With the right expertise and experimentation, Conversion Rate Optimisation can mean the difference between; a great looking website which ranks in the major search engines and converts a high percentage of it’s visits; and one which gets the visitors there, but fails to call them to action.
Last Thursday, Sarah and I attended MeasureFest a unique new conference held in London dedicated to marketing and analytics from a CRO perspective, organised by the team behind BrightonSEO and the Content Marketing Show. The day was packed full with 15 great speakers discussing strategies and ideas from both a Design and SEO perspective – perfect for Sarah and I to take on board some key takeaways to share with our Web Design, Development and SEO teams here at Creare.
After an early alarm wake up call, 3 packed train rides and braving the 175 steps at Russell Square Tube Station (equivalent to a 15 storey building apparently!) we were ready to rock and roll. We’ve picked out a few of our favourite talks from the day to share.
A Framework for CRO – Paddy Moogan
The opening talk of the day from Paddy at Distilled saw him highlighting recommendations on some of the key elements when setting out a successful CRO framework. He emphasised the need to understand that CRO is not an exact science and that it can actually be quite a risky challenge which requires expertise, patience and testing, followed by thorough analytical review. Key points therefore raised for consideration before planning any kind of CRO project:
- Discover as much as you can about the business objectives and clearly define the goals of the site – What are you trying to achieve? What are potential customer’s concerns and needs?
- Experiment with new design which is driven by research and results data but ensure that you keep the message and implementation consistently on brand, considering UX requirements throughout
- Review the analytics data and work out what was good/bad but don’t forget to check for anomalies and external variables which may have affected your results before you roll them out
Also of course, ensuring that you benchmark the site’s current performance before you begin and then track your goals and/or sales conversions throughout the project will enable you to yield the best data to review. Paddy showcased a number of tools during his talk such as Kissmetrics and Optimizely to help your team implement and analyse your CRO testing.
When considering this framework, Paddy rightly emphasised the importance of communicating throughout the process with everybody involved. Managing the expectations of your client on the possible outcomes of any CRO experiment helps to retain a clear view on what success looks like when reviewing your original hypothesis. Also, knowing and understanding the potential risks involved will prevent frustrations with the challenge ahead which can require plenty of patience! But ultimately, when you get it right, the results can truly maximise your return.
Cultural Conversions & International eCommerce – Joe Doveton
Having spent a lot of time over the years studying design psychology and user behaviour, I found this talk from Joe at GlobalMaxer really interesting. During the session, he showcased some industry leading sites to demonstrate a number of key points to consider when designing for an international market. Joe also drew thoughts from psychological theory such as Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions and Edward Hall’s Proxemics.
- Decide between a Global Template or Cultural Versions of your website
- Localise, don’t translate – consider both the language used within your design content as well as the context you’re using it in – What are your target audience familiar with? What tone is acceptable within the cultural relationship of the buyer / seller?
- Colour theory – don’t forget that strong associations can be made based on the cultural significance of colours used, even if meanings are not universally agreed upon, it is not to be dismissed
- Technology – do your research and understand how your target audience will consume your data – from the emerging African mobile market to the dominance of Internet Explorer in China
Above all though, research and test – a key theme running throughout the day – don’t be afraid to experiment as there is no such thing as bad data!
Mobile CRO – Stephen Pavlovich
Next to take the stage was Stephen Pavlovich from the Conversion Factory to consider the mobile revolution which is upon us, now accounting for over 23% of all online sales. He worked through some of his top tips for mobile conversion:
- Start small and scale as “done is better than perfect”
- Prioritise and streamline your content
- Test it yourself – is it easy?
- Understand where, why and how users interact with your mobile site
As well as talking through some great ideas on mobile CRO, Stephen also presented an interesting case study on Facebook’s recent overhaul of their account de-activation process. Their switch to more persuasive language, defaulting to the halting of the process throughout, along with the addition of more compulsory steps required to be able to complete the process is of course all aimed at retaining more users – something which, if reverse engineered, highlights the need to make things simple in order to gain the action desired.
The Analytics Renaissance – Ben Harris
Ben from Decibel Insight’s talk concentrated on the measurement of design usability and content and how to understand the difference between the Analytics (the data – to monitor performance) and the Insight (the understanding of the data – to improve performance). For example, the engagement of the page may be determined by page views, but is the user able to find what they are looking for? When thinking about the problem to solve:
- Learn about your visitors and concentrate on those who convert
- Experience their experience by testing yourself
- Discover the most popular content and design for this
- Design your layout so that important content is always visible
- Understand how your visitors navigate and make it easy
Above all, the visual understanding of the analytics data is paramount – remember that the data you are analysing is more than just numbers. Therefore, great CRO is about awesome design and excellent UX, grounded in the sound understanding of the analytics data based on thorough research and testing.
An SEO Perspective
Following on from Nicola’s review of the morning at MeasureFest, coming from a designer’s perspective – I was keen to see what I could take from the conference that would help me to better support the SEO Account Management team at Creare. When we’re communicating with customers and reporting back on the progress of our SEO campaigns, being able to use Google Analytics effectively to determine value is absolutely key. As such, I found the talks that centred around ways to use the Analytics platform immensely useful – and came back with some really useful insights. The main over riding themes of the day seemed to focus around two key areas:
- CRO is essential to get the maximum value for your customers if they are investing in inbound marketing.
- Analytics needs to be used more intelligently to allow for effective insight into user behavior to determine future SEO strategy.
With that in mind, here’s a summary of my highlights from MeasureFest:
Dara Fitzgerald – Attribution with Google Analytics Data
Dara gave a fantastic talk on attribution in GA – covering multi channel funnels, attribution modeling tools and data driven attribution (a premium only analytics tool). When it comes to using multi channel funnels and attribution modeling – Dara covered:
- Use multi channel funnels to understand how many conversions include more than one touch point and how these fit together. This can then be supported by using secondary dimensions to understand more about specific keywords or landing pages that convert successfully when users are coming to the website using different channels.
- Be aware that assisted conversions and last interaction analysis are not mutually exclusive – channels can be recorded as assisting and closing the same conversion.
- The model comparison tool is great for analyzing and comparing how different attribution models can impact conversions. Rather than focusing primarily on models that emphasise the last interaction in the conversion path – this tool allows you to change the weighting depending on where in the conversion path a particular interaction occurs. E.g. by analyzing conversions and conversion value using the ‘Time Decay” model – the touchpoints that are closest to the sale are given more weighting.
However, what I found most interesting about this session was the importance of remembering what analytics can’t tell you in spite of all the new functionalities that have been added. For me, it’s key that we explain to our customers that there are many areas where SEO can be having a great impact that isn’t necessarily shown in analytics reports. This includes the impact that SEO can often have when online awareness translates to offline sales, in addition to the difficulty we face when tracking cross device purchase paths and crediting the customer for their lifetime value rather than focusing purely on customer acquisition.
Nikki Rae – Getting Google Analytics Going from Get Go
Nikki Rae followed Dara’s talk with a great look into some of the trickier areas of analytics and ‘common conundrums’ that can cause us SEOs some problems when analyzing the data we get from GA.
The conundrums covered included dealing with keywords that don’t rank but appear in organic traffic sources, what to think when direct traffic goes to unexpected landing pages and common causes of problematic referral sources such as your own website or google appearing in this area. Nikki also provided a really handy technical analytics checklist to support with any GA audits – encompassing the following points amongst others:
- Use Screaming Frog (http://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/ ) to ensure ALL website pages are tagged.
- Check the tracking code contains correct methods for sub / cross domains.
- Set up site search if you have an onsite search function to identify opportunities.
- Link up all of your accounts – Adwords, Webmaster Tools & Analytics
- Remove all common IPs using filters – your office, your customer’s office IPs etc.
- Check your hostname report for rogue domains.
Anna Lewis – The Power of Segmentation in Web Analytics
Anna Lewis from Koozai then took to the stage to talk about the importance of segmentation – making the important point that averages are notoriously inaccurate, and segmentation can give invaluable insight into user behaviour.
For anybody not already using segments – one of the key benefits Anna touched on was the ability to market to your different types of visitors differently depending on what you want from them. For example, if you can identify your new customers from your high value customers, you may want to influence them in different ways.
Google have added a really useful segmentation tool with a number of predefined segments that allows you to easily compare and contrast:
Anna also talked through the creation of new segments – using two examples:
- Breaking down users who are accessing the site using iPhones – allowing you to analyse their onsite behavior and characteristics.
- Using the ‘Ecommerce’ tab to segment your users by order value – e.g. tracking all users who have spent over a certain amount.
Finally – a really useful link to the GA gallery where you can access other people’s dashboards to support with getting the most from your analytics platform.
All in all, a great day, and an awesome new conference to add to the list – from advanced analytics to CRO to call tracking and excel spreadsheet tips and tricks we would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to get more out of the way they measure website performance.