Hi Paul, can you introduce yourself?
I’m Paul Rouke, the Founder & CEO of PRWD, a UK based conversion optimisation agency. My agency is the sole UK representative of the Global Optimization Group, founded by Web Arts CEO Andre Morys. I have 17+ years of experience in the user experience and conversion optimisation industry. I am the author of The Growth Strategy That’s Being Ignored, an international keynote speaker and trainer. Alongside leading the growth strategy for PRWD, my passion lies in championing industry, company and personal change.
Is this your first time at Conversion Summit?
It’s actually my second – André invited me to speak at Conversion Summit 2013, where I presented “Persuasion, Personality, Conversion – PPC for the Smart Kids”. Three years later and if I’m being honest, this presentation is just as relevant as it was then – I’m still waiting for all the smart kids to really come on-board with the evolution from being traffic focussed to being conversion focussed.
What is this growth strategy that you say is being ignored?
The short answer, „being truly customer centric“.
If we are being more descriptive, then its user behaviour driven test & learn philosophy across the business, helping to evolve, strengthen and grow a business’s core performance metrics.
Why are businesses ignoring this strategy?
Many businesses are run by the classic HiPPO, leading to egotistical opinions being the driving force behind many key strategic decisions.
Leadership characteristics all of us will have experienced, or are experiencing today:
- Egotistical – “I have all the answers”
- Arrogance – “I’m experienced enough”
- Cowardice – “I don’t need to quantify this”
- Blinkered – “But this is the way I’ve always done it”
- Apprehension – “It’s easier to keep things the way they are“
I have recently published an article on the re-invention of the HiPPO, for it to become a beacon of positivity within businesses. The new HIPPO stands for humility, integrity, passion, positivity and openness.
Lack of understanding and appreciation
In other businesses, it is down to a lack of or simply clarity of understanding and appreciation of what intelligent, insight driven conversion optimisation can actually do for the growth of their business.
Continually increasing amounts of “noise”
The lack of clarity comes from the increasing amount of noise in the digital industry on #CRO – the vast majority of which make conversion optimisation appear to just be a list of quick wins, tweaks, hacks, tricks etc. It is completely understandable that decision makers across the industry aren’t sure how much to invest in and who they should invest with.
To quote my title from my opening keynote at Elite Camp 2016, we are „Tackling the global pandemic that is bullshit optimisation.“
The vicious circle driven by BS optimisation
We are also seeing businesses make their first real investment in conversion optimisation with an agency offering these services, who a year later one to the conclusion that this isn’t a worthwhile area of investment for them as they have seen zero results and zero learnings through their agency.
It is a vicious circle that needs to be broken or else intelligent conversion optimisation will continue to be ignored.
My first article on the world’s most popular conversion optimisation blog ConversionXL is titled “The big divide between BS and Intelligent Optimization” and this is aiming to help decisions makers make more informed decisions about where they invest their increasing conversion optimisation budgets.
A primary focus on investing in tools, not people
If you believe what you hear from the major technology companies, we will all be out of a job in the not too distant future. The machines are coming! Personalisation, data clouds, behavioural targeting, machine learning, geo-location – who needs peoples brains when the technology is here to deliver 1-1 experiences for our visitors?
Decision makers and budget holders will slowly start to realise that the most important tool they can invest in is the brain of the people working on growing their business.
Why do you care about this? At there not enough companies out there who aren’t ignoring this for you to work with?
That is a good question. I will be sharing some of this during my talk at Conversion Summit, but for anyone that knows me, either inside or outside of my agency, they know that no matter how much my agency is growing, my deepest passion is helping to bring about cultural change and inspire more people to have the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
We spend too much of our lives at work to be frustrated and held back from what we know is the right path to take.
In your experience what are the 5 biggest challenges facing businesses who are looking to develop a conversion optimisation strategy?
- Egotistical leadership who have no understanding of its importance
- Short term, quick win focussed culture
- Competing with other departments for budget, resource and a voice
- Lack of ROI and buy-in delivered from having invested in an external agency that simply didn’t deliver value either commercially or in customer learnings
- Inability to change “the way we have always done things”
For this conference are you not better focussing on providing the audience with lots of ideas for them to improve their online experience?
I have been speaking at conferences until 2009, and up until 2015 my talks were typically full of take-aways and tactics, mainly on opportunities to improve the online experience of attendee’s websites.
In 2015 I realised that no matter how many fantastic ideas people had to test changes on their website to significantly increase their conversion rate, at the end of the day if the company they work within and their executives simply don’t understand and value conversion optimisation, their ideas will be almost worthless.
There are many fantastic, inspirational speakers at conferences around the world sharing actionable tips and techniques to apply to their user experience as soon as you go back to the office, and me and my team will continue to share ideas too. But for me personally, although I am talking about taking a longer term, strategic view, I feel I can provide audiences with more real value that will help them lay the right foundations within their business.
For more actionable ideas there is free access to all the content me and my team at PRWD have published online since 2009 on this one link – http://bit.ly/CROresources It includes articles, presentations, podcasts, case studies, webinars, books and tools on every aspect of truly transformative conversion optimisation.
Is conversion optimisation really „about people“ or as tools are becoming more powerful, is it „about getting the most out of our tools“?
Yes, Andre had it right when he chose “it’s about people” as the headline for Conversion Summit 2016. Tools and technology facilitate some of the innovative, creative work that people come up with, but every business needs to understand that people’s brains are their most important tool from which to significantly grow their business.
What are the 5 key learnings from your talk that attendees can take-away?
- The 1 hour wake-up call for CEO’s and executives you can all use
- The role you can play in the cultural transformation of your business
- The biggest lesson every company can learn from the German football team
- The single most influential technique to start establishing a true “customer centric” culture within your business
- The unique opportunity you all have when you step outside of your comfort zone
Thanks to Paul Rouke from PRWD for this Q&A! We are excited to see him at the conversionSUMMIT 2016 in Frankfurt!