Make Optimizations, not War. Imperial War Museum’s journey through CRO

Who are IWM?

Imperial War Museum (IWM) is a family of five museums: IWM London; IWM North in Manchester; IWM Duxford near Cambridge; the Churchill War Rooms in Whitehall, London; and the historic ship HMS Belfast, moored in the Pool of London on the River Thames. They are partially government-funded but need sponsorship and donations to sustain their ambitious programs.

With almost half a million people visiting the IWM website each month, analysing all of the data left behind can be an interesting challenge.

Instructing the charge

Optimizing their website to allow for a fluid on-site customer journey was the core focus for IWM. By improving user experience through a data-driven agenda and applying best practice techniques, IWM aimed to increase traffic to their three key UK museums’ ticketing pages with a vision that this would positively impact conversions.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is an ongoing process, a long term project to evolve websites; IWM’s digital team recognized this and asked Periscopix to work alongside IWM’s team hand-in-hand through the trenches using an agile project methodology. This method also easily enables ongoing improvements and optimization implementations for IWM.

The plan of attack

Prior to any changes being implemented, Periscopix aided IWM to refresh their Google Analytics (GA) implementation. A solid data set in their analytics platform was required, so key elements, such as conversion tracking, were added.

Previous web updates had been opinion led; how IWM stakeholders felt about their web experience and personal suggestions. Periscopix’s first step was to change IWM’s internal process for web change, raising awareness using qualitative and quantitative data to inform decisions and changes most likely to yield success. Helping justify the change in process was the use of A/B testing – comparing the success of a data-driven change to the original version, a direct comparison of performance.

In preparation for the analysis of surveys, we split the audience into three target groups to better understand their requirements on-site. Firstly, there’s the History Lovers; these visitors are predominantly UK or US-based males over 45 years old, who already have an affiliation with the brand and visit the site to search for specialized information such as exhibitions and archive collection information. Schools also represent a large proportion of IWM’s audience; both students and teachers visiting the site who are tech savvy visit museums as a group and use the website to search for history content related to projects. Tourists account for the remaining target group; international visitors who are unfamiliar with the website therefore rely on the search functionality to research key information such as tickets, opening hours and directions.

Going to battle

As data was the most important ‘decision maker’ our first priority was to gather as much information as possible. Once all data had been collated, we got creative in a technical way. We started running a series of tests to spot insights and trends. Some of our more insightful tests were:

  • Site search keyword analysis – what were users searching for, and what were they unable to find?
  • Traffic sources analysis – highlighting where users were coming from, to determine their mindset on entering the site.
  • Navigation analysis – which user journeys were already the most successful through the site, compared with the least successful, and recognizing what was going wrong with the latter.
  • Page analysis – were users interacting differently across various pages? Through heat mapping, link clicks and scroll mapping we could enhance our customer engagement research.
  • Product specific analysis – recognizing each products’ unique selling points and surfacing any cross product interests

Furthermore, we ran multiple surveys isolating the pre-agreed IWM website personas (e.g. Prospective Visitors, those searching the IWM historical archives), allowing us to identify problem areas for each group and make changes based on the size and importance of each.

To supplement Periscopix’s analysis, IWM’s digital team ran user testing experiments. This data was shared with us, which we combined with the data we’d harvested, creating a full image of a true user experience. Combining all these analyses as a solid base, we recommended multiple data-driven optimizations for the IWM website, from CTA changes, to page reformats and copy changes.

Results

Based on the sets of analyses we ran, the IWM digital team were able to create a strong case for major website changes, many of which have now been implemented. This has led to:

• 25% increase in visibility of three paid-for branches ticket pages

• 44% increase in users going from tickets page to booking page

Focusing on the key goal of improving the customer journey, dramatic improvements have been implemented on site too. On the IWM HMS Belfast page alone, you can see what the changes look like

Here’s what the IWM site used to look like:

Our analyses highlighted that users were having to visit multiple pages to gather basic visit information such as location, opening times and ticket information. There was also a lack of a clear conversion CTA to purchase tickets.

So here’s their newly optimized page:

As well as less distraction and menus on the page, the desired information is now as clear as possible – admission details are clear and the address and opening times and easy to read, along with an orange Book Tickets CTA.

Client Quote

"We couldn't be happier with the service provided by the Periscopix team. They are friendly and highly experienced. Periscopix have become an integral part of our development process, helping us drive forward product development and user centered design with evidence. They have assisted us with implementation, training, analysis and reporting."

- Catriona Deery, Product Manager, IWM

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