Conversion Rate Optimisation & User Experience - Distilled Meet-Up, 12th July

For our third London based meet-up, the focus was Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) and User Experience (UX). For those who couldn't make it / left their notes on the night bus home - panic not - here's a round up of the key takeaways from our speakers. Enjoy :)


The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Conversion Optimisers - Stephen Pavlovich, Conversion Factory
Stephen outlines the seven habits that are essential to get rapid results in conversion optimisation.

1) Steal more ideas

Actually 'hoard' might be a better summation - for CRO a swipe file of ideas is essential - Stephen uses Evernote.


2) Watch more TV

Yes! I love TV! CRO principles have been used offline for years in print and TV advertising - infomercials are particularly interesting from a CRO perspective - take note of how advertisements structure arguments to overcome objections and emphasise benefits... But be careful, those guys are good - before you know it you'll have bought slankets in every colour and a set of extreme exercise DVDs (you'll probably get more use out of the slankets).


3) Stay organised

Excel is your friend – track every test – hypothesis, page type, screenshots, test results etc.


4) Don’t rely on hard data

Don’t be too number driven – also use tools like survey monkey in addition to Analytics in order to set up soft data streams to cover the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’. For example, was there anything that stopped you purchasing from us?


5) Learn More

Conversion rate optimisers need to be experts on usability, copywriting, data analysis, persuasion, design. Check out Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.


6) Optimise yourself

How would you optimise your client relationships? What are their objections? What’s your sales funnel?


7) Think differently

It’s easy to focus on the minutiae – however minor changes often don’t bring big rewards. Take a step back – for example, don’t optimise the registration process; remove it instead – let people use the tool without registration.

For Facebook – their key problem is people shutting down their accounts and leaving. 2 -3 years ago it was easy to close your account – just an ‘are you sure’ and you were done. Now, they heap on some emotional blackmail - showing you all the faces of your lovely friends and saying here are all the people who will miss you. You also have to say why you’re leaving.


8) Bonus – Ask questions :)

Also – Stephen’s recruiting – wanna go work with him? Get in touch.


A user experience approach to CRO - Jeremy Swinfen Green, Amber Light
Jeremy approaches the topic from a slightly different angle, taking us through the user experience covering; aligning conversion with UX, business goals, the three legs of the UX stool and the how the cookie law affects CRO.


Jeremy highlights that CRO isn't necessarily about immediate online conversion – it could be about driving people to the high street, adding to wishlist, getting feedback etc

You need to look at usability, utility and persuasion that's the UX stool:

  • Usability = layout / forms
  • Utility = do people want it?
  • Persuasiveness = sales copy

Here are his tips:

1) Show people where they are via bread crumb navigation.

2) Also let them know where they can go if they want to (i.e. main navigation, links to similar products etc).

3) Offer different ways of choosing – "Don’t give me choice, make it easy for me to choose."

4) Have effective internal search - particularly misspells (I'm a massive proponent of this - I've seen countless sites where the internal search doesn't work).

5) Key elements which should appear on product pages – buy button, price, benefits, features – Topshop do this well.

6) Image details are important too.

He showed an example of two Sunsilk outdoor ads – on one of the ads the girl was looking at the pack; in the other the girl wasn't. Researchers found that the ad with the girl looking at the pack caused people who were viewing the advert to look at the pack, whereas the ad where the girl wasn't looking at the pack cause people viewing the ad to look at the girl.

7) Don’t forget the buy button!

8) Copy is important

You should aim for a reading age of around 8-10. Short paragraphs, bullets, short words, keywords to left of the screen etc. Also, write for sales – have a great headline, describe features not benefits, write 'you' not 'us', remember why you are writing (sell the sizzle not the sausage).

9) Slick checkouts

  • Do keep pages to a minimum
  • Don’t ask for data you don’t need
  • Do provide links to basket
  • Don’t force people to register
  • Do provide a phone number on each page
  • Don’t hit them with nasty surprises like shipping costs
  • Do get their email early so you can email them if they bail out
  • Don’t disturb / distract when they’re about to pay

10) Service is important – make receiving it easy – when will it arrive? Where will it be left? Make it easy to justify the buying decision, and make it easy to return and replace.

11) How to find out what works?

Ask (surveys), web analytics etc. Use UX research to power a/b or multivariate testing. Use best practice as a good starting point. Do something even if you’re just testing something yourself


Quick notes on Cookie Law

  • It will affect conversion optimisation
  • You can’t optimise without permission
  • You’re not supposed to analyse without permission
  • It’s not sufficient to tell people what you are doing

However, some one had better tell the UK government that – their website isn't compliant!


Final conclusions:

  • Understand your audience
  • Accept that it’s different for every site
  • Subordinate SEO for UX
  • Look to the detail



Rob Millard, Distilled - 15 Free Tools for CRO
Rob introduces us to some of the tools that he uses in his day-to-day CRO consulting work and shows you how you can get the most out of them.

15 Free CRO Tools
View more PowerPoint from Distilled



Most CRO tools are paid – but when you’re starting out, getting budget can stop you from starting so what can you do for free? 


1) Project management Tools

CRO requires organisation and there are some great free project management tools out there:


2) Web Analytics

Google Analytics for:

  • Goals
  • Ecommerce
  • Funnel visualisation
  • Segmentation
  • Bounce rates
  • New v returning visitors
  • Also look at custom variables – e.g. at a page level for stock levels, user reviews, price etc

 Also check out Click Heat – a free visual click heat mapping tool.


3) Tools to gather feedback

  • KISSInsights (there is a free package)
  • Uservoice
  • 4Q (some free features)
  • Create your own survey – Google Docs, tweet / email out
  • Use twitter for feedback (use a hashtag – then use importxml to pull them together)


4) Usability

Try 'speak aloud' user testing – you can easily do this in a coffee shop, but remember you need to make sure that the people you ask for feedback are representative of your user base – recruit about 5

Record feedback sessions using:


5) Browser testing

Is your site compatible with all browsers? (NB might not necessarily be a technical problem - the browser a person uses can say a lot about them).


6) Usability

Check out Usability Hub where you complete tests to get free tests – check out click test


7) Wire framing tools

  • Cacoo 
  • Google Docs Drawing
  • Pen / paper / camera


8) Testing

  • Google website optimiser NB - this has now been intetgrated with GA as Content Experiments
  • BT Buckets


Rob did highlight that some of these free tools aren’t really a substitute for the real deal – however they can allow you to do a proof of concept with little or no budget - which can help you to secure the budget you need for more comprehensive testing in the future.


Pics or it didn't happen right? Here's a selection:

The venue:

 Our speakers:

The attendees:

All in all a fantastic evening. Massive thanks to Stephen Pavlovich for sponsoring the bar and to everyone for braving the rain and attending. We hope to see you at the next event!

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