CRO and the customer journey - tips for awareness

Written by Chris Marsh - 28 Sep 2017

First impressions count. At the awareness stage of the customer journey, they’re everything. Think of it as a first date – everything needs to be perfect, or you won’t get a second chance. You must turn that first impression into a lasting one – which is where conversion rate optimisation comes in.

Successful conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is a science – a chemistry of strong audience knowledge mixed with optimised content, layout and navigation that increases persuasion, lowers fear and removes blockers from your design.

It’s about easing the path to conversion from that very first date.

In this article, we look at key CRO principles that apply when users already have awareness of your brand. We’ll then highlight some typical CRO techniques you can consider at this stage.

7 Principles to optimise the awareness stage of the customer journey

Take these tips on board to remove blockers and build persuasion for your customers as they discover and become familiar with your brand.

1. Address user needs in simple, familiar language

We crave simplicity. The speak-easy effect shows words that are easier to say are more trustworthy. Studies have also shown that we place higher risk on words that are hard to pronounce. Keep it simple for better impact.

“more good stuff” - asos use familiar and simple language to address customer needs within three CTAs.

2. Strategically frame your product

We react to choices differently based on how they’re presented ( Framing effect ). Context and tone will affect your audiences’ perception. We avoid risk when a positive frame is presented, and seek risks when a negative frame is presented. Think about the action you want your customer to perform, and use positive or negative language to frame your product or service.

Marketer Neil Patel strategically frames his service as focused, determined, familiar and relevant (local)

3. Associate yourself with well known people and brands

Familiarity is our friend. We tend to like things and people we already know and are fond of – so partnering with respected people and brands in your industry will lift your brand image and bring affinity between the two, known as the Halo Effect.

(See also: In-group bias, Out-group homogeneity bias, Cross-race effect, Cheerleader effect, Well-travelled road effect, Positivity effect)

Waitrose associate with the familiar and highly respected chef Heston Blumenthal 

4. Use content and quotes from authority figures and experts

We place high value to opinions of authority figures and experts ( Authority bias). Use quotes from relevant personalities to align your brand with their values and make your company more authoritative or relatable.

The Happy Startup School use quotes from authority figures – a common technique.
The funny (fake) quote will increase the users ability to recall the brand (Humour effect)

5. Remove blockers and distractions

CRO is all about easing the path to conversion on your site – improving navigation, adapting calls-to-action, optimising design and content. Every element on a page will distract from others, so it’s a good idea to review all pages key to the awareness stage to remove all blockers and make sure info is easily found and engaged with.

The Balenciaga online shop incorporates pure simplicity into their branding, allowing for a distraction free shopping experience

6. Make a great first (and last) impression

Items presented first are easier to remember ( Primacy Effect ). Items at the end of a list, or experience, are also recalled easier ( Recency Effect ). Put these principles into practice on your site and be strategic about what the user experiences at the beginning and end of their user journey.

We remember the beginning and the ends more easily than the middle.

Virgin Holidays employ the Primacy Effect by heavily promoting ‘sale’ items when a user begins holiday hunting. This instils confidence in their prices at a memorable part of the customers’ journey.

Virgin holidays heavily promoting ‘sale’ items when a user begins holiday hunting (exploiting the Primacy Effect).

7.  Be bold and striking

Brands that stand out are more memorable. We notice bizarre, funny, visually-striking and anthropomorphic design (design which reflects human-like qualities). Employ striking visuals and humour to your designs to be remembered.

See: Bizarreness effect , Humor effect, Von Restorff effect, Picture superiority effect, Salience bias.

Purple bricks employ the Von Restorff effect with bold and striking imagery. This helps them differentiate and become a memorable brand.

First dates done right: improve the customer experience as they discover your brand

As the Recency Effect dictates, your customers are likely to remember their first experience with your brand – so make that a lasting one. Be strategic, provide a great first impression and make it easy for customers to progress to the next stage (research and consideration).

It’s essential to test big design changes to measure how they alter your user experience and behaviour. Using our test and learn approach and customer-centric thinking in CRO, we help clients improve their customers’ experience and ultimately, their business’ bottom line.

Learn more about how customer experience journey mapping and CRO can transform your revenue just like the above example with our free online video training series on all things CRO. 

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