10 Strategies for successful conversion rate optimization

Secrets of successful conversion rate optimization:

 

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) has the potential to significantly improve revenues from your digital marketing and increase business growth. Companies such as Spotify, Netflix, Google, and Booking.com have mastered this process. They conduct literally thousands of experiments a year to improve the performance of their digital experience. Yet many other companies struggle to grow their business using CRO  and fail to achieve significant uplifts in A/B and multivariate tests.

There are certainly common mistakes companies make with conversion marketing, but what are the secrets of success that the likes of Amazon and other organisations embed into their optimization programs? Below I have summarised some of the key strategies that these companies employ.

1. Start by listening to your customers:

Process for developing user personas

Before even considering A/B testing it is important to understand your customers. What are their characteristics, needs, wants, desires, motivations and concerns? What is it that attracts customers to your proposition and why do prospects buy from your competitors? In CRO being customer centric is not an option, it is an essential ingredient for success.

Once you begin to get a better understanding of your customers you can develop buyer personas of important customer groups to help you visualise your visitors and develop hypothesis for why prospects don’t buy from your company. For more information on using personas to improve conversion see my post on the buyer legends process.

If you don’t have much demographic data on your website visitors use your web analytics as a starting point. But also try online survey tools such as Surveymonkey and Typeform to obtain feedback from visitors whilst they are on your website. You should also conduct usability testing to observe visitors attempting to complete important tasks on your website. This can be invaluable for identifying major usability issues or just generating ideas about how you can reduce friction on your site.

All high performing companies start with their customers as they are the people who ultimately determine the success or failure of your brand.

 

2. Get an emotional response:

Image of faces showing the 7 emotions
Source: http://www.affectiva.com/

Now you are ready to examine and refine your value proposition. People buy benefits, not features and yet many companies still focus on product/service updates and treat people like they are purely rational beings.

Humans are emotional and social creatures, we may buy a product for conscious reasons, but we choose a brand for the psychological goals that generate an emotional response. From listening to your customers you should get insights into the kind of psychological goals that drive customer behaviour.

Use the 6 psychological goals below to consider how best to position your proposition to trigger these implicit motivations. Marketing consultant Phil Barden identified these core psychological goals from the latest neuroscience and psychological research.

6 main implicit psychologial goals
Source: Decode Marketing

 

3. Get senior stakeholder support:

Business meeting
Source: Freeimages.com

It is important that senior management understand and sponsor your conversion rate optimization program. HIPPO’s (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) get a hard time at many conversion conferences, but an informed and engaged HIPPO can be an asset to your program, helping to develop a culture of evidence based optimization.

CRO removes the need for subjective opinions to decide which design of a web page is most effective at achieving conversion goals, but this does require a change in established decision making processes. You will need senior stakeholders to agree to such changes as otherwise you may find internal politics become a barrier to successful optimization.

4. Follow a structured process:

8 step website optimization process
Steps in website optimization process

To avoid random and undirected optimization it is necessary to use a tried and tested process for website optimization. This helps to provide rigour to your program, but importantly it can assist in building credibility within your organisation as it allows you to communicate how you identify, evaluate and prioritise changes and tests. Having a transparent prioritisation process, such as P.I.E (Potential, Importance, and Ease) is critical because it sets expectations and removes subjectivity from the testing process.

5. Resource analytics:

Image of Google Analytics Solutions Hompeage

The old saying, if you don’t measure it, you can’t improve, certainly holds true here. Some start-ups might think they can’t afford such tools, but Google Analytics has a free version, and Hotjar Insights provides visual analytics and online customer feedback for less than €1,000 a year.

What advanced CRO companies understand though is that analytics requires dedicated resource as someone won’t become an expert at web analytics if they only have time for an hour or two a day. They also appreciate that averages lie and that segmentation is essential for giving meaning to such data. Opportunities for personalisation are often driven by analytics because once you begin to analyse the behaviour of individual sub-groups you will see how different they are and appreciate they have different needs.

Similar issues arise with visual analytics, but there are also opportunities to integrate such tools with customer facing software to help with customer services, complaint handling and fraud.  Again segmentation is key to getting value from such tools and also integrating form analytics to allow you to tracking individual input field completion and drop-off rates.

 6. Scale matters:

Failure rate of online experiments

Predicting human behaviour is very difficult, especially with a complex ecosystem such as a large e-commerce website. For this reason the likes of Netflix, Google and AppSumo find that around 80% of their A/B and multivariate tests fail to deliver significant uplifts in success metrics. Our intuition is generally not be relied on with such matters as even experts are poor at forecasting the future.

This is why after dealing with the low-hanging fruit it is necessary to increase your testing and run multiple tests at the same time. There is limited evidence of interaction between tests and provided you are not testing on the same area of the page nor have the same objective running tests in parallel should not be a major problem.

7. Collaboration spreads the load:

Linked hands symbolises collaboration
Source: Freeimages.com

Conversion rate optimization cannot be done by one person – it needs to be something everyone in an organisation thinks about. Whether it is how to improve page load speed, improving the findability of stuff, cutting down on information we request from users or providing a more personalised user experience. Companies that understand CRO ensure they nurture a culture of experimentation and collaboration across the organisation to generate and share ideas, tests and outcomes.

8. Use the 80:20 rule for your test designs:

Image of 80/20 Pareto principle

 

When creating test designs don’t seek perfection or be overly restrictive with which visitors are included in an A/B test. Yes, little things can matter, but at the same time bear in mind the Pareto Principle. This states that  80% of the output will be generated by just 20% of the effort and conversely 80% of the problems can be traced to 20% of the causes.

This suggests that once you have fixed the important elements of a design the rest of the experience will probably have little impact on the outcome.  If you also always ask for two designs for each hypothesis you will also have the opportunity to learn about how implementation of an idea influences the outcome.

9. Take risks:

6 types of tests to optimise a website page

One of the main benefits of online experiments is that you don’t have to test a new design on all your traffic and you can turn the design off in a matter of seconds. This allows you to effectively manage downside risk and should be the green light for developing radical new, innovative designs to test. It is also sometimes necessary to try something totally different to achieve the big uplift in conversion that CRO promises. And yet many managers see CRO as a risky exercise and frequently try to limit testing activity due to misinformed concerns.

10. Challenge everything:

Image of call to action buttons and hyperlink

I once worked for an organisation where I was told that I couldn’t test different CTAs, such as the colour or place additional text on the CTA because brand guidelines determined the design of the CTAs. Companies that understand CRO don’t allow such untested and subjective policies to restrict their CRO program. They take great delight in saying they can even test the colour of their CTAs, not because it’s allowed by their brand guidelines, but because they test anything if they think they can learn from it.

For CRO  to reach its full potential it is important that even the smallest detail can be scrutinized and challenged through A/B and multivariate testing. It is sometimes the things that have never been challenged that can result in the step-change to higher conversion rates.

Finally:

 

Conversion rate optimization is not a quick fix strategy for websites to raise their performance. It requires a structured and rigorous approach that needs resource and support at the highest level of an organisation. The customer needs to be at the heart of your CRO program and a better understanding of customer needs and motivations is likely to lead to stronger hypothesis and more winning tests.

CRO should remove the need for subjective opinions and for that reason everything should be challenged. Management should not be allowed to hide behind untested policies if they want  CRO to reach its full potential. CRO is a strategy, not a tactic to solve short-term problems.

Thank you for reading my post and if you found it useful please share using the social media icons on the page.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

9 Tools For Getting Design Feedback For Websites

For many websites there is hardly a day goes by without a new page or updates being rolled out. Rightly or wrongly there is constant pressure to keep websites looking fresh and to add new functionality or content to improve the customer experience and increase conversions. However, from my experience of evaluating website performance one thing is guaranteed, customers will always surprise you with how they interact or don’t interact with a new page or website.

Image of lady lying on the ground next to laptop
Source: Freeimages.com

 

That killer functionality will rarely instantly take-off, if at all. Visitors will not behave as predicted on your new website and they will often complain about the changes you have made. Key metrics will drop, and though they may largely recover, some measures will never be the same as on the old page or website. In some cases this may be welcome, but often conversion rates will suffer. So what should you do to prepare yourself for the launch of the new customer experience?

 

If you can you could A/B test your new design against the existing page or website. This will confirm how your key metrics are likely to change as a result of the new design, but it won’t tell you why visitors are behaving differently. To answer these types of questions you need more qualitative feedback rather than numbers. Below are 9 tools you can use to get design feedback from customers or experts to help identify where users may be having trouble with your new customer experience.

 

  1. Criticue:

This free tool provides you with the ability to get feedback on website designs from a community of entrepreneurs, usability experts and web designers. Reviews for your website are earned by you providing feedback on other community members’ designs. For each review you submit you earn one credit and this gives you the right to request one review of your screenshot. Importantly all reviews are moderated before any credits are processed and so this minimises the potential for misuse of the community.

Image of Criticue.com homepage

2. Five Second Test (Usability Hub):

Get feedback from real people on your landing page, wireframes and mock-ups to understand people’s first impressions of your design during their initial 5 seconds of viewing your design. This helps you evaluate how intuitive your page is by understanding what a person can recall about your design based upon those first few seconds.

Price: $99 per month for access to all services.

fivesecondtest.com homepage

 

3. Loop11: 

Online usability testing with your first project free (up to 5 tasks and 2 questions). Covers over 40 languages, provides heatmaps and clickstream analysis, real-time reporting, and you can test on mobile devices.

Pricing: A Free usability test is available for new customers. Pay as you go costs $350 per project. All plans include 1,000 participants per project, unlimited tasks and questions, testing on mobile, real-time results and 24/7 email support.

The Micro plan costs $158 a month and is designed for organisations with between 1 and 10 employees, plus for non-profits and public sector clients. The SMB plan costs $410 per month and is for 11 to 100 employees. The Enterprise plan is priced at $825 per month.

Loop11.com homepage

4. Peek from User Testing:

Get a Free 5 minute video of a real person using your site. You only need to provide your name, company phone and email address and you can have up to 3 tests per month.

Peek.usertesting.com homepage

  1. Proved:

A crowd sourcing tool for getting almost instant feedback on an idea, prototype or a new product development that you want to check-out before it goes live. Feedback is normally provided within 3 to 4 hours and guaranteed within 24 hours.

Pricing: A free trial is available (English only) for up to 3 respondents for one test per account and with feedback within 48 hours. A starter plan costs $149 per test for 25 respondents and supports 11 languages. The basic plan costs $299 per test for 50 respondents and the Pro plan is priced at $499 for 100 respondents.

 

Proved.co homepage

6. Sitepoint:

A forum of web designers and developers set up specifically to give design feedback from over 350,000 registered users. Sitepoint is a media company which serves the web design and development sector by publishing articles and e-books. Free membership provides limited access to the community, but for $99 per year you can get Premium membership which gives you access to over 5,000 videos, 83 eBooks, and live Q&A and chat with experts.

Sitepoint.com premium homepage

 

7. Usabilla:

Provides insights from users through a customised feedback button for websites, apps and emails. This allows users to select the part of your website that they want to give feedback on and there are multiple targeting options.

Prices: No costs shown on the website.

Usabilla.com homepage

8. UserBob:

 Provides videos of users talking about what they think as they use your website. UserBob recruits people to visit your website. Set a scenario for the user and specify a task for them to attempt to complete. During visits respondents record their screen and voice as they think out loud about the experience. You then receive a copy of the video to learn about what users say about your site.

You decide how many users you need, what demographics match your visitors, and how long each one should spend on your website. The test is instantly made available for users to participate and you will normally have a video to review within a few hours.

Pricing: Start at just $10 for First Impressions where 10 users
will spend one minute each on your website. Users will discuss their first impressions of your website, who they think it is for and what you can do on the site. Task Completion costs $20 for 5 users who spend 4 minutes attempting to complete your task. The price of the Custom test is variable. This involves between 1 to 10 users each spending up to 8 minutes with a specific scenario and user task to complete. You may also specify user demographics for Custom tests.

Userbob.com homepage

9. WhatUsersDo: 

Get videos of users as they browse your website, app or prototype. Respondents describe their impressions as they complete agreed tasks and these are recorded together with their screens and mouse movements into online videos. UX experts then analyse and summarise into high, medium or low UX reports.

A managed service offering is available which covers the WhatUsersDo research platform, instant access to an online panel from over nine countries, lab tests and UX experts to manage research and deliver insight reports.

Pricing: Pay as you go starts form just £30 + VAT per user and
includes tag videos, ability to download videos, download clips and PDF reports (including video). Prepaid Test Pack starts from £300 + VAT and provide for more cost effective user testing than the pay as you go plan.

Prepaid plans: All plans include design and scoping support from
UX specialists, expert analysis of results, and account management and email and phone support.

The Starter plan costs £10,000 per year for 50 video test
credits (1 credit = 1 completed video). The Repeat plan costs £20,000 for 100 video credits and the Regular plan is £30,000 per year for 150 video credits. An Enterprise plan is also available with 200 video credits – price available on request.

whatusersdo.com full service usability testing

 

For other usability testing providers see my post on how to do usability testing to improve conversion and for other online customer feedback tools see my post on how to use online Voice of Customer tools to boost conversion.

Thank you for reading my post and if you found it useful please share using the social media icons on the page.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.  By  aligning each stage of the customer journey  with the organisation’s business goals this helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

 

10 Website Audience Comparison Tools For Competitor Benchmarking

How can you compare website traffic?

Sector and competitor intelligence can be a time consuming process to do well, but it can provide invaluable insights to inform decisions about marketing strategy, new market entry, product launches and content marketing approaches.

Online competitor comparison tools simplify this process by aggregating ISP data and or using panel data to give you easy access to up-to-date information on a sector or competitor. This allows you to do competitor benchmarking, get an understanding of market size, collect geo and demographic data, monitor the search and content strategies of your competitors, and look at audience segmentation.

The solutions below are ideal for when you are drafting a business case, reviewing your marketing strategy, conducting a SWOT analysis or just if need to get a better understanding of  what your competitors are up to.

10 Audience Comparison Solutions:

1.AdClarity: This is a leading social media and competitor intelligence solution for digital media. It allows you to examine which campaigns, creatives and traffic sources are working most effectively for your competitors. If you want to identify which publishers your competitors advertise with, the creatives used and landing pages they are sending visitors to AdClarity can provide you with this information.

Image of adclarity.com homepage

2. Alexa: An easy-to-use tool for obtaining web traffic metrics, top sites lists, site demographics and other data from websites with reasonable traffic volumes. The free service provides competitor data including traffic metrics, top sites in the sector and visitor demographics.

The APIs can be integrated to allow you to validate your own analytics.

A user friendly tool as it is part of Amazon and APIs can be integrated to allow you to validate your own analytics. It enables you to run comparison against competitor sites provided they get a reasonable amount of traffic. The free tool is very limited for smaller sites, but the subscription tool does provide a large variety of additional data from users who download one of the browser extensions.

 

3.Compete – (Millward Brown Digital):This is an enterprise solution for larger organisations that have the budget to conduct comprehensive competitor analysis. The tool provides a great depth of cross-industry data, including traffic, engagement and demographic metrics on competitor websites. Benchmark your site performance and conversion rate by tracking online market share in your industry. Examine key words and referral traffic sources used by your competitors. Identify best in class websites from performance data. No free trials are available.

Image of compete.com homepage

4. Experian Hitwise: A subscription only service for large organisations which provides benchmarking of websites with detailed visitor profiling so that you can understand user behaviour across multiple websites and devices. Its strength lies in the demographic data that it provides as a result of collaboration with ISPs and integration of visitor data.

 

5. Google Analytics Benchmarking: This is free feature of Google Analytics that automatically benchmarks sites against at category level by channel, location and device. It is based upon data collected directly by Google Analytics across many websites within the specific category selected within your web analytics set up. The categories can be a bit generic and actual number of visits is not known.

 

6. Google Alerts:This is a free tool which can inform you every time a competitor or your company is mentioned online.

7. Quantcast Measure:Provides free audience insights for over 100,000,000 websites including detailed demographic, geographic and lifestyle data. Quantcast Measure offers a range of analytics and data mining tools to understand audience behaviour across devices and platforms. You can obtain audience demographic and geographic profiles for your websites and mobile apps, plus for your competitors.

This a great tool for getting information on the number of mobile apps users, visits and page views for a set period of time. Audience demographics are broken downy by gender, age, number of children, income, education, ethnicity, political affiliation and political engagement. In addition the tool can provide data on audience interests, other sites your audience visits and source of traffic.

Image of quantcast.com/measure homepage

8. SimilarWeb: This is considered the best free benchmarking tool as it shows website visits broken down by traffic source, keywords that your competitors are using and the number of mobile app users. The paid version provides organic and paid keywords, including not provided, evaluates most popular pages, benchmarks campaign strength and mobile app engagement.

The data used by Similarweb is collected via browser toolbars and extensions and so like all these tools it is based upon a sample of users and its accuracy may vary according to specific category you are monitoring.

Image of try.similarweb.com homepage

9. Siterankdata: A free tool that offers current and historical website rank data and analysis. You can compare top websites by keyword, domain extension or ranking changes. Works best for sites with a reasonable amount of traffic.

10. Website Informer:This is a free service for web masters which gathers detailed information on websites, general information, statistics, main competitors, similar sites, IPs and more.

Image of website.informer.com homepage

 

Thank you reading my post. If you found this useful please share with the social media icons on the page.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.