Top three 2020 optimisation issues

George Ioannou, Partner at Foolproof

Is realising big gains from optimisation becoming harder for you? It’s easy to think that slowing down is natural after the big wins in the early days of optimisation.

But this misses the fact that optimisation is never finished. Consumers’ needs and expectations are continually evolving meaning optimisation must be an ongoing activity as  products and services need to change to keep pace.

Take Covid-19 and its impact on retail as an example. Overnight, the e-commerce landscape changed for everyone. Physical retail outlets were shut, call centres overrun, and consumers forced to stay home.

In April 2020 first-time purchases on ecommerce sites of traditional chain stores were 119% up on April 2019. And global sales on Amazon increased 26% in Q1 of 2020. This placed greater importance on digital channels and triggered new ways of buying products and services. Shoppers found themselves going online for the first time and many businesses established new ways to get their products direct to consumers.

Being the first to understand what people really want from the “new normal” and the first to change the design of your online experience based on this information creates clear competitive advantage. This translates directly into increased conversion rates and additional revenue.

Put optimisation at the centre of your recovery strategy

Adobe recently estimated that leaders in digital dedicate 5% of their marketing budget to optimisation activities, whilst the average spend is nearer to 1%. The question is, what happens in businesses who find that they can’t justify spending more on optimisation? Why aren’t they seeing the same returns as the leaders in their field?

Based on years of industry expertise we’ve observed three common mistakes that businesses make with their CRO efforts. Unless your organisation can respond to these challenges, you are unlikely to get the best out of your optimisation investment:

1. Failing to see the bigger customer experience picture

Don’t find yourself persuaded by your agency partner to prioritise short term promotions, discounts, short-cuts into the shopping basket, and other means to immediately lift conversion at the expense of great customer experience.

If changes come at the expense of building a sustainable position in the market, or a transparent and fair relationship with the customer quick wins aren’t worth it with little to no medium to long-term benefit.

You need to use optimisation tactically to set the direction for innovation in customer experience, which means creating a long-term roadmap for enhancements. This requires strong design leadership, and a philosophical belief in “insight driven design”. Using the insights gained to help inform new ideas for innovating and improving customer experience to deliver sustainable differentiation.

2. Pay more attention to human insight

Those at the cutting edge of conversion rate optimisation know that it needs both quantitative data and qualitative behavioural insight to succeed. Why is this? Because the data that we get from site logs and page views is the “what” - it tells us what is happening, how many users are exiting, how many make it to the next stage of the journey - but it doesn’t tell us why. Behavioural insight provides the “why?”.

Many inhouse CRO teams and a number of CRO boutiques rely on studying the “what” at the expense of the “why?”. Mainly because the why is hard, it requires primary research, conducted by trained researchers, observed and interpreted by behavioural scientists, to delve into the unpredictable, and sometimes irrational, reasons a shopper chooses to buy from one company but not from another.

It’s the work done in understanding these responses and how to design for those moments that deliver the maximum return on CRO investments.

Conversation Rate

3. Your optimisation initiatives must align to your business strategy

Ask yourself, are your CRO objectives aligned to your overall business vision, strategy and goals?

Ownership of optimisation is often well below the C-suite, which means that it sits in a siloed part of the organisation, lacking board level visibility. Yet CRO can be one of the main levers that an organisation has to improve its performance and business fortunes fast. To maximise the returns from CRO, it needs to influence change across the organisation.

To tune the customer experience from the first touch point to the completion of a transaction, and then on into the self-service environment of being a customer, CRO needs to track the experience delivered at every touch point.

This may mean making changes to marketing, sales, website, mobile site, frontend or backend systems and processes, call-centres, operations, fulfilment and customer relations. All of these functions typically sit in different areas of the business. Yet, these business units and owners need to be united in their understanding of CRO and what it can achieve for the business if it’s committed to and acted upon in a joined-up way.

People Unifying

Optimisation: more important now than ever before

2020 has changed the ecommerce landscape for good. With new people online and those people exhibiting all new behaviours there’s never been a more important time to get serious about optimisation. If you’re wondering about whether you’re getting a full return from your CRO efforts, it’s time to cast a critical eye over what you’re doing and see if the three points we’ve outlined are affecting the results you’re seeing.

One thing is certain, things have never been more competitive, there will be new leaders in your market - CRO can help you stand a fighting chance.

George Ioannou, Partner at Foolproof

Published 02/09/2020

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