Avoid Common Conversion Optimization Mistakes

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By Theresa Baiocco

Every time I give a presentation on Conversion Optimization, I get questions that are indicative of typical misconceptions in the field.  So I’m going to expose the following myths, so you don’t make these common mistakes:

Myth #1: “I just redesigned my site, so I don’t need to work on conversion anymore”

Repeat after me: Conversion is not design. Conversion is not design.  Conversion is not design.

Ok I’ll concede a bit: your site DOES have to have a modern, professional look in order to convey credibility, but don’t think that just because you spent thousands of dollars with a fancy design agency that you’re done improving your site’s conversion rate.

Design is aesthetics.

And it’s subjective.

Conversion Optimization, on the other hand, is a systematic approach that uses data to form hypotheses on what you–and your team thinks is hindering conversions. Then you need to run A/B or multivariate tests on those hypotheses.

Thinking a new site design will increase your site’s conversion rate is like thinking a fresh coat of paint will make your car faster.

junker car
Um yeah, a paint job isn’t going to help much
Image source

Myth #2: “I just need to figure out the tools and start testing”

Oh yeah, I love my tools! But — to use another car analogy — if you put me in a Ferrari, I’d never win the Formula 1.  It’s the process, and the person who operates the tools, that determine whether you get big results, not the tools, themselves.

In fact, if you simply learn to use an A/B or multivariate testing tool without understanding the process of identifying and prioritizing the elements that are hindering conversions, you’ll end up running meaningless tests, such as testing a green button vs. an orange button.

And you’ll end up with inconclusive test results like this:

flat-ab-test-results2

95% of the effort goes into collecting data and forming your hypotheses on what you, and your team, think will improve conversions; 5% goes into the mechanics of running a test.

Myth #3: “Will you just tell me what to fix on my site really quickly to improve my conversion rate?”

I’m sorry to say, there is no “quick fix” when it comes to improving conversion rates.  Sure, you can start with best practices, but in order to find what could be improved on your site, you must follow a systematic process.  Don’t just do what I tell you, or your CEO tells you, or Tim Ash* tells you.

Make decisions based on what the data is telling you

I will not simply look at your site and tell you what to change to improve your conversion rate.

I will, however, look at how people behave on your site and collect data from various places to form an hypothesis, and then run a test on that hypothesis – if you hire me, of course 😉

Myth: 4: “My site is different because…”

It never fails, after a webinar or presentation someone will say “that all sounds really good, but unfortunately that doesn’t apply to my site because…”.  And they’ll give all sorts of reasons, often contradictory to the last guy.  A few common reasons I’ve heard are:

  • My business is B2B
  • My business is B2C
  • I do lead gen
  • I do ecommerce
  • I’m in a competitive industry
  • I’m in a niche with very little competition

And my favorite reason of all time was “my site is different because our target market is in Canada.” Hey Canadians: do you navigate the interwebs differently from the rest of the world? I didn’t think so.

Any legitimate business website needs to improve its conversion rate.

No exceptions.

In conclusion

First, congratulations for recognizing the need for conversion optimization – you’re already heads and tails above everyone still obsessing about simply getting traffic to their site. Just don’t let yourself get caught up with these common misconceptions. Understand that increasing your site’s conversion rate is a process that takes time, brainpower and hard work. But the payoff can have a big impact on your bottom line, so it’s worth the effort to not cut corners.

 

* No disrespect to Tim Ash: he’s the top dog when it comes to Landing Page Optimization and all of our new employees read his book cover to cover as part of their training. But I’m strongly opposed to having ANY expert take a quick look at your site and tell you what to change without digging into your site’s data. 

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Theresa Baiocco

Conversion Strategist at Conversion Max
Theresa Baiocco specializes in helping mid-sized businesses increase their online revenues with conversion optimization. She speaks at conferences on conversion optimization, and you can read her guest blog posts on popular conversion and PPC blogs, such as Unbounce, UserTesting, and 3Q Digital, among others. Her writing has also been included in the Wall Street Journal and is often in Marketing Day. She has been interviewed on the Webmaster Radio and Marketing Optimization podcasts. Theresa has a Master’s Degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado and a Master Certification in Conversion Optimization from Market Motive. She’s a dog-lover, the mother of a toddler, and a former travel-junkie.

6 Responses to Avoid Common Conversion Optimization Mistakes

  1. Another winner, Theresa. Thank you. I love your admonition to “”Make decisions based on what the data is telling you.” It is amazing how often decisions end up being based on what the CEO or executive suite thinks, rather than on the data (even if the data has just been discussed). The push-back, of course is “Hey, our numbers are increasing steadily.” How much better would those numbers be looking, though, with more attention being given to what the customers are saying?

  2. Hi Don, you’re absolutely right: too many decisions get made based on the opinion of someone in the C-level, or the “HIPPO”:
    HIghest
    Paid
    Person’s
    Opinion

    When the only opinion that matters is the customers’.

    For organizations with a top-down culture (meaning decisions are only made at the top, then pushed down with little input from the front-line), a good way for someone at the bottom to introduce a data-driven approach is to run a small A/B test on a page that won’t get noticed. Then s/he can present the results and suggest more tests on other pages.

    Thank you for chiming in!

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