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CROworld 2016: Actionable Tips For User-Focused Optimisation

Conversion Rate Optimisation

Day 3 of Conversion World 2016 has been weighted toward user research topics and talks that aimed to provide actionable tips. Here are tips from three talks by Csaba Zajdo, David Darmanin and Els Aerts:

The three talks in order will give you:

  1. Tips to put into practice right away
  2. A strategy for business success that focuses on your users.
  3. Tips on methods of user research.

5 insanely actionable conversion hacks to boost ecommerce conversion rates by Csaba Zajdo, @csabazajdo

Csabo’s talk focussed on quick ways to instigate wins. These tips can can be implemented without support from developers and will benefit you right away.

Csaba Zajdo

#1: Differentiate hot vs cold prospects

The first step to talking appropriately to your potential customers is to identify how warmed up they are to making a purchase. Statistics show that 90%+ of website visitors are usually cold prospects but most ecommerce websites design their site as if visitors are ready to buy.

“The call to action for ecommerce sites needs to be softer, start a relationship with prospects first.” – @csabazajdo Click to tweet

By nurturing these prospects with content that interests them you can gradually warm them up to buying. It’s easier and more effective to get cold prospects to subscribe to updates (on a topic that interests them – it’s all about fulfilling a need for them).

How to differentiate prospects

An easy way to differentiate prospects is to find out where they’re coming from. This is the usual split:

  • Hot prospects come from search engines (via specific keyword searches) and from newsletters.
  • Cold prospects usually come through display ads, social ads, cold emails and generic keyword searches.

Look too at visitors onsite behaviour. Hot or primed visitors browse product pages and shipping details while cold visitors browse non buying specific content such as blog posts. Returning visitors can generally be considered more primed and vice versa, new visitors can usually be considered cold. That’s not a hard and fast rule though, warns Csaba. Look at all the data to decide. So, what are you going to do with that info? Show them different content, hot prospects to buy and cold prospects to subscribe.

#2 Target prospect types with different content

What sort of content do prospects at different stages need?

  • Hot prospects need hot offers i.e. they’re ready to be sold hard on a product.
  • Cold prospects need cold offers such as educational content that doesn’t sell a product but encourages the reader to subscribe to more content.

Csabo warned that hot prospects can cool down or you may have classified them incorrectly. He recommends that a prospect that doesn’t engage with hot content after about a week should be reclassified as cold and cold content sent instead.

#3 Use offsite and onsite retargeting

Offsite means anywhere online but your own website and means showing ads and article in advertising space in search engines, social media and ad space on other websites. Onsite means your website. This usually takes the form of modal splashes and popups targeted at the point it looks like a visitor is about leave your site. Again, identify whether they’re hot or cold to retarget with the right content, is makes retargeting much more effective. Together both types of retargeting can save people before they abandon and bring people back.

Need inspiration? Browse our gallery of Exit Intent Popups.

#4 Use dynamic text replacement

Dynamic text replacement means automatically changing the text based on certain criteria. You can personalise an offer based on the product a prospect has been browsing by changing the message in the ad.

#5 Use nanobars to remind

A nanobar is the bar the top of the page, like this one at the top of the blog: Nanobar on Formisimo blog

Usually used for list building purposes (a cold CTA), they can also be used to make offers to hot prospects such as reminding prospects of the coupon code they just requested. Display the code and a countdown of the time left to use it for added urgency. Another hot offer use is as a reminder of what’s in the prospect’s cart again with a countdown of the time it’s still reserved for. I haven’t seen much evidence of ecommerce sites building up relationships with prospects in this way so this could be your chance to get ahead of the pack.

The rise of the user by David Darmanin, @daviddarmanin

David Darmanin continued on the theme of the user, saying,

“The only way to win in the long term is to prioritize your users.” – @daviddarmanin Click to tweet

David Darmanin

He began with some statistics on the rise of ‘Users’, online communities arising from our increasing use of digital devices and online platforms.

  • 90% of buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.
  • 40% of people use Facebook to pick a restaurant.
  • 91% of B2B buyers are influenced by word of mouth.

Darmanin proposes that we’ve reached The Age of the ‘Connected’ User and as marketers we need to evolve along with consumers. His method for success is to form a user-focussed growth strategy and to recognise that optimisation is about small, iterative changes.

The 4 drivers of user-focused growth strategy

These should be your four goals:

  1. Conversions
  2. Monetization
  3. Usage (reducing churn)
  4. Spread (organic word of mouth)

However, optimising these actually requires optimising the drivers behind each, which are:

  • Demand drives conversions,
  • Value drives monetization,
  • Experience (enjoyable, low-friction) drives usage,
  • Wow factor drives spread – wow users enough for them to tell their network it.

#1 Demand

Build it and they will come! Darmanin points out that the most natural driver of demand is to create a product or service that people need. So position yourself as the solution to a problem.

You can also position yourself in comparison to your competitor. What is their weakness and how should you position yourself to win their business?

#2 Value

Darmanin says transparent pricing is a great way to express value i.e. the difference in what you get between different options.

#3 Experience

A good experience should be, as mentioned, friction-less but great experience means a product that’s addictive to use. Build in elements that will bring users back to the site regularly, like our fascinating real-time stats which shows how user are interacting with your form as it happens:

Real Time Statistics in action

#4 Wow

Creating wow means surpassing expectations and surprising users with expected value. This could be sending additional gifts along with purchases or it could be fast replies or little messages that make users/buyers feel good about their choices.

Wow is about standing out in someone’s day enough for them to tell other people about it.

User intelligence

User intelligence, a relatively new term coined by Darmanin, encourages marketers to learn more about their users.

“User intelligence is the ability to truly empathize with – and react to- your users’ experience.” – @daviddarmanin Click to tweet

To forge ahead, pursuing user intelligence, you need:

  • Process: Iterative, continuous testing, all built on hypothesis
  • People on your team: Your whole company culture is built around learning about the user.
  • Technology: leveraging technology to connect user behaviour and feedback.

And finally, Els Aerts discussed her favourite research methods for gleaning insight into user behaviour and user preferences:

How user research can help you improve your conversions, Els Aerts, @els_aerts

Els told an anecdote of an optimisation she and her team tested for a client. They created a beautiful new site and were confident it would win their tests. They were wrong, there was no difference in conversions. Her point? To bring optimisers back down to Earth.

Experts don’t know it all, in fact, your knowledge is probably your downfall. – @els_aerts Click to tweet

Ultimately, a designer, a marketer or an optimiser has a different perspective to the website user. Our successes on other sites don’t transfer, unless we do user research and apply what we know to that site’s audience.

Els maintains that conducting user research is not as hard as it seems. To succeed you just need to be willing to reach out to your users and to really listen to them.

Els Aerts

Els Aerts’ favourite methods of user research

Els’ full range of research tools include:

The Truth Is Out There – User Research Based AB-Testing from AGConsult

But her favourites are:

Eye tracking

Why? Els uses eye tracking to find out what parts of the page users are attracted to. This allows her to move the important call to actions into users’ line of sight.

Screenshot testing

Screenshot testing means show users a screenshot of a page, set them a task and ask them to click where they think they should.

Els likes this simple testing method because you can easily and cheaply settle an argument between you and your client. She says you can only make a convincing argument with data and this test is the fastest and cheapest way to get data and move on.

Heat maps

Although a good rate of users may be clicking your call to action, a heat map will show you where else people are clicking. This reveals distracting elements on the page.

By removing links and elements that are detracting from your main call-to-action you can funnel users where you want them. This should drive up the clicks on your desired call-to-action.

Scroll maps

Scroll maps show what people are missing. Although lots of article on digital design now say ‘there’s no fold’, scroll maps show an average fold, where most people are scrolling to. You’ll quickly see if more people are missing some vital information or the call-to-action.

Scroll maps are reveal insights on content websites too where a lot of content is long and many Calls-to-action are housed at the bottom of the page. If most users are missing these then increasing their visibility should increase conversions.


Surveys deliver to you the voice of the user. Ask leading questions such as, ‘What task are you trying to complete today?’ Answers from surveys compared with data from analytics can highlight a disconnect between what users want to do and their ability to actually find and complete it on your site.

Surveys also provide you with the language of your users. Make use of the words, terms and phrases that your users use in the copy of your website. This will improve a number of things:

  • Improve your search rankings for keywords users really use.
  • Reduce cognitive load. Users won’t have to figure out if your service is the one they’re looking for.
  • Brings you closer to your users. Picking a tone of voice that not necessarily matches them but suits them should create a warmer relationship.

Listening to user research data will result in more ‘winning’ experiments. However, tools are only as good as your ability to interpret and use the results:

“You are the best user research tool.” – @els_aerts Click to tweet