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Why a Structured Approach to Conversion Rate Optimization Is Crucial

A new report underlines the importance of a structured approach to conversion rate optimization within companies to achieve the best results.
CRO can deliver excellent results, but firms implementing a CRO strategy need to get the basics in place first, and make a commitment to becoming more customer-centric.
Company culture and organization is key here. It’s easy enough to use a few CRO tools and conduct tests, but the right structure within a company is key to producing the best results.
CRO expert Paul Rouke made this point in our recent CRO guide:
“Think people, skills and process first before thinking about what testing platform you need. Too many organizations waste vast amounts on testing platforms without the necessary investment in resources and skills to drive forward an intelligent and strategic conversion optimization programme.” 
Econsultancy’s latest Conversion Rate Optimization Report (2017) underlines this view.
The report, based on a survey of 800 marketers, found that 82% of companies with a structured approach to CRO saw improvements to conversion rates. The same figure for those without a structured approach is just 64%.
In addition, just 37% of companies said they had a structured approach. In essence, this means that 63% may well be failing to make the most of CRO.

The risk here is that, by failing to implement a CRO strategy which is structured, and therefore more likely to be effective, decision makers within businesses will question their investment.
It’s a point that Paul Rouke makes in a recent post – CRO isn’t used properly, results aren’t great, businesses may conclude that it isn’t worth it.
It’s a pattern which can be repeated within other digital strategies, content for example. The hype around content marketing in recent years in another such example.
As Doug Kessler points out, with the help of the Gartner Hype Cycle, over-inflated expectations and poor implementation can lead to the ‘trough of disillusionment’ where people begin to wonder what the initial excitement was all about.

In practice what happens is that people see content marketing working, try adding a few blog posts, then decide it doesn’t work.
The reality is that content is a complex discipline which requires the right people, processes and strategy to succeed.
It’s the same with conversion rate optimization. The right strategy is key to its success or failure.
This word cloud sums it up. It’s the answers to the question: ‘What do you think would make the biggest difference to your company (or your clients) in improving conversion rates?’

To report uncovered problems around lack of leadership buy-in and an understanding of how CRO can impact business performance:
“Several respondents mentioned the importance of fostering an optimization culture, one that encourages regular testing and in which agility is front of mind. Among organizations running regular tests, an inability to act upon the insights that testing uncovers quickly enough often hampers their progress.”
After resources and budget, organizational problems are considered to be the biggest barriers to improving conversion rates.
This includes conflicts of interest between departments, silos, culture, strategy and ownership.

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How Retailers Use Stock Level Data to Drive Conversions

We look at how retailers use data on stock levels to inform customers and add urgency to product pages. 
Using stock level data on ecommerce sites is a way to provide useful contextual information to shoppers, and can also help to nudge them to make a purchase.
As referenced in this article on Amazon’s use of psychology, showing stock level data introduces an element of scarcity.
Scarcity is one of  Dr Robert Cialdini’s Six Principles of Influence, which look at different factors which influence the behavior of shoppers.
it uses the (lack of) availability of a product to sell more to shoppers – if they know an item is scarce, they have to decide more quickly, while increasing the perceived value of the product.
It’s also useful information for shoppers. It saves them from missing out by providing key information.
Here are some examples from retailers.

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What Makes a Great Ecommerce Click and Collect Service?

We look at what an excellent ecommerce click and collect offering should look like. 
Click and collect has grown in popularity over the past few years, and is now offered by the vast majority of established multichannel retailers.
Indeed, Ampersand’s recent Multichannel Retail Report found that 68% of a sample of 187 retailers currently offer click and collect. For some categories, such as fashion, that percentage is higher.

Click and collect was one service that gave multichannel retailers a slight advantage over online-only retailers, though that advantage has been reduced thanks to the introduce of offline collection options like Collect+ where shoppers can collect items at local stores and petrol stations.
Amazon has responded to the challenge by introducing a massive network of lockers which allow customers to collect online orders from convenient locations.

Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods now gives it an opportunity develop its click and collect service, but for now most multichannel retailers still have some advantage over Amazon, and other online-only retailers.
These include the ability to use in-store inventory to fulfil orders more quickly, and to offer services such as trying out purchases on collection.

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How Do You Generate Ideas for CRO Testing?

We recently released our new ebook, The Expert’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization. In extracts from the guide, our contributors give their views on developing ideas for tests, and how frequently tests should be undertaken. 
To risk stating the obvious, testing plays a massive role in conversion rate optimization.
Whether this is user testing, A/B or multivariate tests, it helps businesses to identify areas for improvement, test changes, and to gain quantifiable evidence on what changes affect the behavior of users on your site.
It plays an important role in removing guesswork from the equation. While lots of people may have ideas about how a website should be, testing provides proof on what does and doesn’t work.

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