Skip to main content

How to Fulfill Customers’ Needs with CRO with Raphael Paulin-Daigle

How to Fulfill Customers’ Needs with CRO with Raphael Paulin-Daigle

Want to optimize your conversion rates? First, you have to know what’s attracting your customers to your brand. 

Raphael Paulin-Daigle is the founder and CEO of SplitBase, a CRO agency that works with major D to C and ecommerce brands to improve conversion rates, revenue, and customer experiences. 

Raphael has walked many companies through the process of optimizing their conversion rates. The key is finding out what your customers truly need—whether they know it or not. 

In this episode, Raphael explains the difference between A/B testing and CRO, why you shouldn’t always focus on conversion, and how to determine your customers’ subconscious needs.

Show Topics

  • Go beyond A/B testing
  • Discover customers’ subconscious needs
  • Find out what’s actually important to customers
  • Don’t get hung up on conversion rates
  • Create a better life experience
  • Ask about your customers
  • Value qualitative research
  • Educate others about CRO
  • Cater to short attention spans
  • Understand your customer before you write

Show Links 

Listen to the Podcast:

Watch a video clip:

Key Takeaways:

08:44 – Go beyond A/B testing

A lot of people think A/B testing and CRO are the same. While A/B testing is part of CRO, CRO goes far beyond what A/B testing accomplishes.

“I fight this every single day with potential clients who are like, ‘Hey, we’re A/B testing. We’re doing CRO.’ And I’m like, ‘No, you’re not doing shit. You installed the testing tool. You are testing whatever Neil Patel tells you to test on his blog. You call that conversion optimization and now you’re telling me that’s not working for you? No surprise.’ For me, A/B testing is a tool that we use as part of conversion optimization, but it does not stop there. To me, conversion optimization is about how can we make an experience more aligned with the customer, which in return will likely lead to positive outcomes like conversion rate increases or whatever goal you’re trying to get. More money at the end of the day, it’s everyone’s goals. But it’s, I hate this word because it really comes from the fortune 500 clients that we work with and I feel like it’s such a buzzword, but customer centricity. Ultimately, that’s what conversion optimization is about. How do we deliver better experiences that lead to more favorable outcomes for both the brain and the customer and everybody wins at the end of the day?”

11:55 – Discover customers’ subconscious needs

Sometimes customers don’t realize what they need, so it’s your job to discover and anticipate customers’ needs even if they don’t realize it.

“You survey them, and very often you’ll notice that you’ve seen that people visually struggled with maybe a step during checkout, but then they’ll tell you in the feedback that, ‘No, everything was great.’ So something happened, they struggled, they didn’t even realize that they struggled. Maybe just because they’re used to shitty web experiences, I don’t know. But then they told you the opposite of what actually happened. The reason I’m talking about this is because the customer doesn’t always know how they’re going to act and what they need in order to act and what they actually want. And I think it is our job as marketers to understand not only the conscious needs and wants of the customer, but also those subconscious needs. Now, there is a line between what the customer says they need and what they actually need. I think where the line needs to get drawn is when we fall into dark patterns. Deception, anything like that obviously it’s a big no-no. Tricks, fine prints, obviously that is not just going for the business goals. That is pure deception. It’s going to bite you in the ass either legally or on a customer service perspective or just public opinion perspective.”

16:02 – Find out what’s actually important to customers

Customers will say certain aspects of a business are what keep them coming back. Look at those things, then test it and see if those things are actually important to the audience.

“Let’s look at what people are saying is important to them, and then let’s test it and let’s see. Is it actually important to them? Actually, a good example is charity-driven brands. There are so many direct-to-consumer charity-driven brands that are popping up. And I know one of the big questions that’s been popping up in a lot of the CEO’s mind over the last couple of years is how important is it to the customers? They’re telling us that it’s very important to them. And they’re buying from us because of the charitable aspect. But if they were to find a better price at a competitor that doesn’t have that charitable aspect, would they still buy from us? Would they pay premium just because of our charitable aspect versus the competitor? There’s no clear cut answer to any of the brands. It all depends on the actual charitable aspect to it, how much you advertise it, how much it’s part of your UVP. And also who’s your customer base? Are they a price sensitive customer? Are they not? But that is a great example of customers are saying it’s important, but are they just saying that because it makes them feel good to say that they’re buying from you for a charitable aspect? And is that actually impacting their purchasing behaviors?”

18:19 – Don’t get hung up on conversion rates

The core values of your business don’t always have to be monetized. If you feel that giving to certain charities is important for your company, do it even if it doesn’t increase conversion rates.

“Not everything is supposed to make the customers buy more. That is the ultimate capitalistic point of view that I think led to what sometimes people see as bad capitalism, because it’s taking advantage of everything and it’s trying just to do everything for money reasons, and it’s degrading this aspect of it. Not everything needs to make more money. If you’re building a brand and you’re only doing it because that might help conversions, and you want to do a charitable aspect thing just so it can help conversions, I think that’s a bad reason to do a charitable aspect thing to your brand. Do it because you care, because it’s a charity you want to help, you want to make an impact. It gives more meaning to making money, I think. If it can help me boost conversions, great. But we’ve seen with some brands that it was important and customers appreciated that, but did it really make a meaningful difference in terms of increasing revenue if we advertised it more? Not really.”

21:11 – Create a better life experience

If your customers are frustrated with your website or can’t find the answers they need, they’ll go elsewhere. So, make your customers’ experience on your site as smooth as possible.

“The aim of your CRO program, like I said, is just to create a better experience, a less frustrating internet in a way. Everyone is better off of it. If I go to a website and I can’t get the answers to my questions about a certain product, I’m frustrated. I have to do comparison shopping. It’s complicated. It’s taking me so much longer than I would want. And then the brand is losing because they might not get me as a customer because my questions are unanswered. But if you approach CRO like, ‘Hey, let’s solve customers’ problems. Let’s make things painless for everyone.’ By doing that, we’re going to be able to increase whatever business metrics. Great. To me, that’s CRO. That’s not just there to gain the business, but it’s serving both. It’s serving the customer, it’s serving the brand as well, and I’d like to think it helps make the internet a better place.”

24:52 – Ask about your customers

Sometimes, customers don’t know why they choose to purchase from a certain brand. It’s your job to find out the subconscious reasons customers are drawn to you so you can replicate them.

“I think that journey of why you buy from this brand instead of the other one, there’s going to be all the logical reasons: price, sizing, shipping cost. But then there is going to be those subconscious ones that are really hard to put a finger on because people don’t even know why they’re attracted to one brand more than the other. It’s really an emotional reason. I think with CRO, we can get closer to that and we can facilitate that. So, say if we do voice of customer research and we get to understand the words customers are using, how they’re talking, what’s going on in their lives. That’s why I love asking the question on customer surveys, ‘What can you tell us about yourself?’ Instead of asking any type of demographic question, and it’s qualitative. And then you have to do the manual analysis and everything, but people tend to say things you never would’ve guessed about them. And just by knowing a bit more about their life situation, who they are, how they talk, you can get closer maybe to that emotional aspect, especially at least in your copy and in your visuals.”

36:16 – Value qualitative research

Qualitative research provides a lot of useful data. Make sure your customers understand the value qualitative research has to offer.

“Most clients that come to us understand the value of research, of qualitative research, of talking to your customers. So they’re already sold on that when they come to us most of the time. So that is not a hard sell. And generally if they’re a bit hesitant, when they start seeing the insights we’ve been able to get from this qualitative research, then obviously they’re changing their minds because they’re like, ‘Damn, that is so impressive. That’s so useful.’ Just yesterday I got a message from one of our optimization managers who said, ‘One of our clients took that survey research and already sent that feedback to their product team, to their social media team. They’ve passed it on to leadership to see how they could make changes in the organization that better reflected the customer personas. They started looking at how they could use and test different imagery in their ads.’ That’s all unrelated to what we actually do, but that qualitative research informed all those things. I always sell it as it’s qualitative research, but the benefit is beyond CRO and what we’re going to do. If you’re really smart, you’re going to use that across your company.”

39:54 – Educate others about CRO

A lot of people don’t understand what CRO is or how it’s useful, so you have to show them why CRO is a great tool to use.

“I still think one of the biggest challenges with the CRO space as a whole is still around education. For so many years it’s been marketed as, ‘You run an A/B test and then you run this thing that this random blogger online says that’s going to help you increase conversions. And then it’s as simple as you set it up in a testing tool, drag and drop, you launch a test, and you get results.’ When it should really be seen as content marketing or SEO. It is a longer-term strategy. You build off your insights. You iterate. It is a bit like science, and yet so many people still see CRO as something that needs to be a very clear, defined deliverable like a piece of paper. It’s like a test. But the thing is the value of a program doesn’t come in the number of tests you get. There are some clear things about an optimization program that you can put a number on, but there’s also a lot of things that you just really need to get it, to understand how that brings value to the business.”

44:37 – Cater to short attention spans

Social media is shortening our attention spans, which means people are far less likely to read a long blog post.

“I feel you. I’m glad you’re saying that, because I realize back in the days we had those, and I guess they still exist, but really, really long, you wrote a bunch. I wrote a bunch those skyscraper, ridiculous guides on everything that were so in depth on everything. And today I feel like the era of that content is maybe a bit gone. Maybe now it’s shorter, even the stuff we write on The blog posts are much shorter than before. They’re still very actionable, but people don’t have as much attention span, and maybe I’m generalizing here, but I’m like you, I feel like I have a hard time going through an entire massive blog post, unless it’s a book, compared to before where I would actually sit down and read entire things. And now I expect things to be actionable and be brought up faster, and it’s not good.”

58:26 – Understand your customer before you write

You can’t just create content to get customers. You have to understand your customers first, then create content geared toward them.

“Before you start writing anything for your customer, try to understand your customer. I still think to this day, content marketing is a bit like CRO in the sense that a lot of people think, ‘Oh, if I create content, I will get customers.’ It’s not how it works. Your content must speak to people. Solve an actual problem, need, or question that customers are having. And it needs to be relatable to your target customer. And if you don’t understand who you’re writing for, it’s never going to be relevant. It’s never going to attract customers. It’s not going to get people to stick around, and nobody’s going to care. So your piece of content will just be one more page on the internet that’s going to do nothing for your business. So, yeah, customer research, as much as it’s important for CRO, it’s as important for content marketing and pretty much everything all around.”

Get the Field Notes

Weekly learnings from working on B2B content & SEO for dozens of companies.

Alex Birkett

Alex is a co-founder of Omniscient Digital. He loves experimentation, building things, and adventurous sports (scuba diving, skiing, and jiu jitsu primarily). He lives in Austin, Texas with his dog Biscuit.