I sat down with Keith Lovgren, Director of Conversion at Ignite Visibility to discuss CRO in 2020, best practices, and little-known benefits. From landing page best practices to CRO as a learning tool, here’s what Keith had to say about CRO in 2020.
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Keith’s experience goes way back to the early days of CRO when he began creating simple HTML and CSS websites for businesses in the early 2000s, then branched out into AdWords, and later, split-testing.
Today, Keith is still fascinated by this idea that you can change an image, CTA copy, etc., and I was able to get a chance to “geek out” on CRO, a topic that for whatever reason, isn’t quite as sexy or enticing to marketers as say, social media or content.
Here are some of the highlights of our conversation.
What Type of CRO Program Should People Be Running?
There’s no static playbook for CRO, so the perfect CRO program is one that follows ABT approach—or “always be testing.”
It’s forever changing—and not just at the landing page level.
I like to recommend that companies at least run one test per month on their top landing page—especially those pages generating thousands or millions in revenue.
Then you’re able to consistently improve based on what you’ve learned.
At the end of those 12 months, you’ll be able to get that conversion rate up by 20% or even more.
He says the great thing about testing is, even if you’re just looking at landing pages, those experiments help you continuously refine your strategy.
You’ll get better at creating CTAs that drive action and crafting copy that converts.
CRO is All About Learning Lessons that Apply to Your 360 Marketing Strategy
Keith and I discussed a problem we see with a lot of companies: CRO is often met with more resistance than social media or content strategy.
People tend to get real protective about their websites, in part because they’ve put so much work into the content or the design and don’t want to be told that they don’t know anything.
But, what’s important to understand is that CRO provides a ton of transferable knowledge.
So, looking back at the last section, even if you’re just doing that monthly landing page test, those lessons can apply to your entire marketing strategy. The wins you come away with can help you develop better SEO content, more relevant cross-channel campaigns, and get more ROI from your paid strategies.
Then, once you’re ready for a big media buy, you’ll have the knowledge in place to make data-driven decisions about what works for your audience.
Or, as Keith puts it, “you’re not throwing spaghetti at the wall.”
Target Micro-conversions Early On
CRO is forever changing—and not just at the landing page level. Keith recommends that companies test top-of-the-funnel strategies to drive micro-conversions–think a really great resource to start nurturing relationships early on.
I asked Keith, what do you look at when you look at a landing page?
Here are a few key areas that brands should get right:
- Above-the-fold on mobile & desktop. If you can’t get the point across immediately, people get fed up and leave.
- Every page should have at least one image. Caveat: Image must be directly be tied to the content on the page.
- Avoid using stock photos. Keith says that stock photos are really just a distraction for viewers and if people are looking at images that don’t add anything, it’s a distraction. For product pages, your best bet is sharing a clear image that offers a lot of detail. SaaS companies might focus on pulling a few key elements from their best features rather than a blown up shot of a computer screen that contains a report. Use those, and people can start picturing how they might use the tool themselves.
- Captions Matter. Image captions are some of the most widely-read text on a landing page. Keith says that eyes are naturally drawn to the images, and when there’s 1-2 sentences underneath, it’s an opportunity to highlight a key selling point. He notes that many companies treat captions as an afterthought when they’re really this effective way to promote the USP or drive action.
- Countdown Timers. Urgency is good but can get a bit spammy. Keith says he likes them and they have their place, but should always be tested.
- Pop-ups. Keith admits he doesn’t love pop-ups as a user but they’re an effective tool for capturing conversions. He says, you need to really think about the content, not an attempt to get an email list. Exit intent overlays are the least offensive pop-up solution. What can you provide that’s valuable to users on their way out.
Favorite CRO Tips
I asked Keith to share some “cool” things he’s learned throughout the years, and here’s what he shared:
Really Understand Intent. Not just understand, but walk in their audience’s shoes. For example, if you have a customer that says, “hey we really need to do something about data management.” You need to speak directly to specific concerns—“I’m overwhelmed,” “I’m kind of stressed out,” “the reports we have aren’t working,” those specific pains need to be addressed in your content.
Survey Customers. Keith also recommends surveying customers, albeit with a caveat: you have to interview your most recent customers. If the data is older than say, 30 days, the experience of being in the customer journey isn’t super fresh.
Ask questions like:
- What event triggered your search for X solution?
- What were your specific pain points
- What specifically were you hoping for?
- What made you choose this solution?
- What made you almost NOT choose this solution?
- What other solutions were you considering?
These questions can help you uncover where you add the most value (or come up short) to your audience.
And, as I mention in the interview, they’re a great way to avoid the issues that come from being too close to your business.
For example, if I’m telling people Ignite Visibility does A, B, and C, but customers chose us for X, Y, and Z, changing the focus of our messaging might help us land more new clients.
Cross-Channel Conversion Action Plan
Keith is the brains behind one of the most powerful reports we use with Ignite Visibility clients, the Cross-Channel Conversion Action Plan, so I’ve asked him to briefly explain how it works.
Per Keith, the report works best if you’re getting a lot of traffic and a lot of conversions through a variety of channels.
For example, if a lot of conversions are coming from email, paid media, organic, the report shows clients exactly what’s happening on each of these channels.
- Which content is resonating best?
- Which pieces drive the most engagement?
- What areas might benefit from more attention?
What this report does is, it provides clear direction by channel, demographics, or even browser.
Essentially, the cross-channel action plan is a tool for helping us use data to inform the next steps of any marketing campaign.
Really, we’ve come full-circle, and see this as another tool for using CRO to inform the rest of the content strategy.
Final takeaways for CRO in 2020.
- Focus on the landing page experience.
- Get really specific, you want to focus on pain points.
- Top-of-the-funnel. Any time you can create a great experience.
To hear our full conversation, here’s a link to the episode. You can also subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts.