Driving Personalization through Marketing and A/B Testing

This article was written by our partner REO, as part of our series highlighting direct insights from our large ecosystem of partners.

In 2019, for the first time ever, digital ad spend represented more than 50% of total global marketing spend. Whilst the UK was considerably ahead of this trend (63.8% of UK’s total ad spend was attributed to digital in 2018, 66.4% in 2019), the US has now joined the group with online ad spend going from 48.6% in 2018 to 54.2% in 2019. With eMarketer forecasting a 17.6% year-on-year growth (to $333.25M) in worldwide digital marketing spend, the need to ensure each of your marketing channels is delivering the best possible ROI has never been higher.

Within the conversion rate optimization (CRO) space, most brands conduct A/B testing without fully considering which marketing channel or source their customers have come from. Customers are typically bucketed into various user segments based on their purchase history, onsite behavior, geographic and demographic data. However, users within the same audience segment can often demonstrate varying behavioral attributes when navigating through the purchase funnel, across countless online and offline touchpoints.

Let’s Take Paid Search as An Example

If a user arrives on your website via paid search, you already know what they searched for and which ad they clicked on; however, users who click on the same ad, but searched for different terms/items, will often experience the same customer journey. For instance, if a customer has searched for “luxury men’s white shirt” – not only do you know the item they are looking for, you also know they are looking at the higher end of the market.

A/B Testing the landing page a user is taken to is quite common, but you can go a step further and explore how to change the experience for the customer based on their search criteria.

A potential testing idea could involve pre-sorting these shirts by highest price first, and on the Product Listing Page (PLP), displaying all the available men’s white shirts. This can develop into personalization if the user has visited the site previously, within the cookie period; e.g. by storing size data within the cookie, you could pre-select the shirt size which the user filtered by on their previous visit. 

Reducing the number of clicks and filters it takes a user to find their item can only have a positive impact on conversion rate, especially on mobile. So, by showing a customer the items they’re looking for, sorted by their desired price point and filtered by their size, you will make the purchase journey more tailored to that specific customer.

Understanding a visitor’s context (location, date and time of day, device, internet connection, etc) as well as their intent (are they here to complete a quick purchase, to research and compare products, to seek inspiration, to test a coupon, etc) add an invaluable layer of behavioral understanding to your analysis, and will allow you to execute a more impactful form of personalization.

Making the Affiliation between A/B Testing and Voucher/Cashback Partners

By applying this testing method to the affiliate channel, you can optimize the largest click and revenue drivers; namely voucher and cashback websites. After all, you can already assume that users coming from these two affiliate types are both online-savvy and price-sensitive.

Voucher and discount websites should have a conversion rate of at least 20-25% on mature affiliate programs – so any of these affiliates who have a conversion rate lower than that, represents an opportunity for incremental revenue. For cashback sites, expect this figure to be upwards of 40%.

A test idea for these two affiliate types could be to re-enforce the discount or cashback offer listed on the affiliates’ website. For instance, if the deal was “Save £15 when you spend over £100” – you could use a “loading bar” at the top of the page which gradually fills up as you add items to your basket, until the user hits the spend threshold to activate the discount. 

For cashback sites, you could test a cashback calculator onsite, which automatically calculates the amount of cashback the user will earn if they purchase everything currently in their basket. This type of gamification can be incredibly effective in increasing the number of units per sale and, in turn, the average order value.

Serve Less Content, but More Dynamically

“Content is King” – we’ve all heard it before, but how can you be smarter in how you serve it? Content, and specifically dynamic content, is another channel where source-based A/B testing can improve engagement, click-through-rates and leads/ sales. If you know the article or blog post a user has come from, you can use this insight to serve them relevant and dynamic content, making their customer journey more seamless and less detached across the two sites.

User journey analysis shows that visits to content sites usually happen in the “Discovery Phase” of the sales funnel – including on product review sites, influencer social posts, news/magazine sites and blogs. Such content is informative and persuasive; perfect to push the user towards the bottom of the funnel.

Some of the more content-heavy merchants, such as insurance brands or high-end technology retailers, will have an eclectic and extensive array of content across their website, making navigation more muddled. A solution? Reducing the amount of content on-site and instead, storing the less frequently visited content pages elsewhere, to then be served dynamically.

For example, if a user looking to buy insurance is reading up on excess and the impacts it has on a claim and future premiums, the existing content about excess could be tweaked accordingly – which could be as simple as changing the title of an article, calling out the keywords or changing the order of the content on that page.

Again, a granular analysis of how customers are interacting with individual elements of content will help paint the complete picture of engagement. Measuring clicks alone will only tell one part of the customer behavior story: tracking metrics such as exposure, attractiveness and conversion rate per click (to name a few) will give a more complete view of how content is contributing to (or stalling) the user journey.

As the capabilities of A/B testing and personalization platforms continue to evolve, the way you test and analyze a customer journey should follow suit. One of the major challenges of channel/source-specific testing can be a lack of traffic volume. If you have insufficient traffic, it will take a while before a test reaches significance. For example, the 5th highest paid search term, or 4th largest voucher site probably won’t have the volume to justify running an A/B Test on.

Want to Know More?

Contact us! REO is a digital experience agency. We are an eclectic mix of bright and creative thinkers, embracing the best of research, strategy, design and experimentation to solve our clients’ toughest challenges. We work across a variety of sectors, with companies such as Amazon, M&S, Tesco and Samsung. 

Also invaluable to our company is our scope of partners, including Contentsquare, which allows our customers to capture the nuances of their end users’ behavior for even more sophisticated segmentation and ultimately, deeper personalization.  

Whatever the challenge may be, REO applies design thinking to identify and deliver big growth opportunities.


Hero image: Adobe Stock, via blankstock

Why Our Turnkey Salesforce B2C Commerce Integration Is A Game Changer For E-Commerce Experience Makers Everywhere

Today we give our clients the ability to quiz their digital properties about customer engagement and turn these answers into visual UX cues that can be leveraged by anyone on the digital team. The natural next step in democratizing data for all digital experience makers is to make our specialized metrics available where they can have greater reach and more impact — right in a team’s eCommerce dashboard.

That’s why we’re thrilled to be joining forces with the world-class Salesforce B2C Commerce platform, and giving brands a shortcut to our solution through the Salesforce LINK Partner Marketplace. Now, teams using Salesforce B2C Commerce can directly access our exclusive KPIs to understand the fastest ways to increase conversion, revenue and overall digital happiness.

By adding Contentsquare to your Salesforce B2C Commerce, you can understand what’s driving your conversion numbers, run meaningful A/B tests, measure the ROI of creative content, and make the most of your acquisition spend. And you can do this across your entire ecommerce team, day in and day out.

Insights For All (Or, No More Optimizing In The Dark)

A doctor wouldn’t prescribe drugs without knowing what was wrong with their patient. And you wouldn’t dream of putting on makeup in the dark. So why do so many UX improvements still stem from something as error-prone as instinct? Or from click data that assumes all customers have the same intent, needs, and goals across all web sites? Or from an analysis not readily accessible to those making the decisions?

Customers are telling you what they expect from your specific brand’s site or app experience with every click, scroll, or hover. Our solution captures all these interactions and translates them to a language anyone can understand. This means you don’t need to rely on analysts to crunch the numbers for you — from eMerchandising to art direction, everyone can access the same clear insights into which actions need to be prioritized.

Our integration with Salesforce creates a shortcut to these insights inside your eCommerce platform. No need to see experience-building and experience-improving as two separate things — now your team can improve continuously inside one system, and reduce speed to optimization.

Because our one-click insights come in a format that is digestible and makes sense to everyone, your team can quickly agree on priorities and be confident in their impact. By understanding what your specific customers want from your brand, your team can create a unique brand experience that is relevant to customers and rewarding to your bottom line.  

Digital Happiness: There’s A New E-Commerce KPI On The Block

Many psychologists will tell you that being understood is even more valued than being loved. And value is exactly what brands are expected to bring to the table today. Knowing where your customers exit and whether or not they convert is interesting. But knowing why they left and why the journey didn’t end in a purchase is actionable.

That’s why we analyze all mouse movements, including Hovers and Scrolls, and why we’ve developed unique metrics such as Attractiveness and Conversions Per Click; we take into account how consumers engage with all your content to give you a richer understanding than a simple page exit rate ever can. When you consider that over 50% of content never gets viewed, you realize the depth of the gulf you have to cross to establish an emotional brand preference that results in sales, margin and loyalty.

The digital trailblazers at GoPro have already been leveraging the power of our next-gen analytics with Salesforce B2C Commerce with great success — with results such as an 80% increase in conversions.

With storytelling such a huge part of GoPro’s offering and of the GoPro.com experience, the brand has a vital need to tell a rich digital story while encouraging direct-to-consumer conversions. For everyone’s favorite lifestyle brand, that meant enriching the experience with bold, brand-relevant content in a way that also positively impacted the ultimate sales.

Supercharge Your eCommerce With Turnkey Integration

Right now there are more than 350 brands who regularly rely on Contentsquare insights as a part of their workflow. Today you too can access this level of customer understanding in Salesforce B2C Commerce in a few clicks. We look forward to welcoming you into our community.


Conversion Funnel: 9 Tips For Optimizing Your Conversion Rate

Conversion funnel, upper funnel, top of funnel… if your business is digital, you probably hear the word “funnel” several times a day.

If you thought you could ignore it, you’re wrong! Whether you’re selling goods or services on your site, or if you’re using email marketing to reach your audience, the conversion funnel is your friend.

In fact, it’s highly likely that your site has not one but several conversion funnels.

Indeed, all your prospects and customers will not have the same level of maturity and may follow very different paths to conversion.

More than a just a “straight-line” to a sale or subscription, the funnel is a great way to learn about your customers’ browsing patterns and about what the typical buyer decision journey looks like.

Being well-acquainted with its characteristics is a prerequisite for successful optimization and for staying ahead of the competition.

In the following post, we will review some key facts about the conversion funnel and take a closer look at the various stages that make it up.

We’ll keep the best for the end with 9 tips on how to optimize your conversion funnels. Ready? Let’s jump straight into the funnel.

What is the Conversion Funnel?

Spoiler alert: there are almost as many funnels as there are businesses.

The conversion funnel is comprised of the steps a visitor takes to get to a site from an ad or organic search, for example, all the way to a sale.

The funnel metaphor illustrates the gradual decrease of visitors traveling through your site from point A to point B.

The further down the funnel, the smaller the number of visitors, and remember — not all journeys will lead to a conversion. While you will probably have seen many illustrations of the funnel, it’s important to remember that there are almost as many funnels as there are businesses.

Hence the visualization for the funnel will depend on your business objective(s), which could be:

B2B, B2C and the Conversion Funnel

While the funnel is just as relevant for B2B as it is for B2C, it will look very different depending on whether you are targeting businesses or consumers.

For example, in B2C, the funnel will generally be simpler and shorter, because the purchase or subscription is often made on a whim or is at the very least highly subjective. A B2B conversion, however, will often be more pragmatic and business-driven. Building trust over time will therefore be crucial for B2B brands.

Conversion Funnel: What’s the Point?

2nd spoiler alert: there is no ideal conversion funnel — each objective and target has its own funnel.

Before you even get to conversion, the objective of the conversion funnel is to map out the various stages of the purchasing journey.

Once you have shed light on these stages, you can:

Stages of the Conversion Funnel

Retail, tourism, banking, insurance, online gaming… different verticals will have radically different conversion funnels.

It is, however, possible to map out an outline that will be meaningful to more than one type of business. This outline generally follows four key stages. But don’t forget that, depending on their level of maturity, it is not unusual for a visitor to skip a step or two.

For example, they may decide to complete a purchase without seeking out further information because they are already familiar with a brand and or a product.

1. Inspire visitors

For this first step, answer the questions that your visitors might have and build awareness around your product and brand. Make sure that your landing page displays content that clearly addresses the value around your product or services. In short, be educational.

2. Turn visitors into prospects

This second stage is all about trust. Your objective should be both simple and complex: obtain your visitors’ contact information either to stay in touch or personalize the experience. This is what is known as lead nurturing.

A great way to expand your database is to be generous with your resources:

3. Converting prospects into a customer

The third stage is critical.

Your prospect is shopping around for the most competitive offer and the one best suited to their needs — up to you to stand out in a crowd.

You can do this by:

4. Loyalty building: from customer to brand ambassador

You thought conversion was the last step in the conversion funnel? Not quite. The next step is to turn regular customers into loyal, returning customers.

This has two challenges:

How to Optimize the Conversion Funnel in 9 Key Steps

Are you still with us? Great — you’ve just made it through Stage One in real time.

Because we really want to get you through to Stage 2, we’ve compiled 9 tips to optimize the sales funnel, whatever business you’re in.

1. Make sure the message is clear

This seems basic and yet… Whether it’s free or not, your offering is the basis of your conversion funnel(s). For example, Amazon rewards its most loyal customers with free or fast shipping and an extended catalog with its Prime offering.

Defining your brand offering also means highlighting unique events around it — for example, a members-only sales to launch the holiday shopping season.

2. Define your objectives

Without a final objective, it will be difficult to map the route from start to finish — from the entry point to the post-conversion follow-up. It’s crucial you determine the main purpose of the conversion funnel in order to optimize the various stages leading to the end goal.

This could be a sale, download, subscription, social share, etc…

3. Personas are good, mindsets are better.

If you’re not familiar with the Mindset methodology we strongly recommend you take a look at our report on the subject.

The Mindset methodology goes beyond traditional personas to deeply understand your prospects’ state of mind at each stage of the funnel.

Why are they on your site (information, purchase, comparison)? What is the context of their browsing (on mobile, at work, in the subway, in-store)?

Understanding your visitors’ mindset is the first step to making them digitally happy and turning them into converting customers.

4. Build a strong content strategy.

Let’s not beat around the bush. Without relevant content, your strategy won’t hold up.

Give visitors resources that provide a concrete answer to their challenges:

In the travel industry, for example, inspirational content plays a key role in keeping visitors interested. This could mean suggesting itineraries for specific destinations, organizing trips around themes or offering advice about the best time to travel to a certain destination. In fact, 40% of all pages viewed* on travel sites contain inspirational content.

5. Streamline the UX

You might have the most attractive offer on the market and the most fascinating content, but your efforts won’t go far unless the user experience matches the expectations of your… visitors.

Here are a few common friction points you can fix as a matter of priority:

6. Boost site performance

It’s a well-known fact that load times can heavily impact conversions. A study published by Google in February 2018 indicates that visitors are 32% more likely to leave a site if the page takes between 1 and 3 seconds to load.

7. Create elements of reassurance

It’s a saturated market and your offer and prices are fairly close to that of your competitors… If this is the case, reassurance elements could make all the difference, especially when it comes to decision making.

Make sure information and prices are clear:

8. Determine entry points

As we’ve already mentioned, while objectives and targets are paramount factors of content creation it’s also important to build your strategy around the various channels that lead visitors to your website.  

These touchpoints should be top of your mind when ironing the creases out of your purchase funnel:

9. Test, test, test

You’ve put a lot of thought into your conversion funnel, your online content and your UX. Now what?

Now’s the time to analyze your traffic, bounce rate, click rate, session duration, conversions and exits at each stage of the funnel to identify any unanticipated obstacles to conversion. When armed with this knowledge, you can now test different variants of the funnel, modifying the copy, images, or repositioning CTAs, menus or customer reviews and seeing how this impacts conversions.

In conclusion,  whatever goods or services you are offering online, conversion funnels are crucial to turning prospects into hopefully, loyal customers.

But building a conversion funnel is not enough. You have to underpin these efforts with a smart segmentation strategy and analyze the behavior of customers as they move closer to the end goal.

Here at Contentsquare we’re obsessed with the way people interact with digital platforms, and that’s why we’ve created a solution that empowers teams to optimize each phase of the buyer decision journey and maximize conversions.

We also believe sharing is caring so pay attention to this blog for more UX advice. 🙂

* Source: from a Contentsquare study based on 188 006 236 browsing sessions captured between October 1 and December 31st 2017.

Analyzing Visitor Behavior For Conversion Rate Optimization

There’s More to Conversion Rate Optimization

You’re probably aware of the weight that analytics carry in your overall marketing executions. While quantitative analytics solutions give you a good indication of what is happening on your website (conversions, bounces, etc), they don’t present a granular understanding of your customers’ user experience. And when it comes to conversion rate optimization (CRO), the more you know, the better.

Behavioral analytics put forth a deep reading of how visitors interact with individual elements on your web, mobile site and app. By tracking advanced KPIs, behavior-based solutions allow you to discover high points of friction and hesitation, which traditional programs analytics do not offer. They also reveal the areas of your site that contribute to engagement and conversion goals.

Let’s take a gander at the more latent analytics waiting to be used at your disposal for CRO.

Behavioral Analysis to Improve Conversion Rates

In the context of website and mobile analytics, behaviors and their derivative behavioral analysis can be narrowed down to a few quick, yet vital actions that users take on your website.

So what are behaviors in the context of site analytics? A behavior is a navigational action made by a user that gets recorded by a tag. Such an action can be culled and accessed as part of a UX optimization strategy to improve a website’s conversion rate. Behaviors can include page views, clicks and hovers (to name a few) with each event painting a nuanced picture of how your site is used.

Since 90% of behaviors occur between clicks, a true observation into behavior would require looking at the behaviors beyond clicks alone. These include the behaviors not limited to a single action, such as frustration, hesitation and engagement.

Being able to understand the customer story behind behaviors is key to rolling out the improvements that will have a positive impact on engagement and conversion rate optimization. Clicks, for example, can signify both interest AND frustration — what matters is figuring out which it is.

Behavioral Analysis Starts with Customer Journeys

The first step of a behavioral analysis is to identify where on your site lie the biggest issues and opportunities. This comes from surveying the customer journey. This journey grants a step by step view into how visitors traverse across your website, mobile sites and apps. You can see all the pages users have visited to put together the story behind their digital journey: where they leave and what has led them to conversion. These paths make up the user flow, a crucial aspect of UX that gives you a clear vantage point to the visitor’s intent, which is much-needed to landing conversions.

For example, a site visitor may be on your site for a number of reasons: to window-shop, check out their local store’s opening hours, add a promotional code to a cart to see the price difference, etc.

Customer journeys are visualizations that shine a light on user intent — vital information when you’re trying to develop a customer-centric digital experience. Understanding customer intent will help you optimize your content and know how to best guide visitors down the conversion funnel. It’s also the cornerstone of a satisfying experience, which itself is a guarantee of long-term customer loyalty. If visitors do not convert on their first go, a good UX will spur them to in future visits.

For example, a number of airlines have earned a negative reputation due to their substandard customer experience. But their low prices have gained them the ability to capture a solid customer base. Airlines that offer low prices coupled with good customer experiences (including digital) will undoubtedly give these shoddy airlines a run for their money due to their competitive edge.

Customer journeys present you with a detailed view of where your visitors drop by on your platform, a function that allows you to see where they enter, where they head to next and all the pages in between exits and conversions. Viewing them will help you understand how your site is being used and how to optimize these journeys to ramp up the conversion rate.

For example, if the bounce rate for a landing page is at 60%, a behavioral analysis will provide insight into why visitors are bouncing. This is because it shows you what users do on a page before they bounce, which you ought to look at to make the proper optimizations.

Other issues affecting conversions can manifest as repeated attempts on a payment or login page. This suggests a struggle and thereby, frustration within users. Identifying this is a must in order to improve the conversion rate.

Zone-Based Heatmaps for Better Readings

Now that you’ve identified your most critical opportunities and issues, the next step is to answer why they are happening and how you can improve. That’s where we dovetail customer journey analysis with zone-based heatmaps, as they perfect the heat map with a more granular measure of digital behavior. Traditional heat maps appear as a big blob of colors on a page, showing the areas with the most engagement. They don’t however, give you insight into the performance of each page element.

That’s where zone-based heat maps come to the rescue. Like regular heat maps, zone-based maps are highly visual aides that display the most and least popular places on a site page in different colors. However, they have the added capacity of gauging each site element, so you can understand how visitors interact with each one, and what role they play in the overall customer experience.

To do this, zone-based heat maps are numbers-based, so along with the colors, they display attribution and performance metrics, such as click attribution, time spent on each element, conversion rates, revenue per click, etc.

Having this information on hand can help teams pinpoint precise areas of hesitation and engagement, allowing them to carry out targeted, data-backed optimizations. For example, rethinking the location of an image that visitors find attractive but is hidden beneath the fold can have a positive impact on revenue.

What’s more is that today, teams don’t even need to tag elements manually, thanks to the technology that scans all your site elements with precision, identifying CTAs, photos, text, carousels and other content in the process. This kind of smart technology is far ahead of the kind you’d get with a traditional analytics solution.

Reining in Confusion & Interest by Observing Hesitations

Behavioral analytics has the capacity to determine not just where people visit, but to also reveal what feelings individual elements of content trigger within visitors.

One of the things it can reveal is if and where users are hesitating on your website. You can leverage hesitation time, a metric that relays the average time elapsed from the last hover to the first click on a zone, which shows you whether your content is easily understood, or if it causes users to hesitate. Understanding this gives you a data-backed picture of the content that stalls visitors — crucial knowledge when deciding on where to optimize the UX for better conversions.

Scroll Behavior to Identify Exposure

Scroll behavior is crucial to evaluate in order to optimize conversion rates. A user’s scroll behavior depicts which part of a page garners engagement. When analyzing scrolling behavior, you can surmise that users are scrolling when they read something or are in search of a particular piece of information. In either case, there exists some level of interest in your content.

This behavior allows marketers, along with web designers to comprehend exactly how to tinker with page length, or the length of an in-page element that has a scrolling function. In short, scrolling behavior provides context into the impact of longer content. This is especially important for conversion rate optimization, as many scrollable elements lead to CTAs.

Scrolling behavior can be analyzed by way of exposure time, which you can use to see the elements users are scrolling past, to see if they are missing or ignoring a particular element. Or you can also refer to exposure rate, which reveals how far down users are scrolling on a page on average.

This can help you uncover real gems under the fold — areas of the page where visitors who scrolled far enough stopped to linger and engage with the zone. This insight, combined with the hover to conversion rate, can highlight highpoints of visitor engagement that would benefit from more visibility.

Measuring User Engagement with A Designated Metric

Conversion rate optimization can be bolstered by creating engaging content, but no matter how well you think your content is faring, it has to be measured for its efficacy. Traditional analytics fall short here because it cannot distinguish whether an abundance of clicks conveys positive engagement or frustration. Fortunately, there is a formulaic way to measure user engagement.

With the engagement rate metric, you can determine how intuitive your site elements are, i.e., how well users are able to understand how they work and what they do. The metric is calculated by dividing the number of page views who click on a zone by the number of page views with a hover on the zone. This represents the percentage of visitors who clicked on a zone or element after hovering over it.

Clickable elements, especially those that lead to conversions, should have high engagement rates, as this metric essentially shows if a zone has good affordance in light of clickability. So you should make all the aspects of the zone underscore that it’s clickable. This metric will show you if you need to make any changes to such site elements.

The engagement rate of an element can also be used to guide you where on a page to place an element. For example, elements with high exposure and a low engagement rate show that while visitors see these elements and are hovering over them, they don’t click.

Such a scenario reveals either confusion or a lack of interest in users. Thus, this insight points to the need to clarify these elements, i.e., they should clearly show why users should click on them and what they’ll see when they click.

Performance Targeting by Way of Benchmarking

Performance targeting comes from a kind of competitive analysis, one that brings you a  side-by-side comparison of content element performance and the like. Performance targeting provides data and insights on how your website is performing against industry averages, essentially showing you the behavioral standards sector by sector.

Additionally, it scraps the need to scout out analytical sources of industry averages, which are not readily available to the public. Performance targeting puts various benchmarks on display for comparison (such as engagement, conversion and revenue). Additionally, it provides insights into content element performance — average locations and sizes for common site elements like the search bar, menu and homepage hero banner.  

Lastly, it shows the typical behavioral standards on websites in a particular industry. This allows you to determine exactly what type of content to target and how to modify for better engagement and CRO.

Summing Up Unique Behavioral Analysis for CRO

Collating analytics should — and usually does — involve examining the most relevant metrics for conversion rate optimization. These bits of data will help you configure the best practices for the UX, as well as weed out the harmful elements of your website. But common behavioral analyses and their corresponding metrics like bounce rate and conversions are not enough, certainly not for conversion rate optimization. To tap into the minds of your site users and potential customers, you need to employ a unique behavioral analytics solution, which provides additional data-based perspectives and a slew of insight that will prove invaluable for conversion rates.

Conversion Rate Optimization: Calculations, Measurements & Best Practices

Conversion rate is one of the most important KPIs for digital marketers and their businesses, directly affecting a company’s pipeline and revenues.

In this context, digital marketers includes everyone from executives to acquisition managers, via the creative teams who are most involved in any reworkings to a website, or at least in conceptualizing these changes.

Their respective tasks may seem formidable without the knowledge of conversion rate optimization — what it is and how to achieve it. If envisioning UX practices for better conversions appears to be like treading through a deep, dark tunnel, fear not.

At Contentsquare, improving the digital experience is tied to our mission. But before you attempt to improve your UX for better engagement and higher conversion, you must have a sufficient understanding of what conversion rate optimization is.

This feature will teach you the basics of CRO — from what a conversion is to how it’s calculated to what makes a good conversion rate and industry benchmarks.

What is Conversion Rate?

Conversion rate is a calculation that involves the eponymous “conversions” any desirable action(s) your site visitors take during their digital experience. Conversion rate doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone; it can range from the e-commerce meaning of a purchase to filling in a credit card application on a banking site.

Or, it can have the content marketing denotation, in which users who sign up for a mailing list or newsletter qualify as a conversion, which brings us to the definition of conversion rate.

In simple terms, it is defined self-evidently: the rate at which conversions occur on a website, mobile site or app. But more specifically, the meaning behind conversion rate lies in its calculation.

How To Measure Conversion Rate

The conversion rate is precisely the number of times visitors take a desired action on your site, divided by the total site traffic, the result of which is multiplied by 100, since it is expressed as a percentage.

This formula applies to various types of conversion, including e-commerce conversions (most often a purchase) and sign-up conversions (webinars, e-book downloads, etc).

As for the UX, there is no single method with which to quantify it, since UX is generally defined as the overall feelings your visitors have while navigating through your site. It entails the experience of site usability, frustration, engagement, satisfaction and much more. Because the UX is defined by so many qualities, it involves more factors to gauge, since unlike CRO, it is not a single KPI.

Landing Pages: The Origins of Customer Journeys

Conversion rate can be determined from two types of visitor journeys to a site, or their arrival at it. The first category falls upon both organic keyword search visits and paid search visits (ads), while the second category of site entries stems from URL visits, also known as direct visits to your website.

Molded by the UX, these subsequent journeys are invaluable for optimizing conversion rates.  Those who click on a landing page from a keyword search or social media ad already possess some interest in your offering, since they not only looked up the keyword — or engaged with the ad — but entered your website through the associated link.

Besides social posts and ads, queries on search engines also lead users to landing pages. These are reached in the links below a website’s general search result — typically the homepage — in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). They usually lead to specific products or pages, reflecting the query.

The other type of customer journey is derived from a URL-based, or direct visit to a site page. With URL-based visits to your site, the intent is less clear; some visitors may arrive at it for informational purposes while others may have a clearer objective. Even so, those who visit for the information may not be interested to sign up for your whitepaper, case study, email list or other content.  

Obstacles and frustrations in the digital journey will impel your visitors to bounce from – or exit – your site. At worst, the visitors will head to your competitors’ sites. Thus, the experience a visitor has on your site and the way in which it helps them achieve their goal(s) are exceptionally important and it must be calibrated to ensure good conversions.

What is a Good Conversion Rate?

Generally, a “good” conversion rate constitutes one that is higher than the average. Averages can vary greatly from one industry to the next, and from one device to another.

We analyzed 528 million sessions on 137 eCommerce websites to determine average conversion rates for the travel, fashion, beauty, banking, finance, insurance, media/ entertainment and luxury industries, on both desktop and mobile. These rates differ across each industry, ranging from a low of 0.42% on mobile for luxury items, to a high of 5.79% on desktop in the beauty industry.

Overall, mobile conversion rates still have a long way to go to catch up with desktop averages, highlighting the need for a stronger CRO strategy for mobile.

In the fashion industry, for example, the conversion rate on desktop was at 3.02% versus 1.45% on mobile — almost twice as many conversions.

One of the sectors that appears to have reduced the mobile gap quite significantly is the banking and insurance industry, with a 3.85% conversion rate average on desktop versus 2.33% on mobile.

Additionally, although some of these rates may seem unfeasible, especially to those who are new to CRO, it is healthy to aim higher, and with the tools available to digital marketing teams today (analytics platforms, personalization engines, etc) the sky is the limit.

When to Think About Optimization

Patience may be a virtue, but who actually has the time for it when you operate a business or work in marketing? Since conversions are closely tied to revenue, the first time to think about optimization should come rather early on in your website development.

If it is your first iteration in establishing a website, there are general cautions you should take, such as assuring all site elements are operational, especially the ones that lead to a conversion. So make sure all on-site CTAs, links, form fields and the like work without any trouble.

For example, your business will inevitably lose revenue if the same link remains broken for even a moderate period of time, or during any UX mishap, like the checkout button being buried beneath the fold.

If you are in the redesign phase of your site, then you should learn from the old or current UX of your website. Take into account what hasn’t yielded satisfactory results from analyzing your consumers’ behaviors on your previous site.

You should start strategizing for CRO, as the aforesaid conversion rates from organic keyword searches and paid searches already have their own separate sub-discipline for optimizations. They are what is known as search engine optimization or SEO, and SEM, or search engine marketing. The former deals with optimizing organic search clicks, while the latter deals with optimizing paid searches.

Thus, conversion rate optimization primarily deals with optimizing the UX to improve conversions since the search-based conversions have their own optimization best practices (SEO and SEM). Either way, you need to improve visitor journeys so consumers can fulfill their digital goals painlessly.

Continuous Conversion Rate Optimization

Monitoring your visitors’ digital happiness is key to keeping your customers engaged and your conversion rate healthy. Improving your UX will result in longer site journeys, fewer bounces and a general positive sentiment about your website, which is inextricably tied to your brand.

If visitors have a poor experience on your site, they will leave, regardless of how good your product is. Optimizing your UX begins with analyzing your users’ behaviors. It is the only way to ensure a customer-centric CRO strategy based on behavioral evidence rather than intuition. Analytics today can keep you abreast of any behavioral anomalies and deviations on your site so that you can improve the experience quickly and continuously.

Only after you’ve analyzed how users interact with your site — what is effective and what isn’t — can you make results-yielding decisions for CRO.


Super Bowl 2019: Big Game Fuels Mobile Browsing

It’s the biggest televised sports event on the US calendar, but is the Super Bowl audience as rapt as we think it is? Do people really give the game their full attention, or is it business as usual in the world of digital retail? We analyzed 80,000 browsing sessions last Sunday to see whether the game had any impact on digital consumers behavior.

Unsurprisingly, we found that many people walked away from their computers to watch the game, with a noticeable dip in desktop traffic around 6pm. In fact, there was a significant 23% decrease in total desktop traffic between 6pm and 10pm from the previous Sunday. Desktop traffic spiked again at 9pm, and then decreased steadily the rest of the night.

Mobile traffic dipped slightly between 5pm and 6pm (-5%), and remained fairly constant until 11pm — a reminder that smartphones do not simply serve an audience ‘on the go,’ but are often a second screen for users who browse while watching television. Not surprisingly then, the remarkable number of Superbowl viewers led to a 9% increase in mobile traffic between 6.30pm and 7pm from the previous Sunday.

The mobile bounce rate rose 6% around 6pm, and then started falling until 10pm, when it rose again by 8%. The average number of page views was comparable to the previous Sunday on both desktop and mobile, and average session time stayed steady on mobile. The average desktop session, however, was 6% shorter than it was last Sunday.

Mobile visitors are seemingly willing to consume as much content as they usually would when browsing on their smartphone, showing the game is not getting in the way of window shopping. In fact, mobile conversions stayed fairly constant throughout the evening, with a couple of highs and lows. The biggest dip in mobile conversion rate from the previous Sunday happened around 7pm, when there was a 10% decrease to the average CVR. By 11pm, however, the conversion rate was up 22% from the previous Sunday.

In conclusion, watching the Super Bowl and window shopping are clearly not mutually exclusive, even though fewer game night journeys seem to end in conversions. Simplifying the purchasing journey, leading customers to product in fewer screens and taps, and streamlining the checkout process will help to shrink the number of abandoned journeys.

For more tips on how to optimize the digital experience for mobile users, read our Mobile Report.

How Brands Win Black Friday: Tips To Optimize Your Site For The Holiday Shopping Season Kickoff

Brace yourselves, Black Friday is coming. This infographic will break down three reasons why certain brands lead the pack during this period, and explore how three ContentSquare clients have harnessed the power of granular data to improve their site’s performance. See how they did it, and what tips you can follow to make sure you have the right tools to make the most of the holiday shopping season.

The winners of Black Friday will apply the lessons here year-round, maximizing their returns at every opportunity. Advanced technologies like UX analytics are crucial to empowering teams to work faster, smarter, and more efficiently. Are you ready to become a Black Friday winner?

For more insights and examples of how brands have leveraged behavioral analytics to optimize the customer journey and boost ROI, download our Black Friday report today.