How to use conversion rate optimisation to make your site work harder

OPINION / 4th May 2017

So, you’ve just invested a lot of money, time and effort into your website, it’s gone live and you’ve seen a surge in performance. Then things plateau, yet you are still under pressure to continually extract revenue from the website and improve performance. This puts you in a dilemma, how do you do this with the asset you have, without spending too much extra money?

Typically there are three ways:

  • Acquire new traffic to develop sales volumes: this has a short term impact, and makes acquiring the customer very expensive;
  • Develop new products and services to aid additional sales: again this is an expensive investment, which carries with it a risk of failure;
  • Or, optimise the sale experience to improve conversion rates and increase the average transaction value (ATV): which framed around an experiment, can drive sustainable and significant additional revenue, at a moderate cost to the business.
     

At ORM we believe the third option, conversion rate optimisation (CRO), is the best way forward. CRO has long been used to improve user experiences on websites. One of the most famous   example of it in use is during President Obama’s 2008 election campaign. Its then Director of Analytics, Dan Siroker, used data and A/B testing to help the campaign make better marketing decisions, which led to the website raising $60 million.

Siroker and his team tested two parts of Obama’s fundraising front page: the “Media” section at the top as well as the call-to-action “Button” too. They tried out four buttons and six different media (images & video), and tested all the combinations of buttons and media against each other at the same time.

Contrary to their original gut feeling about which buttons and media to use, the testing proved that the best-performing combination of button and media was the “Learn More” button and the “Family” image. The winning variation resulted in a 11.6% sign-up rate, compared to the original page, which had a sign-up rate of 8.26%. This generated 2,880,000 new email addresses, translated into an additional $60 million in donations.

ORM’s senior strategist Pierre Bizeul give his 5 optimisation tips

I have been conducting conversion rate optimisation on many of ORM’s clients websites, including GWR and National Rail Enquiries, for more than a year. During this time, while trying to improve the experience of millions of users, I have found the following optimisation guidelines very useful:

  • Listen to your users (actively and passively): use your analytics to monitor user behaviour and preferences, and learn what they respond well to.
  • Put your ego aside and let the users decide: optimisation is the process of using data to drive decision making. If a beautiful design isn’t working, it should be adapted and re-tested to see if it affects user behaviour.
  • Never fail, always learn: some A/B experiments you’ll conduct will not be better than the control, but in every experiment you will learn something new about your user’s behaviour which can be applied in the next test.
  • Start small, scale fast: make small changes, get your processes right before scaling up.
  • Be agile and flexible (delivery): even with the best laid plans and roadmaps, things change.  During A/B testing you will discover new patterns of behaviour or things you hadn’t anticipated. You need to be flexible and adapt
     

Our vision at ORM 

At ORM, we believe conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is one of the fastest-growing opportunities for our clients. Therefore, we’ve created an experience team that focuses on leveraging additional revenue by improving the user experience, using A/B testing. Digital marketing strategies need to be savvier than ever, and using optimisation is the best way to navigate through the crowded market place. CRO helps to deliver additional revenue from an existing customer base, and the learnings taken from A/B testing programs are an invaluable way to get to know more about your customers, their preferences and what drives them to make a purchase.

Pierre Bizeul Pierre Bizeul Senior Strategist Pierre Bizeul