Since starting at Optimal Workshop, I’ve been introduced to the tradition of Friday afternoon demos. At 4 p.m. each Friday, the whole team drops tools, grabs a beer and pulls up in a spot around the picnic table or on one of the beanbags scattered around the astroturf (yes, one of our meeting rooms is set up like a children’s playground). Each team member then has a chance to present completed projects and achievements from the previous week, or anything else that they think is of interest to (or entertaining for) the rest of the team.
During a recent Friday, Samantha, our user onboarding and optimization expert, spoke briefly about recent research and testing she had carried out to increase the number of web visitors registering to use Optimal Workshop’s tools. Samantha shared a particular highlight of how she managed to increase the conversion rate by 20.7 per cent for our sign-up page by including the logos of some of our existing customers on this page.
Her short presentation was a neat example of how so many of the roles at Optimal Workshop are involved in user research and testing. This week, I caught up with Samantha to find out more about her work and her creative approach.
Seeking the “aha” moment
As the user onboarding and optimization specialist, Samantha is tasked with increasing the overall sign-up rate and improving the onboarding experience for Optimal Workshop’s tools. She describes the aim of her role as “continuously increasing the number of people who experience the ‘aha’ moment — clarity about what our tools do and how we can help”. Samantha is responsible for improving a variety of customer touch points including the website homepage, pricing page and product pages, as well as the introductory emails that are sent to new customers. You may have also been greeted by Samantha’s smiling face when visiting our website, as she’s one of the team members who respond to customer queries sent via instant message.
Samantha told me that she is constantly reviewing and testing these touch points by monitoring page analytics and running A/B tests to refine the copy and design of each page. One of the ways that she identifies areas for improvement is by looking at the drop-out rate of specific pages - if the dropout rate is unusually high, it suggests there’s an opportunity to improve the performance of that page.
Creating confidence through social proof
In reviewing the sign-up funnel on Optimal Workshop’s website, Samantha was surprised to find that a relatively high number of visitors were arriving on the sign-up page, but then leaving without registering. As she explains: “This is a bit like someone walking into a restaurant, sitting down and looking at the menu and then walking out!” In other words, it’s likely that these visitors are motivated to use our tools, but something makes them change their mind once they land on the sign-up page.
Over the course of several months, Samantha used Visual Web Optimizer (VWO) to test a number of changes to the sign-up page including paring back the page design, tweaking the headings and copy, emphasizing particular terms, and adding existing customer logos to the page. VWO is ideally suited to making small changes to the page design and copy such as this, as it’s possible to carry them out without involving a designer or developer.
In addition, VWO provides integrated analytics that give you detailed information on how your page variations are performing. While the other copy and layout changes had little effect, the addition of the logos resulted in the single most significant increase in conversion rate since Samantha had started carrying out comparative testing.
As Samantha says, including existing customer logos on the landing page, or using social proof, is a well-established technique — “It’s simple human psychology.” From the results, it’s clear that our customers value the security that comes with recommendations from recognizable peers.
Helping you be better at your job
Each time that Samantha runs a comparison test, she ensures that her decisions are based on established research and her understanding of our customers’ needs and concerns. She steers clear of ‘spaghetti testing’ — just making random changes to see what sticks — or other approaches that are known for tricking users into signing up for things that they don’t want. For Samantha, it’s more about putting herself in the shoes of our users (yes, that’s you!) and coming up with ways to better communicate how Optimal Workshop’s tools can provide solutions to the problems that they face. “We exist to help our customers run better projects and be better at their jobs,” she says.
For ideas and inspiration, Samantha reads a lot of articles, blogs, and books on conversion rate optimization, but also on design thinking, psychology, copywriting, and traditional marketing. In order to tweak and refine the language that she uses on the website and in emails, she reads customer comments on Amazon book reviews for user experience titles and picks out the words and phrases that these professionals use. It’s a simple but clever way of learning about the language of our target users, and what they do and don’t like!
… and keep on testing
Next up, Samantha would like to focus on the interactions that occur once someone has signed up to use Optimal Workshop’s tools. This will include testing and refining behavior-driven communications, such as a congratulatory message once you have set up your first survey, or notifications that your results are ready once all participants have completed your survey. She also aims to develop content to provide users with creative ideas for using the tools on a regular basis. “Our tools can be useful everyday, there’s so many ways to test different things and to keep on iterating”.
Samantha has shared some of her favourite books, websites and blogs below, check them out!