Multichannel Success Podcast Season 3 Episode 2 - Transcript

Why your conversion rate obsession is obsolete - or is it?

Listen to this podcast here

Hello and welcome to Episode 2 from Season 3 of the Multichannel Success

Podcast. I'm David Kohn and I'm here today with my regular companion, Mark

Pinkerton from Prospero. Hello. And with our special guest, Abi Hough from

UU3. Our subject today is why your conversion rate optimisation obsession is

obsolete. Or is it? Abi is a specialist in this area. Why don't you tell us,

Abi, who you are and what you've done in this area?

Abi Hough [00:00:50 - 00:01:39]

Hello there. So, I'm Abi. I have been a consultant for, gosh, about 20 years

now. And my focus is basically trying to find things, for want of a better

word, that affect your conversion rate or hinder some of your users on your

website. So, it covers everything from usability to accessibility,

opportunities that are not being taken advantage of, a whole plethora of

different things. But my primary focus and the thing that I'm most interested

about is users and what makes them tick and how we can build relationships

with them. So, a whole host of different things. In fact, all the things that

make up optimization are in my wheelhouse. So, that's kind of my focus.

David Kohn [00:01:39 - 00:01:44]

Fantastic. And Mark, tell us a little bit about your background and how it

helps with this topic.

Mark Pinkerton [00:01:44 - 00:02:20]

Yeah, so I started in I think what would broadly be called the CRO world in

about 2005 with an optimisation agency called Logan Todd and I spent seven

years there as the whole process of CRO was developed. I think we were fairly

close to the cutting edge of CRO at the time and then carried that over for

four years in the same team within PwC, so I've had 11 years in this world so

that kind of underpins an awful lot of my thinking and the way that I approach

things even as I take a more strategic view on things now.

David Kohn [00:02:19 - 00:02:31]

Fantastic. Okay, so you both obviously know a lot about conversion rate

optimisation. So why don't we start by getting a definition of what is CRO

today? Abi.

Abi Hough [00:02:32 - 00:02:52]

It's not what it used to be. If we, you know, if you want a CRO, conversion

rate optimization, then I guess in the early days, it kind of all focused on

exactly that, right? Getting people through a funnel to make a purchase. That

was the only thing that mattered. The conversion rate of the website.

Mark Pinkerton [00:02:52 - 00:02:54]


Abi Hough [00:02:52 - 00:03:36]

Absolutely. I think it's it's probably changed a lot from that. And we see a

lot of banter on LinkedIn about what the terminology should be. But in my

view, it's definitely a lot more than just conversion rate as a single metric.

It's about understanding who you're dealing with, who you're trying to sell

to, making that journey as easy as possible that you can for them. And just

generally, you know, trying to understand what makes people tick. So it's not

just about one single metric on a website. There are a whole host of other

things that you can look at in order to optimise. So it's definitely had its

own evolution, I would say, from where we were 20 years ago.

Mark Pinkerton [00:03:33 - 00:03:35]


Abi Hough [00:03:36 - 00:03:41]

Even five years ago, I think it has changed considerably.

David Kohn [00:03:41 - 00:03:47]

Thank you. And Mark, what have you seen in terms of the way our understanding

of what CRO is has changed?

Mark Pinkerton [00:03:47 - 00:04:38]

I think having a conversion rate focus in the early days was very important

because it showed the potential for the website to an audience, all of whom we

were all learning on the job at the same time. So clients were learning in

terms of their e-com platform making it work, and we were learning as analysts

and CRO specialists in terms of what worked and what didn't work. As time has

gone on, that knowledge has been shared broadly, therefore there's kind of a

base layer of understanding, one hopes, within the industry. However, when

people talk about conversion rate as a focus, the easiest thing to do in the

world is to improve your conversion rate just by turning off all your ad

traffic, and then you suddenly...

Abi Hough [00:04:37 - 00:04:39]

Just keep the organic stuff, right?

Mark Pinkerton [00:04:39 - 00:05:21]

Yeah and then your conversion rate will jump. However, that's not in the long-

term interest of the client or even the short-term interest of the client. So,

you know, it's about understanding holistically how all this stuff works,

particularly in an econ world where you have a very good metric as a

conversion, you know, your sale is your conversion, but you can clearly,

conversion rate optimisation has gone much wider than purely econ. And it has

morphed into this general understanding and driving to change and improve

things. So performance optimisation is where it's at in my head. How that

differs from experimentation, I think we'll come on to later.

David Kohn [00:05:21 - 00:05:55]

Yeah, cool, okay, so thank you for those definitions and giving us a little

bit of the history. I guess, you know, we put a deliberately controversial

headline onto this podcast. I guess, from my perspective, I look at CRO and I

think, hasn't all the functionality been done? You know, don't we know how to

build a good website nowadays? The days when you could change the color of a

button or change the way the product page is, hasn't that all been done?

Aren't websites all pretty good now? Abi.

Abi Hough [00:05:56 - 00:05:56]


David Kohn [00:05:57 - 00:05:59]

Okay, that's blunt.

Abi Hough [00:05:58 - 00:06:48]

That's blunt. If you want the blunt answer, I think we think we know what

we're doing but actually we don't. Part of my work is auditing websites to

understand where the opportunities are and I can tell you every website that I

audit there will be at least 100, 150 different things that are broken, are

stupid from a usability point of view, do not make any sense, are confusing

and you know it's I still can't believe that I am still in the business of

doing this which obviously counters your point that people know what we're

doing because we don't. There are still many many examples of where we have

fallen short of the mark on so many different areas.

Mark Pinkerton [00:06:49 - 00:07:29]

Yeah, I completely agree. I completely agree with that. But I think one of the

causes of that, or the multiple causes of it, one is that it's actually much

harder to take an overview of the digital estate now than it was. Things are

far more complicated. They're more technical. And also, you've got this whole

thing of, you know, when we grew up, there were one or two people who actually

had an overview of the whole website, webmasters they used to be called. And

now you've got a whole world where people specialise in SEO or PPC much

earlier in their, or e-com, much earlier in their career. But it means that

they don't see the whole picture because they focus too early. Indeed. I think


David Kohn [00:07:28 - 00:07:35]

I think we're back into needing to see the bigger picture.

Mark Pinkerton [00:07:30 - 00:07:31]

Siloizations. Yeah.

David Kohn [00:07:35 - 00:07:46]

Probably in the old days, conversion rate optimisation was a very specific

discipline. But I guess now it has to be seen as part of the wider picture. Do

you see that, Abi?

Abi Hough [00:07:46 - 00:09:09]

Yes, I do. And I think probably the advantage of having somebody like myself

come in and look at a website, it does give you a fresh set of eyes on

something. So, you know, if you're dealing with one website, you are looking

at that website day in and day out from, you know, perhaps many different

facets. And much like banner blindness on websites, you get the same thing

with your own product, right? You don't see the problems. You develop

shortcuts to do things on your own website because you're using it every

single day. But what you're not doing is viewing it from the point of perhaps

somebody who comes onto that website for the first time and they're looking at

it and they're thinking, I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing here. I

don't understand what is being sold. I don't understand how I find what I'm

even looking for. You know, what is this checkout? Do I even trust it? So I

think when you're working on a website for a long period of time, you get a

degree of complacency about what that website should be doing in terms of you

to optimise it or to, for want of a better word, increase your conversion

rate. But let's avoid that for the time being. So I think it's important that

you do have people come in and make you accountable for the thing that you

have created.

Mark Pinkerton [00:09:00 - 00:09:00]


Abi Hough [00:09:09 - 00:09:13]

Because nine times out of ten, it is a Frankenstein.

Mark Pinkerton [00:09:13 - 00:10:02]

But if you look at, I don't know, fashion websites for example, then there's a

large degree of commonality across fashion websites. And then if you have a

site that works in a different way, it stands out. If you look at something

like Paul Smith, which has just gone onto the Centra platform, they've carried

their design over, but some of the way that it works is unusual and that has

standout, but whether or not that helps from a conversion rate optimisation is

a completely different guess. One would have to have access to the data to

know. I guess my point is that people tend to follow exemplars of people they

think are successful and ape the layout of those websites without necessarily

understanding what drives performance.

David Kohn [00:10:02 - 00:10:42]

Absolutely. Well, I think, and I always think, Abi, your point about getting a

fresh perspective. I remember when we first met, we did a piece of work at

Heels. We were obsessed by a particular piece of functionality and really

wanted to test it. And when we presented our product page to the customers,

they barely touched the piece of functionality, this complex thing we'd

created. They were all about the product carousel. And if I hadn't seen it

with my own eyes, I would never have believed it. And it completely changed

the way that we looked at our product page design. So I think I can vouch for

getting a fresh pair of eyes.

Mark Pinkerton [00:10:39 - 00:11:06]

I think I can vouch. The one thing that working in this world taught me was

that no matter how much experience you think you might have, you know nothing.

You will be wrong. And that is a fundamental difference, I think, in the way

that people who come up this way think. Whereas if you haven't been in this

world, you're going to think you know what you're doing.

Abi Hough [00:11:02 - 00:11:02]


Mark Pinkerton [00:11:06 - 00:11:11]

I know that I don't know what I'm doing, but I think I have a better starting

point to learn.

Abi Hough [00:11:11 - 00:11:32]

And often times I will get, somebody will say to me, you know, I've got this

thing and I want to improve it, but the higher-ups are not interested. They

say it's a waste of time, but I've got all this research and my one piece of

advice to them is to plonk them into a user testing session, like, you know,

observing it.

David Kohn [00:11:30 - 00:11:31]


Abi Hough [00:11:32 - 00:12:15]

Because really for me, that is the best part of the job is getting somebody to

realise that there is a real problem when they think there is none. And a user

testing session is absolutely the best way to do that. Practical examples, I

have sat in client meetings where they have insisted there's nothing wrong

with their mobile experience. And then we give them an Android phone, because

of course they're all iPhone users, and say, okay, you accomplished this task.

And of course they can't do it. Yes, I've set it up to a degree, but to get

them to have that realisation, to experience that struggle for real life, it's

a big game changer, I think. So that's a top tip for people to take away.

David Kohn [00:12:15 - 00:12:37]

Thank you. And I think I think where we've got to so far is, okay, the

obsession with conversion rate itself, I think we're saying, you've got to

you've got to look at a broader picture. And we've said that CRO has evolved

probably into something called performance optimization. So I think we're

probably agreed that it isn't obsolete.

Now, I think it's inherent and the value of CRO underpins the way that you

think about

Abi Hough [00:13:31 - 00:13:35]

things. If you're getting to longer term metrics away from conversion rate

onto customer lifetime value or profitability or some other KPIs, then that's

well and good, although customer lifetime value is really hard to test

against. One of the things, and because I've come up this way, one of the

examples I just want to mention to listeners is that on the Prospero website,

we have a performance gap model where people can play with their funnel and

end up looking at their profitability of their business, what the impact of

the CRO changes would be in terms of profitability. From our point of view,

that's a useful tool for converting the high ups to the value of doing this

sort of work. Excellent.

And that's a big selling isn't it? Yes, it is.

Mark Pinkerton [00:13:33 - 00:13:36]

Yes, it is. And we spent quite a lot of time building the tool.

David Kohn [00:13:37 - 00:14:01]

Very good. So we've said it is important and it's changed and you Abi started

talking about user testing. I mean one of the things a lot of people look

straight to do is they look straight to get into experimentation. Is that a

good idea? Is that what our listeners should be thinking? Let's run loads of

experiments tomorrow.

Abi Hough [00:14:00 - 00:14:01]

How much traffic have they got?

David Kohn [00:14:01 - 00:14:02]


Abi Hough [00:14:02 - 00:15:07]

How much resource do they have? You know, how open are they to be proven

wrong? What is the appetite within the company for it overall? Are they trying

to do a hard selling? Do people understand what it is, you know, and how it

might challenge assumptions, business assumptions that have been there for

years and years and years? These are all questions that they should be asking

before they even start to think about experimentation, because it is a big

undertaking. I think to do it properly, it's not just a off the shelf

solution. You know, there is a lot of areas that you have to focus on and

research that you have to do, and making sure your setup is correct from the

first outset before you even, there's no point in experimenting on data that

is poorly collected, for example, right? You're proving absolutely nothing. So

it is a huge undertaking, and many of the companies that I deal with, they're

not necessarily in a position to do testing, right? They haven't got the

traffic to do it, or the resources. So...

Mark Pinkerton [00:15:08 - 00:15:10]

Yeah, you can do it on your homepage, but not much else.

David Kohn [00:15:10 - 00:15:35]

So I guess the question, Abi, is, you know, I come from a relatively sort of

small, medium enterprise background, and I completely concur with you that the

resources are not always available to run loads of tests, but where do you

then start on this journey to improving your performance? Is it analysis? Is

it user testing? What's the focus?

Abi Hough [00:15:36 - 00:16:15]

I like to say it's called getting your house in order, right? And if you can

get your house in order, then, you know, if your traffic grows, you might well

be in a position to start running an experiment. For me, it is basically

fixing and finding, primarily, finding all the things that any CRO agency will

come up as your first prioritization list, right? When they when you first get

engaged with them, they'll come up with a list of 10, 20 tests. And nine times

out of 10, these things are not necessarily things that need to be tested at

all, right? They are usability improvements that you should just be doing.

Mark Pinkerton [00:16:15 - 00:16:15]


Abi Hough [00:16:15 - 00:16:38]

You know, if you have a button on a page that nobody can see, you don't need

to run an A B test to just, you know, increase the contrast on that. So people

might click on it. It is a waste of time and a waste of resources. So there is

a whole library of things that, if necessary, and are applicable to that

website, you can start to improve. And then you measure it over time.

Mark Pinkerton [00:16:38 - 00:17:07]

One thing I'd like to add to that is that you need to make sure that the data

that you are getting from your analytics is as good as you can reasonably get

it. It's never going to be perfect, it's an imprecise science by its very

nature, but it needs to be solid and better than most setups in order to then

start using it to drive other things. Thank you.

Abi Hough [00:17:07 - 00:17:12]

Yeah, so you've got to be tracking the right things in order to measure the

improvements over time.

Mark Pinkerton [00:17:11 - 00:17:12]


Abi Hough [00:17:12 - 00:17:21]

So that is what I would include in the housekeeping part, is to understand

that that is all as good as it possibly can be before you start working.

Mark Pinkerton [00:17:20 - 00:17:49]

So I would give an example here of a large supermarket we've done some work

with where they have the Adobe Analytics and they had not set Adobe Analytics

up to record page speed. Because it was being monitored in the technical tool,

therefore their view was they didn't need to record it in Adobe Analytics.

However, that meant that any behavior that was driven by page speed was not

captured in Adobe.

David Kohn [00:17:49 - 00:17:52]

Thank you for that. I think we'll take a break now.

Mark Pinkerton [00:17:53 - 00:18:18]

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David Kohn [00:18:33 - 00:19:05]

Welcome back. I think as we've tried to do with all of our podcasts, I think

you've come up with some very practical suggestions there, which is start with

the bug fixes, start with the obvious things. And then there's some things

that you simply don't need to experiment. What are the things where you think

experimentation is worthwhile? Let's say I'm an SME. What are the

circumstances in which it is going to be worth my while going to the trouble

of designing options and putting them into place and testing with my user


Abi Hough [00:19:05 - 00:19:39]

I'd probably put them into two categories. Number one is it's a critical

function of the website. For example, a checkout, I don't know. I would

probably, if I had the chance and the right amount of traffic, I would be A-B

testing changes in critical areas. The second would be if it's a particular

bone of contention, something that negotiation and meetings have not resolved

through the normal methods, and you need to make a decision either way.

David Kohn [00:19:39 - 00:19:40]


Abi Hough [00:19:41 - 00:19:54]

That can be quite soul-shattering for people if it doesn't turn out the way

that they expect, but it's a way to put it to bed. So you've got the data

there, it is proven statistically.

Mark Pinkerton [00:19:49 - 00:19:53]

Yeah. It's a proven statistic.

Abi Hough [00:19:54 - 00:20:12]

That would be another area, another reason why I would be looking to A-B test,

I think. But for the smaller companies, there really has to be a good reason

behind it instead of just willy-nilly pushing tests out for the sake of it

because somebody thought something was a good idea.

David Kohn [00:20:11 - 00:20:12]


Abi Hough [00:20:12 - 00:20:18]

But yeah, for those two particular reasons would be why I'd be running an A-B


David Kohn [00:20:18 - 00:20:32]

Yeah, I think the bone of contention, certainly from personal experience, is

probably the area where you can't get organisational agreement. Some people

think A, some people think B, and then some people think Z.

Mark Pinkerton [00:20:32 - 00:20:40]

Then you're into our favourite HIPPO acronym, Highest Paid Person's Opinion,

which Avinash

Abi Hough [00:20:39 - 00:20:40]


Mark Pinkerton [00:20:40 - 00:20:52]

used to promote many moons ago, where basically the chairman's wife has

decided that the look and feel doesn't work when they're not the target


Abi Hough [00:20:50 - 00:20:55]

Yep. I've had a few of those as well.

David Kohn [00:20:54 - 00:21:00]

Fortunately, in my experience, it was normally me, so it made things more


Abi Hough [00:21:01 - 00:21:04]

It changed your thinking, right? Absolutely.

David Kohn [00:21:03 - 00:21:05]


Abi Hough [00:21:04 - 00:21:31]

So you went from having this opinion that you really, really believed in, for

whatever your reasons were, to being presented information and evidence to

suggest otherwise, right? And that's the whole point of optimisation, is to

try and get people to challenge themselves and their own biases about things,

and be open to the, you know, possibilities, you know, differences that they

weren't expecting.

David Kohn [00:21:30 - 00:21:35]

Well, I think that's a great place to build on here.

Abi Hough [00:21:31 - 00:21:32]

I think that's it.

David Kohn [00:21:35 - 00:22:06]

So, again, Abi, when we were talking earlier, you talked about the importance

of understanding your target user and knowing that you were talking to them in

the right way. How do you go about understanding their emotion? How do you go

about understanding how they make decisions? How they grow to love your brand?

How they make a choice between different products? How do you actually go

about it? Because it's pretty complex getting into these emotions, getting

into the brain.

Abi Hough [00:22:07 - 00:23:38]

Yes it is indeed and I've found that yes you can run user surveys and goodness

forbid you should get AI to you know extrapolate the findings of those user

surveys. I wouldn't recommend that to anybody. You have to go much deeper than

that and yes you can run some sessions to get to know your users but the thing

especially in the digital world the best tool that I have found is to go

underground basically. So the internet is full of all sorts of different

communities right and if you can find the communities that your potential

users are residing in of which there will be several and if you sit and

observe and listen and read what they're saying within these communities you

can really start to get a grasp of who your target is and what you know from

the customers that you already have what makes them a loyal customer and once

you establish these sort of themes you can then work on that within the brand

to push those through in order to figure out who you're going to market to,

why they're going to stay with you and to sort of tweak the brand and make

sure that that understanding comes through in the advertising that you're

promoting. So that's another really good tip.

Mark Pinkerton [00:23:37 - 00:23:43]

So you're sort of being, you're effectively doing underground digital

ethnographics study.

Abi Hough [00:23:42 - 00:24:05]

Yes, exactly that. Yeah, I was trying not to use clever words, but yes, it's

exactly that. And I have taken it steps further than that. So if you can think

of the old, you know, secret shopper analogy, right, where you go out to a

store and I've done this. I was working

Mark Pinkerton [00:23:59 - 00:24:00]


Abi Hough [00:24:05 - 00:25:12]

for a company who was selling plants. I went to every single garden center in

Oxfordshire and I observed the people that were buying plants. They didn't

know who I was, what I was doing there. As far as they were concerned, I was

just in the garden center on a Sunday, you know, doing my thing. But I struck

up conversations with these people. I mean, these were a particular type of

plant that they were buying. I was just asking them questions like any other

Joe blogs. You know, they knew nothing about me or why I was there. I was just

trying to understand who these groups of people were and the amount of

learnings that I got from just being out in the wild in a natural environment,

having casual conversations with people in terms of fruitfulness for the

company. It was it paid dividends, you know, just for me taking time to walk

out from my office, get some fresh air and go and speak to these people. And

it was so very different from the sort of sessions that you'd have where you

recruit potential, you know, people that might be coming in to buy your


Mark Pinkerton [00:25:12 - 00:25:23]

Yeah, I've got a friend who is a professional panel attendee on any subject

because he's got a friend who's a recruiter.

David Kohn [00:25:25 - 00:25:31]

It's probably something slightly unethical about that. But yes, I mean, I have

to say, just taking your points on Abi, at Heels,

Mark Pinkerton [00:25:27 - 00:25:29]

Yes, I mean I have to say...

Abi Hough [00:25:28 - 00:25:29]

That's the thing.

David Kohn [00:25:31 - 00:25:56]

the head office was next next to our biggest store on Tottenham Court Road. So

if we had a particular bone of contention, it was pretty easy to get out on

the shop floor, accost a customer, even get them to look at a website page,

say, look, what do you think? Or can you can you see can you see how to

choose? Can you see the information you want here and get instant feedback? It

was it was fantastic.

Abi Hough [00:25:57 - 00:26:22]

It's great and enlightening, and I would recommend it to anybody because the

closer you can get to a natural environment where people are on this purchase

journey that they're going through, the better. And sitting in a room with

somebody staring at you whilst you try to perform a task, it's not naturally,

you know, you're not going to get the real feelings, I don't think. It doesn't

matter how good the moderator is. It's not raw.

Mark Pinkerton [00:26:22 - 00:26:37]

If you're a larger corporation, then clearly you are going to be more remote,

but there's a lot to be said on the whole sort of back to the shop floor

piece, whether it's even back to the digital shop floor versus back to the


David Kohn [00:26:34 - 00:26:41]

Absolutely. Your customer service department will give you plenty of feedback

if you bother to ask for it.

Abi Hough [00:26:40 - 00:26:43]

Yeah, if you bother to ask her. Oh, they will. Yeah.

David Kohn [00:26:42 - 00:27:31]

I just want to move things on a little bit here. One of the reasons I thought

the conversion rate optimization may be becoming obsolete is there's so much

tech that you can put onto your website now that will claim that it can do the

job for you, whether it's personalization, presenting everybody with their own

personalized banner, whether it's search, whether it's merch, all of these

tools would claim to be able not only to present your customer with the thing

that's most likely to attract them, but also to optimize it automatically. In

that context, and particularly with AI looming and apparently able to do

anything, is there still a role for the CRO professional, the CRO process?

Mark Pinkerton [00:27:31 - 00:28:13]

I want to answer that one first because I think that there is a, there's

clearly a role for the CRO person to play because AI is driven by data but

the amount of data that you need to feed an LLM is huge and there are only

very few companies that have the scale to be able to do that for their

customers. Amazon is clearly going to be one, most of the big supermarkets and

so on will probably have enough but actually for the average organisation it's

going to be really hard so you're going to end up applying a generic AI

understanding into your business which is when it starts to go wrong.

David Kohn [00:28:12 - 00:28:19]

But that may still be more effective than having humans looking at things.

Mark Pinkerton [00:28:16 - 00:29:05]

Yeah, I agree. I mean, there are places where, you know, for example, in

merchandising tools, where a good merchandising tool will outperform the best

human merchandiser by about 25 to 30 percent. And I've seen that so many times

that I believe that to be a rule of thumb now. Clearly, trying to do that for

ad banners on your own website or offers on your website, the machine will

give you access to far more variants than you could possibly have. But it

means that the machine has to make a decision about which offer to offer to

which human. So the management of the e-com team are then no longer have

control. Arguably, that is a good thing or a bad thing. I think the jury's out

on that at the moment.

David Kohn [00:29:05 - 00:29:15]

Abi, what do you think about the rise of the machine? I mean, are people like

yourself going to be out of a job in six months' time, or will the nature of

the job change?

Abi Hough [00:29:16 - 00:29:26]

Um, what can I think about AI? Well, I'm still not convinced it can get the

right number of fingers on people when it's creating art, so...

Mark Pinkerton [00:29:26 - 00:29:28]

Where is that?

Abi Hough [00:29:27 - 00:32:05]

I don't fear for my livelihood at the minute, and there's a couple of reasons

for that. Number one, AI is, like Mark said, it's only as good as the data

it's getting to learn things off. There's a whole different podcast about

privacy, how much access to data we have. If it hasn't got a good data set to

work from, then what it produces is not going to be optimal. And the only way

that we can get around access to people's data is to build enough trust for

them, so that when they come to our website or app, they are logged in, and we

have their full permission for that data. The amount of times I kill cookie

banners and reject everything now is, you know, it's economical. I probably

spend too much of my time doing that, but that's just the sort of person that

I am. The other thing about AI is it is an AI, right? It's not human. There

are circumstances when humanity is needed in order for a person to get from

being a browser to being somebody who actually does the thing that you want

them to do on the website. Chat, sorry, chat bots, who are there supposedly to

help, invariably just send people in circles of confusion. And I know from my

experience- And rage. Yes, and rage. And from my experience, I tried to find a

trap door in order to get through to a human, whether it's speak to human,

human now, whatever it might be, I'll spend 10 minutes trying to figure that

out rather than going in circles. And I think people seem to forget that if

people, if somebody is reaching out for help on your website or for your

service, they have got to a point of critical mass, right? Whatever the

problem is, they need it resolving now. And my banking app is a great example

of that. I sent it a message and it said, yeah, don't know what you need. You

obviously need to speak to a human, but that's going to take three days,

right? And what is banking, right? I don't want to wait three days for a

response to something. I wanted to speak to a human. Another example of that

would be, I was making a birthday present purchase for myself. It wasn't-

Happy birthday, by the way.

David Kohn [00:32:04 - 00:32:06]

Happy birthday, by the way.

Abi Hough [00:32:05 - 00:32:07]

Yeah, thank you very much.

David Kohn [00:32:06 - 00:32:08]

Thank you very much.

Abi Hough [00:32:07 - 00:32:55]

It wasn't an insubstantial amount of money, okay? For this, it was a piece of

jewellery that I wanted to buy. And there wasn't enough photographs of the

jewellery for me to understand whether or not I liked it from the side, if it

was too high, whatever it might be. And this company actually had a phone

number on the website, right? And when I rang it, somebody actually picked up.

It was a human. And within 15 minutes in my inbox was a whole array of this

ring in different angles and different lights on a human hand. It was the

pinnacle of customer experience. And they got the four grand sale out of it,

right, for this ring. I bought it. If that auction had been an AI, it wouldn't

have been able to do that.

David Kohn [00:32:55 - 00:32:56]

Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Abi Hough [00:32:55 - 00:33:08]

Yeah, absolutely. They wouldn't have got the sale. There's no way I'd have

bought the ring off the website as it was. I did point out to them they needed

more imagery on their website because I'm an optimizer, what else am I

supposed to do? But AI is not going to cover everything.

David Kohn [00:33:08 - 00:34:04]

No, no, certainly. And again, speaking from my recent experience with heels,

putting human live chats onto our website was the single easiest thing to

measure the improvement in conversion and customer satisfaction. So I'm fully

on board with that. I think the other, put my two penneth in, I think even

when you do a CRO exercise of the traditional sort, you do need creativity.

It's rarely a simple matter of saying, move this here or change this colour.

It normally requires what I would describe as human creativity to think about

the customer, think about their emotion, think about how they make a decision,

think about what's important to them and then represent it in a form that you

can actually test it or you can actually implement it. And I've yet to see

anything that will deliver that automatically.

Mark Pinkerton [00:34:05 - 00:34:27]

Yeah, I mean, a human is going to have to generate a hypothesis that you then

test. I have not yet seen AI generating hypotheses, because you have to have

this broader, holistic understanding of the interconnectedness of all this

stuff in order to generate a viable hypothesis in many cases. Very good. OK.

David Kohn [00:34:26 - 00:34:32]

So just, we're approaching the end of our time here, so it's the sort of

classic final

Abi Hough [00:34:26 - 00:34:27]


question here, which is, we've got listeners out there, they've listened to us

talk about

Abi Hough [00:34:51 - 00:36:13]

CRO and how it's changed, but just give them, just give them one thing that

they've got to take away from this, they've got, you've got to do this after

you've listened to this podcast.

Know your users. I'm going to say it because I think it's the most important

thing, because unless a brand can align who they're trying to sell with and

understand them, they have got no chance of retaining those customers. And the

way that I truly believe that retention is the way forward, right? We talked

earlier about competition in the market and what the differentiators are. And

for me, it's that it's the salience between a brand and who your potential

customers are. So truly understanding their wants, needs and desires, how they

operate on your website, how you can make that much better for them. I think

the key to all of it is really trying to get those customers and understand

who they are and making sure that what you're selling is what they need. For

whatever reason it is that they they attach themselves to you, hold on to it

as much as you can, because with acquisition costs going up, I can't

necessarily see a better way forward and actually a more important way forward

for companies to operate. And I think a lot of companies miss out on that.

It's all about the big bang buck at the end of the day, right? But that's

quite a short term view as far as I'm

David Kohn [00:36:12 - 00:36:14]

As far as I'm concerned.

Abi Hough [00:36:13 - 00:36:15]

concerned. Okay, super. Yeah.

David Kohn [00:36:14 - 00:36:25]

Super, yeah, and I think just taking on your point from earlier on is what you

think you know isn't what actually is. So I think that was a very valuable

point earlier on. Mark, what would you say? One single thing.

Mark Pinkerton [00:36:26 - 00:37:15]

I would say against CROe, don't focus on the conversion rate, focus on

profitability and what it can do for you, what that focus can do, because it

means that you can look at a broader range of things, but it means that you

need to look at all these things and it means that you then have to make a

choice about prioritisation. It may come back to the fact that your problem is

your conversion rate funnel, but I think that would be fairly rare in these

days. I think you'll find a broken customer journey somewhere or an edge case

somewhere which is actually really quite important to a specific group of

customers and by understanding that, you can then improve your performance

overall. Thank you.

David Kohn [00:37:14 - 00:37:17]

Thank you. OK, well, we've reached the end of our time.

David Kohn [00:37:17 - 00:37:24]

I'd like to thank you, Mark, for your participation today. Thank you. And

obviously our special guest, Abi Hough from UU3.

Abi Hough [00:37:25 - 00:37:27]

Pleasure to be here.

David Kohn [00:37:27 - 00:37:30]

Thank you very much, everybody, for listening, and I hope you've enjoyed it.

Mark Pinkerton [00:37:35 - 00:37:42]

Thanks to our sponsor SWEFT, helping you get products launched online faster

and more efficiently. Find out more at

Other similar Episodes in Season 2:

Episode 3 - Understanding headless and Compossable

Episode 2 - Strategy and Planning

Episode 6 - Optimising physical and Digital

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