When people ask me what I do for a living and I mention website or conversion rate optimisation (CRO). I often find they think I’m talking about another area of digital marketing. Many people think CRO is related to Search Engine Marketing, PPC or SEO. This should not be a surprise because CRO is a somewhat misleading term for website optimisation. It gives the impression that it is all about a single metric, which it is not.
For a start any fool can optimise a website’s conversion rate by slashing prices, offering people free trials or giving free money away on a gaming site. But the site would soon go out of business as this wouldn’t do much for overall profitability. No, CRO is not about optimising the conversion rate as it would be dangerous to use a single metric for a measure of success.
Why conversion rate is a poor metric?
The conversion rate is actually a poor metric to focus on because not all visitors are able or willing to convert. Furthermore, by making your site more engaging and increasing the frequency of visitors returning to your site. You may well increase sales, but your conversion rate could well fall as a result. This is because returning visitors may not buy on every visit, but overall they could be buying more merchandise.
The conversion rate also tends to vary significantly according to different channels and visitor types. So if your traffic mix changes your conversion rate could fall due to the source of traffic and not because of anything you have done. Increasing overall traffic to your site could again increase sales but it’s quite common for this to reduce your conversion rate as the traffic mix may change or because visitor intent is lower.
Common misconceptions about CRO:
The lack of understanding of website optimisation is partly caused by the term CRO which has led to some of the following misconceptions about it:
CRO only relates to customer acquisition.
CRO is A/B and multivariate testing.
CRO is a tactical tool for resolving short-term problems with sales or revenues.
You need to have a lot of traffic for CRO.
CRO is expensive and not for small companies.
Landing page optimisation is the same as CRO.
CRO is about improving the customer experience.
Well, what is conversion rate optimisation?
CRO is a strategic approach to digital marketing that seeks to optimise the value obtained from visitors to your site in a sustainable and customer centric way. It aims to be a driver of business growth by persuading customers to take action by allowing them to achieve their goals so that you can also meet your business goals. CRO requires a scientific or evidence based approach to decision making regarding changes to the digital customer experience.
So let’s break this definition down into some of its individual components to fully understand what CRO means.
Strategy rather than a tactic:
As a strategy rather than a tactic CRO is much more powerful because it requires a customer centric culture from the C-suite down. Only when CRO is embedded into the culture of a business can we expect it to reach its full potential. CRO should not be a silo in marketing or some other part of the business that is infrequently discussed by the board. It needs to be the responsibility of everyone in the business to consider how changes to the user experience may impact the customer and overall profitability.
For you to meet your business goals the customer must first achieve their goals. This means communicating a compelling value proposition and using conversion centric design to make the user journey as frictionless as possible.
Acquisition and retention:
CRO principles can and should be applied to both acquisition and existing customer journeys. It is normally a lot cheaper to retain customers than acquire new customers and so it is more efficient to allocate resources to customer retention than to focus just on attracting new users.
To get more visitors to convert it is necessary to use persuasive techniques to nudge customers towards their goal. This means that a good understanding of the application of behavioural sciences such as behavioural economics, psychology and neuroscience are essential qualities for optimisers.
A culture of evidence-based decision making is important to encourage a scientific approach to digital optimisation. Online experiments using A/B and multivariate testing solutions should support this strategy by validating changes and allowing a evolutionary approach to website improvement. This approach largely removes the need for site-redesigns because it leads to a more evolutionary way of enhancing the customer experience.
Source: Sentient Ascend
People of course dislike whole site re-designs as they have to instantly deal with multiple changes on a site that looks very different from what they had become accustomed to. Facebook have learnt this lesson the hard way and now ensure change is gradual and controlled to avoid annoying users. LinkedIn on the other hand don’t seem to have understood the pitfalls of site-redesigns and received huge criticism following a new site launch in early 2017.
To develop a CRO strategy it is important to have a structured process to guide your program. Having a process like the steps outlined below helps give you credibility within your business as it demonstrates your professional integrity. Further, it encourages a consistent approach to CRO throughout your organisation.
Invest in people:
Website optimisation requires a number of specialist skills to perform well in the role. Consequentially it is important to invest in training and personal development to improve the skill set of your optimisation team.
Because CRO is more complex than simply optimising your conversion rate it is necessary to carefully define your most important metrics to evaluate what success looks like. For example e-commerce retailers need to ensure they don’t increase sales at the expense of more returns as this can lead to them losing money.
Ecommerce sites should seek to combine results from their test with metrics from the data warehouse (DWH) to measure revenues after returns. This is one reason why you shouldn’t rely on a single source of data as this can lead to errors and may undermine the reliability of your test results. Web analytics, DWH and data from your testing tool should be used together to provide a more comprehensive picture of user behaviour.
Averages lie, there is no such thing as an average customer. It is important to segment your conversion rate because it is likely to vary significantly according to visitor type and channel. Some users will have different intent and a different relationship with the retailer according to their traffic source or user needs. New visitors and returning visitors often have very different conversion rates.
Amazon Prime customers for instance convert around 74% of the time compared to 13% for non-Prime visitors. This compares to just 3.1% for the average e-commerce site. You should also analyse your conversion rate by acquisition channels as for example non-brand terms PPC will usually convert at a significantly lower rate than your site average. Trying to improve your conversion rate for an individual channel is much more likely to be a success than if you treat all visitors the same.
At the same time be careful not to create too many different segments. You need to have a sufficiently large sample size for each segment to avoid a high sampling error and unreliable results. Bear in mind that the probability of error rises exponentially the more segments you compare against each other.
In many ways CRO is a form of change management because it can be a powerful driver of innovation in an organisation. However, people naturally resist change and this can create blockages for a successful CRO program. Use change management techniquest to engage and inform people about your CRO strategy to prevent objections being raised further down the line.
CRO is about improving the profitability of your site by persuading more of your visitors to convert. This does require a cultural shift in how website design changes are decided. It seeks to replace the use of subjective opinions to make decisions with a scientific evidence-based approach to digital optimisation.
“We optimise revenue, growth, pricing, value proposition, images, navigation and more. Perhaps we’re the Online Business Optimisation industry, OBO. That’s taken, unfortunately.” Brian Massey – Conversion Scientist at Conversion Sciences – From The Growth Strategy That’s Being Ignored.
CRO does of course create a lot of challenges, but the benefits are well worth it as you can use CRO as a driver of sustainable business growth. As companies such as Amazon, Skyscanner and Netflix continue to develop their CRO strategy it will become increasingly difficult to compete against such organisations unless you also adopt a CRO strategy based upon evidence rather than gut instinct.
Why is CRO failing to get traction in the boardroom? and why is it that Amazon Prime converts 74% of the time on Amazon.com? Yet the average Ecommerce retailer only converts 3.1% of the time?
According to research by Millward Brown Digital, even non-Prime customers convert 13% of the time. Bryan Eisenberg, CRO expert and thought leader suggests that Amazon’s secret is to do with developing a culture of customer centricity and experimentation. It is deeply embedded in the culture of the organisation from the C-suite level down.
Given the success of Amazon with applying the principles of CRO to drive business growth, why is it that in many organisations there is little, if any, engagement with CRO at the top level of management? This is the conundrum that the book ‘The Growth Strategy That’s Being Ignored’ seeks to answer.
Why should you read it?
Although this is a short read, Paul Rouke, from CRO agency PRWD has managed to gather contributions from 17 global CRO thought leaders. Even including Chris Goward, Roger Dooley, Brian Massey, Peep Laja, Bart Schutz, Oli Gardner, Talia Wolf and also Tim Ash. These are people with a huge amount of experience of successfully applying CRO strategies in large ecommerce organisations.
The book focuses on the key reasons for the frequent failure of organisations to fully benefit from CRO. Also why optimisers often find themselves stuck in the “trough of disillusionment”. I’ve previously written about the Dunning-Kruger effect. The initial success with CRO often creates overconfidence in the optimiser’s skills and abilities to create successful tests.
What is the cause of the despair that many CRO teams experience?
The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias that is the result of people over-rating their level of competence in an area of expertise. This means we have a tendency to become over-confident about our knowledge and ability to comprehend and interpret data related to a topic. In CRO this is not helped by the creation of silos within the organisation to optimise the digital experience. This can act as a barrier to collaboration and the sharing of knowledge. It can also create an environment which allows the Dunning-Kruger effect to flourish.
A number of reasons are given for the lack of adoption of a CRO philosophy at the executive level. Including the name and a lack of change management skills in the team. The most frequent cause is the perception of CRO as a short-term tactic rather than a strategy for long-term growth. As a result CRO thinking is often not embedded into the culture of the organisation from the C-suite downwards. This automatically relegates CRO to a tactical solution to short-term problems by a silo in marketing or some other department in the organisation.
Talia Wolf, Founder & CEO of Conversioner
“The majority of marketers run meaningless tests without any strategy or hypothesis. The results are hard to analyse and scale”.
What you won’t get from this book is any insight into the detailed process of CRO or tips for experiments to increase your conversion rate. This book is solely about why CRO has failed to be successfully embedded into the culture and processes of many digital organisations.
Andre Morys, Co-founder & CEO at Web Arts
“The ego of the optimisers makes 90% of tests results a lie”.
I have to agree that this is a problem. Being an optimiser in an organisation where there isn’t a culture of experimentation and senior management support can be soul destroying. It feels like there is a constant battle to get resources and co-operation from product, MarComs and marketing. You need to employ change management skills and engage internal stakeholders first before trying to communicate your strategy.
Who should read this book?
The problem in the book is clearly with communicating the benefits and implementation of CRO to executive level management. This is an ideal read for C-suite management and CRO managers seeking to establish a culture of CRO within their organisation. This is likely to help counteract the Dunning-Kruger effect.
The book should be a wake-up call for many CRO specialists and executives who are allowing their sites to fall further behind the leaders in customer centricity and experimentation. According to RedEye, companies spend on average $92 on driving traffic to their website and only $1 to convert those visitors. This is not a sustainable approach. Sites will increasingly be squeezed out of the market by the likes of Amazon, AO.com and other companies that recognise the benefits of a strategic approach to CRO.
Technology is speeding up the optimisation process by allowing massively complex multivariate testing. Companies that embed CRO into their culture as a strategy for growth will exploit these tools much more effectively than organisations it as a tactical tool.
Value for money:
With such a star-studied list of contributors you might have expected more detail on how to implement a strategic approach to CRO. However, the contributors do make some very valid points. There are plenty of other books to read if you want advice on the optimisation process. Given the potential audience of CEOs and CMOs brevity is also a bonus. They won’t want to read anything too detailed or long about what they perceive to be a specialist subject. My advice is buy the kindle version for your smartphone or e-book reader as it’s only £2.99.
10 Top Conversion Rate Optimisation Strategy Mistakes:
There is plenty of advice on Twitter and other social media about conversion rate optimisation strategy. ConversionXL, Widerfunnel, and Hubspot to name but a few. Despite this many organisations continue to make some basic errors that limit their ability to improve sales and revenues from their conversion rate optimisation strategy. Below are nine of the most fundamental mistakes that organisations tend to make with conversion rate optimisation strategy:
1. Don’t fully integrate web analytics tracking and reporting
The saying that if you don’t measure something you can’t identify if you are improving or not, rings true with website optimisation. Unless you have reliable web analytics monitoring and reporting of your KPIs from the beginning to the end of the user journey. You will never really know how your site is performing and what impact tactical changes have on your revenues. You will also struggle to prioritise effectively as you need web analytics to identify the value of each step in the user journey. Conversion optimisation strategy depends upon comprehensive and reliable web analytics to inform decision making.
They are also important to validate test results and check the robustness of uplifts. A/B testing solutions only support certain browsers and devices and need to be configured to ensure they cover all important use cases. What if your test doesn’t include an alternative user journey? Your web analytics can help identify these kinds of problems so that you can fix them.
Although A/B testing can be a useful optimisation technique, it is only one of many activities that an organisation needs to use for an effective conversion rate optimisation strategy. The chart below shows the many activities companies use to improve conversion rates. Companies that have an effective strategy will do all of these and more. Furthermore, they won’t begin A/B testing until they have completed a thorough user experience audit to identify and fix problems with the customer experience.
This kind of measurement can be misleading because conversion rates continuously fluctuate due to many factors. Competitor activity, website bugs, traffic source, advertising spend and the weather are just a few that can cause your conversion rate to change. Because of this you can only be confident that a change to your website is the reason for a significant uplift or decline in conversion by running an A/B or multivariate test.
These kinds of experiments allow you to isolate the impact of the difference in the customer experience by having control. This is achieved by randomly splitting traffic to both experiences and so all other drivers of your conversion rate should influence both variants equally.
4. Don’t A/B Test.
OK, you’ve fixed your user experience problems. What’s next? Provided you have enough traffic and conversions A/B testing allows you to learn from your mistakes and identify what improves conversion. There are many reasons why organisations don’t conduct A/B testing, but the lack of online experiments can hinder your ability to reduce acquisition and retention costs.
A/B testing enables you to remove subjective opinions from decisions about which design or journey is better at meeting the organisation’s objectives. They also help develop an evidence based decision making culture. Which is key to a successful conversion rate optimisation strategy.
5. Only track a single measure of conversion:
It is beneficial to agree a single success metric for your conversion optimisation strategy. This is especially useful for A/B tests as it provides clear direction to everyone creating experiments. But if your success metric is total revenues or sales leads, that doesn’t mean you should ignore other metrics that could suggest a change is counter-productive. For example if you are optimising to increase sales it would be appropriate to also measure average basket value and total revenues to understand how this affects overall profitability. For a conversion rate optimisation strategy to be sustainable it needs to improve long term profitability and not just short-term sales. This means having a long-term vision and suitable metrics to target.
For ecommerce this means monitoring metrics such as average order value, number of items per basket, sales from returning customers and returns. You will then get a better understanding of how the new customer experience influences user behaviour and your bottom line.
A High Bounce Rate
With content marketing a high bounce rate is often seen as an indication of low engagement. But because of the way most web analytics calculate bounce rates and time on page this may not be the case. Google Analytics defines a bounce as a single engagement hit and counts the session time for such a visitor as zero. What if some of those visitors are spending a number of minutes engrossed in a post and then exit your site? Are they not engaged?
To understand true levels of engagement you need to also track how long bounced visitors spend on a page. This can be done by adding some extra script to your GA tag and setting up events in your web analytics. The point here is that no single metric will ever give you the whole story and it is essential to delve deeper into customer behaviour to truly understand the impact of changes you make to your site.
It is also essential to segment metrics as there is no such thing as an average customer. Device, browser, new visitors and returning visitors are all metrics that can significantly influence how your conversion rate performs. It’s important to analyse the conversion rate by these metrics as otherwise you could draw the wrong conclusions.
6. Don’t have a dedicated team for CRO.
Without a dedicated conversion rate optimisation ( CRO) specialist (or a team in larger enterprises), you will not achieve the full potential from optimisation because generalists will struggle to develop the necessary skills or allocate sufficient time to the task. CRO requires specialist skills (e.g. web analytics and heuristic analysis) that take time to acquire and benefit from regular updating.
Developing strong hypothesis for testing is also a time consuming process. As your A/B testing programme matures you may notice that between 50 to 80% of tests will fail to generate a significant uplift in conversion. As a consequence you will need to run more tests to generate a reasonable return on investment (ROI).
Marketing generalists should be able to deliver landing page and other tactical tests, but they are unlikely to have the time or expertise to develop a more strategic optimisation roadmap that is required to achieve the full benefits of CRO. Generalists also often fail to develop strong hypothesis or have the time to build more complex tests as their time horizons may be too short.
Strong Test Ideas
It is essential to have a continuous supply of strong test ideas in your pipeline to achieve the necessary scale of testing required for a good ROI. A centralised CRO team can easily allocate the necessary resource for the development of test ideas and ensure priority is given to websites or pages with the most potential for generating a high ROI. This minimises duplication of effort and facilitates the sharing of test results with all CRO specialists in the organisation.
A fragmented or silos based approach to CRO is prone to failure because of its inefficient use of resources, often resulting in duplication of effort, and a focus on tactical rather than strategic optimisation. A lack of co-ordination and control of CRO also tends to prevent the implementation of a structured approach to optimisation as silo develops its own ad-hoc processes and KPIs. This is generally a recipe for disaster and a reason why CRO will fail to deliver a good ROI.
7. Put junior people in charge of optimisation.
Source: Freeimages.comA/B testing is a form of experimental research and as such should be seen as part of your innovation strategy. It needs to be headed up by a senior person to deal with all the obstacles that prevent change in an organisation. A junior person is unlikely to have the clout to deal with office politics, and almost certainly won’t have the authority to optimise product, sales channels, Customer Services or prioritise development projects.
This is something that few companies get, for website optimisation to achieve its true potential you need to look at the whole customer journey, and optimise all the inputs, not just the new customer sign up to buy process. Look at the companies that excel at optimisation. Organisations like Amazon, Spotify, Skyscanner and Netflix, they all have directors or senior managers in charge of their testing strategy and don’t limit themselves to new customer journeys.
If you you don’t have a senior role in your organisation for conversion rate optimisation consider hiring a conversion rate optimisation consultant. They can review your processes and ensure your conversion rate optimisation strategy is on solid ground.
8. Don’t formulate hypothesis.
When generating ideas for A/B tests it is important to base the experiment on a hypothesis about how and why the change will influence user behaviour. A hypothesis explains the rationale and also predicts the outcome of the test so that you know which success metrics to set for the test. The hypothesis needs to be based upon evidence gathered from an agreed optimisation process rather than pure gut feeling as otherwise you may struggle to learn from successful tests. Without strong hypothesis A/B testing becomes a random and undirected process that will fail to generate the full benefits of CRO.
9. Don’t have a clear strategy for testing.
There is no point relying on low hanging fruit and best practice to direct your A/B testing as these sources will soon run dry and you will lack direction in your testing programme. It’s important that you follow a recognised and structured optimisation process that draws insights from a range of sources, especially from customers.
And yet companies are often more concerned about competitors and copying their ideas than listening to customers. This is a serious mistake and will lead to a sub-optimal testing programme. Customer insight and usability research is vital because to develop strong testing ideas you need to have a good understanding of customer personas, goals, tasks that lead towards goals and how users interact with your website or app.
Otherwise how can you expect to develop hypothesis to predict user behaviour? You could be making assumptions about customers which might not have any basis in reality. The more insights you can get from your customers the greater the chance you have of identifying a significant problem or improvement you can make to improve conversions.
10. Think it’s all about design.
I’ve heard this so many times, but do your visitors really come to your site to look at its design? I don’t think so. People come to your site to complete a task and are rarely interested in your “cool” design. In fact most conversion rate experts agree that all too often ugly wins over beautiful designs.
Just look at Amazon.com and ebay.com, none of them are what anyone would call aesthetically great designs. They are functional, they offer a great deal maybe and most importantly of all they let users do what they want to do without having to think too much. Conversion rate optimisation strategy must focus on the customer first and not the subjective opinions of designers.
Designers may be good at composing a new webpage or app screen, but that doesn’t mean they understand your main customer segments or know what improves conversions or revenues. Conversion optimisation strategy requires a collaborative process and so designers must work closely with CRO experts to deliver new experiences based upon evidence rather than subjective opinions. Otherwise you will end up with new experiences that are based upon design principles rather than CRO insights and there will be limited, if any, learning from the process.
Web analytics tools allow you to track exactly where visitors go on your site, how long they spend on each page and how they interact with your site or app. This allows you to understand more about your potential customers and to measure, analyse and report on your traffic. Web analytics tools answer four key questions:
Who visits your website – in terms of number of visitors and their characteristics?
Where do your visitors come from – the source of traffic?
What do visitors do when they get to your site – which pages do they visit?
Where do they go afterwards – if you have links to other sites (e.g. you are an affiliate)?
This is useful to know so that you can begin to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns and the performance of your website. Unless you measure something you won’t know if you are getting better or not and what changes to make to improve performance and revenues. This means using web analytics tools to set benchmarks and start monitoring changes over time.
Web analytics tools allow you to measure:
How many visitors land on your site every day?
Your audience and their demographic profile – the gender mix, their age, what are their interests?
What geographic location do your visitors come, such as the city or country?
What proportion of your visitors are new or returning visitors?
Audience behaviour – engagement levels and frequency of returning to your site?
What browsers are they using? Important to know so that you ensure you support old browsers if lots of your visitors are still using them.
Technology – what devices are your visitors using and their screen resolution? Again very useful because you want to optimize your site according to the devices & screen sizes of your visitors.
Landing and exit pages – what are they?
Which is your most popular content – which pages do they visit most? Critical for prioritising effort and A/B testing.
Which channels drive most visitors to your site – organic, direct, referral, paid, social?
Which campaigns generate most visitors to your site?
Referrals – Which domains are generating most visitors for your site.
Keywords used by visitors to find your site.
You can compare website traffic against your key competitors on metrics such as bounce rate, time on site and source of traffic by using a website audience comparison tool. These tools use information collected by ISPs, panels and other sources to track competitor website traffic and demographics.
Using Web Analytics Tools To Set Goals:
This is all interesting information, but what really matters is whether you are achieving your business goals. Web analytics tools allow you to set up your organisational goals to measure performance over time and identify reasons why you may not be achieving them .
One of the main tasks of conversion rate optimisation is to align each individual webpage with the relevant business objective. So for instance if you have an e-commerce site you will want to set up goals that lead towards a sale, such as view a product page, add to basket, enter checkout and finally complete a sale.
For a blog you will be more interested in engagement metrics, such as time spent on site and number of pages viewed. Once you have defined your key metrics you can set up automated reports to monitor your conversion rates and begin to investigate any changes that occur.
Next you need to better understand your visitor behaviour to identify user journeys and whether you can improve goal achievement through making changes to your site. You should monitor bounce rates and page load speed times to ensure any changes you make to your website don’t put visitors off browsing your site.
One of the most useful benefits of web analytics is the ability to look at the visitors’ path to purchase so that you can identify the drop-off rates at each step in the journey. You will be able to see if any particular stage is more problematic than the others so that you can consider what changes might help reduce this leak in the conversion funnel.
You should then begin to investigate whether your conversion rate at each step in the funnel varies across some of the metrics we have just listed. This might highlight that your website is not that user friendly for visitors on small screens or that your site doesn’t render properly in certain browsers. You can then use one of many cross-browser testing tools to view what might be causing the problem.
If your overall conversion rate is significantly lower in Germany than the UK and there is no obvious reason why this is the case you might want to review your copy as German tends to use more characters than English and direct translations can sometimes fail to allow for local cultural differences. A/B tests have shown that cultural differences can influence how visitors respond to a user interface and so ideally web optimisation needs to allow for cultural preferences in design and behaviour.
Source of Traffic:
Web analytics tools can tell you where your traffic is coming from and which channels are converting better than others. If you are paying for traffic this helps you to understand if you are getting a reasonable return on investment. Again, investigate why you see differences in your conversion rate to try and understand if it relates to your website or the nature of the traffic for each channel.
Find Broken Stuff With Web Analytics Tools:
If you see a sudden drop-off in conversion or decline in traffic from a reliable source this may indicate something is broken on your or a referrer’s site. Use your analytics to flag up when and where on your site there may be a problem with your site so that you can prevent it going unnoticed and costing your organisation significant sums in lost business.
With most subscription web analytics you can set up automated reports that will be emailed to you on a daily basis to help you monitor your key metrics. This will save you having to login every day and allow you to monitor site performance even when you are out of the office.
Web Analytics Tools – Recommendation:
I’ve used all the most popular web analytics tools on the market from IBM Core Metrics, Adobe Analytics to Google Analytics. The clear winner for me is the free version of Google Analytics because it’s by far the most intuitive solution, it’s fast, very little delay in reporting and it integrates so easily with other tools. The support in terms of documentation is second to none and there is a wealth of advice on the web as so many professional optimisers user it.
It is difficult to beat Google Analytics if you are on a limited budget. If want a more sophisticated product then Google 360 is worth considering as this has all the benefits of the free version with the advantages of a paid solution.
18 Website Analytics Tools Compared:
Below you will find the 18 most popular web analytic tools, some of which are free, and so there is no excuse not to start measuring your visitors and their behaviour.
Previously Omniture/SiteCatalyst. Adobe Marketing Cloud is one of the most popular of web analytics tools on the market. An enterprise solution with e-commerce sites that you can fully integrate with Adobe’s Test & Target A/B, multivariate testing and personalisation platform.
A comprehensive suite of features, including mobile, ad-hoc analysis, and the ability for real-time and rule-based decision-making tools to target key customer segments.
This positions itself as a behavioural analytics solution as its focus is on tracking events rather than simply visitors. Amplitude offers real-time monitoring of user behaviour and unlimited individual user timelines. Pathfinder, their user flow analysis, allows you to better understand how visitors navigate through your site or app by visualising the aggregate paths that they take.
The behavioural cohorting feature allows you to define a group of users based upon the actions they have or have not taken on your site. You can then apply cohorts throughout your analysis to understand how different behaviours impact specific KPIs such as retention and revenues. The Microscope feature allows you to click on any point in a chart and create a cohort of everyone who did or did not take a certain action to investigate what is driving their behaviour.
Amplitude offers a free plan for sites or apps with up to 10 million monthly events. For organisations with up to 100 million monthly events the Business Plan costs just $995 per month.
This offers a suite of analytical and testing tools for tracking and optimising editorial content and advertising spend. It focuses on helping organisations understand what content captures and holds audience attention and monetize inventory on the page.
Real-time web analytics tool with an extensive range of features including data at an individual visitor level, on-site analytics, heatmaps, up-time monitoring, a flexible API, Twitter analytics, Google search rankings, video analytics and big screen mobile mode. Free for single websites.
An enterprise level web personalisation and analytics platform which is popular with e-commerce websites. Used by many of Germany’s top 100 online retailers. This solution combines high-end technology with an intuitive user interface.
Econda’s Cross Sell combines a recommendation engine with an online sales tool and re-marketing suite. Product recommendations are context-sensitive and all entry pages can be tailored for your visitors.
Formismo is a state of the art form analytics platform to identify how users interact with your forms and checkout fields. The tool tracks every input field so that you can identify which fields users don’t complete, plus when they do and don’t use auto-complete.
Your form or checkout is unlikely to work as well on all browsers, devices or certain languages. Advanced filters allows you to view all reports for a segment of your visitors to identify and remedy cross-browser or other performance issues. A highly recommended tool by many conversion experts.
Gauges is positioned as a low-cost real-time web analytics tool for small to medium sized organisations. It was designed to be a website analytics API and the dashboard that you see on the Gauges front-end is a web client that consumes the API. 7 day Free trial available.
The default option for web analytics tools for many organisations. It’s free and being the most popular web analytics tool there is a constant stream of posts on how to get the best out of Google Analytics. What I love about Google Analytics is that the user interface is intuitive and because it’s from Google it integrates really easily with other Google solutions such as the SEO tool Google Search Console, their A/B testing tool Google Optimize and AdSense.
The tool is also generally fast to generate reports, no waiting around for data to be processed or sent to you via email. It’s a great tool to begin getting into web analytics.
The free version of Google Analytics offers most features that smaller organisations need and implementation is simple and quick. It uses sampled data when you have over one million unique dimension combinations in standard reports, or more than 500,000 for special queries, such as in custom reports.
The new enterprise suite of six applications which aims to directly challenge Adobe’s Marketing Cloud. It combines Google Analtyics Premium (now called Google Analytics 360) and Attribution 360 (previously Adometry) which it acquired in 2014. You will also get access to an enterprise version of Google Tag Manager.
It gives you access to Audience Center 360, a data management platform that integrates with Google’s own tools (including DoubleClick) and will take data from third-party tools. Of particular interest is the addition of Data Studio 360 which offers advanced data visualization and analysis solutions. This is powered by BigQuery – Google’s data analytics platform. This provides a native report building option for Google Analytics 360 with all the features of Google Docs (e.g sharing & multi-user editing).
Finally, Optimize 360 is a brand new A/B testing and personalisation tool which includes a visual editor interface to bring it in line with other leading A/B testing solutions. Optimize is the free version which allow you to run up to 3 A/B tests at any one time.
A real-time web analytics tools that gives you insights and access down to the individual user-level. A modern and intuitive user interface GoSquared offers business and enterprise solutions, together with a Free version for the small entrepreneur.
A unique real-time web analytics tool that doesn’t require any code to be implemented to setup event tracking. The Event Visualizer allows you to define analytics events by performing the action yourself and so anyone in your organisation can set up a conversion funnel or retention report in seconds. You can also search for an individual user to see every action they’ve done or find users based upon a specific behaviour.
Heap Analytics offers an integrated graphics solution to plot changes in key metrics over time. This allows you to adjust the range, granularity and visualisation as you require. The solution integrates easily with most popular data analysis tools and you can run your own SQL queries or export data to tools such as Tableau.
A free plan is available for up to 5,000 sessions a month or up to 50,000 sessions per month if you add their badge to your website. A 14 day free trial is available for the Custom Plan.
An enterprise web analytics tool incorporating near real-time web analytics, data monitoring and comparative benchmarking. The click-stream reports are very powerful and allow you to see how visitors navigate around your site.
You can expand the IBM Digital Analytics solution to include multiple sites, offline customer behaviour, ad relevancy, impression attribution and social media channels.
A highly recommended and powerful web analytics tool and digital marketing optimisation platform. The solution has three key advantages over traditional web analytics tools. It allows for flexible custom data with an easy to use API, it focuses on individual users and it tracks user behaviour on a multi-session basis.
By tracking user behaviour on a multi-session basis, and by aliasing anonymous cookie data with identifying information, (e.g. email address), Kissmetrics doubles as a customer database. You can collect detailed purchase information and analyse how it correlates with your behavioural analytics data. This provides a comprehensive view of an individual’s interactions with your site over time. This make it one of the most unique of the web analytics tools on the market.
The product is highly thought of for identifying holes in the conversion funnel. It allows you to build ad-hoc queries to drill down on very specific segments.
A comprehensive real-time web and conversion analytics tool. The free tool will show you how your Google Analytics stats match up with the industry standard. It offers a range of plans, including an enterprise solution. 30-day free trial available and a 60-day money back guarantee.
This is technically one of the most advanced of the web analytics tools on the market. It is superior to Google Analytics for behavioural tracking and is great for content-focused websites. It is also less relevant for e-commerce sites.
You can create easy funnels on Mixpanel and visualise them in the user interface. It also allows you to segment users based upon source of traffic or other characteristics (e.g. city) and how they interact with your site. The Explore feature enables you to create profiles for individual users which can be very useful for assisting Customer Services in supporting existing users.
Due to the complexity of the solution it requires a dedicated analyst who can manage it on a daily basis to fully understand the tool and ensure it is set up correctly to measure all your key metrics. To fully integrate API tracking within the solution also needs a fair amount of technical knowledge. It also requires frequent integration with your website if it has to measure specific events or you regularly update or release new features.
A self-hosted, open-source Free web analytics platform. Matomo is a comprehensive web analytics tool but unlike many packages, there is no limit to the amount of data you can store for free. It also has a mobile app. Because it is held on your own server you own the data and can integrate easily with your own internal systems.
A fully integrated and powerful enterprise web analytics tool that includes analytics, segmentation, testing, targeting and re-marketing. An excellent tool for tracking user segments, purchase funnels, scenarios, drop-off and bounce rates. The solution integrates with 3rd party data including app stores, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Webtrends analytics offers:
Unlimited data collection
Multi-channel measurement across social, mobile, web and SharePoint
Real-time tracking of customer activity across multiple channels including web, apps and emails. It provides a comprehensive profile for every user, customisable segmentation, funnels, retention and automated driven actions. A Free version is available.
Web analytics tools are critical to get visibility of what content your visitors are engaging with and to better understand visitor behaviour when they land on your site. For start-ups get yourself Google Analytics as this is a free and very comprehensive solution that will meet most needs. Other solutions often provide free trial periods and so if you are looking for more advanced web analytics tools there are plenty to choose from without having to commit to a major investment.
Is a one-page website a passing fad that participants will in time see as a ghastly mistake or do they have a place as a practical alternative to the traditional large website? Now, I’m not questioning the role of a single page website for a landing page for promotions or product announcements, special project, showcasing a portfolio or a website with minimal content.
What I’m talking about here is the site with more than a few pages. Where there is more than one layer of navigation and where there is a need for an archive of content and a desire for social sharing. The idea of a one-page website is to reduce clutter by only serving essential content. However, does this desire for simplification actually lead to greater user frustration because too much content has been removed and it makes sharing of content difficult?
What is a one-page website?
Initially one-page websites used a single page to dynamically load all pages at once. This allowed the user to scroll endlessly to view different sections of the site. However, increasingly such sites use CSS3 and AJAX to display navigation menus that take users directly to the section they are interested in.
What are the benefits?
Less is more is undoubtedly true sometimes. There is a danger that we present too much information to a user at any one time. This can create cognitive overload. A one-page website reduces the number of decisions users have to make. It removes the need for complex navigation to direct visitors to specific pages.
Easier browsing & no dead-ends:
As all content is on a one-page there is no need for multi-layer navigation. There is no risk of the user getting lost or finding a page with little or no content. This should speed up the browsing process and reduce the number of decisions users have to make.
Easier to keep content up-to-date:
Having substantially less content to maintain and all of it on a one-page significantly reduces the resources required to maintain a website. This should make the site less costly to run and allow what content is shown to be kept more up-to-date.
It is much easier to ensure your website is mobile friendly when you only have a single page to optimise. Since Google decided to give preference to mobile friendly websites this has probably given a big boost to the appeal of the one-page website. However, if all your content is not accessible by mobile devices (e.g. you use flash for some elements), then this is only a sticking plaster to hide a much bigger problem that needs addressing.
The limitation of only having a single page to communicate your value proposition and get a user to take action means that you only need essential messages and content. This may be a good discipline and is why single page websites are often used for landing pages to improve conversion rates. The risk for a multi-product website though is that some visitors require more detailed information about a product or service before they make a decision. For these types of visitors they are likely to become frustrated with a one-page website as they won’t be able to find the content they are looking for.
Take visitors on a journey:
One-page websites are more dynamic and aesthetically pleasing. They also encourage users to go on a journey rather than the traditional static experience of just looking at content on separate pages. Designers may create movement by triggering images or copy to appear as the visitor scrolls down the page.
If your whole website is designed for a single product in mind then you might get a small improvement in SEO ranking. Google will apply your page rank to the whole website. If you have more than one product or service this will not be the case and it could be detrimental to your search rankings.
So there are a number of potential benefits when creating a single page website, but what about the drawbacks?
Longer load speed:
Trying to serve all your content on a single page could reduce your site load speed. This may result in a higher bounce rate and lower conversion as a direct consequence of this change in the performance of your site. It could also affect your Google rankings as the search engine penalises slow loading sites. This should be a major concern for any marketer as people are impatient and don’t like to wait more than two or three seconds for a website to load.
A one-page website gives you little flexibility to add new content and so if you want to add new products or services you are going to be severely limited. It also doesn’t allow you to build up an archive of content, such as a blog. You will have to send visitors to another site to give them access to such an archive. This is not a great user experience and your main site doesn’t benefit from the SEO value of such content.
When a visitor first comes to your site it is important that you have sufficient content to draw them into your proposition before you can expect them to take action. Many first time visitors are not ready to sign up and this is why returning visitor conversion is often higher than new visitor conversion.
People need to be engaged and persuaded by relevant and interesting content. However, if you only have a one-page site, you can only have a limited amount of content in each section and there are no other pages to navigate to. This could mean you will experience a fall in engagement and time spent on your site as there is substantially less content to encourage visitors to browse the site. This may or may not be good for conversion.
SEO Keywords and Content Relevancy:
Google and other search engines look for relevancy through keywords in the content to match with the search query. With a single page website you may be fine with your primary keywords. It is likely that you will struggle to achieve relevancy on sub-topics and terms that would rank better on their own pages.
Google’s Hummingbird update aims to match the meaning of a query to relevant content, not just keywords on a page. By restricting yourself to a single page to cover all your products, features, benefits, technical details, testimonials, partners, market segments and more – you are severely limiting your opportunities to optimize content for SEO relevancy.
We live in the age of social media sharing, whether it is photos, video, quotes, Tweets, stories and more. However, one-page websites make it difficult to share specific content or snippets of a post, as you always land on the same page. If you have a blog you will have to take them away from your main site to where it is hosted.
Understanding Engagement Points:
As the whole site has a single URL it makes it difficult to identify what content your users are interested in and how they browse your site. You will also see an increase in your bounce rate as there is nowhere else for your visitors to go. However, this does not really help you understand how well visitors are engaging with your content.
There is undoubtedly a role for a one-page website as landing pages, promotions, special projects, web toys, stand-alone games etc. Given the number of disadvantages they exhibit they may not to be a sustainable alternative for multi-page websites. We should look to validate these risks with data. Many innovations don’t conform to existing best practices because we have data to support the status quo.
Maybe in time some of the major limitations of one-page websites can be resolved or mitigated. At present they create significant challenges for multi-page websites. Users are not going to thank you if they can’t find the content they are looking for. They are most likely to disappear off to a competitor website.
Designers of multi-page websites could look to incorporate some of the innovate ideas and discipline of the single page website. Learning to keep content to an absolute minimum might reduce some of the distractions and information overload. Single page websites definitely have their place and are pushing the boundaries for website design.
Business – Get your visitor’s attention by explaining your
product or service is less than two minutes
Crowdfunders – Having a video as part of a funding campaign
often helps raise double the money than if you don’t have a video to explain your proposition and business plan.
Authors – Can benefit from having an engaging and
entertaining book trailer.
Marketers – Communicate your latest service or content using
Contests – Grab attention for promotions or contests using a
You can then use your video on your website and drive more traffic to your website by uploading it to YouTube and sharing it on social media. Crazy Egg has a video on their homepage and they estimate it generates an additional $21,000 a month in new income. At the bottom of this post you will find verified links to over 100 explainer video companies.
Types of Explainer Videos:
1. Live Action Video:
A non-animated video can be good if you are selling a tangible product or a people-oriented service, such as a design agency or consultancy. People love to see what a product looks like in context and having the people who your customers would interact with in a video may help establish an emotional connection.
However, live-action videos do restrict you to the real world and so special effects are limited and unless you have a large budget your location is also going to be local.
2. Animated Explainer Videos:
This type of videos allows for much more creativity in your visual story and they are easier to edit or refresh if you need to adapt them at a future date. Animated videos are particularly good for explaining services and intangible products, such as digital tools or
If you don’t have a physical product or object to show you can use an animated video to construct a compelling narrative about how your solution will be the answer to your customer’s problem.
3. Whiteboard Explainer Videos:
This is where the animation is hand drawn and erased using a whiteboard. It is popular because of its simplicity and the low cost of producing such a video. However, they can be very compelling and powerful at telling your story.
4. Kickstarter Videos:
Almost every Kickstarter project has an explainer video because it’s a great way to sell an idea and persuade people to part with their money. They do tend to be longer than your average explainer video, but Kickstarter does give you easy access to lots of examples of explainer videos.
Ok, if you are convinced you want to use explainer videos it is important that you have a reliable process to create a video. Outlined below are six steps people normally follow to produce an awesome explainer video.
Step 1: Get Script Right First:
The main determinant of whether your video will improve conversion or revenue is how good the script is. The audio script needs to engage and persuade viewers that what you are communicating is relevant to them and worth staying with until the end of the video. You are likely to be better at understanding your product or service than a video studio or freelancer. So a draft script should be generated from within your organisation to capitalise on this knowledge.
The aim of the video should be to answer any important questions that your potential customers may have within two minutes. If you can’t do this within the time you should review the amount of detail that you are going into or the scope of the video.
Step 2: Understand Customer Goals and Concerns:
It is important that you take a step back at this point and assess how well you understand your potential customers or reader’s needs. Your visitors come to your site to complete a task or achieve a goal. To allow you to structure your script you need to be able to answer some or all of the following questions about your visitors by conducting some research:
What tasks are they looking to complete by coming to the site?
If they didn’t complete their main tasks, what prevented them from doing so?
What information is missing from the page?
What is their biggest concern about the product or the site?
What, if anything, is unclear or confusing on the page?
What is their number 1 reason for wanting to buy the product?
You can use tools such as SurveyMonkey or Qualaroo to ask your website visitors questions and see my post how to use Voice of Customer tools to boost conversion for other providers. This should help you identify the main barriers to customers purchasing and what questions you could seek to answer in the video. By better understanding the topic from your customer’s perspective you are more likely to press the right buttons and deal with potential objections.
Step 3:The Script:
To keep your video to within two minutes it necessary to plan your script carefully so that you deal with the most important customer objections and effectively communicate why your product/service will meet their needs.
This should communicate what your organisation does or the product/ service that you are promoting. Ensure it states a clear and important benefit.
Introduce the problem:
Outline the problem that potential customers have using the language expressed in your visitor research.
Explain your solution:
Answer the problem with how your product or service provides a solution and again try to use some of the language customers used in your Voice Of the Customer research.
Focus on important features:
Make sure you communicate how some of your product’s features solve specific and important problems.
Call to action:
Ensure you include a clear and compelling call to action at the end of the video so that people are clear what to do next.
Demonstrate why customers can have confidence in your organisation by displaying trust signals. This should be evidence such as well-known clients or partners, awards or other independently verified seals of approval. A free trial offer can also reduce the perceived risk from the customer’s perspective of making a wrong decision.
To retain viewer interest you should aim to have a video of 90 seconds or less. As a script of between 110 to 140 words should translate into a minute of video, you may want to aim for around 165 to 210 words in total.
Other things to consider are:
Communicate your most important message and value proposition in the first 30 seconds
Use 2nd person language, using words such as “you”, “your” and “yours”
Avoid jargon and technical words to keep the language simple
and easy to understand.
The tone of voice should be appropriate for the subject and your audience. This usually means that people choose a casual, conversational tone of voice.
Step 4: Choose A Narrator:
You can find your own voice-over, perhaps you have a brand ambassador or local celebrity, who has done adverts for you before. Alternatively you can ask your video studio or freelance to suggest someone for you. Either way they need to have clear diction and a tone of voice that aligns with the subject matter and your audience.
Step 5: Create Your Video.
Here you have a number of options from leaving it all to a professional studio to producing your own animated video using a do-it-yourself website. However, given that it is good practice to A/B test your video and you are unlikely to produce the optimal video on your first attempt, I suggest you keep the cost to the minimum. You are likely to have to tweak or even make new videos as part of the optimization process. Further, if your product changes fairly frequently you may be forced to make new videos on a regular basis.
The main options are:
1. Professional Studios:
A studio will be more expensive than a freelancer or DIY option, but they do have the advantage that they can often also help with such tasks as choosing a narrator and background music. You will find entries for over 100 explainer video studios near the bottom of this post.
This option tends to be cheaper as freelancers have to be more competitive to get the business and don’t have the high overheads of a digital studio. You can either search the internet for a freelancer or use a crowd source website.
3. Do It Yourself:
If you have the time and inclination you can create your own animated videos. Websites such as GoAnimate, Videoscribe and PowToon provide you with easy to use solutions and advice on how to go about this process.
Step 6. A/B Testing Video:
It is always wise to A/B test your video for a number of reasons. A great video can certainly engage visitors and improve conversion, but a video that is on the wrong page, is too long, has a poor script or lacks a compelling call to action can in some cases reduce conversion. So you may have to test more than one video to find one that improves conversion and then you should continue to adjust the video to test different versions or calls to action to optimise the video.
Check that you have analytics tracking for your video. If you use video players such as Sproutvideo and Vimeo they provide analytics to allow monitoring of how many unique impressions and plays your video receives. These video players can also tell you the location of viewers and the type of device that visitors are using. This can help you with deciding how to amend your video to further improve your conversion rate.
For your video to be successful it is important to follow a clear process and set an appropriate budget for creating your explainer video. By following the steps outlined above you will increase the chance that your video will be both relevant and engaging for your website visitors. You will also have allowed for A/B testing to further optimise your video content and be flexible enough to respond to product changes.
Here are some great examples of different templates of business explainer videos that you may find useful.
Top Explainer Video Companies:
Here is a list of over 90 studios and explainer video companies for you to choose from. I have checked every link personally to ensure they are all relevant to explainer videos.
Content creators – Connecting you with the world’s largest community of film makers. A global crowd of 100,000 classified filmmakers, backed up by a team of awesome professionals. Clients: Fiat 500, Smeg Factory, Santal, Rio Mare
Create animated explainer videos with and without characters, website or web app walk-through using screen recordings, mobile app walk-through and video graphics based around statistics. Clients: UserReport, Heebo.com, Postify
Explainer video company which produces tailor-made animated videos and offers unlimited revisions. The company has also produced a series of educational videos on inbound marketing, including What is inbound marketing?Clients: Walmart, McKesson, AMEX and Red Bull