How to Use Iterative Learning to Drive Website Conversion

by 
Allison Dickin

Sometimes, a fabulous product with a beautiful website just doesn’t convert. That’s where someone like Allison Dickin can come in to save the day.

Allison is the Vice President of user research at UserLeap. With 15+ years of expertise in quantitative and qualitative research under her belt, she’s seen over and over again the value of obtaining qualitative audience insights.

As part of our Wynter Games virtual event, Allison shared her best tips for using micro-surveys to make smart iterations and drive website conversions. 

“Everything is just moving faster and faster these days. product development, website changes, marketing strategies are all moving just as quickly,” Allison said.

“A framework that you can apply with any other channel you have is through doing iterative, in-product micro surveys. So in this case, you'd be using quick surveys within your website or marketing page to be able to understand your users.” 

Capturing your audience while they are on your website means that you gain important in-the-moment insights.

This allows you to learn quickly from your visitors and make appropriate changes to your website messaging.

How Nova Credit increased conversions by 47%

Allison shared a concrete example of how a client used micro-surveys to dramatically improve website conversion rate.

Nova Credit is a unique FinTech company that aims to help immigrants apply for credit cards in the United States.

Traditionally, new immigrants to the U.S. have a difficult time accessing credit cards.

Even immigrants with a perfect credit score in their home country need to start from scratch, making getting loans and leasing apartments extremely difficult. 



Google Analytics showed that Nova was getting significant website traffic, but those visitors were converting at a very low rate.

With the limited data they had, Nova was not able to make any connections or draw any meaningful conclusions about why this was happening.

They needed to dig deeper into audience research.

UserLeap helped Nova launch a series of four micro-surveys that helped illuminate the issue and solve their problem.

The first survey was placed on Nova’s homepage.

It asked visitors “How likely are you to apply for a credit card in the U.S. in the next three months?” And then “What might hold you back from doing so with Nova Credit?”

They specifically targeted visitors who had already been on the website pages for about 15 seconds. 

It’s important to be thoughtful about who you target with surveys and when you target them.

“On a home homepage or a marketing site, you generally just want to make sure that users have been there long enough to get up, get the lay of the land, see if they're understanding what they're there to understand, but haven't converted yet,” said Allison.

Survey #1

The first survey showed that visitors to Nova’s website represented their target audience.

They were people looking to apply for a credit card in the near future.

But the open-ended feedback was minimal, and Nova was left still wondering why their target audience was not converting. 

According to Allison, good open-ended feedback is important.

“If you can target the right users at the right time with the right question, you can get really, really valuable feedback from open-ends,” she said. 

But asking for open-ended feedback at the right time is tricky.

On a website homepage like Nova, visitors are anonymous and are not yet committed to using the product or service.

This means that they are less likely to provide open-ended feedback. 

Sometimes, minimal feedback on open-ended questions means your simply asking the wrong questions - or asking them at the wrong stage of the user journey.

Allison’s goal with Nova was to take a step back, and figure out what was actually bringing visitors to the website. 


Survey #2

The next survey Allison’s team ran asked people what the goal of their visit was.

Using a simple multiple-choice question, they learned that most visitors were not visiting the site with the goal of seeking credit card assistance.

“A lot of it was related to the content that Nova Credit was putting out for new immigrants,” said Allison.

“So they were attracted to those topics, but it wasn't specific to applying for credit cards or doing exactly what Nova Credit was offering.”  

This helped them understand that while Nova’s visitors were their target audience, they weren’t coming to the site for relevant reasons.

And they weren’t moving forward to the next step.

Nova decided to conduct one more survey to hone in on why the audience they were attracting was not converting.


Survey #3

The third survey asked visitors what country they came from, and whether they had a credit card or a loan in their previous country.

The purpose of asking these two questions was to establish once and for all whether they were the type of immigrants that Nova was dedicated to helping.

Yet again, the results of the survey showed that visitors were prime Nova customers.

They were coming from the right countries. They had good credit in their home countries. They fit the Nova target customer profile spot on.

They simply were not converting. Why?



Survey #4

Allison and her team conducted a final survey. And this time, they reached the critical “aha moment.”

They succeeded by taking their biggest step back yet.

They asked visitors, “Did you know that Nova Credit offers credit cards for non-U.S. citizens?” 

It turned out that most of Nova’s visitors didn’t understand what the company did.

They did not know that Nova Credit helped non-citizens get access to credit cards.

And of those visitors that did know, they didn’t know how to take advantage of those services. 

“The biggest barrier for visitors was that people just didn't know how to take advantage of the services. They weren't sure what to do in order to get a credit card through Nova Credit,” said Allison.

“This was really, really eye-opening for the team there. They realized they had the right audience right there on their site. They were looking for the services that Nova Credit provided, and they just didn't know how to move forward.”



The solution

This was a game-changing discovery for Nova.

Once they understood that their target audience wasn’t getting the message, they knew it was time for that message to change.

The result was that Nova redesigned their entire marketing site.

The original Nova website was focused on the big-picture mission of the company. But that broad messaging wasn’t translating effectively for customer conversions.

The new version made the service messaging very specific.

It also included new country-specific pages that targeted immigrants from specific places. 

“They saw really amazing results. They saw a 47% increase in homepage conversion that was sustained over time. So this was a really big change for them,” Allison said.

“And it all came through these insights from the surveys that we were able to launch in context with real visitors and quickly iterate them.” 

The best part?

Those four surveys were launched over a period of no more than two weeks. With survey findings in hand, Nova was able to quickly pivot and launch a new website in a short amount of time. 



Tips for gathering user insights

If you are interested in leveraging a similar approach to understand your website visitors, Allison provided several questions to think about as you get started.

1. Are you obtaining qualitative insights in context? 

Surveys and other research-gathering methods are valuable. There is no doubt that every company should conduct research at various stages of the user journey.

But it's important to be able to take it one step further than analytics. You want to get to the actual users who are on your site, evaluating your product in real-time.

According to Allison, the real-time variable is an important one. If you skip it, you may miss out on critical insights. 

2. Are you considering the customer journey? 

Many companies make assumptions about their customers. While some of those assumptions are spot-on, some are wrong.

When exploring your customers’ experience, you want to keep an open mind so you don’t miss any new findings.

“If you really just focus on that conversion event alone, you may be missing a bigger picture about, you know, do they even understand what your company does for example,” said Allison.

“So just thinking about where they might be in the journey and where they are, where they're coming from, the various reasons they might be on your site after all.”  

3. Are you capturing data continuously? 

Nova Credit chose to run surveys because they had a very specific question they wanted to answer. But smart companies are running micro-surveys nearly all the time.

Surveys allow you to constantly gain new insights and iterate your business for the better.

“The ability to kind of run these surveys and iterate quickly is really valuable,” Allison said.

“If you find something interesting from the first survey or maybe the first one doesn't work out, you can quickly spin up a new survey and kind of dig deeper until you get to that aha moment that really gives you the insight you need to make a bigger change that's gonna move forward on conversion.”  

There’s no doubt that surveys can prove incredibly valuable.

When done well, they can even mean the difference between success and failure.

In-product surveys offer a very high response rate compared to email.

And the more invested your customers are in your product, the more likely they are to fill out a survey for you when asked. 

It’s all about capturing users in the right place, at the right time. 

Watch Allison's Wynter Games presentation here!

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