If you run an ecommerce store or saas company and want to get more leads and sales from your landing pages, you’re in the right place.
Most of you know that to improve your landing pages you need to invest in conversion optimization, but many people misunderstand what conversion optimization really means. A/B testing, digital analytics, this is not completely wrong… but in this in-depth guide to optimizing your landing pages you’ll learn that ab testing and data analysis are just a small part of a much larger process for conversion optimization you should be following.
What you’ll learn here:
- The truth about what conversion optimization really means
- How to collect and analyse data for customer learning
- How to turn customer learning into more leads and sales for your business
I’ve also created a free bonus area for those of you who are serious about increasing your conversion rates and profits, you can find this at the end of the guide.
The truth about conversion optimization and why you need it for business growth
Many people think conversion optimization and ab testing are one and the same thing.
There is a common misconception that CRO (conversion rate optimization) is just about analytics.
Yes, it is true, conversion optimization in it’s simplest form is about increasing the number of people who take a desired action, sign up, subscribe or buy for example, but it is actually about much more than just increasing your forms conversion rates. Increasing conversion rates as a business is super easy, simply sell everything for a $1.
POW! Conversion rates go crazy high!
[tweetthis]Increasing conversion rates as a business is super easy, simply sell everything for a $1. You’re welcome[/tweetthis]
But increasing your conversion rates and revenue is much harder. And not just revenue, increasing your profits is your main goal as a conversion optimization expert.
Now when we think of conversions we think about analytics, and most of us instantly think about digital analytics software like Google Analytics. This is quantitative data, it tells us what happened on our website, on which page and how much we made. But there is another source of data you must collect in conversion optimization especially if you want explosive business growth…qualitative data.
Qualitative data is collected through an exploration of visitor behaviour. It helps you gain an understanding of the reasons, feelings and motivations your customers have throughout their path to conversion along your sales funnel.
Where analytics and quantitative data can tell us what happened, qualitative data can tell us why.
Qualitative data is a powerful data source when making business decisions. Customer development interviews are a great example of qualitative data.
The key to increasing your conversion rates is actually your customer, the very reason you have a product or service to begin with. Conversion optimization is about improving your conversion rates through a deeper understanding of your customer.
This understanding comes from qualitative data collection and analysis…let’s dig deeper.
How qualitative data collection fits into a complete process for conversion optimization
So what does the complete process look like?
Let’s walk through an overview of the CRO process together.
Step 1: Set Business Objectives
The first step involves defining your business objectives.
It is important to define objectives even if you can’t accurately estimate your success.
The first iteration of the conversion process will give you the benchmark you need to create your next set of business objectives and KPIs.
Step 2: Collect Data
The second step is data collection.
As we learned the data you collect during the CRO process can be categorized into two types: quantitative and qualitative.
Step 3: Analyse Data
The third step is collecting and analysing all of the data from your various sources.
You do this using software for quantitative data and by aggregating qualitative data, which basically means looking for patterns to gain insight.
Step 4: Create Hypotheses & Customer Theory
The fourth step is creating your list of hypotheses. These are ideas you’ve generated about your customers after studying the data. They are ideas you would like to test and validate as ways to improve your conversion rate and profits.
Step 5: Design
The fifth step is designing according to what you have learned. The design phase includes three main steps: copywriting, wireframing, and visual design.
This is the step in which research is turned into marketing material, and basic structural layouts are turned into beautiful designs.
Step 6: Build
Step six is when you integrate these new designs into your website: It’s time to code. This can involve anything from simple colour and copy changes, to a radical redesign.
Step 7: Testing
In step 7, you validate your ideas and your hypotheses. This can involve A/B testing, multivariate testing and segmentation testing.
Step 8: Learn & Improve
Step eight is where you find out if your ideas or assumptions about the customer were correct.
This is where you interpret test results, look for statistical significance, and then improve and iterate based on your new, deeper customer understanding.
The process then starts all over again.
Remember: Conversion rate optimization is not “one and done”. It is an iterative process that should never end. Markets and customers are continuously evolving. So should your business!
Now let’s learn in-depth how to collect qualitative data from your customers, in this case focusing on customer development interviews.
Step by step process for customer development interviews
Popularized by Steve Blank and the Lean Startup movement customer development interviews are a powerful source of qualitative data.
They allow you to read your prospect’s body language, tone of voice and really dig deeper into learning their needs and wants around your topic or industry.
Step 1: Create your questions
The first step is to create five core questions for your interview.
Here are your questions frameworks for your behavioural study:
What’s your biggest [your topic] challenge right now?
This teaches you their biggest pain point and frustration
What does [your topic] mean to you?
This teaches you how they express your topic or solution, what words they use and the how they say and mean those words.
What’s the main reason you want to [achieve their one true goal]?
This tells you their one true goal, the main outcome of spending money with you, as seen from their perspective.
Tell me about your process now when [trying to achieve their one true goal]?
This allows you to learn about their customer journey, what steps do they take when trying to solve their challenge and achieve their one true goal.
What did you like or dislike about the process?
This tells you how they want the current solutions to improve or how your competitors are flawed, this can help you improve your company and also points out ways you can differentiate yourself within the market.
Remember, you cannot market to everyone, conversion optimization is about relevancy.
[tweetthis]You cannot market to everyone; Conversion optimization is about relevancy.[/tweetthis]
Differentiating yourself within your industry can be a huge conversion factor.
Step 2: Record your data with analysis in mind
How you record your customer interview call can determine whether or not it is useful, actionable.
You can use this spreadsheet template (get it in the free bonus area).
Let’s walk through the different columns, learn what they are for and how to fill them out:
Name, Sex, Age, Location, Position
These simple demographic and job entries are self explanatory. The position of the person is only useful if your business focuses on larger companies where you need to have direct contact with a decision maker to convert a customer.
These five questions should be rewritten using the frameworks above.
Make sure the questions are open and cannot be answered easily, like with a yes or no answer.
This is where you sum up the interview and write down your biggest takeaways, focus on pain points and desires.
Make sure you categorize answers, what was the main takeaway from the call?
Step 3: Write a script
It is important to have a script for your interviews that follows the flow of your spreadsheet.
This will help to guide you as you ask the questions and make sure you don’t get lost.
If for some reason you cannot record the audio of the interviews, make sure you take an extra person along to make notes.
Do not run the interview and make notes at the same time under any circumstances, firstly it is rude and secondly you could miss or lose valuable information.
Make sure the person does not write down their interpretation of what the person says but the exact words they say. We’ll go over this more in the data analysis section later.
Also, ask the person at the end of the interview if they give you a referral for any other interviewees.
Step 4: Find people for customer development interviews
Ok, so it is no secret that getting customers to take the time to chat with you isn’t that easy.
If you are really struggling to find customers to interview try this checklist below:
- Perform a social search using your topic or keyword and reach out to people
- Google alerts or Buzzsumo alerts, set up emails that let you know when new content on your topic is published, then reach out to the author using email outreach
- Ask for introductions from first degree contacts
- Cold call people in your target market
- Ask for a referral at the end of every customer development call to find new potential customers
The best case scenario is to meet the customer in person to do the interview, however you can always do the calls over video chat like Skype or Google Hangout or over the phone.
Step 5: Complete your interviews and record the interview audio
I recommend to record the audio during your interviews, rather than write or type while you listen.
You will be a much more attentive interviewer and will be able to ask more insightful follow up questions.
Then simply review the audio and make notes straight after the interview or call, while the conversation is fresh in your mind.
If you are doing a call over Skype I highly recommend to use Pamela call recorder software.
Even if you decide to do some interviews over the phone, put some credit on your Skype account and call the telephone number from Skype to allow you to record the calls.
Step by step process for analysing customer development data and increasing conversions
Once you have completed your interviews it is time to analyse the data for customer insights.
Step 1: Compile and organize your data
From your interviews you should have:
- Interview audio/video
- Spreadsheet for data analysis
Step 2: Fill in your spreadsheet
Go through each call (you should do at least 3 and shoot for 10), listen to the recording and fill in the spreadsheet fields.
Complete the basic demographic information, this includes:
- job position (if relevant)
Listen back to the entire audio clip and transcribe the exact customers words into the answer boxes for questions 1 – 5.
If you want to outsource the transcription you can use this service, which starts at $1 per minute of audio transcribed.
The next step is to write down a complete takeaway from each call in the ‘General Comments’ section in the spreadsheet.
This again should focus on the biggest takeaway from the interviewee, what did they talk about a lot and with the most passion?
Then categorize the interview as per the big takeaway,this can be about a feature or pricing or whatever the interview focus was.
Add any referrals, then move onto the next call until complete.
Step 3: Tally up the categories
Tally up the top three categories to learn what customers are focussing on the most.
This will guide you in improving your value proposition.
What are the top three categories? Do they point towards a pain point or goal the person has?
Step 4: Create a wordcloud
The next exercise in analysis should be to take all your call transcriptions and paste them into a word cloud (only the customers answers of course, not your sentences).
This word cloud is from the kagansblog.com customer interviews.
You can then get a visual representation of the words your customer are using to express their feelings.
You should also pull out memorable sentences or phrases customers used in the interviews, especially ones that were echoed by more than one candidate.
As suggested earlier, you need to use the customers exact words, not your interpretation of what they said!
For example from the kagansblog.com calls we recorded these exact customer sentences:
- “I don’t know how to start investing in real estate”
- “The most annoying part was trust, knowing who to trust”
- “I trusted her expertise in the area and saw that she had a recipe that had worked before”
- “Find a strategy and recipe for investment”
The next step is to take the word cloud and customer sentences and create a list of words to test in your new copy changes.
This is the key to the Visitor Vocab Technique, you create a vocabulary of customer words from qualitative data you have collected.
These words then act as an input to your copywriting process.
Here is the vocabulary list from Kagansblog.com.
- Honest / Trust
- Local Area Knowledge
Step 5: Copywriting
The next step is iterating on your sales and marketing copy.
You use the customers words and phrases as input, this helps you to describe their pains and needs in words they understand and relate to.
In this example the word list was used to create a lead magnet iteration, we rewrote the copy based on the qualitative data we collected and analysed.
Communicate value to your visitors, a value proposition they care about, in words they use to describe their goals and desires.
This is the secret to the Visitor Vocab Technique and a great way to increase conversion rates and profits.
Here is the final version of the landing page from Kagansblog.com :
Using the Visitor Vocab Technique increased his conversions and lead generation by 176.33% in 4 weeks. Adding 300k to his bottom line in 2015 alone.
Of course you still need to test your changes, the qualitative data simply acts as a qualified source for generating test hypothesis ideas for your a/b testing. (Rather than the random ideas most people pull out of thin air and test :p )
Conversion Optimization is about Customer Understanding
As we learned here conversion optimization is about more than just a/b testing changes on your website.
You can also collect and analyse qualitative data, like customer development interviews, to help improve your marketing and conversion rates.
Qualitative data is especially useful if you have low traffic or a low monthly conversion volume business, as a/b testing then becomes more or less impossible (no statistical significance to the results).
Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever used qualitative data to improve your conversion rates.
Free Bonus Area
For those of you who are serious about getting seriously high conversion rates, I’ve put together a bonus area.
What you get:
- Customer development data analysis pack (so you can run your own study)
- PDF – 25 conversion rate best practices
Giles writes about content marketing & conversion optimization for people looking to grow and improve their business or startup. He’s the founder of marketing & UX agency ‘Whole Design Studios’ and an expert mentor at ‘Betateam’ and ‘Google Launchpad’.