Understanding CRO and the Benefits for Brands .


Let’s start with a bold statement – you’re wrong a lot of the time. Your ideas are wrong, your solutions are wrong and the problems you are trying to solve are the wrong problems.

And when I say you, I mean all of us.That’s step one in your CRO journey. The site you tend to, develop for, lavish content on and drive traffic to will be far better if you accept that.

What is CRO?

There are definitions all over Google – Moz provides one that is often quoted, but they tend to be fairly similar, suggesting:

‘Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is the relentless drive to help users complete a set action within your customer journey’

Essentially, a CRO programme looks to do certain things:

  • Find issues on a site/journey
  • Understand which issues can be turned into opportunities
  • Analyse the likeliness that resolving an issue will increase a measurable metric, and how beneficial that could be for the user and business
  • Create hypotheses and tests that allow a brand to show real users an altered experience, and measure the impact this has vs users seeing the original experienceAnalyse the test results, understanding how this new experience impacts not just key metrics, but every part of the customer interaction
  • Repeat. Constantly

How does this differ from the traditional approach?

Consider this famous testing example by Maxis and EA for Sim City 5


The Maxis team believed that moving a promotional banner to a prime position above the fold would deliver an increase in sales because it incentivised users to pre-order and offered them something, over the game itself, in exchange.

There’s nothing controversial about the idea. Incentives, by their very nature, can incentivise.

The results?
The original page drove 43% higher sales than the version with a promo code. Had conventional wisdom been followed, and the idea been deployed without testing, the business would have lost serious money. And not known that it was happening.

Why did people reject the incentive?
Did people just want to buy the game, and not be tied into having to buy another one? Did they think ‘maybe I can find this cheaper somewhere else if they are discounting’? Or, did they think ‘what’s wrong with the game that they need to incentivise it like this?’

Ultimately, users were given something to think about. When they just wanted to buy a game. There’s a famous book entitled ‘Don’t make me think’, which covers usability and it holds true.

It doesn’t mean the original idea was bad though, but testing helped to clarify that it wasn’t right in this instance. And that is the power of testing. Even sensible ideas can be damaging, but testing and iteration allow you to quickly move past those to find what works.

CRO in Practice

The core tenet of CRO is to test your assumptions, no matter how sound the insight they are based on. Once upon a time, a ship was built that was unsinkable. That’s certainty right there. We’ve built a vessel to move people from a to b, in opulent luxury and absolute safety.

Except, out in the real world, there was something the experts hadn’t considered. And don’t get me started on what they did to Leo…

Apply the same logic to your website, development process or creative process. How often have you thought ‘this is a great idea – we all think it, we’re experts’ and then, when released to live, results have stagnated or fallen off a cliff?

That same scenario, where an active CRO programme is in place, looks like this.

‘That idea is great – we all think so, we’re experts’
‘What does the data say?’
‘We’ve polled users on-site, seen session recordings where the error is happening and analytics shows us people are missing the action we’d like them to complete’
‘How does the idea address the issue? How will you measure the impact? How can we test this?’

Immediately, the position changes from an assumption that an idea will create an impact to an insight-led hypothesis, where change will be measured and, if not successful, another approach will be taken.

This thinking is common in large organisations (some, but not as many as you think) but still, in the main, the approach of iterative testing is under-utilised.

The Benefits for Brands

Depending on the vertical, and size of the business, it’s a fair assumption that not all of your competitors are building and creating iteratively. And whilst some might be, the speed at which they are iterating will differ vastly.

This gives a brand looking to embrace CRO a competitive advantage – test as much as you can to deliver the experience users want and need, and you are a step ahead. Approaching experience changes in year-long cycles, without iteration during the process, risks a negative experience and a consumer who can vote with their feet and investigate a competitor’s offering.

That’s a long paragraph – the short version:

  • testing gets you to the experience your users deserve more quickly, and with less risk.
  • it encourages your team to think creatively and know that they can iterate and consider two or three variations of an experience and measure the impact of each.
  • it provides security for brands that no experience change that is negative will be seen by all users, ensuring only positive experiences reach full deployment.

Key Takeaways

It's OK to be wrong.

If you aren’t comfortable with being wrong, you (whether brand or agency) will only chase middle-of-the-road options and deliver best practice. And that doesn’t drive growth.

Embrace being wrong - learn from it, draw insight, and use the information you gather from users rejecting your idea to ensure that the next iteration is closer to friction-free.

The CRO space is still in its infancy, and it’s a mindset change from the rigid roadmaps of old, where activity was planned out in advance and didn’t alter until new budgets were released.

We’d love to help you embrace that change and deliver measurable experience improvements for your customers and prospects or to just chat about the space and discuss your challenges, either way, if you’d like to speak to an expert, drop us a call on 0208 070 7820 or email us at hello@sagittarius.agency

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.


Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

Kier Humphreys
Kier Humphreys
Head of Customer Experience
Kier has worked both agency and client-side, with 13 years experience taking in the full marketing mix and a passion for insight-led business optimisation. His career has seen him working with national and international brands across a variety of sectors, from multinational professional services to tech start-ups.
Kier Humphreys

Kier Humphreys

15 Aug 2019 - 8 minute read
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