Join Chris Goward for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding best practices vs. testing, part of Learning Conversion Rate Optimization (2014).
So, there are two schools of thought in conversion optimization. One, those who believe in so-called best practices and the other are those who emphasize testing. Now the first say that by simply focusing on the goal of lifting conversion rates and maybe copying examples of other good marketing. Your marketing is going to improve. Now I disagree. Based on thousands of tests we've run at wider funnels since 2007. We found that many of the commonly held so-called best practices and marketing practices actually fail in real A-B testing.
So, let me give you an example. We've reconstructed a typical e-commerce website. Is an example here. Now, for legal reasons we can't show you a real site. But this is an accurate replica. You've probably seen other web sites just like this. Now here's a tip that we'll cover later in the course. One of your first tasks to improve your website success is to put yourself in your customer's shoes. So looking at this website, if I was to analyze this, I'm now a 13 year old girl. You didn't know that about me. But that's the mental mind frame I need to have to analyze and improve a website like this.
Okay so I'm a 13 year old girl looking for some new pants to freshen my wardrobe. Maybe I need capris for the summer, who knows. But I land on the home page. And the first thing I need to do is understand how it's structured because every website's different, right? Now, my 13-year-old mind doesn't consciously think about information architecture, or wire frames, or design principles. But that's what I'm trying to understand. Where do I find pants? So maybe it's up in the Nav bar somewhere. I'd assume maybe that's the place to look. It's a pretty small Nav bar with low prominence, and, and it doesn't say pants.
Now, really, this big rotating banner is grabbing my attention. It's not giving me the pants I'm looking for, but now maybe I'm interested in one of these offers. Right? And they keep changing and rotating with really prominent design and messaging. The problem is they keep disappearing before I can understand what, what they're telling me exactly, and where to click. And on top of that there's no easy way to get back to the one I was interested in. And they're only showing a small sliver of available products or offers, or whatever's happening in the business right now. Now, you're probably cringing realizing you have a similar homepage on your website.
But don't feel bad because rotating carousels like this are still one of the most popular web design tactics. Now the problem is nearly every time I've tested them in proper A-B test, they lose against other static better image layouts. Now there are many more examples like this, too. For example, security symbols. A lot of consultants will tell you to put symbols like these as prominently as possible on your website. You're paying for them anyway, right, so why not put 'em in the header, in the footer, in the sidebar, and everywhere else? But what if it actually hurts your sales? Now in this test, adding a security symbol actually hurt your sales.
This is a real live test. So too much emphasis on security in the wrong way can actually create anxiety rather than reducing it. But you'd never know that without testing it. It's, if it's a best practice, a lot of people are following it. I have many more examples to share as we go through the course, and you'll see a lot more that you can apply to your business. But the most important message you should take away right now is that you can't believe in generic rules for marketing. Best practices simply don't work, unless they're tested in your businesses context. So, because if you follow what everyone else does you could end up running off a cliff just like the other lemmings, right? A lot of websites just don't work well.
I know that's not for you, you're here to learn how conversion optimization is really done. So in this course we'll show you how to make results driven decisions for your marketing. You'll learn how to question assumptions. Instead of just going with the flow. You'll instead create powerful hypotheses that generate real business insights. So, by the time we finish this course together, and maybe a colleague suggests an idea he or she found someone else doing. I'm, I'm sure your going to respond by saying that's a great idea. You should test that.
This course is part of a Learning Path approved by the American Marketing Association.
Gain the skills you need to become an AMA Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) in Digital Marketing by using the industry-leading courses and resources in the Learning Path. Take the AMA certification exam to show that you have what it takes to lead the digital transformation.
- 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