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Here’s some good news—for us and for you:
Good news for us: One of our clients, TopCashback, has been ranked number five in a list of the UK’s fastest-growing companies.
Good news for you: The TopCashback team has kindly allowed us to describe what we did—with a focus on the techniques that are likely to be applicable to your own business. We can’t promise that the following techniques will get you an invitation to Richard Branson’s house, but we’d be amazed if some of them weren’t hugely profitable for you.
Dubious. That’s how a lot of people used to feel when they first visited the TopCashback website.
Meanwhile, TopCashback’s owners wondered why more people weren’t signing up. They thought their offer should be a “no brainer.” They knew the site could be working harder, but they’d tried and tested a few tweaks without any discernible impact. And they were cautious of making larger changes for fear of disrupting the business.
Enter Conversion Rate Experts (CRE).
We described to TopCashback how we could get inside the heads of its visitors. And we reassured TopCashback we could do it in a measured, methodical manner—which wouldn’t turn the business upside down or jeopardize its existing revenues.
Conversion rates increased by as much as 74%, and TopCashback made it to number five in the 2011 Sunday Times “Fast Track 100” (a ranking of the UK’s fastest growing private companies).
Here’s how we did it. It’s important to note that “we” refers to a team effort between Conversion Rate Experts (with our proven system) and TopCashback (with its valuable, well-positioned service and highly effective team).
When we first learned about the TopCashback offer, we agreed that it really should have been a “no brainer”:
(For more details, see this description of how cashback works.) TopCashback claims to be the UK’s most generous cashback site. It pays out at least 100% of the money it gets from its affiliates (sometimes even more). And it earns all of its revenue from online advertising.
As with any Conversion Rate Experts (CRE) assignment, our first priority was to get authoritative answers to some important questions. Take a look at this useful description of the Conversion Rate Experts (CRE) Methodology, and you’ll see why we believe that this sort of groundwork is an absolute pre-requisite for any successful conversion programme.
It’s always useful to talk to your customers. But it can be even more useful to understand the near-misses (people who could have been customers but ultimately walked away). So we used the survey tool 4Q to quiz the people who visited TopCashback but didn’t sign up.
The feedback came flooding in:
We spoke to people who had signed up, but we were careful to segment out the active customers from the less active ones. And we used another fantastic resource, Survey Monkey, to elicit the views of these respective segments. What did they like about the site? And what prevented them from using it more often?
Here’s a useful tip when using survey tools: Don’t put words into peoples’ mouths. Wherever possible, use open-ended questions. Clearly, it’s more time-consuming to go through the results. But you get real responses—rather than running the risk of simply reinforcing your preconceptions. If you force people to shoehorn their answers into a small number of “catch all” categories, you lose all of the rich insights.
This isn’t just theoretical; it’s powerful stuff. The use of open-ended questions helped to double the sales of one of our clients, Photoshelter.
To ensure that we were collecting feedback from all of the site’s pages, we created a persistent, sitewide “Give Feedback” button using Kampyle. This button provided an open invitation for visitors to speak their minds. Kampyle’s back-end interface works like an email client, with an inbox and folders, making it easy to manage and reply to feedback comments.
To help us understand which parts of the old and new pages attracted people’s attention, we used Crazy Egg, which helped us determine the focus for our tests.
Like every other CRE assignment, we became committed customers. We signed up for the service. Made our way through every phase of the funnel. Scrutinized every facet of the business. And looked out for any detail that had the potential to persuade or prevent a customer from committing.
We also quizzed the team at TopCashback. We discussed the objections that were tough to address, and those that were easier to overcome. They also told us about their “fantasy tests” (those they’d always wanted to implement, but had never had the nerve).
By this stage, we had some really clear ideas about what would work. But, no matter how strong our instincts may be, we never run any risks with a client’s business. Before releasing any changes into the wild, we test them scientifically.
There are many great platforms for carrying out split-testing. We’ve taken a critical look under the hood of almost all of them. And, because we’re completely vendor-neutral, we’re always free to specify the right tool for each job. On this project, we chose to use Google’s split-testing tool.
Next, we created a series of challenger pages, using the following process:
(Again, you might want to take a look at the CRE Methodology for more detail on the nuances—and quirks—of how we work.)
The following sections describe some of the more interesting things we tested. All of our tests were based on the insights we gleaned from the research described above. As you read about them, note how different this approach is from indiscriminately applying so-called best practices (for example, adding a new starburst here, or a re-worded offer there). Our tests were valuable not because we were using “magic buttons” but because we were in a position to overcome clearly defined objections with bold, relevant changes.
The most important task was to anticipate and address the concerns of the skeptical visitors. From our arsenal of trust-building techniques, we knew we could win them over.
For example, our research had revealed that TopCashback had already picked up some great coverage from well-respected newspapers, like The Guardian and The Independent. So why not draw from the strength and reputation of these media brands by prominently placing their logos near the “Join” button?
We also knew that we could address the trust issue by using existing, satisfied customers—so we looked at ways to improve the existing tell-a-friend program.
Together with TopCashback’s team, we brainstormed the options. Here are some of the changes we made to the tell-a-friend program:
It was also important to present the offer and the benefits in a clear, unambiguous manner.
So we developed a new headline for the homepage: “Save money every time you shop online!” This was combined with the new calls to action.
Again, no rocket science. And no hugely complex or disruptive changes. Just simple, research-driven improvements that could be applied within minutes.
We saw that it was quick and easy for anyone to benefit from TopCashback. In fact, the sign-up process could hardly be quicker or easier. All you need to do is enter your name and email address and choose a password. That’s it.
So we moved the super-short, super-simple sign-up form right up to the home page (it was previously lurking one layer down, which added to the impression that signing up may be long and complex).
We added the headline “Join Now—It’s Free.” And visitors could see, at a glance, exactly what they were getting into.
We also took these same lessons and applied them elsewhere in the website (especially where other sign-up flows were encountered). In particular, we used the clear benefit statements and media logos to support the calls to action.
Right from the start of our ongoing relationship with TopCashback, we began to achieve a series of significant uplifts in conversion rates—ranging from 17% on the homepage right through to 74% in one of the website’s other key conversion flows.
If you consider that millions of people visit TopCashback, you can begin to appreciate the bottom-line impact of these improvements.
Based on the progressive uplifts in its business, TopCashback was soon able to justify a national TV advertising campaign (which again re-applied those early lessons). This drove more people to the site, who were more inclined to sign up. More positive media coverage was generated. And TopCashback was well on its way to becoming one of the UK’s fastest growing private companies.
One of the joys of working with TopCashback is the company’s infectious enthusiasm and its “can do” attitude. The team are particularly open to our collaborative way of working. And many of the proposed changes came out of joint brainstorming sessions.
If you want to hear what it was like to work with us, take a look at this interview with TopCashback’s Operations Manager, Adam Bullock. Adam describes how we helped to change the culture of the company to one of rapid, bold implementation.
For us, the key takeaway from the assignment is the way that a few simple, non-disruptive techniques can achieve spectacular results. In particular:
If you would like to see more of our clients’ results, you can find a long, ever-growing list on our “Clients and Results” page.
1. We have already grown companies just like yours. (We have helped to grow clients in 37 countries in 11 languages.) So wherever you are in the world, if you’d like us to work on your website—to dramatically increase its profits—then claim your FREE website strategy session. On this free phone consultation, one of our experts will discuss your conversion goals and suggest strategies to double your sales.
2. If you’d like to learn conversion for free, go to our “Learning Zone” page, where you can download templates of million-dollar winning pages. Or, if you’d like us to build your company’s in-house capabilities (not for free), then contact us and we’ll discuss your requirements.
3. If you’d like to work for us—or see why our team members love working for us—then see our “Careers” pages.
All of our articles are subject to our Testimonial Protocol, which is described here.