The recent explosion in online commerce and shift in consumer buying behaviours has provided huge opportunities for businesses that are maximising their ecommerce potential. But with fierce competition and tightening marketing budgets, how do you ensure you’re getting the most out of your digital channels?

The Latest In CRO

On Tuesday 30th March 2021 at 11am GMT, we set out to answer just that, hosting our second 2021 The Evolution Series event online – The Latest In CRO.

Increasing your conversion rate by as little as 1% could drive a huge increase in revenue. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. Conversion Rate Optimisation is all about providing frictionless user journeys to make your customers’ experience as effortless as possible.

Our experts

To help explore these possibilities, Box UK spoke with industry leaders about how their focus on CRO, UX and CX has shifted, including:

Benno Wasserstein, Founder & Managing Director at Box UK

Working closely with his team, Benno inspires clients on their digital journey, ensuring that together they develop exceptional software that is used by millions; disrupting industries and improving society.

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Julie Abelstedt, Founder & Executive at Abelstedt

Julie Abelstedt is the designer and founder of Danish jewellery brand Abelstedt. With online sales to more than 50 countries, Abelstedt has been a fast-growing ecommerce jewellery company from when Julie was as young as 16. The company has been featured in multiple Danish media outlets and is now looking to cross borders to the UK market.

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Steph Le Prevost, CRO and UX Manager at Specsavers

Having joined Specsavers 5 years ago, Steph was responsible for introducing UX practice and is now focused on growing her CRO and UX team. Her passion is data insights and particularly understanding what users want and why and how they perform set behaviours. She enjoys seeing the results of her work directly reflected in website stats, and how CRO allows you to clearly identify the links back to benefit the user and the company.

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Becki Stephens, Marketing Manager at Caleño Drinks

Becki joined Caleño at the back end of 2019 and has been working across all marketing channels, primarily focusing on awareness, trial, conversion and advocacy. What makes marketing so rewarding for Becki is when the whole picture comes together, whether it’s a big brand campaign or a small change on ecommerce; seeing the results and understanding the direct impact of the work really brings joy to her every day.

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Watch the recording of the event

Here’s what you missed

Key insights include:

Conversion rate changes in the pandemic

Julie started off by saying she doesn’t think their CRO has increased significantly, but hasn’t dropped either. Their online conversion rate has raised slightly purely because customers can’t buy through their retailers and therefore, they’re driven direct to the website for purchases.

With a massive increase in demand for non-alcoholic drinks, Becki focused on the redevelopment of their D2C website which has helped drive a growth of 400% in the last year.

With stores closed, Specsavers managed to quickly launch their ecommerce programme for glasses in just 3 months, which saw an outstanding conversion rate. Steph shared that there wasn’t a big advertisement for this change as ecommerce is something their customers expected from them. What they did instead was introduce a pop-up created via Quibit that mentioned that you can now buy glasses online. This gentle nudge helping their customers enter a new journey has really worked for their demographic, and they saw a 7% uplift in glasses sales as a result. The pop-ups are now being applied to in other situations and continue to add real value to their conversion rate.

Standing out with customer experience

Abelstedt has combined their online customer experience with the physical unboxing experience by giving website visitors the opportunity to get a free gift of a bracelet when they sign-up to email (only paying for shipping fees). This allows them to experience the smooth checkout and payment systems, and then understand what it feels like to receive a product from Abelstedt. Julie noted how this helps increase their Customer Lifetime Value because their customers enjoy the overall experience and can see the quality of the products, before going on to buy from their more expensive ranges.

Like Julie, Becki from Caleño Drinks also saw a great impact from including a free gift in their orders to customers – Benno was delighted to find a free bag of popcorn in his own drinks order and immediately felt more excited about the brand. The user experience has been really important to Caleño Drinks all the way from when people enter the site (including responding to why they might be looking for a non-alcoholic spirit), to the packaging and how customers unbox their drinks.

Ecommerce is fairly new for Specsavers, particularly in the glasses space, and Steph mentioned that they are learning quickly through testing – having invested heavily in A/B testing as well as exploring what their existing online competitors do. Using Trustpilot reviews and badging products seems to create quick wins for their D2C site, with creating a great customer experience around recommending frames a priority for their customers, as people typically find it more difficult to buy these kind of products online. There is a real consultancy element to the instore experience and Specsavers are working hard to recreate that interaction online too.

Competition in D2C

There is no doubt that Specsavers own the majority of their market, but since moving to ecommerce there has been an increase in competition from other pureplay brands. Steph talked about how (unlike many of the pureplay brands) Specsavers require a recent lenses prescription from customers before they buy online to ensure they get exactly what they need, meaning they’ve had to scale back their offering when it comes to more complex prescriptions online – although they are looking at how they can accommodate these in an efficient and accurate way.

Becki said Caleño has definitely seen more competition online, mainly because a good bulk of competitors in their category would have been selling in bars and restaurants and as they all closed a whole channel was wiped out. A lot of these brands quickly turned to D2C selling as a main focus, but Becki felt lucky that Caleño Drinks were ahead and already playing in that space. Bigger players in the beverages space such as Gordon’s have now launched their own non-alcoholic options, adding further competition, however Becki pointed out that they don’t tend to sell D2C and therefore the smaller, newer non-alcoholic drinks brands are able to bring more awareness online.

For luxury jewellery brand owner Julie, the competition is definitely getting more fierce purely because of the amount of people shopping online. They’re looking to expand more in the UK, differentiating themselves with a more feminine style. Abelstedt products featured on their online channels are represented through very high-end photography, which Julie said is something they are constantly working on as a way of showing off the quality of their jewellery and delivering social proof for the brand.

The best tech for CRO

Steph from Specsavers revealed that they have been using Qubit for 4 years and without it they would not have achieved the sheer velocity of testing they manage today. Having purchased Qubit’s full end-to-end service, Specsavers have gone from 8 tests a year to 46 across their three product ranges; audiology, contact lenses and glasses.

Specsavers have also been using Contentsquare for three years, which Steph describes as ‘Hotjar x1000’. While they’ve not had as much time to invest in this tool as they would like, it’s been useful for collecting data about user behaviour across the site. Contentsquare allows for live viewing and is also accessible via a Google Chrome extension, which means results can be accessed quickly to inform stakeholders of trends and support UX decision-making across teams.

Julie at Abelstedt said she uses Carro – a Shopify app that tracks influencers across channels including social media and newsletter signups, to show some of the most valuable people who are already interacting with the brand but haven’t purchased anything yet.

Becki mentioned that Caleño Drinks have recently moved onto Klaviyo CRM which allows them to set up post-purchase flows, including abandoned cart, returning to the website, and repeat customers. Although Klaviyo has only been live for 3 weeks now, Becki and her team have already seen an improvement in their CRO.

Benno pointed out that for brands whose budgets may not be as large as those of the bigger brands, there are an enormous amount of free tools available that can deliver a huge amount of insight, including the traditional favourite Google Analytics. In terms of tracking abandoned basket too, Benno highlighted that this is a really powerful tactic that can be implemented at a very low cost for brands, and is something Box UK focuses on with their ecommerce clients.

Advice for growing CRO

Caleño Drinks have got their branding and storytelling on point, as Becki and her team saw the importance of getting those pillars right. Their founder, Ellie Webb, is the face of their brand and consumers are showing that they relate a lot more to the brand through content that comes from Ellie herself (along with her dog!). Showing authenticity and a human element to Caleño has been really important in connecting with their audiences and building a community; the team spend time every month talking directly to their customers, and have also recently put out a customer survey that received around 900 responses.

Julie said that Abelstedt has seen a great reaction to using a countdown bar on the home page of their website. Their luxury jewellery range has a higher basket value and therefore the countdown creates scarcity around purchasing these products at a lower price. This is not done frequently (to keep the offers exclusive) but when it is deployed it delivers a quick boost in conversions, often of more than 20%. Julie also pointed out that you must make sure you look at the bigger picture, focusing on the hot leads and actively encouraging them to buy by getting them to interact with your brand.

Coming from a larger business, Steph feels really strongly about prioritising CRO tests and key areas to focus on when looking to make improvements. A lot of people in the business would like their ideas to be tested but it’s important to remember that without data it’s just an opinion. Steph recommended a free prioritisation guide for CRO on the CXL institute website written by Peep Laja – world-renowned conversion optimisation expert.

Something Benno tells all Box UK’s clients is to continuously work to understand the customer and to not make assumptions, because who these customers are and what they want can change so fast. Especially with the rise of platform such as TikTok and other spaces for content, it requires a continual process of testing and learning.

Current and future focus?

Customer research has led Caleño to look at implementing a referral scheme, as they found customers were speaking to family and friends looking for an alternative to alcoholic drinks. Becki has some exciting things coming up this year including their summer campaign and bespoke product bundles – so keep an eye out for that!

Steph and the team at Specsavers are still getting to grips with ecommerce and will continue A/B testing. They are currently in the middle of an eight-month testing roadmap for contact lenses that includes twenty-five tests looking at the quick CRO wins such as Trustpilot views and badging products. They’ve also just started their journey with personalisation to help customers find the right pair of glasses and mirror the kind of experience you would have in-store.

Julie features a lot in Abelstedt’s online content and currently this is driving great loyalty as customers are focusing more and more on the face of a brand, because they want something personal. Soon to be moving to the US, Julie and her team will be targeting audiences over there and using YouTube as a way to share more content and insight into the brand. YouTube is the platform their target audience uses the most and is therefore a great way for them to create awareness.

Takeaways and tips

Benno and the team here at Box UK would like to thank Steph, Becki and Julie for sharing their experience in CRO. We hope you’ve gained some great insight into how brands and different sectors are creating better conversion across the board, and have some really practical tips to take away.

If you’re keen to maximise conversion from your website, Box UK would be happy to help. We offer reviews carried out by our CRO experts providing a clear roadmap for the future, so please do get in touch if you’d like to learn more.

About the Author

Emma Willis

During her time at Box UK, Senior Marketing Executive Emma Willis has supported the planning and execution of a diverse range of cross-channel campaigns. Writing compelling, informative copy designed to maximise engagement, Emma has developed an impressive portfolio of content covering a wide variety of digital marketing and technology-focused topics.