4 mins read


Optimisation Lead

Optimisation Lead

There is some confusion as to what Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) means.

Add to that the growing trend, Customer Experience Optimisation (CXO), and it's no surprise that everyone is a little confused and fed up with more bloody acronyms. 

First of all, what is CRO, and why is it important?

In its purest form, CRO is the practice of data-driven experimentation to persuade a website or app user to take a desired action. 

CRO is essential for anyone spending money to drive traffic to a website because you can lead a horse to water, but you can't stop it from clicking the wrong button... or something like that. 

However, there are different levels of CRO... I define them as micro and macro levels (original...). At the micro-level, we test small iterations of a single element on a page, such as changing the copy on a button. At the macro level, we take a more holistic approach and consider multiple touchpoints in the user journey to reduce friction. 

At both the macro and micro-levels, CRO outputs will usually include: Research, Hypothesise, Experiment, Analyse, Repeat.

What is CXO?

CXO is closer to the macro level I mentioned above, except it should extend beyond your website or app and consider the ENTIRE customer journey. From phone calls to physical interactions.

Typically CXO will resonate with senior-level execs as they have their business objectives in mind, and they’re not so bothered by the detail of campaign-level KPIs.

CXO is a longer-term and cross-functional practice that considers how ALL of your customer touchpoints impact the overarching Customer Experience and is measured by brand perception, customer sentiment, customer lifetime value, customer retention, reviews, NPS and CSAT and a million other things. 

Digital CXO outputs could be design changes, information architecture reshuffles or the creation of brand new features. 

These two services collide because, ultimately, CRO & CXO are both centered around data and experimentation.

How to get started with CRO

CRO starts with research. You have to fully understand your customer and the way they behave on your website or app. Start with quantitative research using something like Google Analytics; this is where you gather your primary research to find out what you want to optimise. What is performing well, what isn’t working etc.? 

Couple that with qualitative research using something that gives you more behavioural insights, e.g. Hotjar, for session recording, and heat mapping to see where people are clicking. This helps identify where consumers are having problems, making U-turns, rage clicking, and leaving negative feedback. The best form of research is always going to be direct access to your customers, but where this isn't possible you can use something like UsabilityHub or UserTesting to help you get anecdotal feedback from lookalike audiences. Using tools like these allows you to gather data directly from customers. 

As you walk through the research steps (technical, heuristic, data, user feedback), you’ll naturally start creating a list of actions; some of these actions will need testing. For that, you’ll need some form of testing tool. Such as Google Optimise, Dynamic Yield, Unbounce,; ultimately, they give you the ability to test variations vs. an original.

They are all driven by a statistical engine that helps you quickly determine a winning test variation. These tools allow you to test ideas without a developer before you deploy permanent changes to your website.

How to get started with CXO

You can use similar research tools to CRO, but you’ll learn more from qualitative research and feedback from customers and front-line staff to find insights. 

You’ll need to take the time to build a complete picture of each customer type, so you’ll probably need to write some personas and identify pain points for each. An excellent place to start would be to build a Customer Journey Map. These maps will help you to spot customer needs and opportunities to solve any problems they may experience when interacting with you.

CRO for Airfix (Hornby Hobbies)

Here is a quick example of CRO output for Airfix.

As part of my ongoing research I noticed an opportunity to help new website visitors discover products. The original homepage (this is where the majority of new visitors started their journey) design had a search bar as the primary CTA. However, I discovered that new visitors converted more often when they could browse products, rather than having to think of something specific to search for. So I set up an AB test that replaced the search bar with two buttons, one that took new users to Starter Kits, which was where I believed most new customers would ideally begin their journey. The second button was for browsing the entire catalog for those who may be new visitors to the site but already familiar with Airfix products. After testing these two buttons I saw an increase of 22.72% in transactions from New Visitors on mobile and have deployed this change to the website.

CXO for Hunters

To help improve Hunters’ website I created a customer journey map for a buyer persona. Following some industry research, I mapped out the typical stages of buying a house, then cross-referenced them against the content and tools Hunters have available on their website to understand how they currently help guide and attract potential buyers during their journey. Once I mapped those two things together, I was able to see several opportunities to propel Hunters beyond their competition… I’d love to share them with you, but then you’d never learn how to do it yourself, would you?!

In summary

There is a place for both CRO and CXO within any organisation. CRO on a macro and micro level will improve your conversion rates quickly, and you’ll see a better return on your marketing spend. CXO will take longer but could propel you miles ahead of your competition by allowing you to build something they haven’t identified yet. Our approach is to blend CRO and CXO by involving cross-functional teams that drive toward the same objectives. 

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