Programmatic advertising has been the talk of the digital marketing world for a while now, with its ability to pick the right person from a crowd and approach them with a hyper-targeted message. But what happens when that ad is delivered and the prospect arrives on the brand site – is that specific message followed through? 

Introducing Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), the lesser-known process, which is making waves in the marketing industry, and it’s no wonder why when you consider that, if you get it right, it can increase sales by 20-60% each year. So, it’s baffling that CRO is not spoken about more, nor is it generally understood or effectively implemented.  

CRO is a key process which should come into play from the start of the consumer journey in order to enhance the chances of them making a purchase. But each tender stage of that customer’s journey has potential for their disengagement, due to a lack of clarity and a clear storyline – often leading to people clicking on that tiny ‘x’. 

It doesn’t help that many marketer’s budgets are lopsided; with an average 80% of digital spend going to driving consumers to websites, but only 20% on improving and refining the website journey through conversion rate optimisation (CRO). This includes honing the user interface, tailoring content and user experience to the visitor. In fact without proper thought, split testing and serious commitment to CRO, by far the majority of your potential customers will completely give up, counteracting the investment in driving them to your site in the first place.

But it’s also a complex process and that is why it’s so often misconstrued. A good CRO strategy will go deep into the human psyche, 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. Once you have this vital information, only then can you embark on creating content which will answer the aforementioned questions, designing conversations to meet the individual’s needs and then test this out, time and again.

Implementing CRO – test and test again

Complacency isn’t an option. In this game you’ll need to see the world through the eyes of the consumer, which isn’t easy. Too many marketers make assumptions about their site visitors, overlooking the fact that 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 what you think is right). Bear in mind visitors don’t know your brand as well as you do, which is a common issue.

This means employing an outsourced team, who will be impartial, to take on effective CRO for your brand. It needs to be a team that employs: designers, user experience experts and specialist developers. 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. 

Once you have the team it’s really down to applying the fundamental methodology, psychological findings, heuristics and conversion. This is the process of investigation, research, and problem-solving through strict experimental methods. 

In fact, a vital aspect of your team’s role is to ensure thorough and ongoing testing. 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 visitors buying and transacting process. It also allows you to predict what might go wrong next. 

Today, CRO technology enables a more powerful, fast and cost effective way to run tests. Small changes can be made within the browser, therefore eliminating the need to constantly rebuild the website. This advanced testing can deliver personalised messages to 100s of people using behavioural data. Once tested the entire user journey can be tailored to each audience segment and thus build consistent, tailored persuasive conversations with your audience from ad to check-out. Changes can be made based on the device, the design solutions product, the user behaviour and by channel or campaign.

Get into the minds of your consumers

Remember testing is no easy feat. The basic requirements are that you need to understand how your product pricing compares to competitor products and how consumers are searching for them. Then you need to look at eye tracking to understand how people function, as well as knowing how your product is perceived and interpreted by a visitor’s brain. On top of that you need to apprehend all marketing channels and ascertain differences between organic and paid channels. This is because visitors from paid versus non-paid channels have very different expectations and thus expect very distinct conversations.

What is your storyline? Make sure your website tells a pertinent and provocative story to aid sales. If you don’t have one your website is unlikely to have a logical flow and won’t be optimised for conversion. A big issue here is that many businesses are siloed, so no one person manages the entire user journey.

Also remove the anxiety of excess choice – or it could lead to consumers logging off your site. Present them with the product that suits them, positioned at their knowledge level and resonates with their needs. The technology is available to do this.

I’m certain CRO is set to be one of the most talked about performance methods in the marketing industry – as much as programmatic is discussed today. Though bear in mind with CRO you can’t sit back and watch the money roll in. To implement it effectively and ensure your brand websites are converting requires continued investment in a full-time outsourced team.