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What’s the Best Way to Get Started with Conversion Rate Optimization?

What’s the Best Way to Get Started with Conversion Rate Optimization?


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This week sees the release of our new ebook, The Expert’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization. We’ve been asking our contributors about getting started with a CRO project.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), to quote Paul Rouke, ‘has the potential to become an organization’s biggest growth lever’, but many companies are losing money by failing to optimize the user experience.

There have been improvements over the past few years, with CRO been used by more companies.

Indeed, Econsultancy’s 2016 CRO Report found that 55% of companies see CRO as crucial to their overall strategy.

In addition, more than half of companies said they planned to increase their CRO budgets:

Many companies will be aware of CRO and its potential, but will wonder where to begin their ‘journey’.

We asked experts from a range of brands and agencies how to structure a CRO strategy, and get the process off the ground. 

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh:

I think the first thing to do is to understand the size of the opportunity and one of the best and easiest ways to do this is to watch users on your website.

Remote user testing is the tool I would choose for this job initially. Never mind fancy new features, working out what difficulties users are having with your current feature-set should be your first priority. Your customers will thank you for reducing the friction in your user experience.

Matthew Curry, Head of Ecommerce at Lovehoney:

The best way to start Conversion Rate Optimisation is by having a strong hypothesis “Our visitors have a problem converting because of ….”.

This hypothesis can be born out of identifying points of pain in Analytics, or User Research, or a Gap Analysis of your Customer Experience Map.
From a strong hypothesis, you can then work with your designer and information architects to propose a solution to the identified problem.

Paul Rouke, Founder and CEO at PRWD:

Take it seriously. Recognise and appreciate that conversion optimisation has the potential to become your organization’s biggest growth lever.

First, make a commitment to become a more customer-centric organisation, moving away from egotism and opinion, to listening to customers and responding to what they are saying.

Think people, skills and process first before thinking what testing platform you need. Too many organisations waste vast amounts of marketing budgets on testing platforms without the necessary investment in resources and skills to actually drive forward an intelligent, strategic conversion optimization programme.

Forget about shiny and sexy things like personalisation and behavioural targeting. These things will come as you develop a mature optimisation programme and process.

First you need to focus on getting really good at the basics of intelligent, customer insight driven A/B testing.

James Gurd, Owner and Lead Consultant at Digital Juggler

Start simple with a basic test with easily measurable KPIs that can be benchmarked with web analytics tools. Find something on the website that is hammering your checkout conversion rate. Often this is the basket or sign-in/register page.

Dig into the analytics data. Look at conversion funnels, exit points, bounce rates for each step, segment based on user type, device etc. Pinpoint where the biggest failures are.

Then do some session replay analysis (use a tool like Inspectlet or Hotjar to help, reasonably priced) and send a simple survey to people who have abandoned and not returned in the past three months (for whom you have a captured email address) to ask them a few questions about why they didn’t complete the order online.

Use the data to define a few hypotheses for why the page(s) might not be working, and for which customer types.

Run iterative A/B tests on the pages, refining the page design and functionality to nudge your KPIs. You can start for free with the Google Optimize tool, then expand into paid tools when you have a business case.

Chris Lake, Consultant at Orangeclaw

Life becomes much easier when you have the right people onboard, so I’d start by securing stakeholder buy-in.

There is a robust business case for CRO and it is pretty straightforward to figure out and demonstrate the potential upside.

Once you show execs the kind of numbers they care about, it should be relatively straightforward to secure a little budget. If the business has previously invested in usability then you’re halfway there.

From there it’s all about testing, and doing CRO in a structured way, with priorities aligned to business goals.

Small wins go a long way in proving the value of optimisation. Reinvest the initial budget, and try to increase it. Once you know CRO works, the key is to rapidly scale things up.

Grab your Copy of The Expert’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

Download the eBook and discover how you can start boosting conversions today.


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Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at SaleCycle. He's been covering ecommerce and digital marketing for more than a decade, having previously written reports and articles for Econsultancy. ClickZ, Search Engine Watch and more.