Paul Rouke
Founder & Director of Optimisation
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  • Conversion Rate Optimisation

27th Feb 2013

5 min


Developing and integrating a testing and optimisation strategy within businesses is what me and our respected optimisation team at PRWD do, and what more and more businesses are looking for.

There has been a recent Q&A with Dan Hubbard, the Head of Web Analytics at the RSA Group, a Global Insurance Company, and there are so many great insights I wanted to share a number of quotes from Dan. I have delivered training in e-commerce and persuasion for the Head of Testing at RSA and I can confirm that RSA are one of the most mature organisations I have had the pleasure of dealing with when it comes to having an optimisation strategy…

Team Ethos

What is the con of running this type of programme in-house versus having an external consultancy?

The main con I think is the risk of the teams becoming too specialised and dropping out of step with the wider digital community. Insurance isn’t pushing digital boundaries as quickly as retail and telecoms sectors are, and we must ensure we continue to bring elements of those leading industries into our own. I think we solve this through personal development and staff engagement – everyone is encouraged to participate in industry-wide events and experimentation of new technologies and methodologies is very much encouraged.

The Importance of Personalisation

Personalisation is running a year or two behind that but is on the same journey. From what we’ve learnt so far, it has the capability to really drive up user experience and engagement.

There’s been some bad press about personalisation which is centred around its use for third party retargeting, but when used appropriately it just means that the messages you see are more likely to match what you’re looking for on the site.

People seem to love their local shops because they get a personalised service and the same is true online. I really believe that the concept of a static homepage will be unthinkable in a few years time.

Reporting versus actionable insight

Generally if a report can’t be automated, I don’t agree to deliver it and we can usually offer to do something more valuable with that time such as analysis reviews and insight workshops. Most of the tools we use have great automation capabilities but to be honest it’s quite rare that partners ask for regular reports once they’ve seen our pitch and way of working.

If you offer someone the choice between a big spreadsheet of numbers versus a list of data-driven improvement ideas, backed with examples from our other brands, they rarely choose the spreadsheet.

Getting board level buy-in

We use Adobe Analytics across all sites and pull data through the API into a central dashboard which is designed to help the group’s senior team identify opportunities and trends at a global level. To say this has been popular would be a huge understatement; the global web dashboard now has a regular slot at quarterly board meetings with our Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer.

The trends we pull from this dashboard are shifts in device usage, marketing, usability performance, customer shopping behaviour and shifts in external factors such as the activity of insurance aggregators.

Creating a testing culture

Creating a culture where change is AB tested can be a challenge especially as it can add to the complexity of deployment. Our design and UX teams love it though, because it’s the best way of finding out exactly how each change impacts our online metrics. A few years ago I was busy convincing people of the need to test, now I’ve got more demand for testing than we can keep up with.

What to test and why

We have implemented a lot of UX changes based on test results and sometimes it’s surprising to see what customers prefer.

We don’t do those awful button tests, e.g. changing the colour of a button to see whether you can drive up click-through. I’d question how that really benefits customers in any way.

What we do is look for ways of presenting information, ways of gathering data and ways of navigating which customers find easiest and most intuitive to use. We also test to find out what messaging to use in each stage of the customer journey, because essentially the website should exist to make insurance understandable and accessible if the web is your channel of choice.

The most interesting tests are usually the wacky ones which have some sort of emotive trigger. We have played around with personalising our pet insurance journeys, such as changing images to show the correct breed of dog for owners who are getting a quote for a pure breed.

It seems daft when you explain the concept but that little test ramped up conversion to sale by 4%, which proves that customers respond well to a user experience which feels personal to them.

So where to next…?

Me and the respected conversion optimisation team at PRWD have been involved in developing testing & optimisation strategies for huge organisations like Shop Direct, John Lewis and Belron – if you want to see how we can help you please get in touch – we’re a very personable bunch!

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