need.

    You need software to say; you know what?

    Okay, let’s analyze, let’s do the heavy lifting, and analyze how our people and people interact with your website and give you actual recommendations of things to change.

    So that is very powerful where we say, you know what, we’re going to do 95% of the heavy lifting for you, we’re going to actually analyze all these different patterns and tell you here’s what you need to do.

    Here are the changes that you need to be making to your website.

    So that is very powerful.

    And now, as you take those recommendations from FigPii, you’re wondering to yourself. Okay, so you’ve recommended that I use different images; or change the layout of my page.

    How do I know that this new design that I have created based on its recommendations helped me increase my conversions?

    How do I know that this new design will generate more money and put more money in the bank?

    That’s where our A/B testing platform comes in handy where you say you okay, so let’s take those 10,000 visitors coming to your website.

    Let’s split them 5,000 will see your old design 5,000 and will see your new design.

    And you allow your visitors to be the judge of the quality of those new designs that you’ve just created as opposed to using personal opinions or personal feelings.

    Now your visitors get to vote, and they vote either by buying more or buying less.

    Of the 5,000 visitors that came to the original page, we only got a hundred orders, and of the 5,000 coming to the new design, we got a thousand orders. Guess what? Your new design wins.

    So bringing data into something actionable and translating that into money in the bank can be very powerful for any site that uses FigPii.

  2. What does machine learning and AI add to your features?

    What we’re using right now is we’re using machine learning right now. We’re not using AI.

    We use machine learning to identify visitor patterns on the website.

    So if you have a certain number of visitors coming to your website, those visitors are broken into two different groups at a very high level.

    There’s a group that took the action that you want them to take.

    Those visitors converted, interacted with your website, but a much larger group did not take the action you wanted them to take.

    You can take the pattern from those who converted, and you say, you know what?

    That is the pattern that I need to identify.

    Now let’s take that and let’s take the learnings from that, and let’s apply them to the people who did not convert what’s, are the actions that I need to do?

    I’ll give an example over here. I’ve noticed that most people who converted have interacted maybe with the images on the page, which means I need to figure out how I can get those who did not convert to attract with images on the page.

    This is a small example, but there are lots of things that you can do when it comes to machine learning to learn from that, from the behavior of the visitors who converted and take those learnings, apply them to those who did not convert, and that can help you improve your website.

  3. What’s the most creative or effective use of FigPii you’ve seen?

    The most effective has been AB testing. It’s been incredible.

    I recall that ZGallery, which is one of the largest furniture retailers in the US, decided to come and start using FigPii about two weeks before Black Friday, a couple of years ago.

    And the AB testing that they’ve done during that one week started from a couple of days before Black Friday, two days after cyber Monday.

"They’ve generated millions dollars by testing the different design ideas that they've had. They wouldn’t have known the potential if they had taken the design and just threw them on the website."

- Khalid Saleh

So I’ve seen them remove some designs, add different designs, iterate, and that was very powerful for them.

  1. How have you marketed FigPii to get users? What’s worked the best?

    That’s a tough one.

    That’s a challenge that we continue to think through.

    Our consulting business has a very healthy number of visitors coming to it and has a community around it.

    So that has helped FigPii get the initial boost.

    We rely on content marketing.

    We see that it’s working really well for us. And then we are also fairly active on LinkedIn where our target clients or target customers live.

    So, it’s kind of a combination of those three different approaches that seemed to have worked perfectly for FigPii.

  2. What are your future aspirations for FigPii?

    We’re considering several features.

    And again, the way we evaluate features is about their usefulness, and we always ask are the marketers of the different companies that are using FigPii.

    Are they going to be using those features on a daily or weekly basis?

    So we see that the recommendation using machine learning and then eventually moving into AI can be a huge bet for us.

    And that’s something that we see from the AWS side where they’re also encouraging us, and they’ve made some resources available to us to work on that because that’s an interesting challenge to solve for many companies. Still, we’re very focused on e-commerce sites to start with.

  3. Do you have any advice for people wanting to build their own marketing tool?

    A couple of things. One is to solve a real problem for a segment in the market for a particular segment in the market.

    If you’re just adding another tool and you’re not solving a problem, then you’re probably wasting time.

    And then, the second one, I would start the marketing piece before I finished building the tool.

"Often, people wait until they've built the tool, and then they try and figure out how do I market this? I would start by building and community before I build the tool."

- Khalid Saleh

If you have a community creating a tool or solution and selling it to them is much easier than creating the tool, creating the solution, and turning around and saying, okay, so how do I market this?

So, Usually, people will think of it as kind of it the other way, but if you start with the marketing, you are putting the horse before the carrot.

  1. Apart from FigPii, what is one marketing tool you love?

    I don’t know if I “love” a particular marketing tool.

    We use some tools regularly; we’ve been users of ActiveCampaign since they started.

    We’ve been happy users of Unbounce from its very first day.

    I’ve had conversations with Unbounce founders before they even created Unbounce.

    So do I love those tools? I’m not a big fan of tools.

    I think tools are there to serve a purpose, correct?

    I’m always focused on the more difficult question of how do I understand my customers?

    How do I give them the best solution? Tools come and go.

    You use one tool today; there’s another tool tomorrow.

    So I don’t care much. I think how important a tool is to me depends on the usefulness and the insights that I can get out of it.

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