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Why During a Site Migration Is the Perfect Time to Do CRO Work – Here’s Why  #254

Site migration and CRO work

Most of the time, when performing a site migration, one of the goals is to not lose any website traffic. One thing many don’t realize is that during a site migration is actually the best time do conversion rate optimization to increase traffic.

In this episode of the award-winning Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Alex Harris joins Eric Enge to discuss why CRO is involved in a site migration process and why during a site migration is the perfect time to do CRO work.

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Eric: Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of “Here’s Why.” I’m Eric Enge, the Principal of the Digital Marketing Solutions business unit at Perficient. And today, please welcome Alex Harris. He’s our Conversion Optimization Director at Perficient. Our conversion optimization team helps clients design and develop hundreds of B2B and B2C e-commerce service and wholesale sites. His team also helps in creating optimized landing pages, leading to e-commerce growth and increases in revenue. Well, that sounded a little bit like a commercial there, Alex. But anyway, say hi, Alex.

Alex: Hey, everybody. Thanks for having me, Eric.

Eric: Sure. Alex, digital transformation has been a big idea out there for a while and it has become even bigger since the pandemic. Many companies come to Perficient and ask what could they do to have a better online presence or increase their website traffic. This might mean that they would have to migrate their website or platform. And I believe, Alex, you’ve been asked to be involved in a lot of different site migration projects. Can you tell us why CRO is involved in the site migration process? In fact, why is it that during a site migration is actually the best time to do CRO?

Alex: Well, when talking about CRO which stands for conversion rate optimization, the goal is for continuous improvement. You want to improve the performance of your business KPIs. And when in that transition or migration mode, you’re looking for essentially a fresh perspective on your business growth, and you want to establish a concrete roadmap for your growth and success. That’s why it’s really the best time to reevaluate everything from your marketing technology, your backend system, to overall improving the user experience and making your customers happier. And that’s why your growth roadmap is so essential because it can include your website optimization strategy, which aligns with experimentation and potentially personalization. And this will ensure that you’re proactively making sure that you’re migrating your site in a successful way.

Eric: Cool. And what if someone wants to create a growth roadmap then for their website, when should they start?

Alex: Well, in my experience, there’s two questions when considering CRO during a migration. One, is your site performing as well as you think you can? And two, do I have the necessary barriers in place to ensure that this migration is going to actually improve and make your site better overall, right? So, if the answer is no to either one of these, you better start implementing a conversion rate optimization strategy right away, because commercial rate optimization shouldn’t be reactive, it should be progressively making your site better to get ready for that migration. You should always be running experiments and releasing controlled improvements to ensure that every release or enhancement to your site is going to actually improve that overall baseline. And you don’t want to assume that any of the new technology, the new design, or just that fancy bells and whistles that you add to that new site, that’s actually going to overall help you improve your KPIs. You don’t really want to make assumptions, or you want to essentially measure each portion of that to ensure your migration is going to be successful.

Eric: Agreed. And one thing I want to add too, is when you’re doing website optimization, that it needs to be done iteratively, right? Basically, you don’t want to change your whole website entirely at one time. By doing it iteratively, it allows us to see what is really working and really help us maximize results and mitigate any potential loss.

So anyway, we need to create a roadmap now so how do we start?

Alex: At start, you really just have to understand where you are. What is your baseline? Understand how your site is performing today before the migration, that way you can put the right metrics and milestones in place. You do this by performing a conversion audit on your current environment, analyzing your baseline data, and having some key performance indicators that essentially are going to be your goal milestones for when the migration happens. That way you can start to really understand your customers a lot better and really build a history of what’s worked for you in the past and what hasn’t. That way when you’re actually going and moving forward with your migration process, you can focus on beating your baseline KPIs to go into that new website when it’s ready to go live.

Eric: Yes, and a lot of the times companies don’t actually know what they don’t know, and they might not even have the data they need. For those cases, at least they should have some subset of the data such as the most important cohort of website traffic, or which pages or website or money pages or problems that the site currently has. And if we can solve those problems during the site migration, it would provide a better user experience in the end. But now that we’ve identified our KPIs and goals, what’s next?

Alex: Yes. Now that we have an established baseline and goals for success, let’s prepare proactively for growth. So if you haven’t started for your migration, now’s the time to start. You wanna get your website really ready three to six months before migration because you can’t reactively fix conversion very easily. This will ensure that your website is going to have an optimal performance before and after the migration actually happens. This means that you’ve tested the website and the entire user experience from a KPI perspective, a user experience perspective, and ensuring that you don’t have any bugs or problems along the way. Maybe as you see, many websites are released in phases, iteratively as you talked about. Maybe you released your entire site as a beta version of the website, that way you can gather sample data to match it up with your baselines to ensure that that migration is going to take over the same conversion rates and the same KPI performance that you do. Also, you want to make sure that you think about your customers in the right way because that way if you do things right, your customers will never really notice that you actually have a migration overall.

Eric: Cool! And that’s a great thing to shoot for absolutely. Are there some other considerations when doing a conversion rate optimization during a site migration?

Alex: Yes, and that made me think of the whole aspect of putting your customers first. The key word here is really migration. You may be moving to a new CMS or completely new platform overall, but you have to remember that your customers and the people who are going to your site, they don’t like change. People don’t like to be surprised by things that they’re accustomed to. So I strongly recommend that you involve your customers at every stage of the site migration. Communicate that there’ll be changes to the interface, that the details of their account or their loyalty programs may actually change at a period of time. And that way, when you’re actually involving them or getting feedback along the way in your beta program, they feel that they’re actually involved in your brand and they are more likely to do more business with you once your new site does go live.

Eric: So even with all these good plans and thoughtful processes I imagine we still run into a lot of problems, right, during the process. So how do we handle that?

Alex: Just like Murphy’s law, you can pretty much assume that you’re going to run in issues. The more proactively you can be prepared for them, really, the better. If there is a problem, you need to be able to move quickly and iterate so you can try to get your KPIs back to as close to baseline as possible. That way you’re essentially mitigating any potential long-term revenue loss. But first knowing where the problems are is the ultimate success. Because this can be difficult when you’re making all of these changes all at once. It can be difficult to figure out where the problems are. Is it in the technology? Is it in the user experience? Or is it in the marketing? But once you’re able to identify where the potential problems are in those baseline metrics, you should be able to move quickly and use conversion optimization and your tried-and-true tactics to change the website and solve those conversion issues so now you can get your baseline performance back to the levels of previous success.

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Eric Enge

Eric Enge is part of the Digital Marketing practice at Perficient. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO.

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