We originally wrote a smaller piece for the amazing guys at Digital Elite Hub entitled 5 ways a CRO mindset can improve your digital marketing.
We enjoyed writing it so much we decided to incorporate the lessons we shared within that piece and expand on them on an ongoing basis (when any of us get time!). This evolving article is the fruits of that labour.
Introduction to Converted & why we believe digital marketing is better with a CRO mindset.
How many times do we see compartmentalised work and activities within our clients’ organisations and these multiple ‘initiative’ approaches, ideas and thoughts often pull in different directions? Often this leads to disjointed organisations, operations or the HiPPO EFFECT (Highest paid persons opinion – decides the best course).
From the outside looking in it is easy for a conversion rate optimisation team or digital agency to see these and highlight them to their clients. Yet time and time again we have learned here at Converted that best practices and compartmentalisation of approaches and skills can happen in these self-same agencies? Then a senior person in one area or another will dictate the operating procedure for the rest.
Most often this happens in the “full service” digital agencies. The one-stop shops for apps, CRO testing, marketing, branding and more. This kind of agency always reminds me a little bit of an all you can eat buffet. You can go to one place and be fairly sure you’ll find something you like, yet there will be lots of food you find ‘meh’. Yes, you’ll probably be full by the end, but your enjoyment and experience are not quite that of an à la carte specialist.
The à la carte specialists are those that focus on a set menu and do it really, really well. They’re not for everyone, but for those who want it, the experience and result are that bit better. These you often find charge a premium for this singular specialism.
Here at Converted, we’re in that middle ground. We aren’t just CRO. We learned a long time ago we need to be able to get traffic to websites to test it and we need to understand that part really well to influence it. Then we need people who can design and develop solutions or tests, to then fix the conversion issues a client may have.
As such we aren’t an all you can eat buffet and we aren’t à la carte. If I was to describe us, then we are that really nice pub where you need to book-in well in advance and the food is memorable, but without the Michelin star price tag!
What does this food analogy and the subject of this article have to do with each other? Well, we found that the people in Converted were all cooking different food – we promise to stop with this analogy soon – or should I say “offering different services,” and often did not share their skill sets with other separate teams. Meaning best practices from one did not travel into another’s workflows. So what could improve the experience for one diner (couldn’t resist) is often left out for another.
We made a decision to change that and focused on a cross-skilling programme for all of our team, to allow them to put into context different activities and apply best practices to their own work. Obviously being a UK conversion rate optimisation agency we had to make sure all our staff understood the principles behind CRO and testing. We believed that genuine understanding and principles underpinning it could collectively help the wider teams regardless of their role. It was in the early days of this process we identified opportunities to apply CRO methodologies into digital marketing activity to drive better results.
And you know what? It worked.
So in the interests of good karma, we have pulled out practical ways the CRO mindset approach has helped improve our digital marketing teams’ results.
Data & a CRO Mindset towards it.
This sounds obvious, but many digital marketers have not come from a data science background. They are creative people, customer-facing people. They are not always first and foremost, numbers people.
By applying CRO training to our digital marketing team we found that the steps we take in our marketing audits and the ongoing work habits of the marketing team changed.
Yes, we had a process for auditing paid campaigns & SEO activity, but these changed as a result of the CRO mentality. Now the team often asks:
- How accurate is the data?
- How mature is the data?
- Where is the biggest concentration of sample data – pages, devices, campaigns, SEO traffic?
- What does that data indicate?
- What are the variables we need to be aware of that could affect this data?
Then once its underway our digital marketing teams have been able to apply things such as predictive analytics to lead generation audience segments for better lead targeting for our clients. A practice that more closely aligns with the world of data science.
This process-driven approach to auditing marketing activity across all mediums both in onboarding and ongoing allows for a decluttering of opinion early and provides a focused system for the team to add their specialised product knowledge to a consistent data-driven CRO mentality.
Creating Testing Plans.
We have all have plans, right? If you’re working with a clients money then you should be working from a plan. CRO is based on a simple premise of organised research and testing. Testing works to a very specific set of principles:
- What are the hypotheses based on the data & observations?
- What are the tests that come from those hypotheses?
- What are the most important (and realistic) for this period of time? – this can be based on any number of models.
- What is the estimated duration of these tests?
- Where would different factors or tests affect the results of others?
We found that applying this same approach to ongoing monthly marketing tasks accelerated growth for clients. Marketing teams that follow this CRO mindset to creating, prioritising, implementing and sharing their tasks as tests are more likely to succeed.
Significance & Sample Sizes.
Statistical significance is a commonly used term within any CRO team. Yet digital marketers often do not use it as part of the decision making process.
We have audited hundreds of Google Ads accounts where keywords were paused after less than a handful of clicks. Eight ad variations put live for a campaign that will get barely any traffic to begin with.
When a digital marketer understands statistical significance and sample sizing they can make more informed and better-judged decisions.
Want to test your new ad creative? Use a testing duration calculator such as the one we created here at Converted to estimate how many visitors/sessions/conversions you will need to reach significance and how long the test might go on for.
Want to change the strategy for a campaign – understanding the sample size needed allows you to set the clients expectations.
Your new bidding strategy is working? Has it reached significance and when is that estimated?
This new CRO mindset allows digital marketers to make more scientific decision making on change.
CRO approach to Evaluation.
Every good CRO test needs post-test analysis. This is where we mine for new testing opportunities and truly understand the change we have seen in the testing data, whether positive or negative.
Yet historically we were guilty of moving forward in marketing so fast, that changes – especially smaller ones – were not always reviewed and analysed.
Whether that’s new content for a page for SEO, ads being paused, new keywords added, a targeting setting changed.
Yet by applying a simple post-test analysis mindset to change within accounts we can properly annotate, bookmark and return to these changes and analyse the impact they have had. This often leads to more talking points with clients, new opportunities and marketing testing actions.
What is involved in post-test analysis for marketing testing? Well for SEO a marketer makes a simple change to a page title and adds in a new internal link with different anchor text in the body copy. Post-test-analysis can include – CTR, engagement metrics, ranking, performance by device, Search console query data, internal CTR to the internally linked page. Closing the loop is an essential part of properly testing for growth.
Content & CRO.
Most people in digital marketing think they are of a high standard when it comes to writing copy. The truth is, they probably are to varying degrees. Yet when our staff members went through CRO and content training many would return to their own copy in ads, page titles, body copy – and they would become hyper-critical.
Exhibit A – Let’s be honest most SEO content is written first and foremost to rank for a search engine. Yet what happens when the user finds that copy? Will it engage them? Does it speak to their DBM’s (dominant buying motives)? Does it use neuromarketing techniques such as Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion to help turn that customer from a visitor to a buyer?
CRO Content writing training raised questions the marketing teams had never asked before, such as:
- How is the content presented?
- What should we do with font size for sections?
- What KPI’s should we analyse for this content?
- What pain point do we want to address with this headline?
- How do we handle possible objections?
- How do we logical break up long-form content?
- How does key content stand out from the rest?
Instead of writing for rankings, consider what you will do with those rankings once you get them? Instead of thinking about just getting the keyword in your paid ad, think about the journey from customers wants/needs to ad creative, competitor differentiators to landing page.
This is especially useful for anyone who manages client projects or digital marketing teams.
This particular Japanese phrase Genchi Genbustu means in its literal translation ‘real location, real thing.’
Made famous by the senior leaders at Toyota within their production philosophy it has been used well by another well-regarded conversion optimisation company (we’ll not name them here, but their name sounds a little like conversion great excerpts). We’ll not go into great detail on it here as they have already done so and while it was around long before them, we do not want to be known for plagiarism!
Essentially it means ‘shit doesn’t get fixed from a distance.’
To truly understand and resolve a problem you need to be in it at the forefront. Thoroughly research at the root cause place and then create a process for resolution and future avoidance. A machine doesn’t work. Go to the machine and speak to the guy who operates it.
Want to understand why a team isn’t getting the results fast enough? Don’t just ask them. Don’t just look at the data. Don’t just speak to the client. Get into it from the ground up not the top down.
How can this help you in your digital marketing? Well for a start client onboarding became much more detailed. We spent more time understanding a company, its people and mainly its competitors and customers before we launched into marketing activity.
From day to day digital marketing issues point of view, this simple change to analysing more qualatative data to make calls helps massively. It might sound obvious, but we’ll lay it out anyway (helps with the word count!). Let’s say you see a PPC ad group not performing. Or an SEO page failing to improve in rankings. Or even a social media campaign tanking. The first steps is normally to make adjustments based on the data. A sound decision. Yet what if you went through the process as a user? Stopped and thought like a user. Looked at other ads around your own paid ad in the search results? Not just what other competitors have on their SEO page, but what customers SAY they want on to know and see.
Point in case. An unnamed (confidentiality agreement!) B2C supplier we work with had underperforming PPC campaign & landing pages. Yet instead of changing the campaign we instead started at the root. By getting feedback from customers on what they want. Watching customers interact with the page we were able to make changes to both ad copy, targeting and landing pages that helped turn campaign performance completely around.
From a leadership point of view, we changed how we would make decisions. Whether it was strategy, staff meetings or other areas, it was clear they were always more productive if the leader had the full picture. Had immersed themselves in the problem. Genchi Genbutsu at work!
More coming in 2021.
So there you have it. Here are a few key areas in which a CRO mindset helped improve our digital marketing activity. No matter what type of agency you are, whether it’s an all you can eat, fine dining or something in between, your service can be that bit more special when your chefs share best practice.
We are constantly updating this article (when we get chance!) so make sure you come back and say hi from time to time. Until then here’s a couple of ecommerce conversion rate optimisation articles we’ve had time to produce. Happy reading!