GrowthFit Interview series

Creating A Distraction-free User Journey with CRO Experimentation and Prioritization

Creating a distraction-free user journey with CRO experimentation and prioritization

Highlights of the talk:

  • Journey from design and development to CRO
  • Eliminating distractions on the website
  • The process of experimenting and idea generation
  • The concept of PIE for CRO

Tell us about your journey in marketing and CRO.

My journey started off with pure design. I then moved into front-end development. For some time, I stayed in front end development before moving into user experience, user research and similar roles. I fell into CRO through sheer boredom as I was bored of “delivering into the void”. With CRO, I was able to see the full cycle of actually seeing the impacts of the work that we as a team were doing. That's the kind of thing that really gives me a kick. I was head of optimization at Trainline for a while before going into freelance consulting.

How do you start your optimization efforts for a website?

It's different for every website. But approaching a brand new website from scratch, I’d first look into the data. User research and user feedback are really good sources of information. With the analytics data that currently exists in platforms like Google Analytics, funnel reports, heat maps—look at all these with different segments to get some idea of how users are behaving on the site.

I then create an insights document that summarizes all of this. Basically, I would always approach it from a data first perspective and then go from there.

What are the biggest hurdles for visitors on the website? What are the things that stop them from converting? 

It's different for different companies and different pages of that company as well. For instance, I was consulting with a university. They were creating a website for teaching cybersecurity. They had courses and competitions and stuff on there. They explained to me how they had to teach new users where to find stuff and how to use their website. Users always need some level of support. So, for them, the problem was information architecture, while for other sites it could be different kinds of problems.

So , I would say it kind of varies but information architecture is probably a main thing and so is the clarity of value proposition and getting rid of distractions. All this kind of stuff is pretty key to start off with.

What is the major source driving traffic to websites and how do you make it work? 

My focus has mostly been CRO processes. We can put the process into place to come up with ideas and to increase conversion rates. It’s all about improving the product once we get the traffic. I've got sites where I’ve been trying to drive traffic and so I can tell you some of the learning.

It's quite easy to drive traffic from social media campaigns like Facebook ads but it’s also important to make them stick and make sure that the traffic is relevant. Focusing on content marketing drives better quality traffic. 

What is your methodology to increase conversion rate? 

First of all it’s about figuring out the goals of the website. Once that’s done, it’s important to track those goals and to see how those goals are performing. Not just in terms of the end metric, like for example, a conversion rate, but all sorts of metrics in between.

If you've got a funnel, then what's the conversion rate? What's the shape of the conversion funnel ( for example )? What kind of user behaviors are happening? And where’s the traffic coming from?

Where is traffic coming from is important because then you can get a sense of what their expectation is when they land on the site and how you can achieve “relevance” for them.

I've got a set of conversion levers that I've used in the past to kind of focus the thinking. There's value proposition, clarity, relevance, social proofing, authority, confidence. These are a set of conversion levers that I know modifying can increase the conversion rate. Or, by looking at the site from those specific lenses, we can at least come up with hypotheses of what may or may not be working.

Once you've got some hypothesis then it's all about figuring out what the goal of the company is, and what hypothesis fits with the goal and the path that the company wants to take.

That's the way I would go. Collect data, analyze it and then ideate, and then run some tests validate. From those validations, go through the whole cycle again, coming up with new hypotheses as you go. 

What is your approach in removing distractions on a website?

That’s not a straightforward task. Something you might consider a distraction may not be one. So, you need to validate all of them as  hypotheses.

The next thing I would do is try and gather some clues to figure out can we gather some evidence to see what could be a distraction, like a clear way a process that has worked for me is to think about the product or the business as a whole and what the goals are for a particular page or the entire website. Then look at the data to figure out if that is true.

For example, if the business wants users to click through and go through a particular funnel, but uses all sorts of other different things. In this case, you’ll have to try to consolidate and focus on the information. It all boils down to gathering evidence as we go and moving stuff, honing and making the content clearer and more specific and creating more clarity etc. 

What is your process of coming up with the test ideas and how do you analyze the results of the experimentation?

Getting test ideas is a messy exercise. One can go write down these ideas as and when they get. However, I do follow a process. We used to follow a process to get teams to ideate together. A version of design thinking can be useful. 

       1. Firstly it’s about understanding what a user desires from the website and what’s his behavior on it. After this, you can break the work into a list of tasks. 

  1. Secondly, see the user's behavior through the lens of empathy putting yourself in their shoes. With this you can come up with a bunch of problem statements and also what might be the distractions for the user. 
  1. Then, you need to validate the problem statements. If you don't have the data, set up new metrics or apply specific user surveys and research. 
  1. I rely on the conversion lever I mentioned earlier. I go on the site identifying- social proof, value proposition etc. We need to critically evaluate the website. 

        5. Come up ideas to convey the value proposition more impactfuly, where can I place them better— these contribute to test ideas.


It varies from team to team. It also depends on OKRs that helps in ascertaining the team’s focus on various features of the product. Regarding prioritization, I recommend David Mannheim’s post. There are so many different prioritization frameworks. Understand that all these frameworks are essentially prioritization matrices--i.e. they use certain criteria upon which you score your test ideas with. 

Chris Goward came up with the concept of PIE. I always use this as a starting point and modify it for a specific company's need. 

PIE- Potential Importance And Ease

Potential- the page with the highest drop-off. Rank all your pages in terms of best to least performing. 

Importance- how much useful traffic a given page is getting. Rank and score pages from highest to lowest.

Ease- How easy it is to develop each test. Highest score to the easiest test to implement. 

Sum them up to give an overall score. 

"Companies can develop their own prioritization matrices using criteria important to them. In the end, it’s all about working within the constraints of your chosen criteria." Read more about prioritization in this article.

Do you recommend any kind of specific CRO blogs or newsletters or podcast that will be useful to anybody in this field?

There’s CRO and the guys at Speero. Apart from this, there are a lot of people to follow on LinkedIn who provide high-value content.

On Fridays, there's a Conversion World Round table, which I attend. CRO experts from all sorts of fields come together and discuss topics and talk about our experiences.

Additionally, follow Craig Sullivan. He has a tonne of experience. These are the sources that I believe are good for learning about CRO. 

Lastly, one piece of advice for our new generation of marketers. What should be their perspective before they enter into the marketing world?

If there's one piece of advice that I wish I had got at the beginning of my career in marketing is to try my best to get a mentor who can help with my learning.

I would say try and get a decent mentor if at all possible. Also, one thing about CRO is that we don't ever really know what's going to work. However, there are sort of best practices as a baseline that one can always learn about.

For example, when we are dealing with products, it's a union between the user and the product. And so learning about user centered design is a really useful thing to learn.

So, for me it’s learning about the users and getting a mentor are keys to a great career in marketing and CRO.