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How to improve website pages’ conversion rate by understanding your customers’ buying journey

We have worked on conversion rate optimisation for many companies and business owners for over 10 years now, and the number one mistake they almost all seem to make is to obsess over the web page that’s in front of them – particularly the layout.

Page Layout wireframe

Being concerned about the web page design alone means you are looking at conversion through the wrong end of the telescope.

There’s much more to the web page design than simply the page layout or structure. In order to look at the web page design accurately, you need to understand the intricacies of the decision making and buying journey.

What is really going on in the head of the user is a dialogue, a sales conversation – just like it would in-store.  

Given that the majority of decisions are determined by emotions rather than logic, what Daniel Kahneman called System I and System II thinking, we have to get to grips with this internal emotion and make the dialogue on the website work.

Modern Electronic Devices with Blank Screens. Isolated on White.

The webpage, whether that’s on a mobile or desktop, is just really where this dialogue gets played out.

It’s important to understand what happens in the minds of the customers. You can do this by finding out the answers to the following questions:


  • What is important to them?
  • What are their motivations?
  • What makes them buy?
  • What makes them buy from us and not from the others?
  • How does that decision unfold?
  • How can we shape that decision?
  • How can we influence that?

Having understood their answers, you are in a much better position to influence the sales conversation that is going on inside their head.


What are the things that we should be saying, and at which points in the journey?

This is where copy could come in.

Obsessing over the page layout often means you are neglecting the power of well-written copy. Too many times we have heard people launching or re-designing their website say ‘oh we just need a bit of copy’.

That’s like talking about building a car and saying ‘yeah, we need a bit of engine here’!

You cannot write copy, and certainly not design a web page, unless you know:

  • Who you’re writing it for
  • How that person thinks
  • What that person needs

We’re a big fan of David Ogilvy, his copy and his approach to copywriting. His view is that:

David Ogilvy Circle Pic


‘‘Copy should be as long or as short as it needs to be

to do the job it was intended to do”


So don’t obsess over design or page layout, certainly not before you really understand your users, and don’t overlook the power of well-written copy. It’s not just a replacement to lorem ipsum.


Interested in reading more?

This is mistake number one in a series of 7 blogs, outlining the mistakes that almost everyone makes in conversion optimisation. Keep an eye out for the remaining 6 mistakes over the next few months.

Understanding your customers buying journey is vital, and alongside a focus on three power metrics, you could double your CRO success. Read our ebook below to find out how.

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