Ecommerce: Who should be in your conversion rate optimisation team?

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Conversion rate optimisation (CRO), which is the process of increasing conversion rate and sales on your ecommerce site, is a team effort. When it comes to the size of team that you need, we’ve seen CRO teams as small as one person and as large as a 40-strong group. You don’t necessarily need a big team, as that’s not what defines success. What’s more important is to have the right mindset and to systematically follow a methodology.

Larger organisations often have a dedicated project manager and several analysts and developers, but if you’re a smaller business, several roles could definitely be taken on by one individual – such as handling all the research and analysis, setting priorities, project managing the split tests and even doing some copywriting.

Here is a list of the most important roles:

Champion                          

CRO means change. Therefore, it’s important that you have some top level support. Don’t underestimate how emotionally invested some of your colleagues may be in ‘their’ website. They can be highly resistant to introducing changes to the site, especially if it’s in an area that they are close to. Or they may be more interested in their own ideas and hunches rather than what the research tells you. Having a champion will help you through this.

Project manager

This person is responsible for keeping the process on track, coordinating team efforts and getting things done on time and on spec. They make sure that the optimisation road map is kept up to date.

Researcher

Gathering data is fundamental to CRO. This could come from surveys, usability testing, interviews, heatmaps, store visits, customer immersion and competitor research. On a small project, one person, perhaps drawing on ad hoc support from others, might well carry out all the research. On larger projects the work could be shared by several people, overseen by one person who brings it all together.

Data analyst

Research unleashes data, but raw data is useless until it’s processed, synthesised and interpreted. Your project will also rely on clickstream data from analytics packages such as Google Analytics that need to be assimilated into the bigger picture. Even small websites generate mountains of quantitative data that will be very useful in the hands of a data analyst.

Developer

Much of the research mentioned above  is facilitated by various software tools placed on your website. Putting these tools on your site is a quick and easy job if you have a basic knowledge of coding – but if you don’t know your HTML from your Javascript then having access to a developer is important. The developer will also help to implement more complex split tests, which can not be done with drag and drop style interfaces.

Copywriter

In the early stages of the project the copywriter may review key copy on the website, assessing its strengths and weaknesses against established copywriting principles. Later on their role is chiefly to work with the optimiser to turn placeholder messages indicating a desired action into compelling copy based on sound direct marketing principles. Much of this is microcopy: tiny phrases that guide the customer at key points. After all, with so few words available to achieve so much, each one counts.

Designer

If you have in-house designers on your team it may be worth explaining that their usual boundless creativity is not what will be required on the project. Designers by nature want to come up with new visuals but often that could hinder optimisation, not help it. Managing your designer’s expectations early on will help keep team morale high later on. Any new web pages created are born out of detailed research and analysis. When they go into split testing, any visitor should not be aware that they are a guinea pig, so it often needs to look as similar to the current one as possible, just with the specific changes needed. 

Once you’ve assembled your team and had an introductory meeting, then the exciting work can begin. And as well as improving CRO, you may find that this project has several unexpected benefits. Many organisations report that CRO and split testing bring people together and help break down silos between departments as everyone works together for a common goal. This process forces everyone to really look at things from a customer perspective and not just pay lip service to being customer-focused.

Dan Croxen-John and Johann van Tonder are the authors of E-Commerce Website Optimization, published by Kogan Page, and available now priced £19.99. For more information see www.awa-digital.com

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