Key learnings from Digital Elite Day 2019

Sam Burkill
By Sam BurkillDigital Analyst
5 minutes to read

Digital Elite Day 2019 provided an opportunity to hear from some of the world’s leading practitioners in conversion rate optimisation (CRO) and search.

Passionate researchers, consultants, and experts delivered intensive sessions to supply tips, techniques, methodology, and mind-sets to help boost knowledge and enhance skills across digital marketing fields.

Robert and I were lucky enough to attend the conference, catching an early train down to London to spend the day at the Conversion Elite arm of the conference which focused on user research, A/B testing and analytics tools.

How cognitive bias affects conversions

The day started with Anna Tiplady, a Senior Consultant at Conversion.com, speaking about how to overcome the cognitive biases that result in false conclusions and lost conversions.

She outlined how to identify the different unconscious biases from consumers. If certain areas of a website are not achieving the desired goals and target behaviours (e.g. awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty), there are a number of biases that could be affecting performance:

  • Choice paralysis – providing the user with so many options that they struggle to choose one;
  • Negativity bias – the consumer puts extra weight on negative reviews;
  • Pain of paying – the checkout process produces a feeling of doubt within the user.

There are resolutions for each of these biases, with specific techniques used to counteract the problems.

To eradicate choice paralysis, the isolation effect involves highlighting or changing the format of a specific product on the page to guide the user.

The visual depiction effects can alter the user’s frame of mind and suppress the negativity bias. This can be done through something as simple as adding a fork to the image of a cake, to help the user picture themselves eating it.

The foot in the door technique is also very useful in finalising a conversion and involves giving the user enough control and choice to make it through checkout. For example Klarna and other ‘pay later’ providers help eliminate the pain of paying.

It was really interesting to understand consumerism psychology in a digital environment, and the methods used to overcome users’ doubts and encourage conversions. Anna also repeatedly stressed the importance of continually experimenting and running tests to determine the most effective visual depiction effect or isolation effect, as evidence is extremely important in determining success.

Enhancing performance through research and customer feedback

Ben Labay (Research Director) and Dan Rounds (Customer Consultant) discussed mobile optimisation by gathering customer feedback at opportune moments.

They initially introduced us to some interesting stats surrounding mobile’s rise to dominance (generating 52.2% of all website traffic in 2018), and discussed the concept of the mobile halo effect. This is a common occurrence on websites and is the idea that consumers are using mobile devices at an increasing rate, but still rely on their desktop when completing a conversion (especially when it comes to making a purchase), which leads to lower mobile conversion rates.

To get insight into the consumer mind-set, Ben and Dan discussed the importance of providing consumers with opportunities to feedback. They highlighted that it should be really easy and stressed the importance of intercepting the user journey at the correct points, such as when the user clicks back or completes a process, in order to obtain a rounded view. The importance to organise feedback was also raised as this will make it easier to read and analyse.

While the talk focused on using polls to gather information and subsequently optimise the mobile experience, the same technique should be applied across all device and user types, but tailored in ways specific to those groups for the best results.

Biometrics in digital marketing

A unique talk from Ben Ambridge (a lecturer at Liverpool University), presented scientific views on biometrics and how we can apply them to user research and digital marketing.

Biometrics is the act of measuring and analysing responses in different parts of the body. It can be a useful tool in digital research as it tracks specific gestures and movements (like eye movements or finger pressure) can be analysed while users navigate the website and complete tasks.

Biometric techniques can be extremely valuable if used correctly and interpreted in the right way. However they should never be used as an independent form of research; additional user testing, surveys and analyses must support the evidence to come to accurate conclusions.

The results that biometric techniques generate can be ambiguous due to the complexity of the human body as similar reactions can be elicited by completely different stimuli and emotions. This is why it’s important to carefully and accurately interpret the results.

Take pupil dilation for example. Measuring the expansion and contraction of the pupils can be effective to indicate a user’s engagement with a certain element of the page. However pupil dilation has been scientifically proven to be associated with arousal, concentration, and discomfort. These are three very different emotions, and thus this enforces the idea that further research is required to determine exact feelings and reactions.

Other interesting biometrics techniques include:

  • Eye tracking
    • There are four main things that our eyes are drawn to on a page: faces, text, novelty and our own name. There are certain techniques that take advantage of this like including faces on a page looking at the thing we want users to be drawn to, and of course using personalisation whenever possible.
    • Customers are also drawn to the centre of the page, often resulting in an increase in popularity for products listed in the centre. The centre stage effect is well known by many consumers, which leads to reverse psychology as the customers know they are drawn to the centre, but the business knows that the customer knows.
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) or measuring brain wave activity.
  • Galvanic skin response which measures how much we sweat and how this is linked to emotions and changes in environments.

There were also parallels drawn between relationships between individuals and brands, and a person’s intimate relationships. Detected using EEG and galvanic skin response, scientists have discovered that consumer’s ‘arousal’ at the sight of a brand declines overtime as the initial attraction fades. The relationship plateaus, making it crucial to frequently spice things up and surprise the customer.

Always ask the right questions

Els Aerts, a user testing and usability evangelist, delivered an inspiring talk ‘The Art of the Question’. She spoke about the importance of asking the right question, and provided great examples of qualitative and quantitative research techniques working together.

First up was the difference between research questions, how to ask better questions, and the risks of leading and loaded questions. Leading questions infer and influence a specific answer. For example 'how good would you say Digital Elite Day was?' encourages a naturally more positive response. A loaded question like 'how do you rate top speaker Els Aerts?' makes assumptions and presents opinions as facts. These two type of questions should be avoided as they can lead to bad data.

When it comes to interviews, how you communicate with participants is important. By inviting them to an ‘interview’ we’re implying that it’s a very formal setting which could put participants on edge. In actual fact, it’s simply a conversation and calling it that can ease concerns and implies there’s no right or wrong answer. One point Els made that really resonated was to stop asking participants about the future. No one can predict the future so the answers are bad data and we must stop doing it.

We were also shown examples of on-site surveys, survey decision charts, and great pop-up survey placements. There were really powerful examples of how quantitative surveys use in conjunction with qualitative research interviews can yield useful insights.

An insightful day

These four talks stood out as the most informative, relevant and important for our specific roles, with a number of key learnings and enforced ideas.

The importance of A/B testing was prevalent throughout most talks, and it was reiterated in the Q&A session that everything should be tested, and prioritisation is one of the most important jobs to get right. Other talks comprised of specific methodology and techniques from a management perspective to get the most out of a digital team, with continual training and development being of high importance.

Also worth mentioning is Craig Sullivan and Charles Meaden’s talk about Google Analytics ‘powerups and smartcuts’. The most passionate pair about Google Analytics provided an entertaining talk with slides full of useful resources to help with data inheritance, auditing, cleansing, filtering, reporting, automation and anything else GA, packed with many quotable moments from Craig… although they’re not quite clean enough for us the mention them here.

Overall, Conversion Elite provided us with loads of extremely useful information, an endless supply of resources spanning user research, tracking and analytics, and some insight into different industries provided as examples throughout the talks. It was worth the early start and demonstrates that these types of conferences are extremely useful and relevant for anyone in the digital industry.

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