• Conversion Rate Optimisation

2nd Sep 2015

4 min

Setting the foundations

In any business there are challenges, however I’ve found over the years that the biggest challenge and hurdle to get over is the culture change within a business. Like the picture below, it might not be the part of an optimisation programme that gets all the plaudits but it is the most important part of building a successful conversion optimisation programme.


foundations for successful conversion optimisation programme Foundations by R.Berteig. Flickr

There are two types of organisations:

‘Business – led’ – which primarily focuses on its growth and market share in terms of numbers on a page and utilising best practice methods

‘Customer – led’ – which primarily focuses on getting closer to its customers putting them at the heart of all business associated decisions

For all organisations there are pros and cons to both of the above, however the most successful and sustainable conversion optimisation programmes happen to businesses that are generally ‘customer – led’. To drive this type of culture is not easy and requires all facets of a business to be pulling in the same direction and working towards the same goals and vision. Using customer personas to truly understand who your customers are – and in parallel allowing your employees to gain an understanding on who they are as well – helps you to bring this to life. Then (and only then) you have clear customer understanding, is it the time to set your company vision and internal goals.

Senior board members must be confident in optimisation

This customer-led culture needs to be driven from the top down via CEO’s / directors etc. If these guys aren’t on board then there will always be stumbling blocks further down the line. If you don’t have dedicated Optimisation Strategists, you should employ some (dependent on your business size). A good way of getting senior board members involved and understanding the day to day issues with consumers is getting them to see it first hand – via ‘User Research’ sessions etc. Without them seeing users interact with the website it’s hard to ever convince top level management to invest. Here are a few cheeky tips to better equip your convincing efforts.

Not having a validated hypothesis to test

Adopting the wrong type of culture is all too easy to do and will impact your optimisation programme significantly. Too many times I’ve asked people about their approach to conversion optimisation and received an answer of ‘we do X and Y’ because it’s the right thing to do. “What’s made you do that?” I ask and the answer I normally receive is “it just seemed right.” This is the wrong culture – making decisions based on instinct, gut feel, HiPPO (Highest paid person’s opinion) or just because they are in line with a business strategy is risky and not how a modern day customer centric organisation should act…it’s old school! Making the wrong decisions can cost significant money and not deliver the desired results as there is no evidence that they will work.

Bring in the experts


expert opinion for conversion optimisation plan Expert by Pete Prodoehl. Flickr

Resourcing is also a key consideration to make when starting out on your conversion optimisation programme – having a dedicated ‘Customer Team’ or ‘Customer Director’ who are directly linked into User Experience and CRO teams is something which I’ve got first-hand experience of and can assure you definitely helps! It gives the business not only a responsibility but also an identity and allows them to shape the strategy for a business with the customer at the heart of it. Let them use the evidence through User Testing/Qualitative & Quantitative data to dismiss opinion and drive change within your organisation. Don’t get me wrong, this type of culture doesn’t happen overnight – it’s something that needs to be worked on and depending upon the size of your business could take anywhere up to 4- 12 months to be fully immersed within your organisation. Building a philosophy of constant optimisation is ideally where you want your business to get to. The idea of testing and more importantly learning from each individual test is key – don’t disregard a test or stop testing based on one failure, learn from it – understand why it failed and move onto the next thing. Fail fast to learn better!

Now that you’ve set the foundations and the infrastructure of your business, it will be geared up to sustain a progressive test and learn conversion optimisation programme. Next, it’s time to get your testing processes in place. Starting with a robust testing methodology which should centre on using data to inform design.

Find part 2 on developing a testing methodology here.

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