Our co-founder Neil Patel wanted to understand where companies were struggling to meet their fullest potential. One set of contrasting data points jumped out at the Crazy Egg team specifically.
In his research of over 200 companies ranging in size from $1mm in Revenue to $300mm, he uncovered the following:
- Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is the highest ROI tactic available to Marketers; but
- Only 1.7% of Marketing budgets are allocated to CRO.
Note: Crazy Egg defines CRO as paying attention to the people visiting your website or app, so you can make the most of (aka, extract the most value from) every visit. We’re big on paying attention.
Earlier this year, the Crazy Egg team dove deeper into that contrast, commissioning Nonfiction Research to help us understand the space between those irrationally competing facts.
We validated what many of us already know to be true:
- CRO is a high value tactic
- Few Marketers are doing anything that would qualify as CRO
- Most people are either too busy or have too much anxiety to follow through
Implicit in the responses was an expectation of effort to achieve the outcome. A sentiment that CRO — that paying attention to the people experiencing your website, application, and brand — is hard and time intensive.
We also learned that as soon as people started thinking about making their websites better or even paying attention to (watching, observing, talking to) the people experiencing their website and app, they grew anxious.
That’s right: CRO gives people anxiety.
People aren’t doing what they know they should be doing to improve their website and digital experiences because we in the industry have made both the process and the payoff feel too complex to achieve and too far away to be realized. We’ve created tension between what they know they should do and what they end up doing. (James Clear, who we’ll talk about a bit more later in the article, wrote a great article about this topic called the Akrasia effect years ago).
Before we could start coming up with solutions, we realized we had to understand that anxiety. This blog post brings you along with us on that journey with a goal of helping you better understand either what your customers are struggling with (and why) or, if you’re an provider, what may be getting you stuck in this precise conflict.
After that, the ultimate goal is to show you some ways to break down the problem so you can find your way forward.
Modern Anxiety has a “Clear” Origin Story
There is a profound tension between how our brains are hardwired to make decisions and what is required for us to make successful decisions given how the world works today.
I learned about this tension from James Clear, whose book Atomic Habits is the single best book for anyone looking to better understand and start combating the things that most hold us back as people — at work or at home: inertia, anxiety, bad habits, and the undeniable urge of instant gratification.
In summary, humankind has been around for some 200,000 years. Of that legacy, we’ve spent about 195,500 years living in an “immediate return environment”, and the past 500 years, shifting toward a “delayed return environment”.
For 99.75% of our existence, we’ve lived in a world where we did things and benefited from an immediate return. We ate when hungry and felt full. We drank when thirsty and felt quenched. We hid when scared and lived another day. Immediate return environment.
Recently, times have changed. As a byproduct of human progress over the past 500 years, (more access to food, better access to healthcare and shelter), we’ve been asked to shift our priorities and to start making investments with longer-term delayed returns (going to college, exercising, eating healthier, saving money).
The mismatch between the two — tension between the “gratification now” kind of instincts that got us here and the “defer gratification” ones that are now in our best interest going forward — has served as the primary breeding ground for modern anxiety.
The resulting anxiety is something that affects us personally, while also serving as the foundation for flawed and sub-optimal professional decisions.
As a service provider, it’s our responsibility to help the people who rely on us to make progress with their business and to overcome that anxiety.
Sometimes when you’re stuck, the best step forward is a baby step.
Take Baby Steps
An exciting outcome of our research with Nonfiction was insight into the tension between people knowing what to do to improve their digital experiences and people feeling equipped to take those steps.
We had evidence that the chasm people visualized between them and the ability to take immediate action wasn’t as wide as they’d thought (and, it wasn’t going to take them long to cross it if we held their hand along the way.)
What evidence? In mid-2018, we decided to lean into conversations with our customers in the spirit of understanding. We focused on two things:
- Getting people to raise their hand to ask for help.
- Seeing how long it would take us to add value once they asked.
The results laid the foundation for the work we’re doing today, and the approach we’ve taken to get here.
First: Getting people to raise their hand. We put a CTA in our application to see whether or not people were interested in getting help taking the next step. We delivered the message to 2500 users, and had an 85% engagement rate. 85% of people who saw our CTA prompting them with an action they could take to improve their websites, clicked and engaged.
People knew they were missing opportunities and similarly, people were ready to be led to an answer on what they could do to improve their experience.
Second: Seeing how long it would take us to add value.
We then proceeded to have 350 conversations (via email, video, and in-person) with customers directly; which we labeled as CRO Consultations, to see whether or not and how we could be useful. In every conversation we had, we were able to get to customer value inside of 10 minutes. A majority of the suggestions were elementary — often times because we had a limited amount of knowledge on a customer’s site. Recommendations like moving a CTA to be fully aligned with where people were scrolling to, or paying the most attention were the kinds of things that could get customers double digit lifts in conversion rates.
“Getting unstuck” doesn’t require a tremendous amount of thought; sometimes it just means knowing what to look for. Sometimes it requires stepping back from the bigger goal (which can seem daunting) and focusing instead on nothing more than the next step.
Photo by Colin
Baby steps make the space between where you are now and your optimal future, feel achievable, approachable, and as a result, feel like progress.
Thinking less about the final destination and more about the next step, helps us overcome our inertia.
And there you have it. Wallah. (Kinda.)
People Struggle for Very Human and Very Systemic Reasons
That all sounds wonderful … but how do we do it?
First, we avoid the allure of starting big. Starting big is easy. It’s starting small that can be challenging for all the reasons we outlined above. Starting small and incremental is how we make progress.
Delayed returns lead to anxiety because delays create uncertainty. Every bit of space between you and some desired outcome leads to uncertainty that the desired outcome can be achieved. It’s not always your fault, sometimes new things can happen and more things can go wrong.
Clear talks about a handful of powerful and simple ways of replacing that uncertainty with increasing levels of confidence. His advice includes everything from simply measuring something to accelerating the pace at which you monitor and receive feedback against the things you’re measuring. Clear makes it clear that paying attention, paying active attention to the right things is one of the most powerful ways to build a bridge between immediate and delayed return environments.
So why do people struggle? Why are you getting stuck?
Photo by Matthes Trettin
According to experts at the Sterling Woods Group, there are a variety of reasons that people get stuck in that space between — known as akrasia. There are very human reasons, such as negativity bias (where we fear the negative more than we appreciate and benefit from the positive which is based on survival instincts) and conformity (a literal desire to conform to the group vs stand against it or even propose an alternative).
There are also structural ones. At work, organizational structure, transparency of goals, priorities, and communication, as well as feeling equipped to take the steps required to delay returns for long-term benefit play a material role in this tension and struggle.
We understood that people were getting stuck; we even knew where. If we wanted to shift to solutions that help them get unstuck, we would have to contend with two questions:
- As a company whose job it is to equip people with data so they can retire uncertainty and capture feedback quickly, are we doing enough to help the people who rely on us to get unstuck?
- As an organization, is one of our biggest opportunities to help remove the worry associated with delayed returns — doing everything in our power to help the people who rely on Crazy Egg take the next step?
To be clear, we had to embrace the fact that the ideal next step may take place with our product or without.
Was it our responsibility to help people make their way from what should be done to what was being done? Was it our role to help people transition from immediate return to delayed return environments when it came to improving how their websites work?
Photo by Ian Schneider
The answer came back clearly, passionately, and almost violently so: Crazy Egg exists to help our customers improve their websites and make the most of every visit. Our growth and success is sustainable only if it is a byproduct of the help we provide.
Thanks for the Insight. Now what?
In April, I had our team dig back into Trials that hadn’t converted in a slightly different way. I asked them to show me the most engaged people who didn’t convert. We needed to understand.
What we found was extraordinary: 25% of Trials that didn’t convert had logged in and used Crazy Egg 10 times during their Free 30 day trial.
According to MixPanel, if someone uses your SaaS 2.6 times a month they’re about average. If someone goes in 7.6 times a month you’re darned near best in class.
How do we make sense of Trial users who are blowing the doors off of “elite” usage by diving in 10 times (or more) and then not converting?
After paying attention to this segment more intensely, we came up with the answer: they loved the data they were getting, but they didn’t know what to do next.
Their struggle had roots in the human and the systemic. But their struggle also boiled down to a single question in the mind of every person using Crazy Egg. A question we are all asked to confront as we are continually bombarded with more information and more insights, more aggressively, and across more environments.
“Thanks for the insight. Now what?”
Photo by Mon Petit Chou Photography
Knowing What to do Next is a Superpower
In this millennia, we’ve seen an explosion of data and access to information the likes of which the world has never seen. As we move past the first quintile, data, and even access to data, is no longer a differentiator. The real differentiator is knowing what to do with that data.
When it comes to work, and specifically to improving how people experience your website and applications so they can achieve the goals that drove them to you in the first place, what all of the data has shown clearly is that people sometimes simply don’t know what to do next. They don’t know how to get started.
This goes to Newton’s First Law, the law of inertia (highly relevant), where an object at rest tends to stay at rest, and an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless introduced to the presence of an unbalanced force. The key takeaway from Newton’s First Law is that objects have a state of being (rest or motion) and they change when an external force — when friction — is applied. Friction is what gets in the way of motion, progress, and ongoing momentum.
At work, the greatest cause of friction is not knowing what to do next.
Our Responsibility is to Remove Friction
Our responsibility to the people who invest in us and rely on us to move their business forward is to reduce friction. And the best way to reduce friction is to do four things for them:
- Make the problem they’re trying to solve, measurable
- Give them the tools they need to iterate, quickly
- Remove uncertainty along the way, consistently
Sometimes the problems are hard, complex, and the decisions require profound thought.
Conversion Rate Optimization doesn’t fall into that category for most of us. It’s specifically not rocket science. And differentiation and progress for a majority of organizations is simply doing something instead of what they’re now doing (2/3s are doing nothing).
We took this to heart. Which explains why recently we doubled down on giving people the best answer for them, whether it provides an immediate return to Crazy Egg or not (hope you enjoyed how we flipped that theme back on ourselves).
Crazy Egg Plug: Updated Help Center Featuring “Now What?”
We’ve retooled our in-app Help Center and added a section titled “Now What?” Customers are invited to visit the section and select from a handful of questions that will help them take the next step to make their websites better, instantly.
We’re starting with the list below which is based on your feedback. We’ll continue to evolve it according to what you share, how people engage, and where we learn we could be doing a better job of getting folks unstuck.
The opening question: What are you looking to do?
- Improve Visitor Engagement – Within a few seconds of looking at a Heatmap (or a Scrollmap, or a Clickmap, or a Referral Map) from Crazy Egg you quickly identify areas where people are and aren’t engaging. We use this section to give you a 5-Step Checklist on how to go about identifying your biggest opportunities, and then taking action to improve visitor engagement. Tangible. Practical. Inside of 15 minutes a week.
- Test Ideas to Improve my Site – Improving a Website or App is the general purpose of every Crazy Egg customer; whether you’re in Marketing or Product, an Executive and Founder, or an individual contributor focused on a specific number. Here we translate what “Improve” means into a 5-Step Checklist for diagnosing what’s not working and finding inspiration for how to improve your site. Tangible. Practical. Inside of 15 minutes a week.
- See Where (and Why) People Get Stuck – Before you get inspiration, you often need to identify the problem areas. The ability to quickly identify issues and show them visually is a powerful way to build empathy across your organization so you can rally to fix the problem. In this section, we give you a 5-Step Checklist on identifying where and why people get stuck, while giving you the tools to capture and share that information broadly, as well as how to start thinking about removing those obstacles and getting people unstuck.
- Get Direct Visitor Feedback – Just as we’ve determined that sometimes the best thing we can do is ask you what your goals are, we similarly wanted to equip you to do the same thing with the people visiting your site. Meet our free integration with SurveyMonkey, which puts you in position to prompt people visiting your site and engaging with your app very specific questions. Backed by the powerful expertise of SurveyMonkey.
- Create Content to Get More Traffic – There are two ways to acquire traffic: (1) buy it or (2) earn it with good content (that in turn wins at SEO and inspires people to share). Not everyone can build a content engine from scratch, so we’ve partnered with Verblio. Verblio is a content marketplace that will help any Crazy Egg customer create content for digital marketing and SEO purposes, which also placates and appeases ever-changing algorithms. The offer is exclusively available to Crazy Egg customers inside the Crazy Egg app.
- Redesign my Webpage/Website – Sometimes the inspiration you find from Crazy Egg is so powerful and compelling, you know you need to change something big. Not a button. Not a CTA. But an entire page or even your entire website. This is a daunting challenge to undertake, but it doesn’t need to be because Crazy Egg has partnered with B12. B12 uses a powerful blend of AI and thoughtful human design to get you transformative new web experiences quickly and affordably. The offer is exclusively available to Crazy Egg customers inside the Crazy Egg app.
What’s Funny? Paying Attention has the Most Immediate Return
After all of the research and context above, we find ourselves at an interesting endpoint. In a delayed gratification workplace, paying attention — CRO — is the most powerful and the most immediate return tactic at your disposal. It works because you have people with expressed intent at your doorstep waiting for you to tell them what to do next in a way that maps to their goals, priorities, and mindset.
Historically, CRO tactics have felt hard to use or hard to access or hard to attain. Which is why Crazy Egg is taking such a different approach to the market. We believe every person who launches, manages, or monitors something online should be using Crazy Egg or a tool like it (there are some excellent ones on the market, and we all have ideal customers and ideal use cases – if I can help you navigate, email me and we’ll be happy to help.)
Which takes me back to how we started this piece. People are getting stuck when making the right decision and taking the right next step. There are personal, psychological, and very human reasons to go along with what is seen to be professional, structural, and systemic. In order to equip people to make progress, we have to understand as much about all of those factors as we can.
The bottom line: Crazy Egg can help you break down what may seem like a delayed return exercise into something that’s going to start paying dividends immediately. Watching visitors experience your website in aggregate, segmented and filtered by where they came from as well as what device they’re using (or 100 other filters and segments), or via individual user journeys is just the starting point.
And I’m telling you, as a Crazy Egg user for almost 10 years and someone who’s been building digital experiences for over 20: the highest ROI activity you can do is spend 15 minutes each week paying attention to the people who are visiting your website and app, so you’re positioned to make the most of every visit. Look at Snapshots. Watch videos. Survey customers. Jump into your support queue. Pay attention.
Pro Tip: Set a weekly Google Calendar reminder to stay on schedule. We even created one for you! Just click this link and you can modify the time, day, time zone, and even change the reminder notifications. Plus, we added resources to help you out.
Use Crazy Egg. Use Google Analytics. Use whatever’s installed on your website.
Spend 15 minutes each week and you’ll build that bridge across akrasia. You’ll take that wide expanse and turn it into a bunch of small, approachable steps.
You’ll quickly move from “now what” to “what’s next,” and that’ll put you miles ahead of the competition.
Photo by James Lee