10 min read

Conversion Conference 2013 - Recap

We all know the mantra that ‘Content is King’. Well, at the Conversion Conference 2013, Conversion was King. Clicks, inquiries, sales, leads – couch them how you want, but if your website isn’t pulling in the results you need, then the Conversion Conference was the place to be.

Hosted opposite the Museum of London, and drawing guests and speakers from across Europe and further afield, everyone in attendance was concerned about one thing – optimising their ROI from their online experience.

Responsive E-Commerce Design

Our day started with a hit and miss presentation from @paulrouke entitled Responsive e-commerce design – will it improve my conversion rate and do consumers care?  

An affable chap, the presentation style left a little to be desired, and as such, a lot of what might have been useful info was lost amongst talk of prizes and sex aids. No, really.

What did become clear however was that ASOS do responsive really well, which has gone a long way to positioning them at the front of the online fashion retail field.

We heard how users seek a high quality design from their responsive experience that aids both design and navigation. There are issues regarding the size of mobile screens, but this can be overcome by good design. Equally, by using responsive design, retailers negate the need for duplicate or triplicate designs for tablet, desktop and mobile. From a site owner perspective, there really is little argument for not going down the responsive path.

Matty Curry, Chief of LoveHoney, cited a 60 – 100% increase in mobile conversions in 2 days (for clarification, this is where the sex toys came in to play), whilst Jenny Horner of Bench claimed a 100% increase.

We were then given the 7 Guiding Principles For Cross Device Optimisation:

  • Proposition – mobile visitors still need to be persuaded so USP’s are still vital, and these need to be site wide.
  • Consistency – ASOS use a ‘save’ feature allowing customers to browse on mobile, then buy later on desktop.
  • Regardless of device, the user experience should be the same.
  • Transparency – users shouldn’t have to work out how to use a site. Delivery and payment options should be simple and obvious. Mobile users also LOVE PayPal as it’s much faster than entering in card details.
  • Findability – make navigation clear and simple, with clean hierarchy. And make navigation finger friendly. Also, advanced filter options should be consistent across devices.
  • Simplicity – limit the amount of personal info required; forms should be quick and non-intrusive wherever possible.
  • Flexibility – delivery options, viewing options, give users choices.
  • Usability – optimise for site speed, insure all buttons are easily clickable. Bigger is better in mobile design, buttons and forms need to be finger friendly.

Key points:

  • Responsive design is of high priority when keeping up with the competition.
  • Users just want a site that works on the device they are on, with the minimum of fuss.
  • Give users choice.

Mobile Conversion

From here, we were off to Mobile Conversion – it will make or break your business. The yin to the previous yang, this was a slick operation given by @webconversion SEO and Chair of the Conversion Academy Charles Nichols, and @gemmamacnaught from

Here we got some amazing stats about the differences in usage across platforms. For example, 90% of mobile transactions happen on an Apple device. Is this because the Apple user demographic is younger? There seems to be no logical explanation.

Where brands have optimised for mobile, they can see as much as 50% of their sales coming from mobile devices. Yet cart abandonment figures are still much higher than in desktop land. Smartphone abandonment is up to 4 times that of desktop, and even 3 times that of tablet.

We heard how the use of snappy, attention-grabbing headlines is key. As is copy that is direct and straight to the point. Space is limited, so brevity is all-important. At the same time, users are happy to swipe and scroll if required, as long as the formatting is agreeable.

Points from the previous presentation were echoed, with finger-friendly and tidy navigation again being highlighted, along with limiting pop-ups and auto-completes.

We were shown a couple of interesting tools for testing user behaviour on mobile sites, such as, and ‘sleds’ which record user actions:

Checkout Optimisation seemed a major component of the presentation, with the familiar name of Amazon being cited as a retailer who does this well. From email to purchase was a simple five-step process. Again, PayPal (PP) was cited as something which aids the checkout process, despite some customers’ misgivings about the perceived “professionalism” of PP, as it’s still being lumped in with eBay sellers. If owners can take the hit of fees, PP still provides the simplest means of payment for customers. The figures cited:

  • 101% increase on smartphone sites offering PayPal
  • 51% on tablets
  • 86% on desktop

Gemma then took us through the almost limitless opportunities for email and mobile optimisation.  We heard of the benefits having a ‘save for later’ functionality, and social sign-up. Mobile users are invariably already logged in to Facebook or Twitter, so tying this in with their account not only makes logging in easier, but allows for easy social sharing.

An interesting stat was that 61% of people called a business after doing a local search, highlighting the importance of sitelinks and call extensions.

The big take away here was that owners need to think OUTSIDE of the screen, that having a mobile site is only one part of a much larger picture. This video was very popular.

Cross Device Personalisation

We then moved to a talk entitled Cross Device Personalisation from the founder of Mixcloud, @matclayton.

This was a rather rushed affair, and in truth seemed out of context with the rest of the conference. The idea, that your personalised visit can be the same across devices, was sound. It’s just that this talk didn’t really cover it. In truth, it was hard to glean just what the focus of the talk was.

It was followed by a case study from @dadii of, providing insight in to their “award-winning CIC project”. Although the presentation again failed to follow the outline in the programme, it provided an interesting outline of how we all too often design from the standpoint of what we want the user to take away from our site.

This theme was continued after lunch, when @martingreif of Site Tuners showed us how to be interested in people and their stories, in his talk How To Win Friends And Influence People Online. The one thing I remember above all others, was him holding his hand up to a member of the audience and asking them to describe it. “five fingers, palm, lines” etc. “Funny, cos I see hair and knuckles and fingernails” The point being that the same thing can look entirely different depending on your perspective. And to market successfully we need to stop thinking about what we see, and try to think about what our customer sees.

No One Cares About Your Content (Yet)

The Americans continued to take over as @cliffseal and @msweezey tried desperately to energise an increasingly flagging audience with their talk, No One Cares About Your Content (Yet).

They emphasised that content is a conversation and that to get your message across you need to frame it in such a way that the user relates to it. So personality is key. The one biggest USP of any site is the person behind it. In real life we buy off sales person personality as much as we do anything else, yet all too often websites are devoid of personality.

A visit to a website needs to be a pleasurable experience in order for the visitor to return, or better yet, convert. To do this, the message needs to be clear, and ideally you would make your proposition obvious within 10 seconds. This quite clearly relates to the old fact that we indeed make unconscious decisions about someone within moments of meeting them, with the first impression being made in 1/20th of a second. Web experiences are no different, hence why bounce rates in Analytics is such a key component of page rank and quality.

In this presentation, we were introduced to the WRAP process, a marketing standby that is as applicable to online conversions as it is anywhere else.

  • Widen Your Options – look for new and better options
  • Reality Test Your Assumptions – get outside your head, and challenge yourself
  • Add Distance Before Deciding – put yourself in someone else’s shoes
  • Prepare To Be Wrong

Controversially, @cliffseal pointed out that being wrong is absolutely the best possible thing that can happen, since this is the only time you can know something for certain. If something works, you *might* be right. But there could be some other unheralded factor involved that made the difference. If you are wrong, you are wrong. End of. It is the only time in marketing that you truly know anything.

How to Optimise Call-to-Action Buttons

And so we moved on to the final session, How to Optimise Call-to-Action Buttons for Maximum Conversion with @contentverve.

Here we broached the trusty old subject of button copy. It is a subject that is almost as old as the industry itself, but one which many people still overlook. Maybe because it isn’t as sexy as some other areas, who knows? But the returns can be phenomenal. As with all case studies, the figures need to be taken with a pinch of salt, since the headline numbers are always more impressive than the ones resigned to the bin.  But increases of 30 – 100% have been achieved with simple tweaks.

This was perhaps the presentation most readily applicable to Paid Search, since we deal in such tight copy spaces, and the difference between a “buy now” and a “click here” can be amazing.

There were two main focuses of this speech, design and copy. The positioning of a button can be used to attract attention to an area of the page, whilst the copy on that button impacts on the final decision. So where is the button, and why should I click it?

Your CTA is a visual clue as to what the page is about and what you expect from your visitor. As such it is high in the visual hierarchy. Copy drives the visitor to click, and increased relevance obviously provides more clicks.

To test buttons, A/B testing is paramount, but then isn’t it always? The speaker had devised a simple tool for button tweaking at which may provide benefits at a much lower outlay of effort than total page redesigns.

Overall, it was hard to tell who the conference was actually aimed at. Every site owner wants conversions, but the natural target for talks on the subject is ecommerce. Unfortunately, most ecom sites that would benefit from the advice on offer would have been priced out of the event. From a personal point of view, I took some very useful information away with me, although the opportunities to implement within PPC directly are slightly limited.

At the end of the day, though, it is perhaps just five words that matter most from the whole day: To add value, add relevance.

More info on the whole conference plus downloads of the presentations we were unable to attend, can be found here


Our starting point is you. We spend time getting to know your business, its challenges and your goals.


We listen, then we create. We explore different approaches, techniques and strategies based on your needs.


Our experts work collaboratively to build a complete and effective web design and digital marketing solution.


We prioritise measurable results and will report, analyse, test, assess, tweak and develop continuously.

Get in touch today on 0115 959 8900 or Contact Us

Loading Images...

Looking for more leads for your business? Let's work together.Start your journey
Google Partner

Loading Reviews…