Conversion optimisation is perhaps the domain of the renaissance marketer, the person who needs a wide range of skills (and both art and science).
Laura Robinson is conversion optimisation lead at growth hacking agency TrueUp. Let’s spend a day in her life.
(As ever, remember to check out the Econsultancy jobs board, too)
Econsultancy: Please describe your job: What do you do?
Laura Robinson: Conversion optimisation is the process of improving a website’s customer experience in order to increase the number of completions of a desired goal. Typical website goals include product sales, newsletter signups and form completions.
A fundamental part of this process is A/B testing which involves creating different versions of your site in order to produce the best performer. For example, adding an explainer video on the homepage instead of a static image might be the optimal way to explain what your site offers and thus lead to sales. Tailoring your site towards your consumers’ needs and wants is at the heart of optimisation.
E: Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
LR: Leading the CRO efforts at TrueUp means working closely with our in-house designer, developer and account manager to create & execute experiments. Whilst my main focus is converting existing visitors, I work closely with our acquisition team to exchange insights on the best ways to attract those visitors.
Knowing which copy, creatives, type of content etc. is driving the best performance means we can understand growth levers from all angles of the company. As we’re a small but mighty team of 10, I report directly into our founder Liam Reynolds.
E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
LR: Saying that efficacious CRO specialists are ‘Jack of all trades’ types would be an understatement! Far too often do I see CRO companies isolating data skills as the holy grail of what makes a good specialist. In actual fact, data is just one (albeit very important) piece of the entire puzzle. Data alone won’t tell you what motivates your users and what concerns they have about purchasing your product.
When data is combined with psychology, empathy and research, this is when you can truly begin to get inside the mind of your potential customers. This may already seem like quite a comprehensive skillset…and it is. However, to really flourish in a CRO role the skills don’t end there. Those insights need translating into wireframes, mockups and coded up in order to bring them to life on a site.
Not to mention the persuasive copywriting that will entice visitors to click and even purchase if you’re doing it right. Throw in technical knowledge, statistics, presentation skills and strategy and you can see why the role attracts the life-long learners…!
E: Tell us about a typical working day…
LR: The only constant is starting with a cup of coffee! As TrueUp is an agency agnostic about the industries we work with, my day can be a real assortment of activities. It could start with researching the motivations and concerns of a shed buyer, continue into auditing the analytics account of a tech recruitment fair, followed by analysing test results of a SIM-only mobile company, before meeting with our designer to run through a landing page brief.
With multiple clients to serve, it’s important to prioritise work (like you would hypotheses) and have a solid understanding of the client’s expectations and deadlines. This is how I usually decide what needs doing that day while the rest ends up in the backlog. There’s a real emphasis on work/life balance at TrueUp so being organised is key to make sure work doesn’t follow you home in the evenings.
E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?
LR: Working as part of a team that challenges and educates you everyday is what I love most about working at TrueUp. We all share an eagerness to solve problems for both clients and customers, which leads to positive results all round. The variety of work also ensures that there’s never a dull moment.
Not to be a clichéd agency pointing the finger at clients but that’s exactly what I’m going to do! Like anything, the great clients are fantastic, and the not so great ones aren’t! It’s slightly soul destroying when in spite of all the evidence and research you provide on why they should make X changes to their site to really boost their sales, and they respond with an irrelevant blog saying that we should copy that instead. That and when they swear at you. Thankfully it’s rare but it happens!
E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
LR: My goals can be split into two. Those that are internal within True Up, such as passing the latest exam in a relevant topic, hiring and training new team members and growing existing CRO accounts. Plus those that are external across different client projects, such as increasing site sales and hitting a positive ROI on experiments.
Understandably, clients always want to talk in revenue increases so this coupled with AOV and transactions is always a good measure of success.
E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
LR: Are you even working in CRO if you don’t love tools? There are a plethora of great tools out there that help with the job and the standouts seem to be changing on a monthly basis. Currently, I’d have to give a shout out to all things Google – they’re making it really difficult to venture outside their ecosystem as they offer everything from Analytics, Tag Manager to free A/B testing in Optimize.
What’s more is that Google is constantly improving and adding to its locker. With the increased attention on slow page load speeds negatively impacting conversions, they even allow you to test your site through Google Pagespeed Insights and point out areas to improve. Hotjar also deserves a mention here for being the swiss army knife of tools covering heatmaps, surveys and onsite recordings.
E: How did you get into this role, and where might you go from here?
LR: About three years ago, I knew it was time to switch career when I spent most of my job as a tech recruiter more interested in the work my candidates were doing! Figuring out how to combine my background in psychology with an interest in tech and high-growth startups seemed like an impossible task until I found out about performance marketing. It was a complete light bulb moment when I found out these interests could be nurtured and utilised in a CRO position.
Thankfully, TrueUp happened to be looking for a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed marketer at Silicon Milkroundabout (a well known tech recruitment fair) and after meeting Liam there, we immediately clicked. Working my way up from a team of four meant responsibility was fast-tracked and I could specialise early on in CRO. The rest as they say, is history.
E: Which brands do you admire for their UX or approach to testing?
LR: When some of the bigger brands like Pinterest and Booking.com bang the drum about the success stories they’ve had through ongoing and rigorous A/B testing, it always makes me a little bit happier inside. In a lot of instances, optimising their conversion journeys and a ‘test everything’ approach has led them to exponential growth and as such, to being the major players that they are today.
The retailer Arket appear to have heavily invested in their UX skills, too, as their site offers a fairly frictionless and pleasant shopping experience.
E: Do you have any advice for people want to work in conversion for an agency?
LR: There’s no time like the present! With job demand outweighing the supply of decent candidates, there couldn’t be a better time to jump right in. Don’t be put off that you haven’t mastered all the skills yet, most CRO specialists are continuously learning and have other team members to fill skills gaps.
A strong desire to improve a customer’s digital experience, curiosity and a willingness to learn will get you far. Find someone you admire in the industry and ask to take them for a coffee while you pick their brains on what a typical day looks like.
Working in CRO as part of an agency also has the added challenge of juggling multiple clients and projects but then again nothing fun was ever easy. You’ll work across different industries, technologies and teams which means there isn’t a one-size fits all solution to solving client’s conversion woes. Most importantly, find a company or agency that suits you as culture is key to being able to perform your job well.