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20 Conversion Optimization Tips for Zooming Past Your Competition

20 Conversion Optimization Tips for Zooming Past Your Competition

Conversion optimization (CRO) is one of the most impactful things you can do as a marketer.

I mean, bringing traffic to a website is important (because without traffic you’re designing for an audience of crickets). But without a cursory understanding of conversion optimization—including research, data-driven hypotheses, a/b tests, and analytical capabilities—you risk making decisions for your website traffic using only gut feel.

CRO can give your marketing team ideas for what you can be doing better to convert visitors into leads or customers, and it can help you discover which experiences are truly optimal, using A/B tests.

However, as with many marketing disciplines, conversion optimization is constantly misunderstood. It’s definitely not about testing button colors, and it’s not about proving to your colleagues that you’re right.

I’ve learned a lot about how to do CRO properly over the years, and below I’ve compiled 20 conversion optimization tips to help you do it well, too.

Conversion Optimization Tip 1:
Learn how to run an A/B test properly

Running an A/B test (an online controlled experiment) is one of the core practices of conversion optimization.

Testing two or more variations of a given page to see which performs best can seem easy due to the increased simplification of testing software. However, it’s still a methodology that uses statistical inference to make a decision as to which variant is best delivered to your audience. And there are a lot of fine distinctions that can throw things off.

What is A/B Testing?

There are many nuances we could get into here—Bayesian vs. frequentist statistics, one-tailed vs. two-tailed tests, etc.—but to make things simple, here are a few testing rules that should help you breeze past most common testing mistakes:

  • Always determine a sample size in advance and wait until your experiment is over before looking at “statistical significance.” You can use one of several online sample size calculators to get yours figured out.
  • Run your experiment for a few full business cycles (usually weekly cycles). A normal experiment may run for three or four weeks before you call your result.
  • Choose an overall evaluation criterion (or north star metric) that you’ll use to determine the success of an experiment. We’ll get into this more in Tip 4.
  • Before running the experiment, clearly write your hypothesis (here’s a good article on writing a true hypothesis) and how you plan to follow up on the experiment, whether it wins or loses.
  • Make sure your data tracking is implemented correctly so you’ll be able to pull the right numbers after the experiment ends.
  • Avoid interaction effects if you’re running multiple concurrent experiments.
  • QA your test setup and watch the early numbers for any wonky technical mistakes.

I like to put all of the above fine details in an experiment document with a unique ID so that it can be reviewed later—and so the process can be improved upon with time.

An example of experiment documentation
An example of experiment documentation using a unique ID.
Tip 1: Ensure you take the time to set up the parameters of your A/B test properly before you begin. Early mistakes and careless testing can compromise the results.

Conversion Optimization Tip 2:
Learn how to analyze an A/B test

The ability to analyze your test after it has run is obviously important as well (and can be pretty nuanced depending on how detailed you want to get).

For instance, do you call a test a winner if it’s above 95% statistical significance? Well, that’s a good place to begin, but there are a few other considerations as you develop your conversion optimization chops:

  • Does your experiment have a sample ratio mismatch?
    Basically, if your test was set up so that 50% of traffic goes to the control and 50% goes to the variant, your end results should reflect this ratio. If the ratio is pretty far off, you may have had a buggy experiment. (Here’s a good calculator to help you determine this.)
  • Bring your data outside of your testing tool.
    It’s nice to see your aggregate data trends in your tool’s dashboard, and their math is a good first look, but I personally like to have access to the raw data. This way you can analyze it in Excel and really trust it. You can also import your data to Google Analytics to view the effects on key segments.

This can also open up the opportunity for further insights-driven experiments and personalization. Does one segment react overwhelmingly positive to a test you’ve run? Might be a good opportunity to implement personalization.

Checking your overall success metric first (winner, loser, inconclusive) and then moving to a more granular analysis of segments and secondary effects is common practice among CRO practitioners.

Here’s how Chris McCormick from PRWD explains the process:

Once we have a high level understanding of how the test has performed, we start to dig below the surface to understand if there are any patterns or trends occurring. Examples of this would be: the day of the week, different product sets, new vs returning users, desktop vs mobile etc.

Also, there are tons of great A/B test analysis tools out there, like this one from CXL:

AB Test Calculator
Tip 2: Analyze your data carefully by ensuring that your sample ratio is correct. Then export it to a spreadsheet where you can check your overall success metric before moving on to more granular indicators.

Conversion Optimization Tip 3:
Learn how to design your experiments

At the beginning, it’s important to consider the kind of experiment you want to run. There are a few options in terms of experimental design (at least, these are the most common ones online):

  1. A/B/n test
  2. Multivariate test
  3. Bandit test

A/B/n test

An A/B/n test is what you’re probably most used to.

It splits traffic equally among two or more variants and you determine which test won based on its effect size (assuming that other factors like sample size and test duration were sufficient).

ABCD Test Example
An A/B test with four variants: Image source

Multivariate test

In a multivariate test, on the other hand, you can test several variables on a page and hope to learn what the interaction effects are among elements.

In other words, if you were changing a headline, a feature image, and a CTA button, in a multivariate test you’d hope to learn which is the optimal combination of all of these elements and how they affect each other when grouped together.

A Multivariate Test

Generally speaking, it seems like experts run about ten a/b tests for every multivariate test. The strategy I go by is:

  • Use A/B testing to determine best layouts at a more macro-level.
  • Use MVT to polish the layouts to make sure all the elements interact with each other in the best possible way.

Bandit test

Bandits are a bit different. They are algorithms that seek to automatically update their traffic distribution based on indications of which result is best. Instead of waiting for four weeks to test something and then exposing the winner to 100% traffic, a bandit shifts its distribution in real time.

Experimental Design: Bandits

Bandits are great for campaigns where you’re looking to minimize regrets, such as short-term holiday campaigns and headline tests. They’re also good for automation at scale and targeting, specifically when you have lots of traffic and targeting rules and it’s tough to manage them all manually.

Unfortunately, while they are simpler from an experimental design perspective, they are much harder for engineers to implement technically. This is probably why they’re less common in the general marketing space, but an interesting topic nonetheless. If you want to learn more about bandits, read this article I wrote on the topic a few years ago.

Tip 3: Consider the kind of experiment you want to run. Depending on your needs, you might run an A/B/n test, a multivariate test, a bandit test, or some other form of experimental design.

Conversion Optimization Tip 4:
Choose your OEC

Returning to a point made earlier, it’s important to choose which north star metric you care about: this is your OEC (Overall Evaluation Criterion). If you don’t state this and agree upon it up front as stakeholders in an experiment, you’re welcoming the opportunity for ambiguous results and cherry-picked data.

Basically, we want to avoid the problem of HARKing: hypothesizing after results are known.

Twitter, for example, wrote on their engineering blog that they solve this by stating their overall evaluation criterion up front:

One way we guide experimenters away from cherry-picking is by requiring them to explicitly specify the metrics they expect to move during the set-up phase….An experimenter is free to explore all the other collected data and make new hypotheses, but the initial claim is set and can be easily examined.

The term OEC was popularized by Ronny Kohavi at Microsoft, and he’s written many papers that include the topic, but the sentiment is widely known by people who run lots of experiments. You need to choose which metric really matters, and which metric you’ll make decisions with.

Tip 4: In order to avoid ambiguous or compromised data, state your OEC (Overall Evaluation Criterion) before you begin and hold yourself to it. And never hypothesize after results are known.

Conversion Optimization Tip 5:
Some companies shouldn’t A/B test

You can still do optimization without A/B testing, but not every company can or should run A/B tests.

It’s a simple mathematical limitation:

Some businesses just don’t have the volume of traffic or discrete conversion events to make it worth running experiments.

Getting an adequate amount of traffic to a test ultimately helps ensure its validity, and you’ll need this as part of your sample size to ensure a test is cooked.

In addition, even if you could possibly squeeze out a valid test here and there, the marginal gains may not justify the costs when you compare it to other marketing activities in which you could engage.

That said, if you’re in this boat, you can still optimize. You can still set up adequate analytics, run user types on prototypes and new designs, watch session replays, and fix bugs.

Running experiments is a ton of fun, but not every business can or should run them (at least not until they bring some traffic and demand through the door first).

Tip 5: Determine whether your company can or even should run A/B tests. Consider both your volume of traffic and the resources you’ll need to allocate before investing the time.

Conversion Optimization Tip 6:
Landing pages help you accelerate and simplify testing

Using landing pages is correlated with greater conversions, largely because using them makes it easier to do a few things:

  • Measure discrete transitions through your funnel/customer journey.
  • Run controlled experiments (reducing confounding variables and wonky traffic mixes).
  • Test changes across templates to more easily reach a large enough sample size to get valid results.

To the first point, having a distinct landing page (i.e. something separate and easier to update than your website) gives you an easy tracking implementation, no matter what your user journey is.

For example, if you have a sidebar call to action that brings someone to a landing page, and then when they convert, they are brought to a “Thank You” page, it’s very easy to track each step of this and set up a funnel in Google Analytics to visualize the journey.

Google Analytics Funnel

Landing pages also help you scale your testing results while minimizing the resource cost of running the experiment. Ryan Farley, co-founder and head of growth at LawnStarter, puts it this way:

At LawnStarter, we have a variety of landing pages….SEO pages, Facebook landing pages, etc. We try to keep as many of the design elements such as the hero and explainer as similar as possible, so that way when we run a test, we can run it sitewide.

That is, if you find something that works on one landing page, you can apply it to several you have up and running.

Tip 6: Use landing pages to make it easier to test. Unbounce lets you build landing pages in hours—no coding required—and conduct unlimited A/B tests to maximize conversions.

Conversion Optimization Tip 7:
Build a growth model for your conversion funnel

Creating a model like this requires stepping back and asking, “how do we get customers?” From there, you can model out a funnel that best represents this journey.

Most of the time, marketers set up simple goal funnel visualization in Google Analytics to see this:

Google Analytics Funnel Visualization

This gives you a lot of leverage for future analysis and optimization.

For example, if one of the steps in your funnel is to land on a landing page, and your landing pages all have a similar format (e.g. offers.site.com), then you can see the aggregate conversion rate of that step in the funnel.

More importantly, you can run interesting analyses, such as path analysis and landing page comparison. Doing so, you can compare apples to apples with your landing pages and see which ones are underperforming:

Landing Page Comparison
The bar graph on the right allows you to quickly see how landing pages are performing compared to the site average.

I talk more about the process of finding underperforming landing pages in my piece on content optimization if you want to learn step-by-step how to do that.

Tip 7: Model out a funnel that represents the customer journey so that you can more easily target underperforming landing pages and run instructive analyses focused on growth.

Conversion Optimization Tip 8:
Pick low hanging fruit in the beginning

This is mostly advice from personal experience, so it’s anecdotal: when you first start working on a project or in an optimization role, pick off the low hanging fruit. By that, I mean over-index on the “ease” side of things and get some points on the board.

It may be more impactful to set up and run complex experiments that require many resources, but you’ll never pull the political influence necessary to set these up without some confidence in your abilities to get results as well as in the CRO process in general.

To inspire trust and to be able to command more resources and confidence, look for the easiest possible implementations and fixes before moving onto the complicated or risky stuff.

And fix bugs and clearly broken things first! Persuasive copywriting is pretty useless if your site takes days to load or pages are broken on certain browsers.

Tip 8: Score some easy wins by targeting low hanging fruit before you move on to more complex optimization tasks. Early wins give you the clout to drive bigger experiments later on.

Conversion Optimization Tip 9:
Where possible, reduce friction

Most conversion optimization falls under two categories (this is simplified, but mostly true):

  • Increasing motivation
  • Decreasing friction

Friction occurs when visitors become distracted, when they can’t accomplish a task, or simply when a task is arduous to accomplish. Generally speaking, the more “nice to have” your product is, the more friction matters to the conversion. This is reflected in BJ Fogg’s behavior model:

BJ FOGGs Behaviour Model

In other words, if you need to get a driver’s license, you’ll put up with pure hell at the DMV to get it, but you’ll drop out of the funnel at the most innocent error message if you’re only trying to buy something silly on drunkmall.com.

A few things that cut down on friction:

  • Make your site faster.
  • Trim needless form fields.
  • Cut down the amount of steps in your checkout or signup flow.

For an example on the last one, I like how Wordable designed their signup flow. You start out on the homepage:

Wordable

Click “Try It Free” and get a Google OAuth screen:

Wordable 0auth

Give permissions:

Wordable permissions

And voila! You’re in:

Wordable Dashboard

You can decrease friction by reducing feelings of uncertainty as well. Most of the time, this is done with copywriting or reassuring design elements.

An example is with HubSpot’s form builder. We emphasize that it’s “effortless” and that there is “no technical expertise required” to set it up:

Hubspot Form Builder

(And here’s a little reminder that HubSpot integrates beautifully with Unbounce, so you’ll be able to automatically populate your account with lead info collected on your Unbounce landing pages.)

Tip 9: Cut down on anything that makes it harder for users to convert. This includes making sure your site is fast and trimming any forms or steps that aren’t necessary for checkout or signup.

Conversion Optimization Tip 10:
Help increase motivation

The second side of the conversion equation, as I mentioned, is motivation.

An excellent way to increase the motivation of a visitor is simply to make the process of conversion…fun. Most tasks online don’t need to be arduous or frustrating, we’ve just made them that way due to apathy and error.

Take, for example, your standard form or survey. Pretty boring, right?

Well, today, enough technological solutions exist to implement interactive or conversational forms and surveys.

One such solution is Survey Anyplace. I asked their founder and CEO, Stefan Debois, about how their product helps motivate people to convert, and here’s what he said:

An effective and original way to increase conversion is to use an interactive quiz on your website. Compared to a static form, people are more likely to engage in a quiz, because they get back something useful. An example is Eneco, a Dutch Utility company: in just 6 weeks, they converted more than 1000 website visitors with a single quiz.

Full companies have been built on the premise that the typical form is boring and could be made more fun and pleasant to complete (e.g. TypeForm). Just think, “how can I compel more people to move through this process?”

Other ways to do this that are quite commonplace involve invoking certain psychological triggers to compel forward momentum:

  • Implement social proof on your landing pages.
  • Use urgency to compel users to act more quickly.
  • Build out testimonials with well-known users to showcase authority.

There are many more ways to use psychological triggers to motivate conversions. Check out Robert Cialdini’s classic book, Influence, to learn more. Also, check out The Wheel of Persuasion for inspiration on persuasive triggers.

Tip 10: Make your conversion process fun in order to compel your visitors to keep moving forward. Increased interactivity, social proof, urgency, and testimonials that showcase authority can all help you here too.

Conversion Optimization Tip 11:
Clarity > Persuasion

While persuasion and motivation are really important, often the best way to convert visitors is to ensure they understand what you’re selling.

Stated differently, clarity trumps persuasion.

Use a five-second test to find out how clear your messaging is.

Conversion Optimization Tip 12:
Consider the “Pre-Click” Experience

People forget the pre-click experience. What does a user do before they hit your landing pages? What ad did they click? What did they search in Google to get to your blog post?

Knowing this stuff can help you create strong message match between your pre-click experience and your landing page.

Sergiu Iacob, SEO Manager at Bannersnack, explains their process for factoring in keywords:

When it comes to organic traffic, we establish the user intent by analyzing all the keywords a specific landing page ranks for. After we determine what the end result should look like, we adjust both our landing page and our in app user journey. The same process is used in the optimization of landing pages for search campaigns.

I’ve recommended the same thing before when it comes to capturing email leads. If you can’t figure out why people aren’t converting, figure out what keywords are bringing them to your site.

Usually, this results in a sort of passive “voice of customer” mining, where you can message match the keywords you’re ranking for with the offer on that page.

It makes it much easier to predict what messages your visitors will respond to. And it is, in fact, one of the cheapest forms of user research you can conduct.

AHRefs Keywords
Using Ahrefs to determine what keywords brought traffic to a page.
Tip 12: Don’t forget the pre-click experience. What do your users do before they hit your landing page? Make sure you have a strong message match between your ads (or emails) and the pages they link to.

Conversion Optimization Tip 13:
Build a repeatable CRO process

Despite some popular blog posts, conversion optimization isn’t about a series of “conversion tactics” or “growth hacks.” It’s about a process and a mindset.

Here’s how Peep Laja, founder of CXL, put it:

The quickest way to figure out whether someone is an amateur or a pro is this: amateurs focus on tactics (make the button bigger, write a better headline, give out coupons etc) while pros have a process they follow.

And, ideally, the CRO process is a never-ending one:

CRO Process

Conversion Optimization Tip 14:
Invest in education for your team

CRO people have to know a lot about a lot:

  • Statistics
  • UX design
  • User research
  • Front end technology
  • Copywriting

No one comes out the gate as a 10 out of 10 in all of those areas (most never end up there either). You, as an optimizer, need to be continuously learning and growing. If you’re a manager, you need to make sure your team is continuously learning and growing.

Conversion Optimization Tip 15:
Share insights

The fastest way to scale and leverage experimentation is to share your insights and learnings among the organization.

This becomes more and more valuable the larger your company grows. It also becomes harder and harder the more you grow.

Essentially, by sharing you can avoid reinventing the wheel, you can bring new teammates up to speed faster, and you can scale and spread winning insights to teams who then shorten their time to testing. Invest in some sort of insights management system, no matter how basic.

Full products have been built around this, such as GrowthHackers’ North Star and Effective Experiments.

Effective Experiments
Tip 15: Share what you learn within your organization. The bigger your company grows, the more important information sharing becomes—but the more difficult it will become as well.

Conversion Optimization Tip 16:
Keep your cognitive biases in check

As the great Richard Feynman once said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

We’re all afflicted by cognitive biases, ranging from confirmation bias to the availability heuristic. Some of these can really impact our testing programs, specifically confirmation bias (and its close cousin, the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy) where you only seek out pieces of data that confirm your previous beliefs and throw out those that go against them.

Experimenter Bias

It may be worthwhile (and entertaining) simply to run down Wikipedia’s giant list of cognitive biases and gauge where you may currently be running blind or biases.

Tip 16: Be cognizant of your own cognitive biases. If you’re not careful, they can influence the outcome of your experiments and cause you to miss (or misinterpret) key insights in your data.

Conversion Optimization Tip 17:
Evangelize CRO to your greater org

Having a dedicated CRO team is great. Evangelizing the work you’re doing to the rest of the organization? Even better.

Evangelize your CRO
Spread the word about the importance of CRO within your org.

When an entire organization buys into the value of data-informed decision making and experimentation, magical things can happen. Ideas burst forth, and innovation becomes easy. Annoying roadblocks are deconstructed. HiPPO-driven decision making is deprioritized behind proper experiments.

Things you can do to evangelize CRO and experimentation:

  • Write down your learnings each week on a company wiki.
  • Send out a newsletter with live experiments and experiment results each week to interested parties.
  • Recruit an executive sponsor with lots of internal influence.
  • Sing your praises when you get big wins. Sing it loud.
  • Make testing fun, and make it easier for others to join in and pitch ideas.
  • Make it easier for people outside of the CRO team to sponsor tests.
  • Say the word “hypothesis” a lot (who knows, it might work).

This is all a kind of art; there are no universal methods for spreading the good gospel of CRO. But it’s important that you know it’s probably going to be something of an uphill battle, depending on how big your company is and what the culture has traditionally been like.

Tip 17: Spread the gospel of CRO across your organization in order to ensure others buy into the value of data-driven decision making and experimentation.

Conversion Optimization Tip 18:
Be skeptical with CRO case studies

This isn’t so much a conversion optimization tip as it is life advice: be skeptical, especially when marketing is involved.

I say this as a marketer. Marketers exaggerate stuff. Some marketers omit important details that derail a narrative. Sometimes, they don’t understand p values, or how to set up a proper test (maybe they haven’t read Tip 1 in this article).

In short, especially in content marketing, marketers are incentivized to publish sensational case studies regardless of their statistical merit.

All of that results in a pretty grim standard for the current CRO case study.

Don’t get me wrong, some case studies are excellent, and you can learn a lot from them. Digital Marketer lays out a few rules for detecting quality case studies:

  • Did they publish total visitors?
  • Did they share the lift percentage correctly?
  • Did they share the raw conversions? (Does the lack of raw conversions hurt my case study?)
  • Did they identify the primary conversion metric?
  • Did they publish the confidence rate? Is it >90%?
  • Did they share the test procedure?
  • Did they only use data to justify the conclusion?
  • Did they share the test timeline and date?

Without context or knowledge of the underlying data, a case study might be a whole lot of nonsense. And if you want a good cathartic rant on bad case studies, then Andrew Anderson’s essay is a must-read.

According to a study...
Tip 18: Approach existing material on CRO with a skeptical mindset. Marketers are often incentivized to publish case studies with sensational results, regardless of the quality of the data that supports them.

Conversion Optimization Tip 19:
Calculate the cost of additional research vs. just running it

Matt Gershoff, CEO of Conductrics, is one of the smartest people I know regarding statistics, experimentation, machine learning, and general decision theory. He has stated some version of the following on a few occasions:

  • Marketing is about decision-making under uncertainty.
  • It’s about assessing how much uncertainty is reduced with additional data.
  • It must consider, “What is the value in that reduction of uncertainty?”
  • And it must consider, “Is that value greater than the cost of the data/time/opportunity costs?”

Yes, conversion research is good. No, you shouldn’t run blind and just test random things.

But at the end of the day, we need to calculate how much additional value a reduction in uncertainty via additional research gives us.

If you can run a cheap A/B test that takes almost no time to set up? And it doesn’t interfere with any other tests or present an opportunity cost? Ship it. Because why not?

But if you’re changing an element of your checkout funnel that could prove to be disastrous to your bottom line, well, you probably want to mitigate any possible downside. Bring out the heavy guns—user testing, prototyping, focus groups, whatever—because this is a case where you want to reduce as much uncertainty as possible.

Tip 19: Balance the value of doing more research with the costs (including opportunity costs) associated with it. Sometimes running a quick and dirty A/B test will be sufficient for your needs.

Conversion Optimization Tip 20:
CRO never ends

You can’t just run a few tests and call it quits.

The big wins from the early days of working on a relatively unoptimized site may taper off, but CRO never ends. Times change. Competitors and technologies come and go. Your traffic mix changes. Hopefully, your business changes as well.

As such, even the best test results are perishable, given enough time. So plan to stick it out for the long run and keep experimenting and growing.

Think Kaizen.

Kaizen

Conclusion

There you go, 20 conversion optimization tips. That’s not all there is to know; this is a never-ending journey, just like the process of growth and optimization itself. But these tips should get you started and moving in the right direction.

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20 Conversion Optimization Tips for Zooming Past Your Competition

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Expert SEO and CRO Tips From Klaviyo’s Ecommerce Summit, Part One

Klaviyo:BOS conference notebook

As a marketer, there are only so many conferences I can attend in a year — and this year all three happened to fall within two weeks of each other. By far the best one I attended was Klaviyo: BOS, a two-day summit focused on growth tactics and business strategy for online merchants and ecommerce brands. By the end of Day 1 my notebook was swimming with underlines, stars, and arrows with multiple circles around ideas and topics I wanted to explore once I got back to my co-working space. By the end of Day 2 I was so inspired…

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Expert SEO and CRO Tips From Klaviyo’s Ecommerce Summit, Part One

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6 Things You Need to Know About CRO & Social Login

cro-social-login

Entrepreneurs are always trying to figure out how to engage their user more and boost their website’s conversion rate. One way to do that is through social sign-on, also referred to as social login or lazy sign-in. With social login, users can access your website using the social account IDs that they already have instead of setting up new login details for your website. And they don’t have to remember a new set of login credentials. Simply put, social login enhances a website’s user experience while allowing marketers to collect more accurate user data, including gender, age, interests, relationship status and a…

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6 Things You Need to Know About CRO & Social Login

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating the Best Call to Action for Conversions

best call to action

Fewer than 25 percent of businesses express satisfaction with their conversion rates. That’s pretty depressing. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) doesn’t improve your conversion rates overnight, but it sets you up for success. Part of CRO involves optimizing your calls to action for conversions. How is the best call to action for conversions? There’s no single call-to-action formula that can magically convince most of your leads to convert, but if you’re willing to get to know your audience, experience with different CTAs, and test variations, you’ll get closer to the conversion rates you want. We’ll be covering lots of information, so…

The post A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating the Best Call to Action for Conversions appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating the Best Call to Action for Conversions

The Daily Egg Year-End Roundup: Best Posts of 2017

best Crazy Egg posts of 2017

It’s time to highlight the top five posts of the year. It wasn’t easy to choose only five, and by limiting our choice to only five, we had to eliminate hundreds of wonderful posts. We feel, however, that these top five are the most hard-hitting, useful, or knowledge-packed posts that will retain value well beyond this year. And without further ado, the winners are: 1. Learn from the Best: an Interview with Digital Marketing Legend Larry Kim Our interview with Larry Kim, as well as the accompanying video webinar, “10 CRO Truth Bombs That Will Change the Way You Think”,…

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The Daily Egg Year-End Roundup: Best Posts of 2017

6 Advanced Methods To Understand Your Audience And Improve Conversions Using VWO

VWO is the world’s first Connected Conversion Optimization Platform, and we are here to share 6 simple methods that are unique to VWO and would help you derive a winning conversion optimization formula.

So without further ado, let’s begin. Please note that to implement all these methods, you require a trial account with VWO.

Don’t have one? Sign up right now.

1. Segment User Funnels: Find the Right Prospect on Your Website

User journey and conversion funnels are few of the best tools to analyze your visitor behavior and pinpoint the pages, and areas which are the main source of customer drop-offs.

Segmention Funnels based on Customer Profile

VWO provides one of the most precise depictions of user funnels with advanced segmentation options.

There is a wide variety of options based on:

  • Direct Traffic: The segment which consists of an audience that arrives directly to your target page by entering the URL or accessing it through a bookmark.
  • Referral Traffic: The chunk of the audience that might click a referring URL from a website, a partner, or an affiliate.
  • Social Traffic: Traffic that originates from social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Quora.
  • New Visitors: Someone who has never been part of any test on a domain before.
  • Returning: Someone who has been part of at least one test on the domain before.
  • Paid Traffic Search: This type contains utm_medium query parameter such as cpc, ppc, and cpa to differentiate from other sources of traffic.

2. Personalize Your Landing Pages for Your Ad Campaigns

VWO’s custom targeting allows you to focus on your ad campaigns by dynamically changing the landing page according to the PPC campaign clicked.

For example, if you have a fashion ecommerce business promoting a bunch of black dresses with different ad copies. The ad group here would require a one-to-one, ad to the landing page, for a different pool of audience clicking the ads.

In the example, we take “black dresses” as the product you are trying to sell. Search queries will differ drastically and your potential customers will henceforth see different ad copies. To cater to individual choices, you might create ad copies like:

  • Black Dresses
  • Little Black Dresses
  • Most Popular Little Black Dresses

This will lead to a PPC campaign like the image below:

PPC Landing Page - One to Many

Even with different ad copies, a marketer won’t be able to mitigate a many-to-one ad to landing page mechanism.

But with the help of VWO, you can create a dynamic landing page and use your PPC’s unique parameters to match the ad group with the correct landing page. This happens because based on the query parameter of an ad, VWO can change the content of your landing pages dynamically. For Google AdWords, it is the globally unique tracking parameter called Google Click Identifier or GCLID.

PPC Landing Pages via VWO

Learn more about how to personalize pages for PPC campaigns by reading this article.

3.  Personalize web pages using URL Query Parameters

A similar approach, like the above, can be replicated for personalizing content on a certain page for various segments of your visitors.

You can add unique query parameters to your website URL and personalize pages dynamically for a variety of audience.

You need to add a customized query parameter at the end of the URLs you are targeting.

For example, if one wants to change the content on a blog post for a given audience, they could assign the blog a query parameter like ‘yousite.com/blog/?=variation1’ where ‘variation 1’ is the parameter, VWO will recognize and change the content dynamically.

Personalized Query Parameters

With this capability, you can change all kinds of content on your website. It can vary from text, images to CSS and HTML properties.

4. Record Live Observations on User Data

Visitor recordings are one of the most sought-after methods to understand customer drop-offs on your website. In live preview, you can figure out the major detractors for a customer or prospect at an individual level.

For example, while going through live recordings, you find an anomaly that’s leading a customer to exit the website without taking the desired action.

To mitigate this issue, a marketer or an analyst can ask the website IT team to make changes. This adds unnecessary steps to a problem that can be easily solved.

Record Live Data on User Observations

A visitor can directly record observations by annotating information directly in the recording itself in VWO. Now your team can collectively view the issue and take corrective measures to improve its customer drop-off rates.

Want to learn more?

You can check this page.

5.  Make Changes to Your Website with Wildcards

For any type of web testing, when we are making a change to a universal element, the change should be consistent throughout your website.

Even if it’s an AB test on a single page, changes made to universal elements have to be consistent. VWO identifies this pain point for a large set of its audience and provides an easy method to do so.

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Create a Funnel test.
  2. Define a test page pattern. Make sure that the VWO code snippet is added to all these pages. Enter the test page pattern in the Run test on the URL field.

For example, a test on your website would be defined as http:*//yoursite.com* for the following reasons:

  • The first wildcard (*) ensures that the test element is changed over both the http and https versions of your website.
  • The second wildcard (*) ensures that the changed element is implemented on any page that contains the URL string – “://yoursite.com.”

Change CTA across website

Please refer to this guide for in-depth information about replicating changes across your website.

6. Manage and Refine Your User Data

VWO is equipped with tools that allow you to back your  conversion optimization program with data.

With the VWO’s Plan capability, you can:

  1. Record your observations by using Analyze. A VWO user can record observations directly from heatmaps, click maps, and click area.
  2. Create hypotheses with the help of these observations. After collecting your well-researched observations, organize and use these to create hypotheses.

There are three parameters you must rate on a scale of 1 to 5 for Hypothesis:

  • Confidence: On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest, and 5 being the highest), select how confident you are about achieving the expected improvement through the hypothesis?
  • Importance: On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest, and 5 being the highest), select how crucial the visitor landing on the test pages (for which the hypothesis is created) is.
  • Ease: On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the most difficult, and 5 being the easiest), select the complexity of the hypothesis. Rate how difficult it’ll be to implement the changes identified in the hypothesis.

VWO Hypotheses

VWO leverages Kanban boards so that you can always keep track of your hypotheses in a pipeline format. Apart from that, you can assign each hypothesis a predictive impact score and prioritize it accordingly.

There are a lot of ways in which VWO can improve your conversions. And these methods take minutes to implement on your websites. If you are already using VWO for optimizing your website conversion, we’d love to know your favorite. You can leave a comment below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

The post 6 Advanced Methods To Understand Your Audience And Improve Conversions Using VWO appeared first on VWO Blog.

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6 Advanced Methods To Understand Your Audience And Improve Conversions Using VWO

Learning Conversion Optimization From Football: 5 Key Takeaways

“The ball is round, the game lasts ninety minutes, and everything else is just theory.”

— Sepp Herberger

In Portuguese, football is known as o Jogo bonito, which translates to The Beautiful Game. At VWO, we believe that like football, conversion rate optimization, or CRO, can be done beautifully.

When a person is introduced to a complex topic such as CRO, there is a lot of information to be processed, which can get quite overwhelming. However, according to Harvard Business School professors Jan W. Rivkin and Giovanni Gavetti, if a concept is learned with the help of an analogy, the process can be eased.

This post aims to highlight the similarities between Football and Conversion Rate Optimization. For those who want to learn about CRO from a technical perspective, please refer to The Beginner’s Guide to CRO.

Goals

CRO - Goals

Why Are Goals Important?

Goals win you matches—it’s as simple as that. Score more number of goals than your opponent, and the match is yours. It’s not just about the goals that are scored during a football match, but also about the goals or objectives that are set up for the season.

N’golo Kante, a midfielder from the English football club Chelsea, had this to say during a press interview:

“For a club like Chelsea, we want to win everything, we’re going to try and win everything. It’s a new challenge for everyone.”

All football clubs set up their respective goals at the beginning of the season, whether these include winning the trophy, a particular league, or just some number of matches.

Key Takeaways for CRO

Before starting with Conversion Optimization, it is important to set up goals that can be tracked and measured anytime during the process.

The goals created in an A/B test should align with your business objectives. The primary goal selected will be used then to decide the outcome of the test.

The results of the minor goals that accompany the primary goal can influence the final decision made just after the test has just concluded.

Research and Analysis

CRO with Football - Heatmap

Why Is It Important?

Every year, football leagues are getting more competitive. The stakes are getting higher, and the pressure is mounting. With the help of research and analysis by using modern technology, teams are able to plan and prepare better for a football season.

A manager can now watch heatmaps of players’ movements on-field. Players can now watch recordings of their own gameplay and more. The Guardian refers to this revolution as “datafication” of Football.

In their spare time, football players practice on PlayStation to improve their decision-making skills and to become better at their game. Former Italian footballer Andrea Pirlo was even quoted saying this: “After the wheel, the best invention is the PlayStation.”

Key Takeaways for CRO

After the baseline metrics are decided, it is important to research and analyze how you can achieve the desired goals.

Research and analysis includes viewing heatmaps, watching visitor recordings, or conducting on-page surveys that ask your visitors for relevant feedback.

With the help of research and analysis, you can get answers to the following 3 questions:

  • What do visitors do on your website?
  • How do visitors behave?
  • Why do visitors do what they do?

Plan

Why Is It Important?

After research and analysis, the next task for a manager is to plan for the season ahead. This includes deciding the squad, tactics, and formations.
Planning is not only limited to preseason. It is a continuous process that goes on during and after the season gets over.
On the training ground and during matches, managers have their diaries out, where they note down observations and try them out in the later part of the season.

Regarding observations, Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United for 26 years had this to say:

“I don’t think many people fully understand the value of observing, but I came to see observation as a critical part of my management skills. The ability to see things is key or, more specifically, the ability to see things you don’t expect to see.”

Key Takeaways for CRO

As you come across and analyze problems during the research phase, it is important to note your observations. Organize these well at one place.

The next part of the process is to create a hypothesis from these observations and prioritize these based on their importance. Validating the hypothesis is the most important part of the testing phase.

Testing

Testing Football formations
You can see that even the same formation (4-4-2) is tested with different position, source

Why Is It Important?

In the picture above, even the same formation (4-4-2) is tested with different positions. Football managers don’t get formations right in the first go.

They constantly experiment with their formations throughout the season and ultimately change it to the one in which all the players seem to fit in perfectly.

For example, Chelsea with their 3–4–3 formation—a much-favored formation in football—won the league.

Within formations, managers also rotate their players. According to football analysts, the key to Real Madrid’s successful 2016–17 football campaign was Zidane’s clever squad rotation.

Key Takeaways for CRO

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Every element of your website can be tested, from colors to text to images.

Testing is not just limited to plain A/B testing. You can create combinations of elements on your website and run multivariate tests.

By changing the complete layout of certain pages, you can also try out Split URL tests.

Learning and Deployment Phase

Why Is It Important?

Consider the example of Real Madrid’s manager Zinedine Zidane who used a 4–3–3 combination in the form of a sharp arrowhead.

He tested different combinations by playing Marco and Morata in a couple of matches but mostly stuck with the trio of Benzema, Bale, and Cristiano (popularly known as BBC) in the front. This combination led Real Madrid to glory in the champions league.

Real Madrid Formation
Source

It is important to test different combinations and learn from the mistakes to get the formation right in the end. With the combination of a winning mentality and experimentation, you are finally on the road to success.

Key Takeaways for CRO

It is important to learn from every test, the way a football manager does from every match. The best way to find out your winning combination is to have a well-structured conversion optimization process in place.

After you have successfully found the winning variation, deploy it on the website to achieve your goals.

Parting Notes

We hope you enjoyed reading the analogies we made between football and CRO. Next time, when you are watching a game of football, you should be able to notice and appreciate all the efforts that go into the strategy and preparation before the start of the game.

The post Learning Conversion Optimization From Football: 5 Key Takeaways appeared first on VWO Blog.

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Learning Conversion Optimization From Football: 5 Key Takeaways

Your Blog Design is Bollocks (And How You’re Gonna Fix it)

One page, one purpose. If you’ve spent any time in the CRO world, or read even a single article on landing page optimization, you’ll have heard this catchy little slogan. And yet, unlike the majority of marketing advice containing little substance, this is a phrase which can drastically change the effectiveness of your site’s pages. How? By focusing your page’s intent. Having only one purpose removes extraneous CTAs, helps target your messaging, and makes it easier to track actual success. I mean, if your page has 10 CTAs (and we assume each has an equal chance of being taken) then…

The post Your Blog Design is Bollocks (And How You’re Gonna Fix it) appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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Your Blog Design is Bollocks (And How You’re Gonna Fix it)

How To Create An A/B Testing Research Framework For Faster Iterations & More Wins

online ab testing framework

Here’s the most common problem I see when it comes to conversion rate optimization (CRO): Not putting enough energy into conducting the proper initial research into what to test. One round of user tests, then change the website. One heatmap, then change the website. One cohort analysis, then change the website. This can lead to very bad testing habits. When you are trying to improve your conversion rate, you should do multiple types of research. You should be using: Qualitative methods (e.g., usability testing, 5-second testing, surveys, etc.) Quantitative methods (e.g., heatmapping, cohort analysis, funnel analysis, segmentation, etc.) And of…

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How To Create An A/B Testing Research Framework For Faster Iterations & More Wins

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How to Leverage eCommerce Conversion Optimization Through Different Channels to Maximize Growth

Note: This is a guest article written by Sujan Patel, co-founder of Web Profits. Any and all opinions expressed in the post are Sujan’s.


“If you build it, they will come” only works in the movies. In the real world, if you’re serious about e-commerce success, it’s up to you to grab the CRO bull by the horns and make the changes needed to maximize your growth.

Yet, despite the potential of conversion rate optimization to have a major impact on your store’s bottom line, only 59% of respondents to an Econsultancy survey see it as crucial to their overall digital marketing strategy. And given that what’s out of sight is out of mind, you can bet that many of the remaining 41% of businesses aren’t prioritizing this strategy with the importance it deserves.

Implementing an e-commerce CRO program may seem complex, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of possible things to test. To simplify your path to proper CRO, we’ve compiled a list of ways to optimize your site by channel.

This list is by no means exclusive; every marketing channel supports as many opportunities for experimentation as you can dream up. Some of these, however, are the easiest to put into practice, especially for new e-commerce merchants. Begin with the tactics described here; and when you’re ready to take your campaigns to the next level, check out the following resources:

On-Page Optimization

Your website’s individual pages represent one of the easiest opportunities for implementing a conversion optimization campaign, thanks to the breadth of technology tools and the number of established testing protocols that exist currently.

These pages can also be one of the fastest, thanks to the direct impact your changes can have on whether or not website visitors choose to buy.

Home Page

A number of opportunities exist for making result-driven changes to your site’s home page. For example, you can test:

  • Minimizing complexity: According to ConversionXL, “simple” websites are scientifically better.
  • Increasing prominence and appeal of CTAs: If visitors don’t like what you’re offering as part of your call-to-action (or worse, if they can’t find your CTA at all), test new options to improve their appeal.
  • Testing featured offers: Even template e-commerce shops generally offer a spot for featuring specific products on your store’s home page. Test which products you place there, the price at which you offer them, and how you draw attention to them.
  • Testing store policies – Free shipping is known to reduce cart abandonment. Implement consumer-friendly policies and test the way you feature them on your site.
  • Trying the “five-second test” – Can visitors recall what your store is about in 5 seconds or less? Attention spans are short, and you might not have longer than that to convince a person to stick around. Tools like UsabilityHub can get you solid data.

Home Page Optimization Case Study

Antiaging skincare company NuFACE made the simple change of adding a “Free Shipping” banner to its site header.

Original

eCommerce conversion Optimization - Nuface Control

Test Variation

eCommerce conversion Optimization - Nuface Variation

The results of making this change alone were a 90% increase in orders (with a 96% confidence level) and a 7.32% lift in the average order value.

Product Pages

If you’re confident about your home page’s optimization, move on to getting the most out of your individual product pages by testing your:

  • Images and videos
  • Copy
  • Pricing
  • Inclusion of social proof, reviews, and so on

Product Page Optimization Case Study

Underwater Audio challenged itself to simplify the copy on its product comparison page, testing the new page against its original look.

Original

Underwater Audio Control

Test Variation

Underwater Control Variation - eCommerce conversion rate optimization

This cleaner approach increased website sales for Underwater Audio by 40.81%.

Checkout Flow

Finally, make sure customers aren’t getting hung up in your checkout flow by testing the following characteristics:

Checkout Flow Optimization Case Study

A Scandinavian gift retailer, nameOn, reduced the number of CTAs on their checkout page from 9 to 2.

Original

nameon-1

Test Variation

nameon-2

Making this change led to an estimated $100,000 in increased sales per year.

Lead Nurturing

Proper CRO doesn’t just happen on your site. It should be carried through to every channel you use, including email marketing. Give the following strategies a try to boost your odds of driving conversions, even when past visitors are no longer on your site.

Email Marketing

Use an established email marketing program to take the steps below:

Case Study

There are dozens of opportunities to leverage email to reach out to customers. According to Karolina Petraškienė of Soundest, sending a welcome email results in:

4x higher open rates and 5x higher click rates compared to other promotional emails. Keeping in mind that in e-commerce, average revenue per promotional email is $0.02, welcome emails on average result in 9x higher revenue — $0.18. And if it’s optimized effectively, revenue can be as high as $3.36 per email.”

Live Chat

LemonStand shares that “live chat has the highest satisfaction levels of any customer service channel, with 73%, compared with 61% for email and 44% for phone.” Add live chat to your store and test the following activities:

Case Study

LiveChat Inc.’s report on chat greeting efficiency shares the example of The Simply Group, which uses customized greetings to assist customers having problems at checkout. Implementing live chat has enabled them to convert every seventh greeting to a chat, potentially saving sales that would otherwise be lost.

Content Marketing

Content marketing may be one of the most challenging channels to optimize for conversions, given the long latency periods between reading content pieces and converting. The following strategies can help:

  • Tie content pieces to business goals.
  • Incorporate content upgrades.
  • Use clear CTAs within content.
  • Test content copy, messaging, use of social proof, and so on.
  • Test different distribution channels and content formats.

Case Study

ThinkGeek uses YouTube videos as a fun way to feature their products and funnel interested prospects back to their site. Their videos have been so successful that they’ve accumulated 180K+ subscribers who tune in regularly for their content.

thinkgeek

Post-Acquisition Marketing

According to Invesp, “It costs five times as much to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one.” Continuing to market to past customers, either in the hopes of selling new items or encouraging referrals, is a great way to boost your overall performance.

Advocacy

Don’t let your CRO efforts stop after a sale has been made. Some of your past clients can be your best sources of new customers, if you take the time to engage them properly.

  • Create an advocacy program: Natural referrals happen, but having a dedicated program turbocharges the process.
  • Test advocacy activation programs: Install a dedicated advocacy management platform like RewardStream or ReferralSaaSquatch and test different methods for promoting your new offering to customers with high net promoter scores.
  • Test different advocate incentives: Try two-way incentives, coupon codes, discounted products, and more.
  • Invest in proper program launch, goal-setting, and ongoing evaluation/management: Customer advocacy programs are never truly “done.”

Case Study

Airbnb tested its advocacy program invitation copy and got better results with the more unselfish version.

airbnb

Reactivation

As mentioned above in the funnel-stage email recommendation, reactivation messages can be powerful drivers of CRO success.

Pay particular attention to these 2 activities:

  • Setting thresholds for identifying inactive subscribers
  • Building an automated reactivation workflow that’s as personalized as possible

Case Study

RailEasy increased opens by 31% and bookings by 38% with a reactivation email featuring a personalized subject line.

raileasy

Internal Efforts

Lastly, make CRO an ongoing practice by prioritizing it internally, rather than relegating it to “something the marketing department does.”

Ask CRO experts, and they’ll tell you that beyond the kinds of tactics and strategies described above, having a culture of experimentation and testing is the most important step you can take to see results from any CRO effort.

Here’s how to do it:

Have an idea for another way CRO can be used within e-commerce organizations? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

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How to Leverage eCommerce Conversion Optimization Through Different Channels to Maximize Growth