The importance of CRO and experience in Psychology

Our Marketing Manager, Suraj, recently attended another University of Manchester Alumni event as a panellist among other professionals, offering students advice on getting into the world of marketing. Focusing on Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), Suraj explains the importance of customer experience, and why it’s so relevant for Psychology students moving towards Marketing.

The need for CRO

Global advertising spend this year is expected to increase by 4.6%, amounting to a whopping $579 billion. This is driven mainly by online advertising, which is expected to grow by 15.7%, catalysed by the infinitely increasing online competition on finite advertising platforms – see Google’s reduction of visible ad placements. Despite growing competition, research indicates that only 31% of online UK businesses are actually carrying out data-driven conversion rate optimisation (CRO) and that many advertisers are unsure as to what CRO testing actually involves.

Not only can a focus on CRO lead to more conversions, it can also provide a relevant understanding of customer behaviour. It allows for behavioural profiling, explaining what customers respond to and why. The key to building this understanding is using the principles of Psychology, defined as: the study of the mind and behaviour, taking into account all aspects of human experience.

The Scientific Method

Psychologists adopt the Scientific Method, a standardised way of making observations and gathering data to predict and interpret human behaviour. This methodology involves specific research stages:

  1. Analysis: Discussions and deductions based on relevant previous research.
  2. Hypotheses: Formulation of questions or theories based on those deductions.
  3. Design: Replicable experiments designed to test the hypotheses.
  4. Results: Data collection and statistical analysis.
  5. Discussion: Interpretation of the results in relation to the analysis and hypotheses.

Similarly, CRO tests should follow this Scientific Method in order to achieve a proper understanding of customer behaviour. It’s easy for testers to skip stages and test based on subjective ideas. However, without the Analysis, Hypothesis and Discussion stages, it’s difficult to truly understand your results even when you achieve more conversions. To really understand why customers convert or not, Proper CRO tests should follow the Scientific Method:

  1. Analysis: Objectively analysing consumer and competitor research, internal data and UX innovations.
  2. Hypotheses: Developing educated theories based on the analysis and defining the variables and the expected outcomes.
  3. Design: Understanding and planning how the theories will be tested - through wire framing and developing marketing materials.
  4. Results: Testing the hypotheses based on the design, looking for statistically significant results.
  5. Discussion: Explaining the outcome of the test based on the analysis and rationale for testing.

The first, second and fifth stages are essential in understanding consumer behaviour. Once tests are complete, the discussions should feed into other analyses and thus form a continuous cycle of testing based on internal and external research.

Psychologists and CRO

It’s the importance of this scientific method that makes experience in Psychology so useful for aspiring marketers.

This was my second time speaking as a panellist at the annual University of Manchester Alumni event and, both times, I was pleasantly surprised to see how responsive and proactive the students were in planning their futures.

This year, the panel featured mostly marketing professionals from various industries offering advice on getting into the world of marketing and business. Again, I was delighted and reassured at how engaged the students were. In fact, from the post-panel feedback questionnaire, 100% agreed with the following statement: ‘I feel motivated to take action regarding my career’. Students mentioned that prior to speaking to the panel, they ‘really hadn’t thought of a career in marketing or business, but this event changed [their] mind’.

During the event, I mentioned CRO and asked if any of the other students or panellists placed much emphasis on it. I was surprised to find that no one in the mostly marketer-filled panel knew what CRO was. These people had all studied psychology and dealt with online marketing as some part of their role.

There’s still a lack of emphasis placed on CRO, even from marketers with experience in the scientific principles required. Every psychology student wanting to move into online marketing shouldn’t ignore the scientific research skills they’ve gained from their studies; these skills are essential for optimising traffic from marketing efforts.