The Secret to Digital Optimization: Be Human

By Monique Armieri

March 22, 2023


When optimizing digital experiences to improve key business metrics like conversion rate, average order value, and revenue per visitor, the first things that come to mind often pertain to “ease of use” optimizations like ensuring that call-to-action buttons are above the fold, that every step in the conversion process is efficient with no unnecessary form fields, the value proposition is clear, and so forth. However, having run multiple A/B tests to optimize KPIs for both Fashion eCommerce and Fintech, I have found that the biggest wins often don’t come from things like that. The biggest wins come from “being human”. By this, I mean sounding like a real human in any copy and communications, thinking about what is important to your visitors at an emotional level and how that aligns with your product/brand, and increasing relevance. I find that we often overlook psychological principles when optimizing digital experiences, despite its impact on results and relative ease of implementation.

Emotional Resonance

Oftentimes, what really drives conversion is not the highly rational, functional benefits of a product, but rather the underlying emotional benefits that appeal to the oldest layers of our brain. Does your product/brand provide a sense of belonging, or individualism, or freedom, or adventure, or pride? Knowing this and making it more apparent throughout the digital experience for your product/brand is critical to optimization.

I have run several A/B tests (on websites, as well as in CRM communications like SMS or email) which have driven up to 2.5x uplift in conversion just by switching from talking about functional benefits (i.e. “Save $x on this, save $x on that!”) to emotional benefits like giving your customers a sense of belonging and making them feel special while expressing genuine appreciation (i.e. “You’re invited to something new! We want to thank our customers with the rewards they deserve.”)

However, not any emotional benefit will do. It has to come from a place that is genuine. What emotional benefit actually resonates with your customers today as it pertains to your product? The only way to really know this is through customer research (conducting surveys or interviews and reading online reviews) and A/B testing. Even within a certain industry or competitive set, the emotional benefit that really resonates with customers can differ greatly. In Fashion eCommerce for instance, is the emotional benefit tied to expressing one’s individuality, or to fitting in? Is it tied to saving time? Feeling comfortable? Feeling confident? In addition to the emotional benefit differing greatly depending on the brand, I have also found that even within the brand, there are often significant differences based on the segment, such as visitors from the US vs Canada, or Mobile vs Desktop visitors. Even if the same person visits on both Mobile and Desktop, there is likely a reason why they are visiting your site on that particular device at that particular time, so what is emotionally resonant can vary. Furthermore, since App visitors are often your most loyal or most engaged visitors, what emotionally resonates with them can also vary from your less frequent or newer visitors.

A great way to start thinking about the potential underlying motivations and values of your visitors is by looking up the “limbic map” which maps out several values across the dimensions of “dominance”, “balance”, and “stimulant”. From there, further customer research like surveys and conducting A/B tests can help you hone in on and confirm what your various customer segments value most.


Aside from emotional resonance, another important consideration when optimizing digital experiences is being mindful of what is relevant to someone at a particular point in time. It may seem counterintuitive, but I have seen several cases where revenue per visitor has increased significantly simply by removing prompts to checkout that take place slightly earlier in the funnel. Simplifying the process and only showing the calls to action and content that is relevant to the visitor at that time rather than trying to rush them along can have a big impact. Just like you don’t want someone to pressure you into checking out before you have decided to do so in a physical store, the same goes for the digital store. However, once the decision to convert has been made, making the relevant calls to action and content to complete the transaction as accessible as possible improves conversion. Essentially, the exact same message or call to action can help or hurt conversion depending on where you put it in the user journey, so being mindful of relevance is important.

Digital optimization is an exciting process with many learnings, but by far, the most interesting and most important learnings are to sound like a human and think about what is important to humans. Be human.

Posted with permission. For the original article, click here.

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Monique Armieri

Monique Armieri

Armieri is the Senior Manager, Digital Optimization with Groupe Dynamite.

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