Predicting the Future with CRO: Excuses and Assumptions #HEROCONF

Predicting the Future with CRO: Excuses and Assumptions #HEROCONF

12th May 2014


PPC is sometimes a lot like living inside a pressure cooker. If there are underperforming keywords, then those need to be “turned over” into converting ones or they need to be taken out of the cooker. Attribution modeling aside, there seems to always be a slight hesitation to pause anything in an account when the account manager could see improvement.

I often find myself itching to test just one more thing. “Maybe this landing page wasn’t right” or “Maybe if we test a new ad” and the relatively frequent thought “Let’s bid to position 1, maybe it will convert there!” But unfortunately the desire to spend more money and work to be innovative doesn’t meet business goals.

Other times, these desires are met with opinionated push-back, rather than unarguable data-based discovery. Bryan Massey of has seen and heard quite a few excuses and assumptions when it comes to making on-site changes that could significantly impact the conversion rate of some of our beloved keywords.

During his presentation at HeroConf, he gave us a few case studies and examples of situations that he’s come up against and what worked to change them.

Excuse #1: “What worked in the past will continue to work in the future”

Bryan worked with a rehab facility whose business relied heavily on making the phone ring rather than seeing form submissions. Because the facility had a vision of being professional on their site, they went with a headline of “Speak with a Specialist.” However, when putting himself in the seat of the user (or their loved one) who was on the fence about seeking help, he noticed there was a lack of emotional support that wasn’t being evoked from their website. He tested several types of headlines

  • Call Today
  • Speak with a Specialist
  • Ready to Start Healing
  • Ready to Stop Lying to Yourself?

Regularly, we think about making positive, proactive headlines as to not negatively associate our brand to those types of words. But given the field and situation these users were looking for, they needed someone to acknowledge their current feelings and situation. Unfortunately for them, that feeling and emotional connection is guilt. Guilt gets them to finally call on the phone. Shame. Resentment. Negative emotions can plague someone who is seeking a rehab facility and as much as we hate to admit it, marketing and advertising feed on people’s emotional state.

Upon testing several of these headlines, “Speak with a Specialist” increased phone calls by 32%, but “Ready to Stop Lying to Yourself” increased phone leads by 40%.

Excuse #2: “Most People Don’t Want to Call”

For businesses who are lead-gen focused, form submissions sometimes are the least reliable way to get to speak with people. They leave out information, they give fraudulent information, or if they gave correct info, they are impossible to connect with for a phone conversation.  How do you engage more visitors and get them on the phone?

Bryan worked with a company who had a long, “ugly” form with a basic explanatory paragraph at the top requesting customers fill out the form and pleasantly suggests they call. Their first test was to change the CTA for calling to “Don’t be lazy”, keeping the form long, and they saw a 16% increase in phone calls.

Keeping this new copy, they tested a shorter form that was more user friendly, and it lead to a decrease in calls by 30%.  New users do in fact read those silly little paragraphs that you write above forms. They are seeking your instructions. Making it easier for them to call than fill out a complex, long form might just increase your phone lead generation as well.

Assumption #1: “What Others Do Will Work”

In the last few years, carousel imagery on a home page has been a regularly used feature to illuminate different sales or perks on the home page. “Because everyone else does it, it must work!” It probably does, but does timing play a significant role in how people consume that information? Have you thought to test those different banners in another order?

First, Bryan and his team tested static imagery from each of the 4 rotating images from the home page in the order in which they appeared in the carousel. The final static image was proven to lead to an increased conversion rate. Then the team asked “What happens if we switch the order of the images in the rotation?”

The website saw a 60% increase in conversion upon reversing the order of the image distribution on the home page

Assumption #2: “Everyone Responds the Same Way”

One way to qualify a different type of user is by browser. We regularly make tongue-in-cheek comparisons between Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and IE users, but there are legitimately significant differences between what each type of audience want to see and what makes them interested in your content

Genital Herpes. Gross. But these different types of users responded to different types of imagery.


Keeping all of the copy the same, Bryan’s team tested an image of an actual sore, a product image, and an image of two people happily embracing toward the viewer. Safari users preferred the imagery of the blemish. Chrome and Firefox users preferred imagery of the product and packaging, and Internet Explorer preferred to see a happy couple embracing. There may be significant differences in how your user types are engaging with your site as well.

Final Conclusion: “Experimenting Will Tell Me What Will Work in the Future”

Many marketers are already familiar with it, but you can use CrazyEgg to help understand what information users are consuming on your site. It provides a mouse tracking for on site use and creates a heat map with hot spots where a mouse lingers or where users click frequently.

When working with an online certification program, the landing page contained quite a bit of body copy as well as a right column form to submit for more information about the school.

After applying the heat mapping tool there was one area on the entire page that light up as a hot spot, and that was the Program Offerings drop down in the form. Apparently nowhere on the page was it clearly stated what types of certifications were offered and this was the primary question concerning users who came to this particular page.

The body copy was rewritten and a drop down for program offerings was provided that linked to more information on the page.  After making this change in copy, form submissions increased by 30%.

It may be difficult to remember when we stare at the site so regularly, but new users do in fact read the copy on the page. They do in fact respond to that conversation, and they really do want to give you their money.


About the author

Jasmine Aye Jasmine works at Distilled in their Seattle office specializing in paid search. She has managed accounts in several verticals including finance, ecommerce, non-profit, and travel. She has a fierce determination to achieve excellent growth for her clients and is a passionate people person


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