Q&A with Olivia (Ross) Taylor, Director of CRO at Directive Consulting

Olivia Taylor, Director of CRO at Directive Consulting has 10 years of working experience in graphic designing and has expert knowledge in CRO/UX in landing pages and websites designing.

Olivia was recently nominated for the Orange County Business Journal's Top 25 Women in Business Awards.

MEDIA 7: What’s your superpower?
OLIVIA TAYLOR: I would like to think my superpower is empathy. That’s part of what CRO is: figuring out and understanding what’s going on through people’s minds and finding out what people need and want.

M7: Does it point to user intent, a term generally used in Account Based Marketing?
OT: 
Yes, exactly that. Because I’m able to basically understand where the consumer and the buyer is coming from, I can better optimize my clients’ websites, change that language in the headline and the subhead to relate to the customers’ pain points and better describe the benefits of what my client can provide to them.

M7: Your career spans an impressive 8 years from a Graphic Designer to being a Director of CRO at Directive Consulting. What attracted you to this industry, and how does Directive Consulting fit into your story?
OT:
I became a designer because all other subjects in school were boring. 2+2 will always be 4, but with design, there are so many possibilities - so many different solutions to a problem. Plus, I always loved drawing and creating.
While going to school, I worked as a designer at a few different places. Then upon graduating, I worked at a tech company in-house but it just wasn’t for me. I moved on to an agency that was full-service, but that also was not the right fit. After that job, I ended up at a PPC agency where I learned about CRO. I started there as just a designer and left there as the Director of CRO.

Using the skills I learned there, I was able to join the upstanding company that is Directive where I’m learning so much more, and doing so many more awesome things than I did at any other job and it has been amazing. It’s so wonderful to work at a place that is professional and that takes the work so seriously, only striving to be the best at being different. 


"The best way we can convince the customers is that we need to address what our client does, that no other competitor can do."

M7: Could you tell us about your best practices for creating an ideal customer experience?
OT: 
A functioning website that loads quickly
Easy navigation and user experience
Clear offerings and clear unique value propositions (what is it that you do that no competitor does?)
Great social proof (testimonials and case studies from current clients, awards, etc)

Great customer service: prompt support, regular email check-ins to see how your customer is doing, offer deals and promotions - all of these things keep a customer coming back for more.

M7: While creating a unique value proposition, how do you drive in the utility? In other words, how do you convince the customer about the uniqueness of your service?
OT: 
We definitely have to utilize this through the headline and anywhere in the hero section of the landing page or the homepage because that’s where people are landing first and you need to be able to grab their attention in the first five seconds. So, the best way we can convince the customers, is that we need to address what our client does, that no other competitor can do.

If you can say we’re the only platform that does x, y, and z, that is a great unique selling point. Another thing to consider is backing up your clients with data. If you are offering some sort of platform that will save me time on the implementation of a process, then tell me how much time I’m going to save. If you say, “Cut down your execution time by 90% with our platform” that’s a unique value proposition. That shows the benefit to the user there, and that will entice users to click through and complete the form. So, gaining conversions is usually based around giving real data that explains exactly what value the visitors are going to see or how much money is going to be made or saved, and how much time is going to be saved to solve a problem with this solution. The other side of the coin is “we are the only ones that do x y z” and that will basically set a business apart from their competitors.

M7: How does collaboration and communication come into play in your role?
OT: 
It’s the entire job. I oversee a design team and I need to make sure my team is not only communicating with me but communicating with other departments. PPC, SEO, and CRO must all work together to get the job done and we’re stronger together than apart. I have daily follow-ups on different accounts, weekly meetings, client sync ups - whatever it takes to make sure that I and the rest of the team have complete transparency into what is happening with these accounts so that we can assist in whatever way we can. We want our specialists and account managers to own their strategy, but the directors are responsible for approving the strategy and improving it if needed.


"As designers, we need to remember that form follows function, so we must be sure that this information is easily accessible, that the message is clear."

M7: What are the biggest mistakes you see businesses making when attempting to optimize their site to increase conversions?
OT:
These companies spend tens of thousands of dollars on a rebrand which will be done by a branding agency that has no knowledge of designing a site for increased conversions. Too many times we’ve had clients come in that just had a rebrand done and their conversions plummeted. So we will go in and audit the site to find out what is causing the problem. Too often, design takes over function but we must always remember that form follows function. As an example, the white space in the new site may be beautiful, but none of your visitors can even see what you’re offering until they get halfway down the page. Things like this are the biggest issues we see.

Also, with too many changes implemented at once, it makes it harder to pinpoint what caused the drop in conversions. It’s often times all of the things combined together that caused the problem. If a company is going to focus on increasing conversions, the changes need to be based on data and not on whims or best practices. Data doesn’t lie.

M7: What is the most challenging part of doing a conversion optimization project? What type of resource commitment do you require from your team?
OT:
The most challenging part is that the results cannot be guaranteed. Our tests are based on data but they’re just that: a test, a hypothesis. Nothing is written in stone. 9 out of 10 times I will be right in my hypothesis, but there will always be a test that fails. We still celebrate the failure because we still learn from it. We can find out why the test didn’t work and use it to narrow down on what will work.

As far as resources are concerned, we want to make sure that we’re testing at least a few things each week per client. We use Hotjar for qualitative research as well as Google Optimize for on-page testing, and Instapage/Unbounce for landing page testing. Reporting is a big part of our deliverable so a good amount of our time is spent gathering the data and providing insights to the client.

M7: According to you, what prompts a visitor to scroll down to the bottom of a webpage?
OT: 
Usually you would have to have a message that entices them in the hero section of the landing page. Just like we discussed about the UVPs, we need to show the customer right when they land on the page, that this is the solution for your problem. That will entice them to scroll down. You can sometimes kind of coax people to scroll down: I like to use false CTAs to get more information and if they click that CTA, it will scroll down to the benefit section on the page and that will get people to start scrolling. And from that benefit section you could have a CTA linking to the case studies on the landing page and get them to scroll down even further on the page.

The main issue is people think of redesigning their page to look better and they see horrible conversions because it may be beautiful but it’s not functional. The messaging is vague and does not relate to what it is they do as a company that’s better than anybody else. They don’t adjust the benefits, and they’re too stuck on this flowery and technical language that a lot of SaaS companies like to use. So, the biggest thing is being very upfront with what you do in layman’s terms, making it as clear as possible to the lowest common denominator, so that you have a potentially larger pool of leads versus only having that technical jargon that only a few may understand. This usually relates a lot to B2B and SaaS clients. They get really hung up on their own language that’s very technical but the common man that needs their service doesn’t understand that...just tell them what the benefit is.

So, to summarize that long rant: basically, make sure that the messaging is clear about the benefits right away, then use CTAs on your page to entice people to keep scrolling so they continue to learn more. Keep people engaged and reading, section by section.


"Gaining conversions is based around giving real data that explains what value the visitors are going to see or how much money is going to be made or saved, and how much time is going to be saved."

M7: In a world where anyone can start a web-based business, generating trust is more important than ever before. Considering this, what impact does design have on revenue?
OT: 
It has a huge impact. If you land on a site that is poorly designed - it’s ugly, it’s confusing, you have no idea what they sell - do you think you would stay on that site for long? No, you’d go to a site that has a clear hero image showing the product and how it works, and a headline that explains what sets it apart from any other competitor product. The way information is presented is just as important as what information is being said.




One-size-doesn’t-fit-all and I’ve seen pages that - funny enough - looked horrible but converted better than the redesign we did, just because the form was more readily available. All the information was above the fold and it looked really scrunched. However, the customers got whatever they needed right away and that was what was important. So even when you’re seeing this image of bad vs good, we could argue that maybe the option on the right still won’t convert because it’s not quite explaining any unique value composition. It has a lot of beautiful imagery but it’s not getting to the point. Although these full-width websites with huge images is the trend, I think it needs to be taken with a grain of salt and used sparingly; and it needs to be dialed back a bit when it comes to conversions. You have these big beautiful images and people have to scroll very far just to get down to the first paragraph which is not good for conversions even though it’s trendy. As designers, we need to remember that form follows function, so we must be sure that this information is easily accessible, that the message is clear and if it is, then great! The beauty comes after that, but messaging has to be clear, concise, and easily understood.

M7: Directive Consulting ranks #1 on Google for “SEO Agency”. What SEO strategies and tools does the company leverage to channelize its sales campaigns?
OT: 
On page SEO and targeted guest posting with keyword driven anchor text. Then we continually write content around SEO and internally link back to our core SEO page.

M7: As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
OT:
I wanted to be a speleologist (a cave scientist) for years. I was obsessed with caves, stalactites, and stalagmites. I’ve always been interested in maths and sciences, but there are dangers tied to being a cave scientist so I gave up on that. I still sometimes wonder what would have been if I had gone into the sciences instead of design. Maybe I’ll try it out in a few years!

M7: That sounds interesting! Have you visited caves in your earlier days?
OT: Yes, I did visit just a few caves, nothing big like the Man of the cave or Carlsbad cavern but as a child I was very interested in science – Biology, Zoology, Geology just the world around me and caves are interesting because they��re the dark places that not many people go to. I love history, I love biology so I think caves are kind of that interesting combination of both cause they’re ancient and they have these creatures that are so bizarre you know, like these blind salamanders which is like a different world there. I got very fixated on that for a few years as a child, reading all the books I could about it. I had my mind set, this is what I was going to do and I didn’t take into account the dangers of being a cave scientist. You’ll have to get into tight little spaces and there could be cavemen, you could get lost and stuck. Me being a homebody and kind of a bookworm, I decided, you know, maybe this is not the path for me, but I was also an artistic child. I was drawing all the time and that’s how I ended up in design school instead. So a very different path, but I still love science and history so I might dabble in it later in my life but for now it’s been design.

ABOUT DIRECTIVE CONSULTING

Directive does beautiful search marketing for B2B and enterprise companies that share our values. We redefine the global standard for how marketers work, live, and grow. We are a group of SEO, PPC, and content experts who are passionate about working with the best B2B brands in the world. When we are not executing ROI driven campaigns, you can find us drinking cold brew, volunteering in our community, or playing an intense game of ping-pong.

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VNET Inks Strategic Partnership with Shandong Hi-Speed Holdings Group Limited

VNET Group, Inc | January 01, 2024

VNET Group, Inc. a leading carrier- and cloud-neutral internet data center services provider in China, announced that it has entered into a strategic cooperation agreement (the "Agreement") with Shandong Hi-Speed Holdings Group Limited ("SDHG," 00412.HK), an important overseas investment and financing as well as emerging industrial holding platform of Shandong Hi-Speed Group. Pursuant to the Agreement, SDHG and VNET will leverage their respective resources and strengths to develop renewable energy projects in northern China. This partnership aims to jointly build low-carbon, secure and highly-efficient renewable energy system, aligning with the national strategy "East Data, West Computing." Furthermore, both parties will join hands to build innovative computing power network infrastructures encompassing data center, cloud computing and big data to promote the low-carbon and high-quality development of IDC services. "We're confident of the synergy that SDHG and VNET are going to create through the partnership," said Mr. Josh Sheng Chen, Founder and Executive Chairman of VNET. "As VNET continues to execute its growth strategy and capitalize on the booming digital economy, the partnership with SDHG will help us to gain a wealth of resources in the infrastructure and renewable energy space. We look forward to collaborating with SDHG in a variety of green energy initiatives to advance toward our carbon neutrality targets and meet surging demand for supercomputing and digital transformation across a broader swath of society." Jianbiao Zhu, Executive Director of SDHG, commented, "We are excited to explore more synergies with VNET to capture the evolving demand driven by AI, leveraging our strength in traditional infrastructure and VNET's capability in new infrastructure backed with its high-power density deployments. As VNET's largest strategic investor, SDHG is pleased to work with Josh and the management team, and leverage its domestic and overseas resources to support the ongoing expansion of VNET's core IDC business to scale up business for a sustainable growth." About VNET VNET Group, Inc. is a leading carrier- and cloud-neutral internet data center services provider in China. VNET provides hosting and related services, including IDC services, cloud services, and business VPN services to improve the reliability, security, and speed of its customers' internet infrastructure. Customers may locate their servers and equipment in VNET's data centers and connect to China's internet backbone. VNET operates in more than 30 cities throughout China, servicing a diversified and loyal base of over 7,000 hosting and related enterprise customers that span numerous industries ranging from internet companies to government entities and blue-chip enterprises to small- to mid-sized enterprises. About Shandong Hi-Speed Holdings Group Limited As a company listed in HKEX, Shandong Hi-Speed Holdings Group Limited ("SDHG") is an important overseas investment and financing as well as emerging industrial holding platform of Shandong Hi-Speed Group. Adhering to the concept of "conduct compliance prudentially, develop steadily and healthily" and leveraging on the unique advantages of Hong Kong international financial center in terms of market, financing, and talents, SDHG is committed to becoming an excellent industrial investment group with a foothold in Hong Kong, an international perspective and connection between domestic and overseas markets for achieving effective integration of resources.

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