The CRO at The End of The Rainbow: An Interview with Ian Rhodes
- by Steve George
Ian Rhodes’ work in the field of conversion optimisation has received praise from CrazyEgg listing him as one of 14 conversion experts you should be following.
PPC Hero also tipped their hat recognising Ian as one of the world’s Top 25 most influential conversion rate experts. Savage sat down with Ian to gain some insight into his CRO best practices but also in terms of what he is preparing for the participants at the upcoming Savage Trainings in Warsaw this October.
S: From digital marketer to CRO specialist – what sparked your interest in Search Engine Marketing and Conversion Rate Optimisation?
IR: Pure and simple. Revenue. I started learning my trade in 1996 at an eCommerce startup. The metrics we had to work with were visits and sales. My job was to drive both. It quickly became apparent that focusing in on visits/sales was a good growth accelerator. So from the early days I was experimenting with the hooks and triggers of digital marketing. What built attention and what incentivised customers to take action.
S: While at Priceline, which also owns Booking.com what were some of the unique projects you had put in place? What made them unique at the time?
IR: Priceline flipped the way we buy travel. We invited customers to name their own price. They told us the city they wanted to stay in and the price they were willing to pay. The entire marketing strategy was on trust. How can we prove to our customers that our pricing model would minimise risk and maximise value. Success came through using the words of others. Our email campaigns and landing pages demonstrated what others achieved (and what our potential customers may do). It’s a very valuable lesson to me even now.
S: Digital marketing teams often complain about the lack of Conversion Optimisation experience, but can CRO be learned by simple experimentation and blogs? Will the Savage Training in October be able to develop the needed skills in teams?
IR: There’s no golden rule. There’s no ‘do this to achieve that’ lessons to learn other than those that you validate yourself. That’s what I love about CRO. Your message. Your market. Your goals = Your strategy.
There are ground rules, however. There are ways to conduct tests and develop hypothesis that enable you to accelerate learning.
My objective through the workshop is to develop confidence and a process of learning. I want you to start thinking beyond the big green button and get far smarter with your approach to CRO.
IR: It’s all about emotive selling: Focusing upon what you help people achieve, not what your product is. I’ll be sharing insight from the world of behavioural theory and CRO that will help you achieve more sales through your work. I want you to view your website or your landing pages as a constant opportunity to convert more business through the words and imagery you use. I’ll show you how to validate your ideas, split test and report upon your success.
For low-traffic pages I’ll provide you with ideas and insight to help you make immediate impact on your conversion success.
S: What are the benefits of an in house CRO specialist? How does it vary from an agency?
IR: You know your customer better than any agency will. You simply need to hone your skills on how to utilise your customer knowledge to convert more business.
S: How does accountability, testing, and tempo factor into the CRO practices today?
IR: Fear of failure is a sticking point. When split-testing you need to be exceptionally openminded. You’ll get it wrong otherwise. You need to champion CRO within your business. Demonstrate the impact your work has on your business and achieve buy-in within your team. Most importantly you need to be patient. Results do not come instantly. You also need to be aware of outside influence on the results you deliver.
S: Can you share on some of your successful projects and how you can ensure success or projected results every time?
IR: Success can never be ensured. You can have the most amazing results in the first week. High five your MD, demand a pay rise and then… nothing.
It happens. All the time. That’s why we need to have a defined approach to our work. To blend our creative thinking with our analytical insights.
Most successful projects occur with paid search landing pages. That simple rule of a clear association between your ad copy and your landing page proposition will work wonders for your conversion. That’s one quick win any business can be confident to employ.