Jon MacDonald thegood

115. Why is CRO Such a Misunderstood Discipline?

 June 14, 2022

By  Will

To subscribe for fortnightly actionable tips, new podcast episodes & the 101 Customer Journey Optimisations ebook

In episode 115 of the Customers Who Click podcast I spoke with Jon MacDonald, Founder of thegood, a CRO agency in the States. They’ve been optimising sites for over 13 years now, helping brands grow not just through conversion rate optimisation, but also by improving average order values and lifetime value.

Our mission is to remove all the bad experiences, so only the good remain.

If you really focus on the customer experience, the customer journey, and what their goals are, thats only going to work in your favour.  Too many brands try to put pressure on customers to complete a purchase through FOMO or scarcity, or just run promotions. When actually, going back to basics, understanding customers and communicating to them properly is whats needed.

Jon is the Founder & CEO of thegood. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or head over to https://thegood.com/.

Key highlights:

01:05 - 05:55 - Biggest Opportunities for D2C Growth - Getting back to basics is going to be crucial for businesses in 2022/23. Loads of smaller new brands jumped onto the explosive growth we saw in lockdown, while some larger brands suddenly and finally recognised the need to focus on ecom. But for both types of companies, the important thing is to take a step back, really understand your customers, and what they want from your website. Otherwise your website is just going to turn out like thousands of others - basically an online catalogue.

There are 2 reasons a customer visits your website - to learn about your products and business, and to buy from it. Both of these need to be quick and easy for the customer to achieve.

06:23 - 12:30 - Why is CRO misunderstood as a discipline? - There is this misunderstanding that CRO is just about making the odd tweak or fix here and there on a website, and that a lot of optimisation is tactical, it’s best practise led, and anyone can do it.

But this couldnt be further from the truth. Real CRO requires a multidisciplinary approach. There’s no school you can learn all the skills you need for CRO because it requires so many

You need an analyst, strategist, designer, developer, researcher and there are several specific skills required for each of these. It’s an entire marketing speciality in itself, its not something you just tag on to other services and expect good results from.

14:03 - 19:00 - Best Practise Problems - The problem with misunderstanding CRO is that people tend to look at best practises and try to apply them everywhere. Forms are a great example. Best practise is that forms should be as short as possible to maximise conversion. But for some purchases, a larger number of forms is important for 2 reasons. Firstly it helps identify that particular customers journey and their needs, and secondly, it gives the feeling a brand really is an expert in what they do. Which doctor would you trust, the one that asked you 20 questions about your symptoms and lifestyle then wrote a pescription, or the one that just asked what youre looking for today and wrote a prescription while you answered?

19:06 - 25:25 - How Discounting Ruins Your Brand Value - Discounting immediately tells customers your products arent worth what you say they are. The best way to optimise is to improve the customer experience, which will improve conversions, but what most brands do is target how to improve conversions, which then leads to bad and even black hat tactics that are more designed to manipulate customers to convert rather than showing them true value.

Instead of removing value from the product with a discount, why not focus on adding value first. (The main reason most brands dont is because it is harder).

Theres nothing wrong with certain types of discounts, sometimes it does help to make people comfortable making a first purchase. But other promotions can be used as well, bundles, free gifts etc.

25:51 - 32:28 -  What Other Benefits Are There to CRO? - There are the micro metrics you can target such as Cart Abandonment, Add to Cart, View Product etc, these are all metrics that you can think about improving, which will ultimately improve conversion rate as well. Its really important to look at your existing funnel and identify where the problems are in the first place. If you have a problem with people viewing products, you need to look at both your website and your advertising to improve this. If you’re sending all your traffic to the homepage, then of course a lot of it will never see a product page.

Average order value, repeat purchase rate, lifetime value, and returns are all other metrics that CRO can be impacting on (positively and negatively).

32:30 - 35:26 -  How to Kill a CRO Program - Some of the most frustrating things that can happen when running a CRO program include not listening to the expert. We’ve both seen it happen where a client turns down an idea because ‘no one in the industry does that’. The other big one is just copying. Copying from competitors, copying from other brands in your company.  Just ignore whats happening elsewhere and focus on where you’re going. You don’t know if something is working for a competitor, you don’t know if they even tested it and know for themselves.

35:35 - 49:20 -  Other CRO Mistakes - There 2 big ones already mentioned are discounting too much, and copying others. The other big one is not talking to your customers. They will literally just tell you what needs to be done to make your website amazing. Brands and the marketers within them get way too close to their websites, so its really important to take a step back, and get some feedback from the people who actually use them.

49:33 - Who Would Jon Like to Take For Lunch in the D2C Marketing World?

Chris Meade from Crossnet, hes very open, shares everything they work on, the numbers etc

51:39 - Jon’s Must-Have Ecommerce Tools:

  • Microsoft Clarity

  • Google Optimize

  • Userinput.io

If you’d like to hear more from Jon, you can connect with him on LinkedIn or head over to https://thegood.com/


Will is a Customer Journey Marketing consultant, specialising in CRO, CRM and Customer Experience. Will has over 7 years experience working across a range of consumer facing businesses and has worked for huge brands such as MyVoucherCodes, Europcar, JackpotJoy, Virgin Games and Virgin Bet.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Keep up to date with the latest episodes and news