CRO: Making the most of your existing data

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This article has been co-written with Gravity Global – Performance Marketing’s Matthew Eastaugh, Senior Performance Analyst and Tabby Farrar, Senior Outreach Specialist. Matthew manages Conversion Rate Optimisation for clients in a range of industries, at Gravity Global – Performance Marketing.

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is all about helping your website to achieve more success in a particular goal – selling more products, eliciting mailing list sign-ups, confirming subscriptions or another business aim. That might mean making the site easier to navigate, changing the size and placement of certain calls to action, or adding and removing different types of content.

Something as simple as a frustrating image carousel, or a button that’s too hard to find, can be the difference between a new conversion and a site user who simply closes the page. But without evidential data, finding and prioritising these problematic features is merely guesswork. Things like heat-mapping and session replay tools are invaluable – with brands who use CRO tools seeing as much as a 223% increase in ROI.

A Conversion Rate Optimisation specialist with a suite of industry tools can offer a valuable depth of insight into the hits and misses on your site, and the best next steps to take. However, that’s not to say that you can’t work on CRO without big budgets and professional help. There are ways in which you can find some actionable data without much investment at all.

Surveying, rather than surveilling, site users

With so many tools and services out there for watching visitor sessions, tracking clicks and observing the most hovered-over areas of your site pages, it’s easy to forget that the users you’re hoping to surveil are often people you can simply survey.

Not everyone who visits your site will want to offer feedback on it, and not everyone in your email database will respond to questions in their inbox. But if you give people the option of feeding back on their site experience, you will often find that annoyances and frustrations quickly come to light.

A few places to start, which we’ll look at more over the course of this piece:

  • Send out an email survey to your existing email database
  • Update contact forms and contact pages, so that they encourage people to send site feedback
  • Use social media channels, like Twitter and Facebook, to ask for opinions
  • Create short feedback surveys on the site itself.

There are many options for professional site survey tools out there, but you can create simple customer feedback pop-ups with either the help of your web developer or a free SurveyMonkey login. Alternatively, stick with an unobtrusive feedback form, clearly signposted from a range of places around the site.

Keep your survey short, asking only a small number of questions in order to achieve a higher response rate – just as ecommerce shoppers are less likely to make it to the checkout if there are too many steps in their way, a survey respondent is more likely to move on to something else if there are too many questions. The average person has an attention span of eight seconds, so it’s important that both your site and your surveys are designed with that in mind.

Calls to action

Does your site have a contact form which includes a drop-down list of reasons for getting in touch? Does it have a contact page, listing different email addresses to reach out to with different concerns? Whatever routes you’re giving site users to reach you, solicit feedback on things like your site’s usability and visual appeal by highlighting that there is a way to get in touch specifically for this purpose.

If a user can only see contact options for customer support, sales teams or further information, they may not be motivated to tell you what they like or dislike about your site. But with the option to select ‘send site feedback’ or similar, someone who has found a broken link or who is irritated by a feature will be more motivated to let you know. Optimising contact forms is a CRO task in itself, but this small change can make all the difference.

If you already have forms and emails for this purpose, ensure that someone in your team is dedicating regular time to actually checking people’s responses. It can be tempting to brush off form-fills about your website when prioritising new business enquiries, or complaints about a product or service – but these are valuable insights. For every one site user who notifies you of an issue, there may be dozens more who are abandoning their site visit without ever getting in touch.

Conversion Rate Optimisaton for your website

Using social media for CRO insight

It may not be the first thing that springs to mind, but social networking can come in handy if you’re trying to optimise your site and don’t have access to specialist help.

Twitter has become as much a way for consumers to contact brands as it has a way to spread the news, while anyone familiar with Facebook knows that it’s an online space where people are more than keen to share their opinions. As well as trying email surveys and site forms, quiz your social audiences. It can be nerve-wracking to put yourself up for judgement on a public domain, but you can get valuable feedback from asking simple questions like which new features users would most like to see.

It’s important to remember that social is a two-way tool. Listen to what people are saying about your brand and your website, engage with people online and be responsive. As well as being good for brand perception, and audience growth and retention, encouraging engagement encourages ongoing feedback.

Taking research into your own hands

As well as site users and social followings, look to people within your business, and to family and friends for their views. While the former is arguably biased and the latter may be unfamiliar with the territory, in any case these are additional pools of insight on user experience.

Large organisations house large numbers of staff, many of whom may be using your website regularly, and are therefore more than able to identify problem areas. Avoid looking only to those who have worked on creating a website and its content; instead, seek views from people who can give a more objective opinion.

On the other side, your personal networks might never have used your site before. Though they provide only a small sample, these people are an easy source of insight on first impressions and navigability. Ask people to try and find a particular site section, or to carry out a transaction. Look for hold-ups, the features people are drawn to, and get views on the overall look and feel of different pages.

While the experience of a few people may not be as comprehensive as having a session replay tool, which can view every site session and highlight all common areas of user struggle, problems highlighted in this small-scale testing can be a starting point to make improvements.

Conversion Rate Optimisation: Making next steps

Once you’ve collected useful feedback on your site as it stands, it’s time to look at putting suggestions into action, and fixing highlighted flaws. The trick here is to ensure that any changes you put in place won’t wind up making things worse than they were before.

For this reason, A/B testing is a real must-do before making any major changes to your site. 82% of marketers say that knowing how to conduct CRO tests effectively is a challenge, and you may wish to take a look at the money you saved on data, and invest it in professional CRO help.

Just as best practices and fashionable web design trends won’t always suit every audience, patterns in feedback and data can be interpreted differently by a novice, when compared with the knowledge of a seasoned expert.

Whether you’re running user experience tests, design tests or both, pick one variable at a time to evaluate. Work with an expert to determine the optimal outcome based on your goals, and to decide how significant the results need to be in order to justify choosing one variation over another.

Even a small increase in conversion rate can create a noticeable return on investment, and on top of this, your CRO insights can also influence other areas of marketing. User preferences and habits offer valuable information that can be used to shape content strategies, brand awareness initiatives and more. Gather as much data as possible on how people interact with your site, act on it, and you can boost conversions, brand trust and user engagement – just to name a few.

If you’re looking for any help or advice on your websites performance including conversion rate optimisation, or looking to update your existing site, say hello at [email protected].

How to analyse customer journeys and improve your website

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To serve the needs of your customers, it’s important to consider the journey that each of them will take with your company and your brand, through all stages of the marketing funnel. This covers when they:

  • first become aware of the products or services you offer
  • are considering the various companies and products available to them
  • make a purchase, or commit to your services.

Whether your customer is a regular or seeing your brand for the first time, its beneficial for your business to ensure they have a smooth path from their initial encounter to the point of ‘success’. The fewer issues they encounter, and the easier they can find what they’re looking for, the more likely they are to make a positive impact on your bottom line.

Have you considered this in relation to your website? Does it cater for the needs of current and potential customers, no matter what stage of the journey they’re at? And how can you use data analysis to find and resolve key issues with your site? Our guide will help you to answer these questions.

What is the customer journey?

The customer journey can be defined as follows:

The complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company and brand. Instead of looking at just a part of a transaction or experience, the customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer.

The customer journey includes a number of different touch points, many of which are offline, such as awareness gained through media advertising, interactions with support staff over the phone, and visiting physical stores. This article focuses only on the customer touch points related to your website. However, there are still many different kinds of visits that users can make to your site – and therefore many touch points that you need to consider when analysing your customer’s journey online:

  • Has the customer just become aware of your brand and typed it into Google? Then they’ll likely arrive at your site on your main homepage, looking for more details about your company and reassurance of your credentials.
  • Are they Googling for a specific product or type of product that you happen to offer? Then they’ll likely start on a deeper page on your site, such as a product information or category page. While the customer needs to learn more about the specific topic of their search, they’ll also need to be brought up to speed on why they should give you their custom, rather than any of your competitors.
  • Has the customer bought from you already? Are they checking up on a previous order or looking for some help? Then chances are they’ll have followed a link in a confirmation email straight to your site’s support section, and need to find the answer to their questions with minimum effort and maximum reassurance.
  • The customer may not be interested in any e-commerce facilities your site may offer, and are instead looking for the address of the physical store nearest them. This means they’ll be heading for your store directory, and need to know where and when to go the store.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the customer touch points you need to consider – many are likely to be specific to what your customers require from your business. While considering the homepage and a few category pages will be beneficial, it’s not the full picture.

How can data analysis help?

You probably already use Google Analytics (or a similar analytics solution) on your company’s website, which, providing this is set up correctly, offers a wealth of useful data about how people are interacting with your site. Careful and thoughtful data analysis can help you to determine where problems are arising in your customers’ journeys, and highlight areas where your site is currently working well.

Without considering the data, you’d have to just guess – attempting to put yourself in the shoes of your customers and make assumptions as to how they think and behave is a risky strategy. If you’ve been living and breathing your brand on a day-to-day basis, removing your thought processes from what you already know is easier said than done. Besides, if the data is there and can remove the guesswork, then it just makes sense to use it!

How to analyse the customer journey

There are many metrics and data sets you can use to analyse customer journeys on your website. Here we’ll consider the five most likely to benefit your business:

Ranking URLs

Consider the users who arrive at your site via organic search – the URL they arrive on will be dictated by the search engine, and this might not be the one you expect. If a user searches for a particular type of product and you have a whole section devoted to it, Google may still send the user straight to your main homepage. Ranking in top position doesn’t guarantee that a user will land on a page related to their search.

You can check ranking URLs manually by looking at the relevant search engines yourselves, or track them over time using tools such as STAT or Accuranker. If the pages that are ranking don’t match the keyword the user is searching for, or their intent, you need to fix this.

First, make sure you actually do have a more suitable page that you think should be appearing. If you do, then it looks like search engine optimisation work is required, to try and persuade Google to change its mind.

For example, at Gravity Global we identify and monitor key terms for our clients as part of our SEO campaigns – we look to rectify issues and get the most suitable pages ranking in the best possible positions. This means ranking pages will provide a better user experience and experience improved conversion rates.

Exit rates

Understanding customer journey

When a user reaches a key page on your site, such as a product or category page, you ideally want them to proceed towards the related point of conversion. However, if the content they land on doesn’t meet their needs – for example, because crucial details are not being explained or the next action required of the user is unclear – then they may leave the site and go elsewhere.

The ‘exit rate’ metric is the percentage of views for a specific page that result in the visitor leaving the site. Google Analytics allows you to see the exit rate for every tracked page, as well as the average for the site overall. If you find that an important page has a higher exit rate than the average, you should treat this as a potential red flag and take action.

Look at the content of the page that’s performing poorly and try to determine where it might be failing to meet the user’s expectations. Also, make sure it’s obvious what the user needs to do next – if the user can’t work out what’s required of them, they’ll probably find alternative means – or alternative companies – to get what they need.

However, be wary of exit rates – on some occasions, a page might naturally be the end of a successful journey without being a designated conversion. For example, if a mobile user searches for their nearest store and lands on the page with this information, their current need has been met, so an exit is a likely outcome.

Internal search

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Google isn’t the only search tool where you need to consider results. If your site has its own internal search engine, then Google Analytics can track how people are making use of this facility on your site and what they’re searching for.

This data may show that some of the most searched for terms are products or services that you don’t offer. This can be a useful indicator for areas of future expansion within your company.

If users are searching for products or services that you already provide, this may suggest that people are having trouble locating the relevant pages in your current site structure. From this, you may decide to make these pages more prominent, for example using conversion optimisation or content marketing techniques.

Conversion and goal analysis

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Common conversion processes are typically spread across multiple pages of a website – for example, making a purchase usually involves adding products to a cart, one or more pages of entering details, then making the payment before the final conversion is complete. Your hope is for most users to complete the whole process, but this isn’t always the case and many users stop the process before completion.

You can use a funnel report (assuming these various stages are setup correctly within Google Analytics) to map the customer journey through this process and analyse where users are dropping out. This can be helpful for determining where potential customers are encountering problems, and where improvements need to be made.

For example, let’s say that 80% of users who put an item in the basket make it to the page where they must enter their address – but only 40% get to the page following this. This means it’s highly likely that there is an issue on the address entry page.

Once you know there’s an issue with a certain page, you can use conversion rate optimisation to make improvements and encourage users to continue through the conversion process.

Performance by device

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Many websites still have usability issues on smaller screens – but the number of users accessing the internet via mobile devices continues to grow. While your site may be performing brilliantly for those using a desktop computer, what about the potentially sizeable number using their iPhone or Android handset?

Google Analytics tracks the category of device used for each visit to your site, allowing your data to be segmented by device type. This means you can easily compare the performance of each, to determine whether those on a mobile or tablet have a noticeably lower conversion rate.

If you do find that conversion is poor for mobile or tablet users, the next steps are to determine why, and how to fix it. When Gravity Global identifies this as an issue on a client’s website, we usually recommend a full audit of the site from the perspective of both SEO and CRO, looking for potential quick wins and improvements in key areas to make sure users have a good user experience no matter what device they’re using.

If you’re looking to improve your website performance and customer journey we’d be happy to help. To find out more about how we can assist in your performance marketing click here. Alternatively email [email protected].

Five data analysis tools for understanding your digital marketing campaigns

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As a data analyst in a digital marketing agency, it’s essential for me to collect, analyse and report data accurately. This means using tools that are proven to deliver the best insights. Here are some of the data analysis tools that I regularly use and recommend:

Tools for data collection

To make accurate decisions you need accurate data. This can come from anywhere, whether that be a spreadsheet you’re using to track the number of office tea rounds you make or a customer database with millions of entries. You’ll already know the obvious marketing data sources such as Google Analytics, Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush etc – so below are some data collection tools that you may not have heard of.

1. Supermetrics

Supermetrics is a life-saver if you want to produce reports in Excel or Google Sheets. You can use APIs to connect to multiple sources, such as Google Analytics, Bing Ads, MailChimp or SEMRush, and your spreadsheet will automatically display the data.

One of its most useful features is the AVOID_SAMPLING option in its Google Analytics “data grabber”. In scenarios where Google Analytics would sample data, Supermetrics try to avoid sampling. In my experience, this incredible data wizardry works nine times out of 10. It’s unclear how it works, but I assume that it splits the request into multiple queries, so it displays actual numbers rather than sampled figures.

2. URL Profiler

URL Profiler is a desktop-based software that allows you to gather bulk-data about URLs. You can collect MOZ metrics, Majestic metrics and social metrics (shares, likes, comments etc) in one place. It’s useful for everything SEO, from link audits to competitor analysis.

A particularly helpful feature is its semantic data capture tool. Using algorithms, it returns information about the content of a URL such as tone and readability.

3. Office of National Statistics (ONS)

Data is great – but free data is even better. If you need UK-specific data, then the ONS is the place to go. Their site offers information on the population that can be very useful. I’ve used the ONS to enrich customer profiling data and understand the population that lives near certain store locations.

Other tools to help capture or collect data:

Data analysis

Data visualisation and reporting

Report data needs to be digested quickly, so that decisions can made and campaigns move forward. However, as humans, looking at a table of numbers doesn’t allow our brains to compute what is happening (or at least not as quickly or usefully as we need.) This is why data visualisation is an essential part of campaign reporting.

Another important factor of reporting is speed and efficiency. Creating reports on a regular basis can be a time-consuming task, especially if you’re collecting data from multiple sources and updating (what feels like) a million spreadsheets. To speed this process up, there must be automation.

4. Klipfolio

A great tool that provides data visualisation and automation is Klipfolio. It’s a Canadian software-as-a-service (SaaS) that provides dashboards to help its users monitor the performance of their marketing campaigns. The cost is lower than you expect, meaning it seriously competes with the likes of Qlik and Tableau.

Klipfolio connects with a vast range of data sources via integrated APIs – and if there isn’t an API for a data source, it’s easy enough to build your own within the platform! It even has a handy feature that allows you to email data as an attachment.

What so many dashboard tools fail at, is having the flexibility to combine data sources to show true marketing performance. Klipfolio not only provides what other dashboards can’t, it also allows for even greater flexibility with its the Excel-like functions within its widget editor.

To top it off, Klipfolio has a great support network and community of fellow developers that will guide you through every step – from building your first widget to improving the efficiency of your calculation performance.

Other tools to help visualise and report data:

Deep diving data analysis

Tools for prediction and deep dive analysis

No marketing team should take another step forward without first understanding what the future they’re stepping into will look like. Forecasting and predicting trends in products and services allows for more accurate decision-making. Of course, you need more than a medium with a crystal ball to understand what the future will look like. You need a data warrior armed with a terabit of analytical fodder and an analytics software package.

5. Orange

If, like me, you’ve previously used expensive enterprise software for modelling, you’ll be surprised to learn that the software I use most often is free. Orange is an open source point-and-click statistical analytics software package. You drag and drop “nodes” into a “workspace” and connect them with data pipelines. Each node can be left with its default parameters, or you can modify them.

There are an abundance of nodes to choose from, including data manipulation and data visualisation. My favourites are the Logistic Regression, Linear Regression and Neural Network nodes. If you’re a keen Python developer, you can even build your own nodes.

Other tools to help predictions and deep dive analysis:

Are you still wondering what your company could gain from website data analysis, then click here for our 7-point list.

Looking for more information about the most effective data analysis tools to use for your digital marketing campaigns? Drop us a message at [email protected]!

What could your company gain from website data analysis services?

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One of our core areas of expertise is data analysis. But what does that entail, what is it used for and how can your company benefit from it?

Customer Profiling

Have you ever wondered what your customers’ characteristics are? With our bespoke customer profiling service, we can dive into your data – whether it be website data or in-house database – to understand your customers better. You’ll get a better understanding of who your customers are – age, gender, interests or hobbies, if they prefer to surf online during the day or night.

From this data, we’ll create customer personas for your key customer groups which can be used across a host of marketing channels from content marketing and organic search to paid search and social media. We’ve found that creating bespoke marketing messages from these personas can increase both conversion rate and ROI.

Predictive Modelling

Do you want to improve conversion rates? Understanding who is most likely to make a purchase gives marketing departments an edge. Stop wasting money on marketing to people who would never buy your product and focus on those that will. Using a variety of predictive modelling techniques, Gravity Global – Performance Marketing can turn your online or internal data into predictive scoring models. Using the model scores, we can segment your customer base into purchase groups allowing you to tailor your marketing message to get maximum performance.

It doesn’t stop there, integrating the models output with A/B testing will ensure that the correct message is going to the correct segment. This ensures the best conversion rate for each segment.

Campaign Reporting

As part of our retainer services you’ll get regular detailed reports generated from our sophisticated reporting platform. This is valuable, useful information at your fingertips; data from multiple platforms compiled into one easy to digest place, delivered to you in a format suitable for company directors.

Website Performance

Information from market-leading website tracking services such as Google Analytics and Adobe Marketing Cloud (Omniture Site Catalyst) is delivered in a high-level summary giving you the most important information when you need it. Visits, bounce rate and time on site are all valuable metrics helping you understand your website’s performance.

Ecommerce Performance

For ecommerce sites, we’ll keep track transaction revenue and individual product performance across all marketing channels, ensuring your website is performing as efficiently and profitably as possible.

Organic Performance

We keep an eye on rankings for all your core keywords that drives traffic to your site. Comparing month-on-month rankings, understanding the value of a keyword and keeping a close eye on search share – the proportion of monthly searches that make it to your site.

Paid Search Performance

Whatever search platform is being used by consumers, we’ve got it covered, combining data effortlessly to give you the metrics needed to define complete paid campaign performance. We detail the core KPIs at an account, campaign ad group and even keyword level, giving you the detail needed to make decisions.

Why not read our article: 5 data analysis tools for understanding your digital marketing campaigns?

Looking for more information about how you can improve your website performance? Contact us at [email protected]. Adam and his team would be happy to help!