When you ask what User Experience (UX) is, most people will no doubt tell you it’s about understanding what the customer wants. But digital spend figures tell a different story. 80% of digital spend is currently devoted to driving people to websites but only 20% is spent on honing the website journey using Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) while the consumers are there.
To appreciate the value of CRO and why a growing number of experts believe it should be one of the most talked about performance methods in marketing, it is important to first understand how CRO works.
CRO is an approach to optimising content which is built on five pillars: an in-depth exploration of how people think; the cognitive mechanics they go through towards purchase; insight into how they interact with a particular site; individual issues which each particular audience need resolving; and finally, knowledge of how visitors arrive at decisions. Content is then tested or refined according to this vital information with conversions designed to meet the individual’s needs.
Improving website performance by converting visitors to customers without spending more on advertising or increasing traffic is a goal now shared by many. Yet how best to achieve this – through the kind of rigorous and objective CRO strategies that only an independent specialist can deliver – is understood by all too few.
The issue isn’t just that many marketers don’t fully understand what CRO is, its importance and complexity, but also widespread ignorance of how it can be delivered and by whom. Effective CRO comes from never making assumptions - an objective view is essential.
An effective and carefully-considered CRO strategy can increase annual sales by anything between 20% and 60%. Whilst ill-considered content and confused navigation results in the majority of potential customers giving up once they reach the website. Not only is it virtually impossible for any brand marketer to know what visitors to their site are thinking, it is also commonplace for those same brand marketers to assume that because they know and understand their business, product or service and the online content they have provided, their potential customers will too.
To maximise conversion, it is essential to see first-hand what works and what doesn’t work on your website – and here’s the important factor – from the visitor’s perspective, not your own. Therefore it’s important to work with an external team to deliver CRO because it needs impartiality to work. This team should include a range of experts – from designers, user experience experts and specialist developers – and be backed by specific consumer behavioural analysis, cognitive psychologist research and analyst input. The need for the right mix of appropriate skills highlights another reason why working with an outside specialist is required.
A big part of CRO is about enhancing the customer experience through testing and appropriate changes to different website elements making it easier to engage and navigate. But CRO is not just about split testing different versions of a website, it goes far deeper. How a CRO team applies fundamental methodology, psychological findings, heuristics and conversion skills via the process of investigation, research and problem-solving using strict experimental methods is also key.
Today’s technologies allow website updates to be both cost and time efficient by allowing small tweaks to be made within a web browser without having to constantly rebuild the website. As a result, good CRO can capitalise on this by enabling the effective tailoring of an entire user journey to each audience segment or allowing for it to be tweaked according to device, design solution product, user behaviour, channel or campaign.
Effective CRO is imperative in any digital campaign because it creates a seamless journey for the customer whether it be to register, subscribe to a newsletter, make a purchase or any other measurable objective, by truly understanding what the customer wants. The choice is either to spend yourself into success or optimise yourself into success with the possibility of driving up sales by 20-60% each year – what’s not to love?
By Ivan Imhoff, Managing Director at House of Kaizen