Our UX and CRO experts share the major - and sometimes unexpected - factors that can make or break your conversion strategy across your platforms.

For most marketers, a strong strategy relies on a healthy balance of differing objectives, tactics, and channels. 

Digital vs. offline, SEO vs. PPC, or traffic vs. conversion - the answer is rarely black and white, not least because these channels don’t exist in a vacuum.

So, where does that leave us when it comes to Conversion Rate Optimisation, or CRO?

From content that resonates to practical mistakes, here’s what makes - or breaks - a CRO strategy, from our UX and CRO experts.

GO! Marketing+ workshops are free, strategy-focused workshops for marketing leaders looking to invest in or uplift their campaigns and channels. To join an upcoming event, take a look here.

In this article:

  • What is a CRO strategy - and why does it matter?
  • Making or breaking your CRO performance - 4 key factors from the experts

    - Setting CRO objectives that actually mean something
    - The overlooked aspects of CRO
    - The impact of Storytelling and Content on your UX 
    - Qualitative Feedback that measures the ‘why’ of your CRO performance
  • Next steps to drive a stronger CRO strategy

What is a CRO strategy - and why does it matter?

A Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) strategy is essentially a plan for optimising the performance of your website and other digital platforms - specifically in the context of audience conversion.

James Tabiner, Head of UX at KOMODO Digital, shares how your CRO strategy is differentiated from your broader lead generation efforts.

“Lead generation and CRO are two sides of the same coin in a way. 

Whilst lead gen is everything that goes into your inbound, your CRO strategy is the process of optimising that user's journey, and guiding them down that path to convert

CRO is really about humanising the digital experience, making it feel intuitive, natural and easy.”

Why should CRO matter to marketers?

‘CRO’ and ‘UX’ can often get grouped into the development side of a business. Whilst this isn’t inherently incorrect, this perception can mean that marketing or communications teams run the risk of overlooking them as part of their strategy.

Osh Rice, Managing Director at Daydot, explains why CRO should be a key focus for any marketing team below.

One of the largest benefits of CRO strategy is that it’s measurable

By improving the user experience, working on points of friction, updating your value propositions, those improvements start to drive measurable gains - in conversion rate, in average order value, in engagement, and overall performance.

Beyond that, a strong CRO strategy involves really getting under the skin of your audience, reworking that entire experience around your customers’ expectations, their motivations. If you’re really investing in your CRO, it means that you’re really prioritising your customers at the centre of your strategy.”

Osh Rice, Managing Director at Daydot discusses what Makes a Great CRO Strategy

Download: The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Digital Brief

Making or Breaking your CRO performance - 4 Key Factors from the Experts

So, we can already see that CRO performance might incorporate more than just the on-page technical changes to your site. We asked our experts to expand on this to share the key factors that they see as making - or breaking - a CRO strategy.

#1 - Setting CRO objectives that actually mean something

For Sean Dwyer, Director at Door4, choosing real, relevant objectives and KPIs at the first stage of your CRO strategy is crucial.

“The way we’ll always start is by putting in place a format for measuring success that goes right from commercial level, “what's the board expecting this year”, all the way through to the micro-metrics of individual pages or conversion points. 

You might split these smaller metrics by channel, team, search route, landing pages, engagement rates - but it’s about choosing what actually matters to you.”

Sean Dwyer, director at Door 4 discusses what makes a good CRO strategy.

Examples of these metrics include:
  • Commercial objectives: We’re expecting to drive XX in revenue from marketing this year
  • Team objectives: We need to drive XX leads / average purchase value up by %
  • Channel objectives: This channel needs to see an uptick of XX visits monthly / a conversion rate of 20%
  • Micro-metrics: This landing page needs to convert % of users to an opportunity

By keeping to these consistently, you’ll have a clearer view of what’s actually working than if you measured each piece in isolation.

#2 - The overlooked aspects of CRO

Part of these objectives may, for some businesses, also mean expanding what you mean when you think of ‘conversion’.

 As Osh shares, your CRO strategy - depending on your own priorities - might mean a focus on improving the conversion of your existing customers to repeat sales, rather than the standard ‘lead generation’ perception.

“How many times have you bought into the dream that a business is sharing across their site, you get to checkout, and it’s just over?

There's none of that feeling that’s come along with you, and you might not re-engage. Focusing on your CRO in this context means just joining the dots a little bit more and making that experience fulfilling throughout the entire journey.”

Sean adds to this with other objectives that might not fit the typical idea of CRO, for example Revenue Per User.

“We work with a client that sells a lower value product, and we've been testing that website continuously for two years. 

However, our ‘CRO’ strategy for them doesn’t actually focus on upping the conversion rate. We're focused on Revenue Per User, and we've got their price up, just through these incremental ‘transitional’ changes over time.

For them, the bounce rate doesn’t matter, or the conversion %, but these changes have driven an increase in ROI.”

#3 - The impact of Storytelling and Content on your UX 

James also makes the case for taking a more holistic view to what’s impacting your CRO - as it won’t always be functional changes.

“When it comes to implementing changes to your UX, something I see a lot is that there’s not really a focus on telling the story.

Your website is your top salesperson - and when you're selling a product, people need the social proof. 

Customers want to see what others think about a product or a service that you're selling, how it's going to impact them, not just the CTA.

Strong storytelling can negate so many of the issues you might be having with your CRO, and it's going to help them really visualise what you’re driving them towards.”

James Tabiner, Head of UK at KOMODO discusses what makes a great CRO strategy

 

Examples of how content can play a role in your CRO:
  • Vague (or no) copy to reassure the user of what to expect from submitting a form
  • Product descriptions that don’t align to your brand identity
  • Newsletters and content-led emails to re-engage existing customers

#4 - Qualitative Feedback that measures the ‘why’ of your CRO performance 

Beyond your always-on data and performance metrics, Osh emphasises the importance of regularly diving into your UX in more detail to understand the ‘why’ of your customer’s decision-making.

“Your analytics tell you what customers are doing, but they don’t tell you why. 

This is why we often bring in different researchers, or approaches - so we can make decisions based on actual customer problem statements, rather than points of friction that you may have seen in your analytics.”

James backs this up with the risks of not seeking external feedback.

“One of the problems we see quite a lot is stakeholders being too invested in the product, because they're selling themselves. 

They become very attached to a certain idea, even if the delivery isn't working for them, so you need to focus on reaching out of your business, listening to users, and doing what works best for them.  

Remember, it's not about what you think and what you want to sell. It's about what the users are expecting to see.

Read: Boosting your Strategy with Customer Communication, UX, and Research

Next steps to drive a stronger CRO strategy


To round off the session, we asked our experts what should be the next steps to drive a stronger CRO strategy, and how external expertise can help squeeze that extra '1%' out of your efforts.

Assessing your metrics

Build out - or review - your performance matrix for your CRO strategy. There are plenty of metrics and objectives to choose from, so when evaluating what you decide to track, try asking yourself the following:

  • What 'level' are these objectives suited for - micro-metrics or strategy-wide?
  • What will these metrics demonstrate if they fluctuate?
  • If there's more than one explanation for these metrics shifting, how will you determine the cause?

Gaining User Feedback

As James highlighted, what you might currently lack in insight from your performance metrics will most likely be found in qualitative feedback from your users and customers.

“We all think we know our users, but they change over time. Behaviour and expectations change, the market changes and we need to keep on top of that.

There are a few ways to try gathering this feedback, depending on your resource:

  • Undertaking 'focus group' style feedback sessions, either in-house or with support from an external specialist
  • Platforms that track user journeys - James, for example, recommends Maze
  • 'Always-on' feedback options like pre/post-form surveys on your site that can continuously gather data on the user experience

For lighter-resource teams, Osh suggests something as simple as sending your site to contacts in your network and asking for feedback (he also clarifies, 'your own team doesn't count!')

Running a UX and CRO Audit

Not sure about investing immediately in external support? An easy place to start that takes less investment up front is running an initial audit with a specialist.

What does this look like? It depends on your needs.

For Sean and the Door4 team, 'We'll go through what we call a Functional, Aesthetic, Content and Structural audit, to understand the basics of the website.'

Beyond this, an audit can also help to alleviate any initial concerns about investing further without proof of concept.

For example, Osh and the Daydot team share that 'an audit will point you in the right direction as a starting point, giving you one or two tests to really prove the concept of what you're working with. Actioning what you get from this should show you how your CRO is driving incremental growth in revenue and sales. This helps to then start to build a business case for investments.'

As James explains, “Even the best performance sites can squeeze that extra 1% out. No matter where you are within your process, or as a company, there are always going to be room for that extra improvement.

GO! Marketing+ workshops are free, strategy-focused workshops for marketing leaders looking to invest in or uplift their campaigns and channels. To join an upcoming event, take a look here.

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