It’s already been said many times, but these are unprecedented times. March 2020 will be written about for years to come as the month the world changed, but it cannot be denied that living through it is blo*dy scary. Not least because we do not know how long the changes in living conditions will last, nor what the long-lasting implications for the world will be.
But, in an attempt to try and bring guidance and some sense of normality, this is my advice to businesses in regards to digital and conversion optimisation at this unusual time.
Firstly, try to keep calm and carry on. I know it’s difficult, but there are suddenly plenty of articles written about how to cope during lock-downs, including setting measurable goals, having a set routine and maintaining relationships by calling friends and loved ones.
This goes for work too. If you are lucky enough to have a steady job, try to stay productive: Set virtual meetings, make phone calls, answer emails.
Specifically, if you work in digital, Bernard Marr has written a great piece on why Digital Strategy will be key over the coming weeks and months:
Digital is likely to be the clear winner here, and companies — including ones that may not so much as had a Facebook page before — will need to move into social marketing, content marketing, SEO and influencer-led campaigns. — Bernard Marr
Now is not the time to shy away from digital; It’s time to review your content strategies, to think about organic SEO and fix technical site issues such as site speed and errors. And of course, continue with your experimentation and optimisation strategy.
The majority of the world has been asked to work from home. I’ve seen an increase in e-commerce web traffic because users feel more comfortable to browse without a boss looking over their shoulder, however conversions are down for almost all retail because of concerns about job security and the economy — let’s be honest, no-one is thinking about clothes right now.
This means that you could utilise this additional traffic to A/B test improvements to micro-conversions, rather than sales. Can you increase engagement or dwell time? Think about how you can improve the overall user experience, rather than sales. Building a better customer experience should be a focus all the time, but especially now when users are looking for comfort and someone they can trust.
If your business is struggling or you’re new to optimisation, UX might be a faster and more affordable method to understand your users needs at this time. UX involves concepts such as user testing (asking users to complete tasks on your website and recording their process), asking users to complete surveys on your website to gather feedback on specific pages, as well as user mapping, user recordings and heat maps*.
*It would not surprise me if heat map/eye-tracking/recordings of users behaviour on site is slightly erratic right now. I, like many other, am struggling to remain focused on one thing at a time, but this is temporary and as we adjust to our new normal, I suspect behaviour to level out eventually.
Generally the tools to run these are more affordable (*ahem* hotjar), and because of social distancing and isolation, users want to reach out and talk to others. There is a need to be heard right now, so use that to your advantage and speak to/listen to customers.
I also expect to see an increase in people signing up to be testers because they need extra money (myself included.)
The last thing on your mind might be about improving your website when the world seems to be burning, but now is the perfect time.
Digital roles, including CRO, lend themselves to being done remotely, and customers want to be listened to right now. The relationships forged now between brands and customers will determine who succeeds when this is over, and digital/marketing is key to that.
Side note on jobs & being self-employed
Its upsetting to see people being laid off and roles in digital becoming unavailable because the internet is so fundamental to our way of life, especially now. Obviously some industries are struggling more than others (my heart goes out to the travel sector), but many governments are now thankfully offering support to keep people in full-time employment, employed.
But personally, this situation has had a huge impact on me and my work. Since the beginning of the year I’ve been working odd bits & pieces for some smaller clients, but nothing steady.
Changes to IR35 in the UK killed the contract market from the end of 2019, and although it has been kicked down the road until 2021, Covid-19 means that no-one is hiring, especially not contractors. In January I decided to go permanent again, and a month ago I was attending interviews for perm roles, but most of those positions have now been paused. Contracts are almost non-existent. It’s a very worrying time for the self-employed like myself.
If your company is curious about CRO, please reach out. I am open to full-time or part-time work and one-off (remote) workshops or analysis pieces. I covered my full range of skills in this article. I am also available for writing CRO articles for blogs.