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10+ years improving Conversion Rates – What Ryan’s learned

Next up as part of our “sharing the wisdom” series: Ryan Webb, Conversion & Analytics Director at SearchStar. Ryan studied Economics and then narrowly swerved a career as an Accountant, instead taking a jump into Marketing. 20 years later he’s worked in a variety of Marketing roles and helped improve the digital marketing activity of over 300 Clients – including brands such as Danone, Mars, Bose, Merlin Entertainment, Allianz & RSPB. He’s now in a role focused on Conversion Rate Optimisation.

Now, Ryan, in an attempt to capture some of the wisdom you’ve gained as a professional so far, what are “5 stand-out things” you’ve learned while working within Conversion Rate Optimization.

Ryan Webb

1. Test, test and test some more.

The brilliant thing about digital (both the advertising and the websites) is that you can really easily test things and measure the impact. This means it’s a great environment for trying new things, without having to worry about taking risks that you’ll lose sleep over.

Plus, Conversion Rate Optimisation is a firmly established discipline now; there are proven practices & methods for testing in a reliable and robust way. This means you can frequently uncover fantastic improvements in results for clients. And that’s always good.

2. Keeping things simple doesn’t make it boring!

By far my favourite website improvements are the ones where the simplest change has resulted in the biggest increase in results (e.g. changing the label on a button, changing the message in a headline, changing the content hierarchy on a page etc.).

Sometimes it’s interesting & exciting to try something radically different and sometimes you really want to win an award. But ultimately clients want to see an impact on the bottom line & you can often achieve that by doing the basics right!

3. Don’t be ashamed, share your love of Data.

When I first got into Conversion Rate Optimisation and started to analyse websites, I was aware that as a ‘number cruncher’ I was critiquing the website from a different perspective to the ‘creative’ who had designed & built the site. Therefore, when giving feedback to that audience, I’d expected a little bit of defensiveness, possibly even denial.

However, several years later I can happily say that (in the majority of cases) creatives love feedback from data people. The look and feel of a website is pretty subjective, so creatives face the regular challenge of coming up with designs that appeal to the client’s opinion (something that is frequently a moving target). But by adding some data driven insight into the conversation, we give them a more precise target to hit.

4. Tell me something interesting. Do the ‘so what?’ test.

With access to all this data it’s important not to get sucked into ‘data puking’. You can spend hours pulling data from a tool like Google Analytics, thinking that you’re reporting on something interesting, but actually all you’ve done is move the data from one format into another.

When you’ve crunched some numbers and are about to share with others, take another look at what you’ve found and make sure you ask yourself ‘so, what?’. If you don’t, you can bet the client will.

5. Focus on solutions, not the problems.

A nugget of advice from my first boss (I think I’d spent the day hitting a few hurdles and irritating her by going to her every time, without thinking first). She told me to “bring me some solutions instead of just the problems”.

This is a great way to make sure you approach any challenge from a more positive angle. How much better is it to work alongside people who start responses with “Yes and so we’ll need to….” compared to “No, because….”. It takes a little more effort, but this effort will go a long way; I’m pretty sure I see “Yes and” people rising up the career ladder at a faster pace.

Thank you Ryan for sharing!