iProspect Ireland’s O360 blog series is drawing to a close, but that doesn’t mean our manifesto for a holistic optimisation strategy ceases with it. We are as committed as ever to making sure that a user’s journey from keyphrase to conversion is as arrow-straight as possible. So much is written in marketing about achieving the unexpected, creating “stand-out”, being “disruptive”… search is the one area of marketing where you want to deliver the opposite.
We are champions of the expected!
A user typing a key phrase into a search engine is marketing gold. It cuts through the effort we go through in marketing to find out who might be interested in the products and services we are selling and all the millions we spend on research, tools, ‘insights’ and market segmentation. On the other side of our screens, there is someone putting their hand up and saying “I’m actively looking for x!”
It’s a signal of intent, a cry for assistance, an indication of interest. It is more than just good practice, rewarded by Google and the other search engines, to ensure that these hand-raisers find what they’re looking for, it is more than simply sensible—it is incumbent on us. But if those hand-raisers go ahead and click on our link, we are absolutely duty bound to take them to church!
In our blog series, we broke the disciplines involved in that aspiration into the five dimensions of optimisation:
The disciplines involved in this are myriad and subject to constant change… For example, Google finally released their Penguin 3.0 algorithm only this week. The impact this release will have has not yet been felt, but it will affect sites with ‘spammy’ links.
You may even feel the impact without being hit directly by Penguin 3.0. If the release causes a wide range of links to be discounted, those links will no longer have the SEO ‘weight’ they used to have and so sites that once gained from those links will lose credit despite not being penalised directly by Google. The point is, SEO is a fluid, ever-changing landscape that takes serious expertise to stay on top of.
Content optimisation can have a broad definition and can sometimes be used almost as a proxy term for SEO, but what we mean by it at iProspect, is the optimisation of content in order to converge the user’s expectations with the brand or site owner’s expertise. For too long the prevailing attitude has been that there is a way somehow to shortcut the search engines, to ‘trick’ them into ranking a site higher. Why would we do this, when you can achieve a high ranking for real?
It’s easy to forget in business that you are an expert in your field and that your knowledge and expertise has a true value to your prospective and existing user base. Our approach is to help draw this expertise out, to express it and showcase it in the optimum way. This has obvious SEO benefits, but the reason we have separated this point from SEO, and the reason we approach it as a stand-alone discipline is that SEO is not and should not be the reason to optimise content. Meeting and exceeding a user’s expectations, expressing your valuable expertise and building your brand’s reputation, should.
Having a background in design, I thought UX Design meant just web design. That was a serious underestimation of the discipline. When a close friend of mine became a UX designer and I saw what was involved, I developed maximum respect for his skills and serious doubts about the selfish, self-indulgent nature of the design I had been involved in—in all channels, let alone in web design.
As Econsultancy noted in a post about UX, ASOS halved checkout abandonment rate by removing the necessity for customers to create an account.
What truly impressed me was the level of research, the detailed study of real, actual people using the site whilst describing their experience, the careful creation of personas representing the target audiences, the building of ‘scenarios’ to give the UX designer a picture of not just how users would use their site, but how their site would fit into the user’s day, and finally, the deep acceptance that UX is only optimised if it is optimised for the audience that you are trying to attract to the site.
One of the disciplines that makes up UX optimisation is user journey optimisation, but we believe it’s important enough and specialist enough to call out separately. User journey optimisation is all about enabling users to perform tasks on your site as smoothly as possible. User journey maps are used to show both how users interact with an existing site and how they could and should interact with it in an ideal scenario.
Often using user personas created in UX design, user journey mapping takes into account the user’s goals, their motivations, their current pain points, their overall character and the main tasks they want to perform. If there’s more than one user persona using your site there may need to be multiple user journeys.User journey optimisation takes account of:
User journey optimisation is another discipline that has been honed to an art form by its current practitioners.
The final part of the story for us is conversion rate optimisation (CRO). Our clients often come to us telling us they need to generate more traffic to their sites, yet, in 2012 when engaged for CRO projects, iProspect improved on-site conversion rates by an average of 35%, for a fraction of the cost that generating a 35% uplift in traffic would have required.
We make it painless too by limiting reliance on client IT teams. We drop a single line of Javas script onto a site. This allows us to affect change to the look and feel of a website without further involvement from the IT team.
Part art, part science, CRO is about analysing, hypothesising and testing to increase conversion rates incrementally. We usually see results within 3 to 4 weeks of a project kicking off, however, CRO is not something you should do just once. We recommend that ongoing testing should be included as just another line on your media plan, always working to improve performance in the background.
And you don’t have to have an ecommerce site to benefit from our CRO service either, we have used the same disciplines to reduce bounce rates by up to 50% or to increase newsletter sign-ups or other non-ecommerce on-site goals.
Conversion Audit | A/B Testing | Multivariate Testing | Landing Page Design | Microsite Builds | User Testing | Heatmapping Analysis | Online Surveys | Competitive Audits | Site Speed Optimisation
Conversion optimisation has other benefits too. It improves user experience, of course and has been shown, as a result, to influence brand affinity. What’s not to love about CRO!
We hope you found this series useful and enlightening. Our over-arching belief is that all these disciplines are intertwined and interdependent, and that taking a 360 degree approach to optimisation delivers exponential site performance results for your business, improves user experience (even when the task in hand is not UX optimisation!) and has a seriously positive effect on users’ affinity to any brand that takes this approach.
You may have noticed that an underpinning constant in our five dimensions of optimisation is measurement. O360 would be impossible without expertly set up and tracked analytics informing us of user behaviour before and after our intervention at every stage of their journey… and that brings us neatly on to the next subject in our series: 360 Degree Analytics. Watch this space.