CR-No: Addressing the lack of direction and primary calls to action on pages

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Rommil Santiago 0:00
From Experiment Nation I’m Rommil Santiago, and this is CR-No. CR-No is a series that pulls back the curtain on the conversion rate optimization industry. Listen in as a panel of experienced CRO veterans to talk about some of the joy and a lot of the pains of our industry.

Kenya Davis 0:48
All right, hello. Hello, everybody. Welcome to Episode Four. Today we’re going to cover lack of direction and primary action on pages. Before we get started, let’s go ahead and go through our intros.

Eddie Aguilar 0:59
Hi, I’m Eddie Aguilar. I’m a optimizer for the past 10 years or so I’ve been doing backend programming and front end programming for more than 10 years, but eventually made my way over into optimization just because I didn’t think there was enough good experiences out there.

Siobhan Solberg 1:22
Thank you. I’m Siobhan I am the founder of a boutique optimization agency called Raze. We focus mainly on e commerce Shopify stores, and optimize their customer experience all the way through retention. In my spare time I optimize everything from walking the dogs to my Iron Men training and annoy my partner while doing so.

Kenya Davis 1:46
Hello, I’m Kenya Davis. I am a senior manager of decision science. I kind of fell into experimentation. I started at Lowe’s and built a team up there. And now I’m at Evolytics, you know, working across multiple companies. And, you know, my passion is just in proving things wrong. And exploring and learning. So yeah.

Shiva Manjunath 2:16
Yeah. And then last but not least, we have me. I’m a program manager over at Gartner. And I do CRO for a bunch of different brands. And that’s my fun life.

Kenya Davis 2:27
Okay, so today’s topic will be lack of direction and primary actions on pages. So let’s let’s get started with why this is important.

Shiva Manjunath 2:38
Yeah, I could jump into star I think what’s kind of interesting, and something that I’m like starting to look at right now is like, how much content is too much content on a page? Which obviously depends, right? But like, do we do we really need to have so much content on the page that there is just so much for users to do, which could be good, because there’s more time on site, there’s more branding, there’s more, you know, things that keep them interested. But having too many things starts to create, like an absurd lack of direction where like, you, you look at a page and you land on it, and you’re like, Man, that scroll bar is super tiny, how much stuff do they want me to do on this page? So I’m curious if you guys have any thoughts on that?

Siobhan Solberg 3:24
Doesn’t it really depend on what type of content though too, because like, for example, a homepage of an e commerce store that has a ton of different products is going to be it’s going to have a lot of content. But ultimately, that’s the purpose of the homepage, right is to be an index of some sort. Then if you go to a product page or category page, let’s say you, again, have a lot of products that you should be able to do you have more of a purpose, so you need to be able to address it. So I think it also depends on the type of content. I think, you know, certain SaaS companies as well, they can have a lot of content, but it really serves one specific purpose. So I agree with you that a lot of places, it’s like that, but I think that there are use cases for it. Because ultimately, a lot of content could still serve one specific purpose. And yeah, that’s the way I tend to look at it.

Shiva Manjunath 4:15
Yeah, I totally agree. And I think there’s a layer of like traffic source, too, right? Like, what is the type of traffic coming to that page? And, you know, theoretically will funnel stage are they are they are higher in the funnel. So maybe they need more content and more topical content versus like, you know, if you’re on an e commerce site, and you know, this is a returning user for like, an email for an abandoned cart, like maybe that page, that product page, you can even shorten it and just get users focused on getting that conversion. So Exactly. I totally agree with everything you said, with a layer of traffic and the traffic coming to that page is just as important, if not more important.

Kenya Davis 4:51
Yeah, I think it’s less about all the actions that you can take on the page. I definitely agree with both of you, and it’s just more of what’s the story you’re trying to tell. You can have as many buttons and features as you want as long as they they work together and make sense. And also that they don’t, you know, lead your customer all over the place, or give them too many opportunities to abandon the process. Yeah, it’s it can be, it can be really interesting when it comes down to testing a page that has so many actions have been Have you had to deal with, you know, elemental changes on an AB test, but it being more of a cluster of changes that aren’t necessarily a multivariate test?

Shiva Manjunath 5:39
I have, I think it’s a always try and take a step back and realize it’s not always about a single particular element that you’re changing. And it always goes down to the hypothesis that you’re trying to test, right? It’s, if you’re trying to test a particular hypothesis, you can have like, let’s say, three or four different elements, you’re technically changing. But as long as they all directly correlate, and support that initial high hypothesis, and you run that test, and you see that it wins, you see behaviors influenced in a particular way, then you can iterate on the individual concepts, the individual things than usual elements. But I generally try and approach it with more of like a hypothesis driven approach, rather than a how many like variables or things Am I potentially changing on the page? A generally gives me a lot more success.

Siobhan Solberg 6:29
Gotcha. Definitely, I would agree. That I think overall, I mean, I approach testing, especially when it comes to the purpose of a page or the action that the page is, is trying to get a user to take, then I, I tend to avoid any kind of individual elements of testing, because ultimately, it’s the page that has to drive that action. So sometimes you really need to look at the bigger picture there.

Shiva Manjunath 6:56
So let’s see, that’s an interesting call. Oh, and it’s like, how do you how do you determine the purpose of that page? Right, like, Is it is it an internal thing that we’ve determined the purpose of the page is going to be X?

Siobhan Solberg 7:07
Oh no. Definitely not.

Kenya Davis 7:11
Yet, at times, you know, we, we and the stakeholders get so wrapped up in what we know that we’re forgetting what the customer is seeing. And they may have no idea that that’s what that page is supposed to do.

Shiva Manjunath 7:23
Yeah. Agreed,

Kenya Davis 7:25
You know, it’s even running a test, just thinking of that lack of direction, is your test going to divert the customer away from what the meaning of this page is?

Siobhan Solberg 7:34
This is why user testing is so great, isn’t it though, because I know that every now and then even with long term clients, I’ll just go do some user tests, watch someone over the shoulder using the site, I’ll go as far as asking my friends to randomly go to a site, just because it gives me a new perspective. And I mean, I’m in some way, I’m lucky because I work mostly with e commerce stores. So there’s a direct correlation to a retail like, you know, shopping behavior when you go outside down the street, and shop compared to online. And this is the way I, I tell stakeholders and other people on the team how to approach it, you know, you’re walking in the shop, you’re looking for something specific, or you’re just browsing, you know, so there are specific type of unique user journeys that people do go through, especially in e commerce, it’s not linear, it’s it’s all over the place. But it gives you an idea as to what the purpose, you know, the homepage or the landing page is like opening the door and walking into a store to see what the possibilities are. And then you start honing down on what you want. I think that’s a lot harder to do. And in other industries, you know, SaaS and everything, lead gen, this is probably a little bit harder to address, but I don’t really work with them very much. So I don’t know the problems that you would see there.

Kenya Davis 8:51
I was actually gonna ask you Siobhan? Like, do you find certain industries easier to drive direction with and making sure that the customer knows the purpose versus other industries?

Siobhan Solberg 9:03
I would, I would say so. Yeah. I think any, you know, any specialty type store is always the easiest, because people know why they’re going there. The bigger stores that sell a little bit of everything are a lot harder, because you don’t really know what the direction of that user is, unless they’re coming from a specific ad. And then you can target it, but otherwise, you know, they just land on your homepage as direct traffic, you don’t know what’s going on. And you don’t know what they’re going to want.

Shiva Manjunath 9:33
Yes, very good point. I was just going to add like with like, on your point about specific like stores, which may be like, it’s like a Walmart versus let’s say like a dedicated brand store with a dedicated brand store. You know, they’re interested in your particular product and your particular brand. And especially if your product line is more of narrowly focused and makes it easier to start thinking about the purposes of those pages, your traffic volume, Might be a little bit lower, but you can start creating like purposeful and meaningful pages based on that behavior. Because it’s like, it’s kind of auto, it’s like auto segmenting your users, where there’s just a particular segment of users focused on a particular thing. I never really thought about it, but it makes sense like these, these bigger like Walmart’s and Amazon’s they, someone can be literally adding, like, I don’t know, like baby diapers, and then like getting a box of nails, like at the same purchase. And it’s, it’s kind of difficult. That’s a, that’s kind of a morbid example. But like, there’s a, there’s a it’s Friday, I don’t know where my braids for, like, that’s an example of like, it’s, it’s probably more difficult for these larger brands to start creating these purposeful pages. And you just have to start thinking about the intent for the users and just trying to streamline it and making their kind of paths easier to go towards. But…

It’s the customer’s journey. It’s not the company’s journey… This is why they’re not converting. They’re not finding things because of the way you’re presenting it.” – Siobhan Solberg

Siobhan Solberg 10:56
I mean, what you would do right is you would start, you would start segmenting based off of behaviors of at large, meaning, they might have entered nails into their shopping cart along with their baby diapers, but they’re the outlier. So once you start looking at it, from a statistical standpoint, it’s it’s a whole nother story. And you start understanding that most people who enter baby they buy diapers, you know, have a certain behavior, and you start clumping them together. And you kind of have a reference then on that behavior. And this is how you would you know, this is how we tend to address this in a bigger shops, like a Walmart slash shop. And the easiest are obviously the ones that sell one product. Now, even a brand like Nike would still be harder to optimize, and to understand and segment because you still don’t know is it a man or woman coming to the site? Do they want kids clothes? Do they want sneakers? Do they want tank tops? So you’re still guessing a little bit, you know, they want Nike, but then let you know, if you’re selling, I don’t know, engagement rings, that’s pretty basic, like, you know exactly what that user wants.

Shiva Manjunath 11:58
And on that any other points like how do they get to that product? Right? How are they getting to that product? Are they getting from? Are they starting from like, Okay, well, hold on, man. So let me start with man, now I want shoes. Now I’m gonna look for shoes and trying to think about the direction of how they navigate the site. Are they going to go top down from men to shoes to? I don’t know, like Air Jordans? Are they going to start with Air Jordans, and then go like, and then go back to will actually, I’m a man. And then we’ll actually I want, you know, this particular thing. It’s interesting to just think about the flows in that particular way.

Siobhan Solberg 12:33
Yeah, and I think there are clear flows there. The Air Jordan example is great, because people do type and ad in for it. You know, and then you don’t know man or women, but when you go to any big store, you almost always see the first entry is men or women. Because it’s just the biggest category that we put on them. It’s not necessarily correct, because if someone is Googling a running shoe, that for, you know, a Nike running shoe that exists for both men and women. I’ve, I’ve learned just through basic trial and error that they tend to throw me into the men’s page. And I think that’s just an assumption they’re making, or they just haven’t figured me out yet.

Kenya Davis 13:20
It’s probably accurate, that they haven’t figured it out, there are some products in companies who may have a gender neutral product and chooses is, I mean, you brought up Jordans and I’m like, I feel like that is the epitome of a gender neutral type of shoe. Because often you see both looking at, you know, the colors, and I’ve seen men love the hot pink, and black or, you know, gold and black and women liking the high tops and whatnot. But, you know, you’re absolutely correct that we’ve created this funnel of men, man or woman on, you know, sites like that to make it easier. I do think this is a great segue into balancing, you know, those competing interests with stakeholders? So we think about, you know, how we’re how we’re approaching this topic of how you know, users are navigating the site and finding usefulness of the content? How do you balance the obvious interest of the customer and the one who’s putting you know, baby clothes and nails versus what the stakeholder thinks that it should be? The stakeholder may see two people here and the customer is just seeing this as a normal experience. Now, how do you how do you balance that with, with testing?

Siobhan Solberg 14:43
I think this is funny that you bring this up because I was just having a discussion with someone about this. I said it’s the customer’s journey. It’s not the company’s journey. And and that’s exactly what you’re bringing up is that i think that you know, we have this vision or the stakeholders have this vision of how they want their customers or consumers to go through this journey. And I think this is exactly why we create measurement plans and why we analyze data. And we look at user tests, because it’s a way for us to open our eyes to what the customers journey really is. And also to understand where they’re getting caught up within the journey that we’ve created for them. And if you can triangulate that data quite well, especially show user recordings of users interacting with your site, I tend to think that stakeholders are quite open to this. Because it’s a lot, it’s quite easy to explain to them, like they’re getting stuck. This is why they’re not converting, they’re not finding things because of the way you’re presenting it. But this is where really a really strong measurement plan. And good research becomes essential for you to be able to really understand that whole journey and presented to the stakeholder accordingly, and then testing the whole journey. Well, you know, that’s always fun.

Kenya Davis 16:04
And I love what you started with that was, this is the customer’s journey, is what you said and not not yours.

Siobhan Solberg 16:12
And not the company’s never.

Kenya Davis 16:14
I love that. That is great.

Shiva Manjunath 16:16
Yeah, that’s a powerful quote. And I think a lot of times, that’s where I love CRO testing, because it helps validate or invalidate what the users are actually looking for. It’s not just someone saying, I know what’s best for the customer, because of my degree. So I’m going to do X, Y, and Z and create the best experience for you. It’s, it’s literally testing into things to create a better holistic customer experience. And if you’re just so narrowly focused on I know what’s best for the customer, so I’m going to give them X, Y, and Z. Without testing without doing any of these things. You’re you’re not focusing on even short term metrics like conversion rate, but you’re missing out on the bigger boat of like customer lifetime value in these things that will get users not just buying ones, but buying 20 times and getting them talking to other people about it. It’s It’s such a short sighted way to just have a website,

Kenya Davis 17:13
Do you find it difficult to get buy in from stakeholders once you, you know, start painting that true customer experience to them?

Shiva Manjunath 17:23
I think for me, it’s like it kind of like our previous conversation, it just it depends on the folks that you’re working with, where if you have a lot of folks that don’t, that kind of put their egos aside and trust the data and are very, not only like, I love the same, but that I think I said it, but like it’s just it’s not being data driven, it’s being data obsessed, it’s, it’s being obsessed with trying to find how users are interacting with your site, what they’re looking for, and delivering a good experience, sometimes at the cost of reducing your overall conversion rate. Because if you create good conversions, or if you create good experiences, then those conversions will follow. And you have to do the right thing for the customers, if it means sacrificing the short term conversion play for lifetime value along the way. So it’s, it’s if you’re just like narrowly focusing in on these small test wins, and these small things where you’re just optimizing that individual users conversion, versus delivering the holistic, optimized experience along the way. And your, you know, the people that you’re working with, believe in that holistic plan, you have buy in from everyone, you’ll benefit. But if you have a business that’s like, I don’t want to say predatory, but like they care more about the short term wins rather than lifetime value, then you might get kind of focused and pushed into optimizing for that short term play instead of for that lifetime value.

Siobhan Solberg 18:48
I think some of it, though, is also that there’s just the inability of some companies to be able to measure lifetime value or customer retention. You know, I talk to my clients a lot about, you have your VIP customers, that’s who you care about. That’s who you need to target everything towards, essentially, because they’re the ones that keep coming back. They’re the ones that are also using Word of mouth referrals. They’re the ones telling everyone about you, they believe in you. But it’s very hard thing to explain, because it’s not that easy to measure, as we all know. And then even the people who are measuring it that not that many people are aware of the fact how to measure it. And a lot of people within our industry are uncomfortable measuring that. So once you start testing for customer retention, lifetime value, and who is the better quality customer to have. You also just alienate people because it is just over their head. They’re not understanding it. And it’s a little bit you know, like CRO was years back, it was over people’s head and now people are starting to really take into it. I think this is just going to take some time for people to think about it that way. Because how are you know, I mean, how do you approach testing and then Trying understand if you’ve actually increased the lifetime value, or the quality of the customer or the retention value, have we decreased churn or not like, are you actively using it as a KPI within your own tests?

Kenya Davis 20:15
Alright, I like that that’s, it’s such a great question to pose, do you find that you’re the one pondering on that? Or do you often get to have that dialogue with your stakeholder?

Siobhan Solberg 20:29
I think about it a lot. Um, I think it’s quite important to understand the tension. Okay, I need to drink some water Hold on. Alright, I’m back. I think it’s quite important to understand the, you know, the churn rate and the quality of the customer. And I do try and segment users according to behaviors, so that I can understand who have the potential to be a good customer. So I think about it a lot, I think it’s harder to have that conversation with stakeholders. Because unless they are really, in this kind of growth phase, where they really want to push to the next level, they’re not quite open to that, because they feel that there’s still so much can be done without having to think about those thoughts. But I’ve noticed a lot in our industry and also in e commerce in general, that there is a shift in this a little bit and that people are really trying to focus on customer value, churn rates, retention, customer experience, whatever they might want to call it, they’re trying to focus on this a little bit more. And now I feel that our we need to all catch up and understand how to reliably measure this, because this is what I get caught. I want to be able to reliably measure this so that I can run a test accordingly. I don’t want there to be this guessing element. That’s still currently going on a little bit.

Kenya Davis 21:58
Yeah, I definitely agree with you. I think it’s, um, there’s, there’s often times where, you know, we’re trying to figure out, do you truly understand your customer. And just because you are dealing with the same, let’s say, same website, doesn’t mean that you are dealing with the same, you know, type, which is where all these, you know, these segments come in, and, and it’s, I think it is part of our job to think about the full process and what, you know, what, what state of mind, are they in? And what are they looking for in this this really complex dynamic existence of, of the experience flow. The other part is that, you know, when we are testing, we’re looking at this concentrated point in time, and what that customer is doing on that journey. And it is important that we start looking at, you know, the the very end of it, the cancellation rates, the retention, and all of that to really close the loop on it. It’s one thing to boost your conversion rates, and then it’s another for you know, the test to end and it still continues to tank after, you know, the the customer gets fully aware of, you know, what they just purchased or bought into. But yeah, that was definitely a fantastic comment. Siobhan. Does anybody have any other closing remarks? Speak now forever, hold your peace

Eddie Aguilar 23:30
Special guest, Eddie, here for the last few seconds. So basically, one thing I’ve learned is around copy and content, specifically for users. What I tend to do is like the main web pages are optimized towards shorter copy, right. And then for longer copy, it’s more of I do it more for like SEO and deeper linking copy content on the website, because you tend. And what I’ve seen is you tend to have two different types of users, you have users that don’t read or are skimming. And then you have users that are reading all the time. And I want to be able to capture both users, both types of users. So I’m constantly always testing around short and long and it I personally have always seen good results out of just continuously testing both types of copy. And even if it’s a little longer process, or like a different state of the funnel, but people that are tending to read a lot and I’ve seen it is there they tend to be on the website for much longer time. So

Shiva Manjunath 24:56
It’d be interesting to have like two different websites one for those users who read a lot and one for those who don’t like to read, and just having a totally different segment of users and a different experience.

Kenya Davis 25:05
And I’m stealing that. Thank you.

Siobhan Solberg 25:10
Now start measuring who’s a reader and who’s not?

Kenya Davis 25:13
Yeah, I usually call them researchers on the site, when like, they just, you know, they’re skimming around looking for articles. We have others that are just like, excessive clickers, and they’re just clicking everything. And there’s no, no path to it. Because that is a that’s a really good idea. Does anyone have any other comments? Do we have any other people acting as Lazarus coming? coming in? No? Well, thank you all so so very much. That wraps up our topics for Episode Four. Thank you all.

Rommil Santiago 25:54
This episode was edited by Zohaib. So he was an audio engineer, music producer and DJ from Karachi, who now lives in Toronto. You can find him on SoundCloud, Facebook and Instagram. And you can find links in his profiles in the description.

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