How AI is disrupting conversion rate optimization: a conversation with Neal Cole of Conversion Uplift

Our growing Ascend partner network has introduced to us a lot of great folks who know conversion rate optimization software inside and out. They’ve helped hundreds of sites increase their key metrics and they’re always keen to learn about the newest advances in the industry. That they’ve been receptive to Ascend makes sense: it allows them to unlock their potential, try more ideas, and make an even bigger difference for their clients.

One of those partners is Neal Cole, founder of Conversion Uplift. He recently wrote a post about why he was excited about AI conversion rate optimization that we can’t recommend enough. Check it out here on Conversion Uplift’s blog. Specifically he mentioned what we did above: that Ascend “allows you to test an enormous number of ideas in a shorter time period than is possible with existing solutions” as well as being “more efficient at discovering new combinations of elements that result in uplifts in conversion due to the evolutionary nature of the algorithms.”

We wanted to learn a bit more about Neal and his approach, so we invited him over (as it were) for a chat. Here’s our conversation:

Hi Neal! Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and Conversion Uplift?

Sure. I was previously a market research manager for over 10 years, and my background is in research and analytics. This has given me a passion for behavioral psychology as I love investigating what makes customers buy and how to create experiments based on real insights to help visitors achieve their goals. I have also written many posts on application of psychology and behavioral sciences in marketing.

I set up Conversion Uplift Ltd in 2016 after working for large e-commerce and online gaming companies as a senior conversion manager for over 5 years. This taught me to use a structured approach to optimization and the importance of getting senior stakeholder buy-in. Over the last year I’ve delivered consultancy services to a range of organizations from music streaming, B2C automotive services, and online gaming.

So you use a variety of approaches then?

Exactly. I use a combination of customer insights, analytics, usability testing, principles of conversion-centered design and behavioral science to evaluate each step in the user journey. Developing buyer personas and using them to create a narrative of the customer journey (often called a Buyer Legend) is an especially effective way of getting stakeholders to evaluate the user experience from the customer’s perspective.

Are any more valuable than the others or is it a case-by-case sort of thing?

It’s important not to rely on a single approach or source of insight as otherwise we risk jumping to conclusions and making sub-optimal decisions. However, I do find the Buyer Legends process that I use uncovers many powerful insights that can be developed into hypothesis for testing. It forces everyone involved to challenge assumptions that the existing user journey is based upon.

How long have you been at it?

I’ve been involved in evaluating websites from a customer’s perspective for over 10 years. When I was a market research manager it was my job to capture and monitor user feedback for the company’s websites. However, for the last 5 years I have focused on conversion rate optimization as I love the disciplines involved in improving the digital customer experience.

So what drew you to Ascend?

Ascend caught my attention because of its use of evolutionary algorithms to discover new combinations of elements to improve conversion rates and its ability to simultaneously optimize multiple pages in a customer journey. This differentiates it from existing solutions and gives it huge potential to identify new experiences that might otherwise not be considered for testing.

Neal will be using Ascend as a key part of his CRO efforts with clients. He believes that “Sentient Ascend makes most existing testing software obsolete because it offers an automated platform for massively multivariate conversion optimisation” and you can check out his full thoughts here. If you like Neal’s holistic approach to testing want to contact him, he’s on the first row of our partners page.

For our part, we’re proud that Ascend is resonating with folks who have know the CRO landscape. After all, being able to test more ideas and arrive at smarter conclusions faster is something that appeals to most businesses. And Ascend lets you do just that.