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It All Began With Coining the Phrase ‘Conversion Rate Optimisation’

What’s your biggest claim to fame? Is it that you coined one of the most prolific phrases in modern web lexicon? Because that’s what it is for this week’s guests on The Melting Pot. 

Dr Karl Blanks and Ben Jesson, co-founders of Conversion Rate Experts are credited with coining the phrase ‘Conversion Rate Optimisation’ (CRO) back in 2007, to encapsulate the methodology their agency used with websites. 

Today, they’re still in the business of making websites convert, but they’ve also written a book ‘Making Websites Win’ and they run one of the leading agencies for CRO, counting among their clients behemoths such as Apple, Google and Facebook. 

“I think markets mature to a point where successful web businesses understand that in order to be a successful web business, you have to put your customers and your visitors at the heart of what you’re doing. That’s where conversion rate optimization comes in.”

The clients that Karl and Ben typically work with are businesses generating more than £1m in revenue online annually, but that doesn’t mean that their methodology or their advice can’t help small businesses. Far from it. 

Because all websites can benefit from improvements in CRO. Which is why Dom talks to them about tips and tricks they’ve learned along the way, the importance of UX, understanding customers’ needs as well as why they not only wrote their book but then turned it into a free 10 episode podcast.

These guys really are two fantastic guests and their interview is incredibly insightful. Hopefully, you’ll find it useful and just as enjoyable as we did.

P.s. the guys have kindly offered a free digital copy of their book, Making Websites Win, available to all The Melting Pot listeners. To claim your copy, simply click on the URL in the links section.

On today’s podcast:

  • Why you need to be scientific about your website to optimise it
  • What AB testing is
  • The CRE approach with all their clients’ websites
  • The most common problems that websites have
  • Why you should compare your best salesperson to your homepage
  • The importance of understanding your customers’ needs
  • Their love of content marketing
  • You need to do CRO to survive, not just thrive

Links:

What’s your biggest claim to fame? Is it that you coined one of the most prolific phrases in modern web lexicon? Because that’s what it is for this week’s guests on The Melting Pot. 

Dr Karl Blanks and Ben Jesson, co-founders of Conversion Rate Experts are credited with coining the phrase ‘Conversion Rate Optimisation’ (CRO) back in 2007, to encapsulate the methodology their agency used with websites. 

“I think markets mature to a point where successful web businesses understand that in order to be a successful web business, you have to put your customers and your visitors at the heart of what you’re doing. That’s where conversion rate optimisation comes in.”

Today Karl and Ben run one of the leading CRO agencies with clients such as Google, Apple and Facebook amongst many on their books. In fact, they’ve written the book on CRO and they’ve turned that book into a podcast. What these guys don’t know about CRO isn’t worth knowing. 

But just because their clients are big-name companies doesn’t mean that Karl and Ben don’t have nuggets that the rest of the world can utilise. Because any website, no matter how big or how small, can benefit from CRO.

How the approach to websites has changed

“When I first started, it was all about having a nice looking website. People were interested in winning awards for having beautiful websites. And for a long time, beauty was seen to be the goal with a website. And then when people started doing SEO, SEO became the be-all and end-all. Websites were aggressively optimised towards search engines, and they looked less beautiful with all those tiny keywords on white backgrounds. And then when PPC and affiliate marketing took off, everything became very aggressive and salesy.”

But the one thing that hasn’t changed, offline or online, is that your customers are the beating heart of your business. And if your website isn’t converting visitors to buyers, then you need to look at CRO.

“Because what you’re doing when you’re optimising your website, is you’re finding out what it is that your visitors love about the product or service or website, and you amplify that. And you find out what the sales objections are, and the usability problems and you’re fixing those.”

Why AB testing works

A lot of website owners don’t approach optimising their site in a scientific manner. They redesign a page and put it live, hoping they’ve changed what was holding buyers back, without actually knowing if they’ve solved the issue. 

“One trap that lots of people fall into when they start AB testing is they change things like the button colour, or they copy best practices from competitors or from other websites. Or they have a debate in the office about things that they’d like to change with a website and then they test that. And if that thing isn’t going to make a material difference to your website’s visitors, you’re never going to get any significant results from it.”

But with AB testing, you will know for sure if what you’ve changed has worked because you show half the visitors the old site and half the new site. And the one that brings in the most conversions is clearly the winner. 

By excluding all the factors that might have affected sales i.e. seasonal fluctuations, the weather, TV campaigns etc, you’re eliminating all the other variables and isolating exactly what is holding buyers back. 

“Done well, it [CRO] is understanding what’s preventing your qualified visitors from converting and fixing those issues.”

Starting CRO

The starting point for all CRO, whether you run a Silicon Valley startup, or a small, local business, is to figure out what the strategy is for the business. What the goals are, what success looks like, and where you see the website fitting in. 

“The first step is always to talk to the business owner, to discuss what the goals are for the business, how does the website contribute to that, and it sounds obvious to say that, but it keeps you focused on the things that are going to have the biggest impact on your business. So you don’t get distracted by changing the colour of a ‘Buy Now’ button, for example.”

Free digital copy of Making Websites Win

For more awesome tips on CRO, the guys have kindly offered a free digital copy of their book, Making Websites Win, available to all The Melting Pot listeners. To claim your copy, simply click on this link free copy of Making Websites Win.

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