Top 25 Tools

In your face HIPPO

In your face HIPPO!

Here are the current World’s Top 25 best CRO tools!  I encourage you to challenge this list and recommend more. Please join me in the crusade to Shoot the HIPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) by sharing this blog and following me on twitter:


This article aims to give you the confidence to help those around you make decisions based on information: not opinion. You can do it!

Thanks to Avinash Kaushik, Tim Ash, Donald A Norman, Shane Cassells and Paco Underhill. Genii.

Please share if you think others would benefit

25 Killer CRO and UX Tools that will help you Shoot the HIPPO

‘HIPPO’ stands for: Highest Paid Person’s Opinion.   Become a HIPPO hunter: take the HIPPO-Critic Oath

1)      Ask Bowden’s Lucky 13 Business Questions


Shoot The Hippo - The Game

Shoot The Hippo - The HIPPO deserves it - Play The Game

This is an introductory 30 min conversation with the client with a number of aims: 1) to introduce the client to you and allow them to be confident that you know what you’re doing 2) to learn more about the clients business 3) so that the client begins to really think about the role of their website. Keep it brief and listen!!!!


Ask Client ‘How is Business?’ After all we do want to build some rapport before we tell them they suck! Then listen, take notes and ask the following questions throughout your conversation with them:


    • Business Goals – (overall targets for 12, 24, 36 months – top target e.g. “£2 million revenue in 12 months”
    • Website Goals – How does your site help you achieve your business goals? (How website helps generate revenue – e.g. Online sales, enquiry forms, brochures etc)
    • Business Background – Brief history of their business.
    • Money – Calculate an approximate revenue to profit model – Cost Per Acquisition/ margins etc.
    • Product/ Services – Brief Explanation of Products and Services including Unique Selling Points
    • Competitors – ask for an idea of competition
    • Market Profile – who this is. Keep this brief. With view to a follow up.
    • Roles and Responsibilities – who do we report to? Who else is involved? Development teams, PR agencies etc.
    • Access codes – state the need for FTP, PPC, Reporting access codes
    • Keywords – ask client for suggestions
    • Marketing activities – what the client does and how these perform
    • Tracking – Ask how they currently track performance of the site.
    • Existing Documentation – ask if the client has and can share market research/ business plan etc. Remind them that you will sign non-disclosure and use it as an opportunity to remind them that you will need your hands on everything you can and that they must value the information they have.


Outcome: Send client a welcome email thanking them for their time. 1) State all of the above information for their approval 2) Invite them to contribute to this document at any time during their relationship with you.


2)      Complete The Avinash Kaushik Digital Marketing and Measurement Framework


Kaushik Measurement Framework

Avinash Kaushik Digital Marketing and Measurement Framework

This is stellar. It is also a little time consuming. But, get it right and you will never go wrong. Use it.


Outcome: A clear direction



3)      Use The Simple Spread Sheet Channel Against Revenue Year on Year

Seriously this is so simple! Chart revenue against channel monthly.The more refined you are with the channels the more effective this will be. At the very least use the following

The Simple Spreadsheet

Measure multiple channels using the simple spreadsheet

  • Direct
  • Google Organic Non-Brand
  • Google Organic Brand
  • Google Paid Non-Brand
  • Google Paid Brand
  • Bing Organic Non-Brand
  • Bing Organic Brand
  • Bing Paid Non-Brand
  • Bing Paid Brand
  • Yahoo! Organic Non-Brand
  • Yahoo! Organic Brand
  • Yahoo! Paid Non-Brand
  • Yahoo! Paid Brand
  • Facebook Paid
  • Facebook Non-Paid
  • Twitter
  • Email
  •  Print


Outcome: A simple actionable report that everyone with half a brain cell can follow this. Line goes up= good. Line goes down= bad


4)      Google Analytics: Goals/ eCommerce.


Google Analytics

Use Google Analytics - it's awesome

If Google Analytics is not on your site now then STOP READING AND GO SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FACE. If you don’t have Goals and eCommerce tracking set up then walk out of the office you are in, shut the door and never return.

Outcome: A wealth of wonderful information about your site guarenteed to make you rich


5)      URL Builder

Google Analytics URL Builder

Google Analytics URL Builder


Use it. Google URL Builder.

Track every link that you ever put out there.


Outcome: Consolidate and measure your current marketing efforts with a view of measuring their success.  



6)      Phone tracking

Ad Insight - Call Tracking

There are others but Ad Insight are good.

‘Yeah, but it costs money’ or ‘I can’t ask the IT team to add this’ or ‘really I’m just too lazy to move my mouse so something that involves a few phone calls is a bit out of my remit’. If you get any of these responses… go for their eyes.

Why are you so anal about other bullshit stats if you’re not even paying attention to how many people call you?

Adinsight call tracking make it reasonably straightforward to integrate the results with Google Analytics.

Outcome: A clearer picture of your true site conversion rate.  


7)      Annotations

Google Analytics Annotations

Google Analytics Annotations make life easy. Use them!

This is the simplest thing that you can ever do.

Mark useful events or developments that could have an impact on your business as an annotation in Google Analytics. Be liberal. Include

External factors – it was a sunny day, the royal wedding, etc etc


Internal factors – new site went live, new site crashed, developer resigned

so that you can monitor the impact these factors have on your business and you don’t have to remember when they happened.

Outcome: Insight! Wonderful insight on the impact of your work and external factors that influence your business.


8)      Advanced Segments

-          Segment Brand Keywords and Non-brand keywords. You NEED to know the difference

-          Segment the big fish people that spend over  50% more than your average order value

How to set up Google Analytics Advanced Segments

Outcome: You’re starting to analyse and really find areas to improve!  


9)      Site search tracking

Google Site Search Tracking

Google Site Search Tracking - packed full of juicy information


People tell you what they want to find on your site.

Listen to them and give them what they are looking for!

Make sure your site search works properly. Ignore any reservations about development time and cost.

A decent site search is important!

How to set up Google Analytics Site Search Tracking.



10)   Event tracking

Event Tracking

Event Tracking


Track all of those things you should know more about. How many people clicked on your video? Did people engage in a mouse-over feature? How are people using AJAX Elements? etc etc

Analytics Engine

Analytics Engine

It used to be a pain in the arse that required bothering our friends in IT but thankfully this is the case no more! It’s made easy by Analytics Engine or Satellite Search Discovery. Check these out. They are awesome.

I really like the Analytics Engine WYSIWIG editor (means I can click on the element of the page I want to track and click track)

Google Analytics Event Tracking Guide


11)   Measure copy and paste


Tynt - Measure Copy and Paste activity

Are people engaging in your site enough to copy and paste some of your lovely copy?

Find out with Tynt- measure copy and paste. Add a single piece of code and it’s done. When someone copies and pastes from your site a link will be appended that references your site as the source. Great stuff.

Outcome: A different metric for measuring how engaged people are with your copy.  


12)   Kiss Insights

This is the best tool of the lot! Kiss Insights – Free Online Customer Feedback

Kiss Insights Logo

Kiss Insights Logo

Fast, Free feedback that is completely non-committal for respondents and quickly gives you great qualitative feedback from your clients. They will tell you what is wrong with your site. In the free version use ‘the What further information would you like to see on this page’ question. It’s a great capture all question that encourages open input.


Kiss Insights

Kiss Insights - Brilliant and Free feedback from the people that use your site!

Categorise the results into themes. e.g 10 people mentioned delivery, 5 people asked about maintenance etc etc. Then you  have a very clear list of things that need to be improved on the site.



1) Superb feedback from customers that you can use to improve your site

2) a feel for who your customers are (silly comments also tell you how to pitch your marketing. In one example I ran 10% of all responses requested ‘boobs’. That tells me a lot about the people using the site and I intend to take this on board in future marketing efforts!)    


13)   User

Yes! Yes! Yes! – Low Cost Usability Testing

User Testing Logo

User Testing is amazing

User Testing Person

User Testing - you get a 15 minute video complete with commentary from someone that has used your site

$39 and you will get a 15minute video of someone using your site and their thoughts on the process.

Nothing tells you more in such a short time! Watch the videos. Make notes. Collate these notes into a bullet point list of things that you will fix.


No highest paid person’s opinion can argue with the customer. Rub it in their face. Look.. your customer can’t use your poncey website.



14)   Review client communication


Run a sample of emails that you receive through and glean wonderful free insight

You have a wealth of incredible data sat in your inbox. Think how pitifully wasteful you have been with this information in the past. Not anymore!

Extract it. Take a sample of say 100 email trails with prospects that your sale team has dealt with. Pull out all questions that have been asked throughout this process.

Categorize them into themes. Say how many questions were asked about each theme. Then add more information to your site to pre-empt these questions. It’s worth the effort (probably 1-2 hour sof analysis).

Because clients need something pretty and because you’re lazy put it all through the brilliantly simple keyword clouds to generate a keyword cloud.  


15)   Usabilla




Send your design ideas round the office to get some feedback fast.

Nice work Usabilla  




16)   4Q Survey

4 Q Survey

4 Q Survey - the four most important questions answered


The four most important questions answered by your customers.

4 Q Survey is brilliant and we have had completion rates as high as 60%!


Breaks down the barriers giving your customers the opportunity to have their say and you the opportunity to make your site better.



17)   Survey Monkey + Mail Chimp

Survey Monkey

Survey Monkey



Learn more and reach out to existing customers with n in depth customer surveys and use Mailchimp to deliver and measure the open rates of  your emails.

Survey Monkey

Mail Chimp – Forever Free Email Marketing  


18)   Competitor Analysis

HP Group run an awesome competitor analysis as part of their CRO service. Compare your site against your competitors site. Look at the following areas and score each site for each item:

Competitor Analysis

Competitor Analysis

  • Homepage
  • Product Page
  • Search Page
  • Contact/ Checkout Page
  • Products and Services
  • Key Selling Points
  • Introductory Paragraph
  • Calls to Action
  • Testimonials
  • Price Comparison
  • Awards, Qualifications, Accreditations and Associations
  • Purchase Path


Outcome: A clear list of items that you need to improve on in relation to your competitors.


19)   Down Time


Measure downtime with a tool like Pingdom

Is your site crashing out? Keep an eye out using a tool like Pingdom – Uptime performance monitoring made easy

Outcome: Make sure your site hosting is good enough


20)   Click Tale/ Google Analytics: In page analytics


ClickTale - as powerful as the time you can commit to it

In many ways Click Tale – Customer Experience Analytics is fantastic. I find it most useful for form analysis.

My problem is when clients spend time agonizing over heatmaps and mouse movement. If you’re one of those then get a life. They only tell you what’s happening not why. So please look at them but move on to the ‘why’ as soon as you can.

Barely made the list but it can be useful when used in relation to advanced segments. Don’t waste too much of your life looking at this and saying ‘mmm… that’s interesting’. Remember rule 3: Use the insights that you find to make changes. If you can’t draw out any actions… move on!

Outcomes: Great form analytics


21)   Remarketing

Google Remarketing

The opportunity to re-target to people that for whatever reason did not purchase.

Outcome: Let the HIPPO know that you are on it and will not let anyone out of your grasp


22)   Snap Engage

This is live chat done well. Snap Engage Live Chat

Snap Engage

Snap Engage

Snap Engage

Snap Engage makes it easy for visitors to get in touch

‘But we don’t have the time/ resource/ braincells to use this tool’

Don’t let them down!

Everyone that visits your site is a potential customer. They’ve made the effort to enter your shop they deserve to be able to ask you any questions they have. Don’t let them down.


Outcomes: Makes it easy for customers to open up communication with you. Welcome it!



23)   Optimizely

Optimizely Testing for non-techies



This is brilliant. It puts design tests into the hands of the marketing department and keeps techies where they should be: on their own crouched and snivelling in a darkened room wearing nothing but a gym sock. All they have to do is stick a small bit of javascript in the page and you can then leave them to it.

Yeah, there are some annoyances with the tool (should be able to change style) but they will get ironed out in time. Use it. Also it is cheap (arguably cheaper than Website Optimizer as it reduces the development time costs)

Also check out Visual Website Optimizer

Outcomes: Fast test implementation


24)  Google Website Optimizer

Website Optimizer

Website Optimizer

Google Website Optimizer


It has its critics due to the necessity of utilising development time but in the hands of a good developer this tool is awesome!

Use it.

It’s free.



25)   Speak with confidence

This is the biggest! It is down to you. Raise your chin. Stand up when you’re on the phone. Do angry faces in front of the mirror before every teleconference. You are the Daddy! Go gettum boy!

Need some inspiration watch the slightly cringe-worthy but ultimately inspiring Tony Robbins:  

The internet needs you! Help protect it from narrow minded HIPPO’s that are hell bent on making websites more complicated than they need to be! Join me in the crusade to Shoot the HIPPO! If you found this useful please share this with everyone that you can and follow @tombowdenCRO on twitter.

This was THE blog post that I have been meaning to write for a while now. This is why I have only just got round to it:

Please share if you think others would benefit:


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