What is conversion?
The ability to drive traffic to your website and get that traffic to perform an action, you as a business consider a successful completion of a goal. It is one of the most important aspects of digital, as this is how a business makes money.
One of the challenges of conversion overall – without even trying to optimize it, is the fact that it is part art and part science. What does this mean? It means that someone needs to be able to switch between creativity and logic, in order to create a conversion pathway and framework.
An analytical mind would be able to see the numbers but not necessarily the colours or the imagery, which are as equally important on a website, as the numbers. This is what makes conversion/conversion optimization a challenging field.
What is CRO?
CRO aka Conversion rate Optimization, is the practice of increasing sales and leads from your current traffic. At a strategic level, CRO is the ongoing practice of testing, learning and optimizing yor digital assets.
What is considered a conversion?
Conversions can be different, it is not always directly about money. Conversions can be the accomplishment of certain steps, as well. For example – number of clicks, number of people who reached X step in the booking process, number of people who signed up for a newsletter etc… The important part to remember in monetary conversion, is that you need to monitor that your CR is increasing but also that your average number of customers and average order value are not decreasing. This is a vast subject on its own, so I will leave it for next time.
What do I think is the most important part for CRO?
100% it is – EMOTION. And probably not in the way you think.
There are 2 faces to this word, when it comes to conversion:
1.Emotion – the standard concept of being able to relate emotionally to the consumer, so one can create a journey/page/campaign which triggers an emotional response from them and then they click the ‘buy’ button
2. Emotion 2.0 – The second part, which in my opinion is more important than the first is – lack of emotion when it comes to your own creations. On numerous occasions, I have created websites, campaigns, Instagram posts which have not done well. I may feel sad about it (ah the ego) but I move on, and change it. When in a company, emotion is the worst advisor to many senior people. They become slaves to their creations and they cannot separate the ego from the revenue. This is one of the most common problems in making money, in today’s digital world – separating the love for what you have created, from the money you are making out of your creation. Accepting that sometimes you are wrong, and that is OK is the most important step in being a good conversion expert.
Not all best practice, should be your practice
CRO works differently based on target market, product, segments etc. You need to keep it simple, as it can get so complicated so quickly, that the results will be questionable.
A lot of the times I hear –but they do it this way’… there is nothing fundamentally wrong with that statement, apart from the fact that there is an expectation, that just because someone else is doing it, you can copy it and achieve the same results. It never works like that. I have worked on multiple different, massive company website re-designs and there are certain features in common, and a lot that is different. As much as you can learn from your competitors and industry, your product is your own, unique creation, and so should be your digital strategy.
What is a successful conversion approach?
Become the customer
It might seem like a relatively basic thought but so many companies forget that they are selling to a customer and not to themselves. They use lingo, they create digital journeys that make no sense from a customer point of view. This very point goes back to my initial comment on emotion – this is where it is really important to be emotionless and build out your understanding of the customer/s. It may conflict with how you personally feel about page X or journey Y. It does not matter – you are not building the journey for yourself, your are building it for the customer. Customers, don’t actually like guessing. Most brands try to be too clever with their content, which actually impacts conversion negatively rather than positively. The reason is simple –
Customers do not come to ecommmerce websites to wonder how to use them!
Instead, they want to come, buy something, and leave as quickly as possible.
Tip: the best thing to do is look at company’s website before you start and take notes of your observations, as once you start it would be difficult to perceive it the same way.
2. Create a roadmap
Shockingly, CRO won’t work without a structured framework 😉 So, yes, create your framework to include the test, its goal, its duration, the hypothesis you are trying to prove/disprove. Once complete, record your results and observations. Some test results on the roadmap, may inform the future tests on your roadmap. Maintaining this document up to date, is important for your success.
3. Start testing
There is another side of CRO – the testing craze. Tests can be mutually exclusive, so they take time and synergy in order to generate comprehensive results. For example, you cannot test the colour of the button, the wording and the hero image on the page, at the same time. You should have a step by step testing experience, so you know which change is driving what result. If you want you can test fundamental design changes, as full on page tests, which is different to testing elements on a page. In a lot of companies you may need to test elements before you go and full on change the designs, especially in pure play digital businesses, as fundamental changes can have both negative and positive effects. Dip a toe before you go full on J
4. Review and repeat
It never really ends, as once you have your testing completed, you need to start again. One of the biggest mistakes companies make is to think a test is forever. The industry changes daily. This is probably where it gets tricky for most traditional companies – the continuity. Once a test is done, it is considered forgotten then the roadmap goes on the backburner, and then the cycle is broken.
I hope you enjoyed my take on conversion. I know there is so much out there, however while researching the subject I struggled to find something overarching. I have tried to create an overarching, high level framework of conversion optimisation. Would love to hear your thoughts.