3 Reasons You Should Stop Optimizing for Conversion & Start Optimizing for Experience

Liam Burns
Written by Liam Burns
May 20, 2020

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) has been the core focus of digital teams for years, but an overwhelming 40% of marketers report a conversion rate of less than 0.5%. Yet top performing websites report conversion rates near 11%.

Why are CRO leaders seeing nearly 22 times better conversions than almost half of marketing teams? They’re not actually focused on conversions; they’re obsessed with delivering on experience.

Here are 3 reasons you should optimize websites and apps for experience rather than conversion:

1. Digital customer experience (CX) matters more than conversion

Customer experience has arguably become the biggest differentiator between businesses. In fact, two-thirds of customers are willing to pay more for great experiences.

This now means businesses must focus on how they offer their products, services, and support through their websites and apps – these experiences must be near perfect. Research shows that 84% of brands that work to improve their CX report an increase in their revenue, and CX leaders outperform industry laggards by nearly 80%.

If brands don’t nail their web and app experiences, then customers will abandon before even having the opportunity to make a purchase.

2. Conversion is business-centric, not customer-centric

In the wake of the CX revolution, conversion optimization has become outdated as it focuses on short-term revenue gain, rather than solving customer journey pain-points.

An expert in digital experimentation, Jonny Longden hopes “in 2020 and beyond we finally see the death of the terms ‘conversion optimization’ and CRO,” and he believes that an “industry that has grown up around ‘CRO’ and the way it sells itself does nobody any favors and perpetuates the limited view.”

While it still carries tactical value, CRO overkill risks positioning businesses like a cliché and cringey ‘pushy car salesman’ in your customer’s digital experiences – which can be a major turn off.

3. Conversions are a byproduct of high-quality experiences

In its own way, customer experience is an advanced method for achieving CRO.

By creating higher quality web and app experiences, you promote higher levels of intent-based engagements, and those engagements propel prospects through the journey to conversion.

However, the true benefits of a CX-driven strategy come post-conversion. Those positive experiences give customers every reason to return as repeat buyers or add-on to their current services, and even drive referrals.

Great customer experiences create sustainable revenue that conversion optimization cannot match, as a 5% increase in customer retention correlates with at least a 25% increase in profit.

The challenge many digital marketing and UX teams now face is how should they optimize their website and app experiences, so they’re naturally built to drive more conversions.

There are three ways digital teams should optimize their web and app experiences:

1. Make experiences intuitive and as simple as possible

Don’t force users to think or work too hard. Every action and next step should be obvious, practical, and logical.

To deliver intuitive customer journeys through websites or apps, digital teams will need digital analytics that segment user journeys to identify positive and negative trends in the most common user experiences (UX). You can then pair this visual analysis with navigation and engagement scores that condense millions of user session data points into metrics that rate efficiency behind your web or app experiences for instant insights.

These tools have become essential for constructing a streamlined user journey, as 60% of users don’t find the information they were looking for on a website, and 38% of users stop engaging with a website if its layout is unattractive.

2. Keep journeys frictionless without hurdles or challenges

If your website or app present any obstacles to the user when going from ‘point A to point B’ then they’ll have every reason to abandon as most users refuse to tolerate poor experiences.

UX and web development teams that leverage investigative tools like heatmaps and session replays can review journeys to ensure everything from multimedia content to page links all work flawlessly. In fact, 47% of users expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less – any longer and it’s a recipe for a lost prospect.

But with digital experience analytics, teams won’t even have to investigate.

Experience data collected from every user session is calculated into technical experience and frustration scores. These metrics enable instant insights where websites or apps need to be patched, which is critical when 50% of a developer’s time is spent fixing issues that could have been avoided.

3. Ensure a satisfying end-result regardless of the user goal

Whether the user is reading articles and blogs for topical research or they’re product comparison shopping – digital teams must accept that not every user is looking to purchase. So how do you know whether an experience was successful without conversion?

CX thought leader, Kerry Bodine explains that key to understanding that intent comes from “insights and measurement that examines customers’ behavior not just at individual touchpoints, but along the paths they take as they attempt to accomplish their goals and tasks.”

Digital teams using analytics that detect user behaviors and collect experience data can understand ‘digital body language.’ This technology enables teams to measure the meaning behind mouse movements and clicks to determine experience quality regardless of the outcome.

Pair this digital intelligence with voice of customer data (VoC) like the Net Promoter Score (NPS), and teams can link digital events to the quality of their customer experiences seamlessly.

Successful online customer experiences require businesses to update their optimization methods

In the era of a true customer-first experience, businesses cannot afford to operate like they have in previous years.

Digital teams must adopt updated digital optimization methods to create a modern customer experience on websites and apps – or watch conversions decline. And if teams use the same analytics they have been, then CX programs will suffer.

Unfortunately, research indicates that 30% of medium-sized enterprises say they lack the right tools or technology to measure customer experience and 32% cite legacy tools limitations as a top three overall CX challenge.

To truly become customer-centric teams need take advantage of modern digital experience analytics with more advanced data that traditional solutions don’t measure – like behavioral and experience data.

And as CX becomes more dominated by digital experiences, it’s critical for optimization teams to abide by evolving best practices. Download the 9 New Rules of Website and App Optimization to keep your team prepared.

Topics: Conversion Optimization, Customer Experience, Customer Journey
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