You might have heard of conversion rate optimisation (CRO), but did you know there are different types? An overview of media-led and experience-led CRO.
CRO is the process of testing a range of experiences to find which combination provides the best results, such as increasing positive user actions like newsletter sign-ups, or improving site engagement, for example turning visitors into leads and leads into sales.
There are two main types of CRO: media-led and experience-led. It is critical to understand the functions and strengths of each to make sure the outcomes fit the aims of your strategy. Here I break down the two different types.
Media-led CRO follows a narrative. It focuses on encounters that tell a single story of a product or experience to keep the users funnelled toward one outcome. For that, it will take into account a customer journey, generally between two points of media to a landing page.
Its primary focus is to generate traffic from media to attract first-time visitors and turn them into new customers. Media-led strategies are generally short-term to follow a campaign timeline. That way the agency can measure the impact of the media on traffic and conversion within the period.
This strategy is usually led by the marketing department. Because most traffic comes from media, the content of the pages and creative in the media are generally aligned. It's a valuable way to help increase conversion and maximise media spend.
Often owned by product or ecommerce managers working with UX and data teams, experience-led CRO seeks to understand the psychology behind visitor behaviours on a website. Key indicators are engagement and interaction, and all data is feedback that contributes to a series of incremental improvements. Conversion is a beneficial byproduct.
While a media-led approach has a straightforward narrative arc, an experience-led strategy is focused on optimising assets on a bigger, more complex scale. Experience-led CRO often spans the entire site to deliver the best possible experience that encourages users to return to the site. Testing involves multiple objectives; it is less about optimising one page and more about making incremental gains across various elements of a site or product. Changes should produce benefits such as an increase in conversions and/or revenue, or a reduction in operational costs.
A financial institution came to us to analyse the data from their website visitor movements so they could use these insights to inform their design decisions. We ran parallel tests focused on the page structure, customer requirements, purchase psychology, product and page story to identify the areas of the site that needed the most attention.
Using behavioural analytics and customer psychology we noticed, for example, that when potential mortgage customers were in the information-gathering stage they would avoid 'enquire now' calls to action as they were not ready to contact someone. Instead of pushing them to enquire, we provided them with further information. This extra content increased the likelihood that their next step would be an enquiry. One home loans page test generated a 1500% increase in conversions, which turned into a 200% increase in home loan leads.
Selecting the CRO strategy that best fits your brand
You first need to be clear on the primary objectives of your marketing strategy and then choose the CRO method and agency that best fits that purpose.
A media-led strategy usually has a clearly defined focus, so if you want to boost your search engine marketing (SEM) performance for a single outcome then this is the way to go – particularly if you need to maximise media spend in a competitive category. Media-led CRO is also good for figuring out which media drives conversions, what proposition causes customers to convert, and what story on the page drives the single outcome.
On the other hand, experience-led CRO deals with multiple narratives so if you have a complex product experience or journey and want to understand customer psychology – how visitors behave and what impacts their decision to buy – then this strategy is more suited to the outcomes you seek.
Furthermore, experience-led CRO can be used as validation for decisions, for example, confirming that an implementation, update or modification will deliver intended results. It also provides statistical data to support decisions, attain buy-in and cut through opinions. If you're in charge of whole-of-site performance with KPIs such as net promoter scores or similar forms of customer engagement or sales metrics, then experience-led CRO can help with that.
Both types of CRO have a role to play in an organisation's marketing plan, but you may find you need to employ their strengths at different times. Knowing which type to use and when will empower your strategy to give you the outcomes you're after beyond sales: supporting better decision-making for visitors, improving users' experience on your website, and honing your understanding of customers so your site continues to get better at conversion.