CRO and the customer journey - tips for research and consideration

Written by Chris Marsh - 09 Oct 2017

In my last blog we looked at how to optimise the awareness stage of the customer journey.  How to make that all-important first impression a strong and lasting one.

So what’s next? The customer is through the door, familiar with you and engaged with your brand. Now, with a problem, desire or need to fulfil, they move into the research and consideration stage. This is where they scour your website and digital channels to learn more about you and compare you against your competitors.

Understanding your audience’s intent and how your website caters for them at this stage of their journey can uncover a wealth of opportunity. You’ll be able to better improve their experience of your brand and streamline their path to the purchasing stage.

In this article we look at CRO principles to optimise the research and consideration stage of the customer journey.

10 Principles to optimise the research and consideration stages of the customer journey

These proven principles will help remove blockers and build persuasion for your customers as they research and consider your brand.

1. Highlight low stock, scarcity and exclusivity

We place value onto rare items ( Scarcity heuristic ). We also place greater value when there are barriers to entry – like members only access. Consider how to employ exclusivity and limited access to your campaigns and content. Highlighting rare items, low stock and exclusivity will not only increase their perceived value, but also help users discover and obtain something ‘special’ that may not be available in the future.

Wine retailer Majestic have created a whole area to highlight wine that is both limited in stock and rare (once-off availability). This helps increase the products perceived value.

2. Use repetition

We develop a preference to things after repeat exposure. Repetition also increases our familiarity with brands ( Mere-exposure effect ). Use repetition with caution; a study suggests that repetition has a positive effect for a period, and then begins to have a negative effect (Berlyne, D. E. 1970). Remarketing to website visitors with display ads is a powerful method to gain repeat exposure and mindshare of your audience.

Clever use of repetition by McDonalds

3. Keep choice and variety low 

Too much choice is paralysing and leads to indecision and lower sales ( Choice paradox ). Adobe’s Brand Director of Product Marketing, Kevin Lindsay, recommends finding the balance. Kevin argues that there “needs to be a balance between choice and hyper-relevance” warning not to cross the line between freedom of choice and big-brother style customisation.

Clothing retailer MM.LaLfeur devised a retail model around removing choice, by allowing users to skip the shopping experience altogether and receive pre-chosen outfits. 

4. Show relationship to trusted brands

We’re more likely to adopt beliefs if more people hold that belief. We’re also more likely to value the opinion of authority figures, and be influenced by them (known as Ingroups , Social proof, Authority bias). Showcase relationships with familiar and trustworthy brands, for example brands that have featured or recommended you.

Car leasing specialists Nationwide Vehicle Contracts show their likeability by displaying logos of brands their audience will trust (have authority) and be familiar with.

5. Be likeable

It may seem obvious that we’re more likely to gravitate towards and do business with people and brands we like ( Liking principle ), but it’s true.

Importantly, this bias also includes:

  • Physical attractiveness
  • Similarity to ourselves
  • Associations with other people or brands we like

Associate yourself with likable, established and trustworthy brands (or people) and highlight your partnership with them on your website and via your content.

Diageo’s Haig Club whisky use the Liking bias by associating their product with the legendary footballer David Beckham.

6. Show high prices first

We rely too heavily on the first piece of information seen. A high price for one item makes other items seem cheaper ( Anchoring bias). Consider how your first shown prices frame your pricing.

The Savoy Grill menu lists the most expensive item first, this allows other items to feel cheaper

7. Offer immediate benefits

We like to return favours and are more likely to comply with future requests after being offered something first ( Reciprocity ).

We prefer a smaller more immediate payoff now, rather than a larger gain later on ( Hyperbolic discounting ). Consider offering a premium delivery option to afford your users immediacy and give instant gratification.

YamYam greeting cards offer immediate benefits by offering a free birthday card 

8. Show your social responsibilities and impacts

We see products of genuinely caring companies as superior (the Noble Edge Effect). In fact 81% of millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship, as reported by Horizon Media’s study.

Showcase charitable endeavours and positive impacts you’ve made.

Banks frequently use the Nobel Edge Effect to improve their public image 

9. Show consensus and ratings

We look to the actions of others to help determine our own and we have a tendency to conform with other people and flock together (Social proofConformity, Herding, Bandwagon effect ).

Dr. Robert Cialdini highlights consensus as one of six key principles of persuasions.

Employ consensus at the research stage of the customer journey by:

  • Showing product ratings (popularity) and testimonials
  • Showcasing additional products that customers also bought (e.g. “customers who bought this item also bought”)

Wine retailer Majestic clearly display consensus by showing a rating and how many customers would buy it again.

Amazon employ the consensus principle by highlighting additional products that customers also bought.

10. Less is more - keep it simple and distraction free

We give up on tasks when faced with information overload or complexity. Additionally, every extra element on a page competes with other elements, diminishing their relative visibility ( 10 usability heuristics ).

Hatmaker Optimo employ simplicity by letting their navigation take a back seat. The hats take centre stage. When the user requires navigation, it gains contrast and focus.

Optimising and measuring the impact

While these principles are based off scientific research and studies, user behaviour should still be monitored when applying these to your designs. Split-testing design updates will help you learn about your audience and what’s important and persuasive for them.

Employing a test and learn approach to your designs allow you to continually gain insight and optimise your offering to directly meet the needs of your audience.

At Fresh Egg we have tested many of these techniques and seen fantastic results for our clients. For example, we have seen a 69.9% increase in revenue and a +11.9% increase in orders by adding a “Customers also bought” section to an e-commerce product page.

You can be reactive, proactive, and responsive – every customer’s dream in the ever-changing digital age.

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.