It was nearly a year ago that I wrote "Conversion Optimization: Top 5 Places to Start," so by this time everyone should be well along the golden path of conversion optimization to become optimization aficionados. Needless to say you’ve run your share of testing to win over the HiPPO’s, you’ve proven your mettle, and hopefully won some deserved attention from your peers.
What’s next along the golden path of optimization? Where do you go for follow-up ideas on what and how to test?
1. Find Customer Pain Points by Listening to your Front-line Team Members
Some of the best suggestions for optimizing a conversion process come from prospects and customers who love your brand but hate your process. These are everyday folks that for whatever reason, found great enough difficulty in navigating, filling out a form, submitting an order, or even registering for your products and services to actually give you a call before giving up hope.
Consider the following:
- If you have a call center, find out whether they have specific metrics around website usage questions.
- If you have sales representatives, ask them what they tell customers to do that may not be intuitive to first time users of your website.
- If you have technical support reps on live chat or email, find out how they diagnose problems customers might be having with finding self-help information.
2. Try Some of Your Company’s Own Products & Services
It can’t be emphasized enough how important it is to step into the shoes of your customers. I’ve done it on numerous occasions with a high degree of success. It helps to assume an angry persona and pretend that you have less than 5 minutes to do anything you need to do.
Here are some tips on how to kick the tires for your own products and services:
- Sign yourself up for a normal (non-staff) account, even under an assumed name or perhaps masquerading as a relative.
- Try to validate some of the pain points learned in #1.
- Attempt several conversion scenarios, some as a prospect, and some as a customer.
- Determine how easy it is to upgrade, downgrade or cancel, paying close attention to the language and user experience of each.
3. Establish Conversion Testing Requirements & Document Potential Risk During the Product Lifecycle
Build a culture of conversion testing by baking it into the product or client lifecycle. Let’s face it, a lot can go wrong from initial conceptualization of a product or service to delivery, especially when development cycles are really wrong.
Don’t waste time on content, call to action and segmentation opportunities that you knew about early in the process. Many forward-thinking companies have sessions for “lessons learned” during projects, which are rife with conversion optimization ideas ready to be tested.
4. Leverage Web Analytics Information to Segment Test Audiences
Integration of web analytics data with testing platforms is much more common these days. Some testing platforms even enable you to “tag” pages or processes in such a way that mimic analytics solutions, but can specifically be used to segment test audiences. In the cases where analytics data is available for segmentation, be sure to try different scenarios such as:
- New versus repeat visitor.
- Customer versus non-customer, which could be as easy as defining a segment for users that never logged in.
- Cart abandoners, cart lingerers, cart hoarders versus quick purchasers.
5. Analyze the Competition
Sometimes the best original score is a remix. Think you’re smarter than your competitor? Prove it by testing their ideas with your audience to find out what they might be doing better or worse.
Although no two websites are exactly the same in terms of customer experience and behavior, similarly structured products and services likely attract similar prospects and customers. Note: do yourself a favor and segment out visitors from your competitors’ headquarters (and maybe even the entire state).
Not making the list this time around is to put your conversion process through the “Mom” test. My Mom hates technology and can’t understand how or why anyone would prefer to use the internet for the vast majority of fulfilling product and/or service needs. Perfect victim for suggestions on how to make things easier to use!
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!