When marketers think of digital marketing they often become one-track minded: they ask themselves how do I draw new crowds of visitors to my website?

But what happens after the consumer has acted on the digital campaign and turned up on your website and is met with a flood of unexpected information and confusion as they try to navigate their way to the product and checkout?

In fact without proper thought and serious commitment to conversion rate optimisation (CRO), by far the majority of your potential customers will completely give up, negating the spend investment in driving them to your site in the first place.

For this reason, CRO should be one of the most talked about performance methods in the marketing industry, yet too many marketers don’t even know what it is, let alone understand its complexity.

It’s a key process which should come into play from the start of the consumer journey in order to enhance the chances of a purchase - so how does it work?

Firstly, you’ll need to lay the foundations, exploring how people think; the cognitive mechanics they go through towards a purchase; how they interact with the site; their individual issues which need resolving; and finally how visitors arrive at decisions. Armed with this vital information you can begin creating content, which will answer these questions, and design conversations to meet the individual’s needs.

With CRO never make assumptions, it’s virtually impossible to know what visitors to your site are thinking, so in order to maximise conversion you must be able to see first-hand, what works and what doesn’t from the visitor’s perspective, and not your own. If you make assumptions from your position as the brand expert about what will convert, you are going to be wrong.

To this end, it’s critical to employ experts outside your organisation to deliver CRO due to this lack of impartiality. It must be a CRO team made up of a range of experts: from designers, user experience experts and specialist developers. All of which, should be backed by specific consumer behaviour, cognitive psychologist research and analyst input. A good CRO partner will not let their opinions and vested interests define the optimisation path, but will meld into the mind of the visitor and develop a persuasion framework designed to convert your visitor, and not you as the marketer.

Next your CRO team will need to apply fundamental methodology, psychological findings, heuristics and conversion skills. This is the process of investigation, research, and problem-solving through strict experimental methods. Testing is a vital part of this. The team will build a persuasive architecture designed to convert your visitors and then test it, in order to validate what works and what doesn’t, while gaining a deeper understanding of the consumer’s mind-set. This approach facilitates the creation of cognitive and conversion plans based on your visitor’s behavioural patterns, which allows marketers to understand what drives or interferes with the buying and transacting process. It also lets you to predict what might go wrong next.

The technology available today concedes for high quality efficiencies; small tweaks can be made within the browser, removing the need to constantly rebuild the website, saving a huge amount of time and money. So the entire user journey can be easily tailored to each audience segment, building a personalised and persuasive conversation with that person from the ad to the check-out. Small tweaks can be made by device, design solution product, the user behaviour, channel or campaign.

There are all sorts of tools at our disposal to help understand the site visitor. For example, advanced eye tracking technology can aid in the comprehension of the way people function and what interests and draws them in. It’s also vital to understand whether that person has come from a paid or organic channel, both will have completely different expectations, and expect very distinct conversations.

Bear in mind a good website will always have a good storyline so you’ll need to ensure it’s relevant, alluring and most importantly of all – consistent and believable. At any point of a site visitor’s journey if the story becomes fragmented, they are offered too many purchase options or too few, you’re only pushing them to click that tiny ‘x’ in the corner of the page.

Finally the kernel of a good website is that you provide a person with the product that suits them, positioned at their knowledge level and resonates with their needs. It’s basic CRO and a lot of people are still getting it wrong, but with the technology and skillsets at hand – there’s no excuse any longer. Good CRO, done well and by an outsourced team can increase sales by 20-60% each year, and what’s not to like about that?


By Ivan Imhoff, founding partner and head of Conversion Rate Optimisation at House of Kaizen.

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