In this podcast episode, we interview Alun Lucas, Managing Director of Zuko Analytics, a powerful form analytics platform.

Alun shares how Zuko helps businesses understand the analytics behind forms, and the why, when and where behind users not converting. He also explains how Zuko works with A/B testing tools to allow businesses to A/B test on a granular level.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Alun Lucas – Zuko Analytics

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Alun Lucas

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing b2b Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in b2b marketing today. Welcome to the latest episode of marketing b2b technology, the podcast from Napier. today. I’ve got Adam Lucas from Zuko analytics. Welcome to the podcast, Alun.

Alun: Hi, Mike. Yes, thanks. Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure and a privilege.

Mike: Great to have you on. So, I mean, before we start, I’d like to know a little bit about your career, you know, looking at your LinkedIn, you’ve done everything from working in venture capital to you know, a long time ago teaching English. So how did you end up at a company that does form analytics?

Alun: Well, it’s an interesting one, because I like to see it at least kind of bringing all the strands of my previous experience together, because I worked for many years in, in advertising, marketing media, and in both London and Manchester, and then I kind of decided to transition from that as you do when you get into your mid to late 30s. So via an MBA and a little stint at Google, I moved into venture capital, investing in digital and creative companies around the northwest of England. From there a car kind of decided that I wanted to get my teeth into something a little bit more. So I moved into tech companies in the Manchester area. So I was working for a couple of those. And then the opportunity came up to run Zuko, which obviously with it, being a Mar tech company, suited me so it brought together the tech, the investment and the marketing piece that I’d done before. So it was kind of perfect for me at the right time as well. So it made sense to hop in and and give it a go.

Mike: It seems like Manchester has got quite a lot of marketing and marketing technology. Businesses sort of popping up is that is that the case?

Alun: Yes, definitely the case Tech Tech is booming here. Obviously text big in London. But in Manchester, we’ve got a lot of university. So there’s a lot of talent that comes out. And a lot of company bigger companies are basing here because obviously some of the costs are much cheaper than than London. I mean, this is pre pandemic. Now obviously a lot of people working remotely anyway, so it doesn’t matter quite so much. But But yeah, certainly there’s a thriving tech scene here

Mike: It’s cool. It’s good to hear there’s there’s a lot going on outside of London indeed. So you joined Zuko, but previously the company was called for mismo. So why the rebrand from a moment kind of said a little bit about what you did to something was more abstract.

Alun: It’s a it’s kind of a funny one. And then a lot of this is kind of predates myself but but in terms of the story, obviously we were founded as for Massimo to you know we we look and optimise forms on websites. So for me sumo kind of does what it says on the tin. We created a second generation product, which was aimed at the enterprise market. And so we were running the form smo products and the second product, which we christened Zuko Zico by for mizzima. But then I think he quickly became apparent that Zuko is so superior in every way than the original product. So why are we limiting it just enterprise clients. So Zuko then became available to all our clients. And we slowly deprecated the for mismo platform. So it kind of came partially by accident, partially by design, I think there were issues around with the name in terms of spelling pronunciation. People not finding it when they were searching for it. So there’s issues there. So the team decided to go for something short, simple, memorable, Zuko it’s it’s hard to miss miss Christmas mispronounce Now obviously, there’s a debate to be had to know is that the best way to represent our brand in terms of you know, what does the code do? Also, there’s a there’s an anime character called Zico, which kind of messes with our SEO as well. But we kind of are where we are at the moment not going to we, the company still is formisano to HMRC and to the accountants and to the lawyers, but we decided okay, rather than try and say Zico by for mismo, let’s just be Zucco to our customers, just keep it simple. And so that convoluted story is kind of what we are where we are, as many companies kind of find themselves

Mike: it’s certainly easier to spell I’ll say that and it’s great to hear it’s great to hear a story of you know, you build a second product and he was actually so good at killed the first one and for a company to have the confidence to let that happen, I think is really good.

Alun: Yeah, yeah, no, I think that’s kind of the The way it evolved, I guess it didn’t start that way. But you know, rather than having two sets of tax support, and you know, two sets of instructions, stick with one.

Mike: Awesome. So, I mean, let’s get into it. So you do analytics about forms? What does that mean? What does that actually do for people?

Alun: So sort of our goal, essentially, is to make the web less frustrating, one for one for my time. And so, for me, Sumo was founded because of frustration with online forms, I think we’ve all been to web forms and had a horrible experience, you know, you know, error messages, crashes, unclear instructions, particularly when you’re using mobile phones. So there’s a lot of potential to get it wrong. So sukkos say mission was based on that? How can we make things better for businesses for consumers? ourselves, so So the form analytics platform was built, obviously, for Missamma, which became Zuko just to make it easy for businesses to to identify the when the where and the why their users are dropping off. And so these are people who want to buy from you, but because of a crappy form, they’re not buying. So actually, if you can, if you can solve that it’s better for businesses, it’s better for consumers, it’s better for everyone. So that’s kind of where we’re at. So the analytics piece is, is the data around that. So as I said, the when the where, and the why, okay, identifying where the problems are, what the problems might be, and then providing potential solutions to fix it.

Mike: It’s interesting, I mean, sounds very broad. But you mentioned that, you know, mobile is a particular problem. Is there an industry that suffers most from the problem of people dropping off halfway through a form fail? Or, you know, what pulls together the companies that have the biggest issues?

Alun: Well, I mean, I suppose it’s, it’s any, any company in any sector can have an issue, because obviously can have a bad fall. But in terms of ourselves, you know, there’s, there’s kind of three factors that drive the whether people can get value out of Zucco. One is the complexity of the form. So if you just got a contact form with three fields, well, you can still mess that up. But it’s probably pretty easy to diagnose. And whereas if you’ve got a long complicated form, with 40 questions, over three or four pages, well, there’s more opportunity to mess things up. So obviously, the more questions the more complex the questions, the more likely you are to need a product like Zuko the next two around the economics. So firstly, that the cost of customer acquisition, how, how expensive is it for you to acquire a customer, and also the customer lifetime value? You know, how valuable are they, because obviously, that determines if you invest time, in optimising your forms, you’re going to get a much better return on investment. So obviously, if you if you’re selling Ferraris, whatever they go for now, say 100 grand, you obviously, you your potential lifetime value is, is higher than the smaller product. And so they tend to be our clients tend to fall, have a combination of those, those three factors, ideally, all three. And so it’s probably no surprise to know that basically, our biggest customer sector, by a reasonable chalk is financial services. You know, they credit cards, banks, insurance, foreign exchange, they’re asking, you know, complex questions sometimes because they have to, because of regulations sometimes because they just do when they shouldn’t, and so that they’re messing things up, but obviously, they’ve also got a high customer lifetime value. So to say that they’re our biggest sector, we also have, you know, every sector to be honest, but you know, other big clusters are around ecommerce, you know, the checkout getting that, right? And education, surprisingly, but, actually, is because they have complex forms, they ask lots of questions. So a lot of universities across the world users. And then online gaming, which is one that you might be surprised on, because actually a lot of their forms are relatively simple, unless there’s a regulatory aspect to it. But they tend to be sort of really up on returns because they, you know, they know how valuable each player is. So they’ll invest in getting it right, cuz, you know, even a half percent improvement can mean a lot of money to some of these guys.

Mike: But that’s really interesting. So, I mean, the thing the thing everyone’s taught, you know, when they first do online forums is the shorter, the better. And you mentioned that, obviously, some industries have to ask more questions, but some industries choose to, is it actually true, the shorter the better or can sometimes a longer form work better? Well,

Alun: yes and no, I guess The question depends what you got to think about is the motivation. So I’ll give you an example. So we have an It’s on our website, we benchmark across a number of number of sectors. And I think the best performing conversion rates for any sector is local government. But they have the largest number of fields on their forms. See, like, what’s going on there. But actually, it’s more than motivation, because they are. They have a monopoly on their services. So people slog through these forms and complete it, and they have really high completion rates. So it’s kind of it’s not an absolute rule, you shouldn’t really be unser asking things that you don’t necessarily need at this stage. But it’s not. It’s not always the killer that you think it might be. And you’ve just got, you’ve got to be careful. So just, you know, typically we advise, okay, what what do you need? Now, don’t be afraid to ask him because sometimes, and again, it varies by sector and form purpose, some some forms, if you don’t ask a question, then actually people get nervous. You know, particularly in financing, he might, he may, you may have to have to ask qualifying questions. But if it’s just too simple the form then people like, well, hang on, you know, you know, are you serious? But in general, just in general, yes. strip out any fields you don’t need. But it’s not an absolute.

Mike: I mean, that’s interesting. So what causes people to stop filling out a form? I mean, it’s obviously not just boredom and the number of fields. I mean, there are some things that you can make mistakes on, that are relatively easy to fix.

Alun: Well, yeah, I mean, there’s there’s a lower level things which we might get into talking about, but there’s probably sort of three high level areas where people go wrong, or businesses go wrong, and mess things up. The first one, probably the most common and the most visible, the most frustrating is user issues, or user experience issues. And this is frustration with the form itself. So you may have bad validation. The classic example is phone number, you put a phone number field in there, do I put the zero? Do I put the plus four four? Do I spaces dashes? No, what happens? And you know, you’re causing issues for that you don’t need to cause that’s, that’s the classic example. But there’s, there’s hundreds of different ways of doing it, you know, bad error messages, taking people all over the thing. So that’s the form design itself. So that’s area one, the second area is around is around the questions. So not so much in terms of the length that we talked about previously, but actually asking things people don’t want to answer at this stage.

So an example being if you’re looking for an insurance quote, so you’re doing you’re shopping around for insurance. What you find is if and this is an exception to the normal rules with forms where you do easy questions first and bring in slowly get people into the form. Well, if you’re if you’ve got an insurance form, you don’t want to be asking for their personal details up front, you want to go in take the broad details, you know what type of car you know what type of home insurance you want, so they can get the quotes. And they don’t want to give you the personal details. If he asked for the personal details early, you’ll see a big abandonment rate, which isn’t the case in other types of forms. Because people have started on the journey, so it’s questions they don’t want to answer. And then that’s the class just the classic example. Sometimes you’re asking for the other example I always give for this is ecommerce. Ecommerce sites often ask for a phone number, why you asked him for my phone number, you know, you have my address, you have all my credit card details, you’ve got my email, if there’s a problem, I’m not going to give you my phone number. You see people drop off that all the time. So but that that falls within their category, and then kind of the third areas around the area of expectation, money management. So which is about the form taking too long? Someone thinks it’s a short form. And before you know it, there’s no progress bar, and then how long or long is this going to take and they drop out? Or you’re asking for things? They don’t have to hand a driver’s licence a passport, we never told me I needed this. So you know, if you’re not managing expectations up front, that’s one of the broader reasons why white people drop out, if that makes sense.

Mike: I mean, that’s interesting. I guess from a cynical point of view, I could say, well, can people find this out simply by AV testing forms? Isn’t it a fairly simple thing? Because a lot of these things, if you like negotiable or their order things, you know, they’re fairly easy to test. What Why don’t people do that through conventional form tools?

Alun: Well, I think there’s a broader question there about experimentation and AV testing. I think the issue often with with businesses and forms is you think it should be simple, so therefore simple, they spend a lot of time around the broad the sexiest You know, the website, you know, the marketing to get people to the website. And then you know, when it comes to the shop, and they don’t spend nearly as much time money resource attention, it’s just like, well, how difficult is it to fill out a form. And as I say, typically, that’s not the you know, the guys in the marketing department, that’s not particularly sexy for them. Often, you know, the the main, the main not even be a single individual who’s responsible for the form, you might fall in between the web guys and it guys, marketing digital, depending on how the company is structured. So that that’s kind of often why people don’t do it. But you know, to go back to your question, a B testing, absolutely, that’s something you can and should do in the way we tend to advise clients is the first thing is find out the big issues.

So look at the data, see the things just fix it, you know, there’s a, there’s a massive drop off in this field, you know, why it’s broken? You can you can change that. Or maybe you can a be tested if if you want to as well. But once you fix all the big things, it’s okay, Where’s, where’s the next 1% coming from? And that’s where you do your A B test and refine maybe if we change the error message or the validation a particular field or drop a question or change the order. That’s where you can do that. And Zuko integrates with, with a lot of AV testing tools like Google optimise Optimizely converts, to allow you to do that on a granular level. So rather than it just being a black box, so knowing how many people reach a form, and how many people drop out the bottom, which is what a lot of companies now it’s actually what is happening in the form, how are people flowing through your form? Where are they struggling, where they having to go back to make corrections, that sort of thing. And you can you can get the data and also push it pull your AB test variants into a tool such as ICA.

Mike: That’s really interesting. I’m presuming you’re giving. You’re giving marketers, you know, extra information, like how long it takes to fill out each field? Is that the kind of information that they’re using and working out? What slow someone down? Yeah, exactly.

Alun: So yeah, that’s where people go back to correct it, whether they drop off at a particular piece, what happens after the submit button? You know, because that’s often one piece of advice that we often give is, okay, what happens? Your low hanging fruit, other people who’ve spent a lot of time filling out your form, and then they click Submit, and they’ve still not successfully completed what’s happened there. Most likely, there’ll be one body with red light of error messages. And I’m running away from this. So you can find out exactly what’s going on, which are the problem fields, those sort of things that you fix it so they don’t have that issue.

Mike: Interesting. That’s really cool. So I mean, I think the thing everyone wants to know is, if you use a tool, like Zuko, and you really optimise your form, what sort of improvement do people see typically?

Alun: Well, at the risk of doing the old, it depends answer. It does depend on how bad your form is in the first place. And so, you know, we have doubled conversion rates in some cases, from 30 to 60%. But typically, we aim for a 10 to 20% uplift in the volume of conversions at the same traffic levels. And that’s what we will typically aim for as a as a, you know, a reasonable case scenario, sometimes the form is really good, and it might be a little lower. Sometimes it’s, you know, there’s some obvious issues that you can fix and get a better return. So but we say between 10 and 20%, that’s kind of where we pitch in where our goal tends to be when we when a new client comes on board.

Mike: So that’s a significant impact on overall campaign performance. I mean, adding 10% more visitors can be quite expensive.

Alun: Yeah, exactly. And it’s, you know, something you’ve got control over. You can do it relatively easily when you fall, you know, having to go out and do a marketing message to convince them.

Mike: So, I mean, it sounds it sounds like a very easy sell. I mean, how many forms do people use Zuko typically have they typically uses a large number of forms, they try and optimise or they focus around one that really matters.

Alun: We have a broad gamut. So we have clients such as Capital One or credit card form, and they’ve gotten dozens of them. We’ve also got people who’ve just got the one form isn’t ecommerce checkout, that’s that the be all end all. So I’d probably say it’s a roughly 5050 between people who are one, maybe two forms, and then we’ve got portfolio forms that they want to do, but often people will try it on water and then roll it out across other forms.

Mike: Interesting, and typically, what are people using to generate this form? So you’re having to integrate to other marketing technology tools, or is it more custom coded applications had had had your customers normally work?

Alun: Most of the time they build the form themselves with HTML using standard form elements. That’s the majority there are some that have off the shelf pieces like WordPress or HubSpot, or you know we have direct integrations with with suppliers jot form. Because if you take the form and put it in an iframe, then we need to have an integration. But most of the time you work straight out of the box, you just put a couple of pieces of code on your, on your form using a contact manager or whatever. And Zuko does the rest.

Mike: It sounds it sounds pretty straightforward. You mentioned earlier though, there were some more in depth technical issues, rather than the form structure issues that can cause problems. Do you want to talk a little bit about, you know, what are maybe some of those second level gotchas.

Alun: So then we will ask kind of the details, as it were the devils in the details, and I suppose a slight plug a we do have a lot of content on our website, and a full eBook Guide, which breaks down loads and loads of those. So, you know, there’s lots of things about how do you optimise an email field or Name field or, or, you know, the common stuff, which we can go there. But I suppose in terms of actually, I suppose I’ll flip it slightly, I’ll talk about what we see as having the biggest impact, typically. Because that doesn’t, there’s lots of lots of potential issues. And you can you can see that in our ebook, but in terms of what we see is the biggest inputs, there’s probably two things. One thing which I mentioned earlier, so I won’t dwell too much is focusing around the submit button, looking at the data around what happens to these guys who just want to buy and they can’t. So you know, we have specific reports that show you, okay, they’re clicking Submit, and then they migrating immediately to this field.

And so actually, if you, if you look at that, that’s where you get your quickest insights, and you find your your problem fields quickest. So that’s sort of one, one area where then I suppose the second area is around validation. So when I say validation, that’s when someone enters an input, and then you check whether it’s an error message on to generate an error message, or if it’s okay, or what have you. The biggest uplift we consistently see on forms is when they implement what’s called inline validation. And what that essentially is, when you type in your answer to a form, you get the answer whether the input is correct, as soon as you move to the next field, though you put in your email address, and you miss out the act, tells you straightaway, doesn’t wait to the click Submit, and then you get 10 or 20 error messages across the whole form. You know, that’s, that’s a big cortisol stress driver, and causes people to drop out. So yeah, if we see no 20, you know, there’s a famous study that showed about 22% uplift from implementing inline validation on average. And we kind of see that as well, when we see it. It’s such a big thing, if you think about when you fill out a form, so much less stressful. If you type it out. You obviously don’t want to generate the error messages too soon. If you do too early people, you know, gets frustrating, because you just started typing, you get an error message someone, but when you move on to the next field, okay, you’ve you’ve done that. And then you get you either get told in a helpful way, helpful error message, okay, you know, you’ve missed out the app, you probably want to add that in, or you get a nice green tick. Yeah, that’s, that’s the thing more than any, any other that consistently delivers gains across all types of forms.

Mike: That’s such great advice. And I think everybody’s, you know, filled in a form and then got an error message, you know, half a page or a couple of scrolls back up. There’s an obvious error and obvious typos. It’s so frustrating that goes back to the top, find out where the error is, and then scroll down and submit again, so I can understand why that makes such a difference. Yeah, absolutely. So um, one of the things you’ve talked about earlier was the fact that Zuko initially started out as being a product design for enterprise and now as your effect for your your main product. So I’m just intrigued to know, you know, how expensive is it to get this kind of technology that’s, that’s watching people filling in forms and actually analyse is where they, they have issues.

Alun: Yeah. So we say we’ve structured it, so it’s accessible or price points. And so the way we charge is around the number of form sessions trapped. So that’s an individual going into a form, how long they spend on the form. And so it’s based on that so it’s based on how much traffic you essentially get to your form. So our lowest level packages is 100 pounds a month to track 10,000 form sessions, and all our subscription packages, you can turn off and on and on a monthly basis. So you have full flexibility of when you do we obviously we do have Enterprise packages still which you know, have a longer commitment, but obviously have a much lower unit price for each session track. Because in return for the volume commitment, but it’s a it’s it’s flexible and it’s affordable for, for businesses of any size, at least that’s what it’s designed to be.

Mike: Yeah, and you obviously don’t need a huge lifetime customer value to, you know, have attempted increase in formfields. If you’re, you’re only paying 100 pounds for 10,000 form sessions, or sounds like that could be easy, positive ROI. Yeah,

Alun: that’s definitely the main, the main thing is always is the will internal will to do something with the data. That’s always the tricky bit with any with any analytics product is like, you find what’s wrong, then you’ve got to fix it. And then you’ve got to prove that you’ve had an impact. And so it’s not it’s not difficult. But as we know, with companies often, you’ve got to get your request into whoever’s looking after the form technically, and change it and spend a little bit of time analysing the data. But we do have a customer success team as well who know all I do is look at forms. So they see the common common strains of issues and can kind of get to the answer. Quickly.

Mike: You said something really quite interesting early on that there doesn’t tend to be someone who’s responsible for forms. And yet forms are typically the conversion point, the moment of truth is when you capture a customer or prospect. I mean, why do you think forms? I think, as you put it, where were unsexy compared to other elements of marketing?

Alun: Well, I think it’s partially, you know, it is partially legacy of the offline world, you know, who likes forms. We know old days, when you got a piece of paper, I think we’re both old enough to remember you got a piece of paper to fill out in triplicate and photocopy and you have to fill out I mean, it’s just horrible, isn’t it? And that’s kind of translated, that approach has translated to the online world, and no one really wants it Okay, as it’s just, you know, because in theory should be easy, you’re filling out a piece of paper with your details. So I think, you know, there’s, there’s not many of us who are really getting into forms, and you know, that people in conversion rate optimization and experimentation of kind of love forms, or they, you know, they use it as part of their broader portfolio sale. But generally, if you’re, you know, if you go to all the marketing courses in the universities, or were online or wherever, no one talks about forms, in it’s a very direct response type piece, you know, again, some people but he to get me, at the higher levels of any company, getting marketing at the top table is often difficult, let alone a Nishat marketing, even though it affects your bottom line, you know, hugely so I think it’s kind of it’s kind of just not he’s never, never managed to get it put his head above the parapet as a nice, interesting, sexy thing for people to go into. No one comes out of university. So I wanted to, I just want to do forms.

Mike: Although maybe they should, if they can make such an impact on the bottom line. That really should be the future. I remember doing an MBA and our finance lecturer said, he said, You all want to go into management, consulting and things. He said, Don’t do that. There’s so many people are smarter than your management consulting, you’ll be average at best said, open a laundrette you’ll be really smart as a laundrette over, and I think it’s the same with forms, you know, do something around forms, you could be really smart, and in an area that can make a huge difference. Yeah, exactly.

Alun: And that’s our goal, because they ZICO is the only specialist form analytics player out there, there are sort of brought it UX software suites out there that use forms as a bolt on, but because that’s all we do, we specialise in having the most in depth reports, and obviously, the most knowledgeable team in the area. So you know, that’s, that’s the way we position ourselves.

Mike: I mean, that’s been fascinating. Is there anything else, you know, we should be talking about in terms of forms or Zuko?

Alun: I know really covered a lot of it. I mean, we, as well as being a SaaS provider. Suppose we also offer consultancy, and we have our customer success team, which means we help all our clients out with the forms, but some, some of them like well just tell us the answer. You know, we want a written report, we want to tell us what to do. So we also kind of we do offer that as well, because it kind of is a natural extension of the service for people who have less time to sort of get to the answer. But, you know, that’s not not that’s not necessary, because we say we have a customer success team that can help you out. So that’s probably the only thing we’re not covered to say. I would recommend to go on the website. There’s lots of lots of content in the blog, there’s white paper, we’ve just launched on financial forms, but we’ve got a big guy with general advice for all forms as well. So even if you just look at those, you’ll probably improve your forms just by reading it. And even without using Zico, so yeah, that’s probably all I’ve got to add to that really

Mike: great. So people want to You know, get the data. I mean, can you just confirm the website address? And maybe if somebody wanted to get in contact with you, what would be the best way to ask you a question about forms?

Alun: Yeah, so And if you want to contact me, you can get me on LinkedIn is Alan al un Lucas. We can email me ln at Z Coda IO. Or you can just email And one of the team will pick it up if you’ve got a general question as well. So more than happy to take questions for anyone who is interested in improving forms as much as we are.

Mike: That sounds great. And it does sound like some people do come out of university and want to be world experts in forms. But it sounds like Zuko is probably snapped them all up already. So anyway, thank you so much for being on the podcast. Alan, I really appreciate it. It’s been fascinating. And hopefully people go away, you know, download the eBook from and maybe try using some analytics on their forms and see if they can improve the conversion rate.

Alun: Yeah, no, that would be great.

Mike: Thanks very much.

Alun: Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure.

Mike: Thanks so much for listening to marketing b2b Tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes, or on your favourite podcast application. If you’d like to know more, please visit our website at Napier b2b dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.