Join Chris Goward for an in-depth discussion in this video Debunking CRO myths, part of Learning Conversion Rate Optimization (2014).
There's a lot of information out there about conversion rate optimization. I want to share some of the most common misconceptions to make sure that you don't fall into some common traps. One of the biggest problems with conversion rate optimization is actually in the name. The term conversion rate optimization is really a misnomer. Conversion rate means different things to different businesses. For example, in an e-commerce business it might mean sales conversion rate or average order value or average revenue per visitor or something else based on your unique business model.
In a lead generation business there may be a variety of conversion events. They could represent value too, like a white paper download, a quote request or something else. We'll talk about goals more in the next chapter, but for now, just understand that the important part of the term is optimization. You want to optimize toward whatever's important for your business. I'm going to tell you something. You can't truly optimize without testing. I hope you realize how important your unique context is to how particular tactics will perform. So not only that, but testing needs to be done correctly to deliver reliable results.
Some people think they're actually doing testing, and, but when I dig into how it's being done, they're actually using flawed methods. For example, when you make a change to your website, do you look at your web analytics tool before and after you make the change? A lot of people are doing that to see if the change has been effective, but unfortunately that method, which is called the pre and post method is flawed. It's misleading. There are so many external influences in your conversion rate that you're not measuring with that method, like weekly seasonality effects, competitive activity, your stock levels, offers that are in market, all the other environmental changes.
Not to mention the question of whether the data you're collecting is statistically significant. That's not a proper control test. And the only worse than not getting good test results is relying on misleading data. So that leads to the next misconception. Many people think of conversion optimization as only being used for making small tweaks to landing pages, button colors, headlines, images, these minor changes. But it has so much more power, really to impact the business. The conversion rate metric that you optimize for, whatever that metric is for your business, should be the method to answer your important business questions.
The conversion rate is not the end in itself. You can answer business and marketing questions with testing, not just small UX changes. Thinking about this in a broader decision making context reorients your ideas from just tweaking and tuning minor page improvements to being a way of making important decisions for your business. You see, what we're talking about here isn't just conversion rate optimization. I really prefer the term marketing optimization, which I think is a better way to think about it. When you think about the discipline of iterative testing, its true value comes from delivering a better process for decision making.
It should be a process of continuously improving all aspects of your business and marketing. For example, what's your most powerful value proposition point? What really drives your customers to act? You should test that. The insights you get from that will feed into all your other marketing campaigns. Another common question people often have is whether testing will negatively affect their SEO efforts. Especially if they rely on organic traffic for a majority of their business. Now fortunately the principles of conversion optimization align perfectly with SEO. Later in the course I'll give you some specific tips on how to make sure they're working well together.
One of the biggest mistakes marketers make getting into conversion optimization is focusing too much on their search for tools. Now let me tell you something. I've never seen a tool solve a marketing optimization problem. Tools are definitely needed for facilitating your testing strategy, but the strategy should come first. Invest first in developing a reliable process and methodology for creating powerful test hypotheses. The tools are usually the easy part. There are so many tools now that enable testing and website customization that you’ll have no problem finding a good one. Now finally, a big mistake for marketers is to approach conversion optimization as a project rather than an ongoing operational strategy.
Once you start testing you should never stop. It should become the foundation for making your marketing and business decisions not a one time project to boost your conversion rates. In fact, the best companies today have committed to a culture of continuous testing throughout all of their marketing, with the aim to do two things. One is to improve the conversion rate and revenue and profit on every marketing touch point. And two is to gain tested marketing insights that have the power to impact the entire organization. So in the next section, we'll look at the three components of conversion optimization and how you can create holistic test plans to get the best results.
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- Understanding the two levers of website revenue
- Debunking CRO myths
- Identifying goals and mistakes
- Leveraging user testing and A/B testing
- Prioritizing pages for optimization
- Testing your value proposition
- Comparing testing tools
- Measuring results