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Here is a list of questions you may — and should — ask before you choose the best conversion optimization consultant for your online business.

Maybe you have exhausted your resources or maybe you’d rather have CRO experts maximize your profits. Whatever your situation, it’s time to pick a conversion optimization consultant for your online business. No matter the business type – eCommerce, lead gen or subscription website – how do you know which optimization professional is the best? Better yet, how do you know which one is the best fit for your needs?

We rounded up 14 key questions to help you analyze and evaluate your prospective conversion rate optimization (CRO) consultants. Buckle up because here we go!

1. How Much will a Conversion Optimization Consultant Cost me?

Conversion optimization is an on-going process, meaning you can expect a multi-month engagement. Therefore an equally important question here is when will I start to see positive results and a good return on investment. To achieve this, try to compare their experience, the actual time they’ll invest in analysis and research for your project and, again, the return on investment. After all, their job is to increase your revenues.

Still, you want to have an idea of cost. Here it goes. Small conversion rate optimization firms can be found for as little as $2500 per month to run tests. For a full team approach, expect to pay between $5,000 and $15,000 per month. Enterprise-focused firms will charge up to $50,000 per month.

Agencies that specialize in search engine optimization, paid search advertising, social media and media buying are adding conversion optimization services to their line card because clients, like you, are asking for it. They are not necessarily conversion specialists, so they may offer conversion optimization as a part of their package for a small additional fee. So, ponder on this: Can this fee fund the resources necessary for a conversion optimization program that can make a difference on my bottom line?

A word of caution: Know what you buy into.

When it’s time to pick a conversion optimization consultant for your online business, you have to understand what their offer actually is.

Do you know how your conversion rate optimization consultant measures success? A great question to ask when you are trying to choose the agency that best fits your website needs.

Do you know how your conversion rate optimization consultant measures success? A great question to ask when you are trying to choose the agency that best fits your website needs.

2. Do I Need to Have my own Resources? How Much Time will I Have to Invest in this Project?

This will depend on the type of engagement you are looking for. Here’s an example. At Conversion Sciences we offer our clients a couple of service options.

If they prefer to hand over the conversion rate optimization portion to us, we furnish them with a full CRO team. No company resources needed. Just plan to spend an hour with your conversion consultant each week on an ongoing basis and a bit more while we learn about your online business. Feel free to learn more about our Fully-Managed CRO Services or as we like to call it: the Plug-n-Play Approach to Revenue Increase. (Yep, shameless plug)

If they have an internal conversion team already in place, or they don’t have sufficient traffic to warrant full time engagement, our clients can opt for our Conversion Rate Optimization Audit. They will even walk away with a thorough analysis of your customer journey. Discover more about these ad-hoc services here. Do expect to invest time and internal resources for this type of project.

Our advice, always ask this question. It will help you better compare and find the best CRO consultant for your website.

3. How will you Measure Success?

A great question that separates the wheat from the chaff. Let’s explain.

This is the best answer a CRO consultant can give you: “We will improve bottom-line metrics such as leads generated, transactions, or subscribers and that’s how we will measure success.”

It incentivizes your conversion consultant to look at the bottom line as their measure of success. And it also aligns the conversion consultant goals with your business goals.

Be careful of optimizing for secondary measures, such as clicks to a page with a form, bounce rate, the time visitors spend on your site or the number of pages they visit on average. It is often easy to improve these and not improve bottom-line metrics such as leads generated, transactions, or subscribers.

4. Can you Guarantee Results or a Conversion Rate Increase?

Should you pick a conversion rate optimization company that offers a guarantee or one that is willing to work for a percentage of the increased revenue? While these may seem like two very tempting offers, there are some downsides.

The most extreme guarantee is a pay-for-performance basis also called “I get a cut of your revenues”. On the plus side, they don’t get paid if they don’t deliver higher revenues. On the downside, they may get credit for your own promotions and not just for their conversion work. And as revenues increase, their monthly fees will look much larger to you. If conversion rates go way up, that’s good. But it means your consultant is getting paid very high fees. This can make you feel like you’re paying too much.

Therefore, even though these guarantees may feel as if they reduce the risk that you face as the site owner, they can also increase your overall investment.

Would you like a better solution?

Consider asking the conversion consultant to continue working for free if a predetermined goal is not met in a set timeframe. For example, if they can’t demonstrate a 10% increase in revenue in six months, they keep working for free. When they hit the results, they can start billing you again. Do you think they’ll accept?

5. How Much do you Know my Industry/Technology/Platform/Distribution Channel/Market?

If there’s one thing that testing teaches us very quickly, it’s that there is no such thing as a “magic formula.” Ideas that work for similar sites may not work on your audience. An orange button may work for one site, and not for another. Every audience is different.

Having said that, a conversion optimization vendor that has worked with a number of your competitors will have a playbook of ideas to consider. There will be ideas that never would have occurred to the team without the hindsight of having worked in your industry. If they also know your website platform and technology, their learning curve will be limited mostly to your product, service or business brand.

And while a solid understanding of your website platform is always a plus, industry experience can also be a hindrance. If the vendor is overly familiar with websites in your industry, they may not be able to look at your site with fresh eyes. A key advantage of external vendors.

All-in-all, a disciplined optimization process will work in any industry. Ask your vendor for some examples of novel ideas that are specific to your industry, but make sure they have a proven, repeatable process.

So, before you pick a conversion optimization consultant for your online business ask yourself if you are looking for a fresh pair of eyes, or for somebody that can quickly catch up and contribute as if they had always been a part of your team.

6. Can you Share Some Case Studies?

A case study will help you understand how the consultant helped other businesses improve the performance of their website from a lead generation, sales or subscription increase standpoint. Take case studies showing giant performance gains with a grain of salt. This can happen for you, but not always.

A consultant should always be able to facilitate and show you their case studies but you should go the extra mile and also ask to speak with their clients. While they will refer you to clients they’ve had success with, you can ask about situations in which your conversion consultant struggled.

How a consultant deals with adversity is as important as how they behave when things are good.

Should your CRO agency guarantee results or a conversion rate Increase? Discover the answer on the Conversion Scientist blog.

Should your CRO agency guarantee results or a conversion rate Increase?

7. How will you Get to Know my Target Audience and What is your Process Like?

Successful conversion consultants let the data tell them about your audience. Your analytics data, surveys, reviews, and chat transcripts can reveal many issues with you website. If that is not enough, they should resort to surveys, session recordings, heatmap reports, and A/B testing.

Any other answer from a CRO consultant could demonstrate that they do not have the optimization experience needed to perform the job.
Getting to know your target audience will be one of the first steps in the process, so make sure they share with you what the rest of the process looks like, or that is somewhere on their website. You want to know how much of your time will be spent supporting the on-boarding process and if there are any additional fees for software or special ad-hoc work.

8. Do you do Split Testing or can you Implement Personalized AI-Powered Experiences to my Visitors?

A solid conversion rate optimization consultant will be well versed on every optimization technique and tool available and will recommend the one that is the best fit for your business. Stay away from those who try to steer you towards a single solution. Unless you want a one trick pony and not a true blue pro.

Related: AI Optimization Services for High Traffic Sites

9. How do you Know what to Optimize First?

The most common framework for ranking ideas is called ICE, which stands for Impact, Confidence, and Effort. It helps collect and rank all of the ideas that will come up when starting a conversion rate optimization project.

Asking this question may weed out the weakest prospective vendors. After all, a solid understanding of methodologies demonstrates the kind of professionalism you are looking for.

10. What would you Like to Know about our Company?

Your conversion consultant will be ravenous any for data you have. Ideas come from chat transcripts, marketing research, surveys, personas, reviews, advertising data and more. Conversion consultants are uniquely able to turn your existing research into test hypotheses.

Be suspect if they don’t want to know more about YOUR business. Optimization professionals have inquisitive minds and they always want to know more. Giving them the opportunity to ask you questions allows you to dig into their curious nature and mental process.

Good consultants will have lots of answers to this question.

11. Do the People I’ll be Working with have Strong Optimization Experience?

More than likely, you had a chance to speak to the top people in this agency. They have positively impressed you. But, what does the team that will be working with you look like? Are they experienced? If they are juniors, what type of supervision will the vendor provide. You want reassurances and you should be asking these questions.

Conversion optimization is a relatively new field. There aren’t a lot of experienced conversion consultants available to hire. And this is not a set of skills that is easy to teach in the classroom.

This is where process comes in. Your consultant should be able to articulate a repeatable, proven process that has a history of positive results.
If you’re working with an agency, there is a good chance you’ll be working with a less-experienced individual. Find out how the agency backs up this individual with analytics, test design and data science. They should also be backed up by someone with strategic marketing experience. Conversion optimization is strategic as well as design-oriented.

12. How Quickly will I Get my Money Back or How Soon will I See Results?

Beware of those who can guarantee a full return on investment within a short timeframe. CRO consultants will be able to make some estimates once they start working with you and they can also share their previous and similar experiences. But that’s all they are. Estimates and experiences. And no two websites or business are completely alike.

13. Do you Work with the Tools we Bought or can Afford?

If you are now working and/or already invested in conversion optimization tools, bring up the topic on your first conversation. You will want your consultant to know you expect them to use your tools proficiently, or to have experience with similar tools from different vendors.

As far as affordability goes, we live in a golden age of marketing tools. There are many options at many price points. The consultant should be able to help you choose a tool that fits their needs and your budget.

Always consider that most conversion consultants will give you a better return on your investment in optimization tools.

Here is a list of questions you may - and should - ask before you choose the best conversion optimization consultant for your online business.

Here is a list of questions you may – and should – ask before you choose the best conversion optimization consultant for your online business.

14. What is the Consultant’s Testing Philosophy?

Each consultant will have a testing philosophy. Some favor scientific rigor. Others favor quick decisions. Here are some questions to ask them and the answers you will want to hear.

How long will you run an AB test?

No AB test should be stopped before two full weeks have passed. If you have a high volume of conversions, one week may be acceptable, but no less.

Will you stop a variation if it looks really negative?

Most conversion consultants will monitor tests and stop any variations that seem to be underperforming to avoid lost sales and fewer leads.

Do you let tests overlap?

If your prospective conversion consultant plans to run tests on multiple pages of your site, there is a risk of polluting the data and making bad calls. They should be able to visitor from getting into multiple tests.

How do you do quality assurance on tests?

The tools that conversion consultant uses give them sweeping powers to alter your site. It is surprisingly easy to break your site, even if they checked it. A thorough Quality Assurance (QA) process includes testing on multiple devices and involves several people before it goes live.

What kind of post-test analysis do you do?

Even if a test finishes and there is no winning variation, your conversion consultant can learn important things from the data. They just have to take the time to do a little more analysis, called “post-test” analysis. This should be part of their philosophy.

Can you perform multivariate tests?

If you have a high-volume site, multivariate testing is an important option. You may also want to find out if they can use machine learning AI tools to accelerate their testing.

How to Pick a Conversion Optimization Consultant for your Online Business

Final word of advice: no matter who you choose, make sure the consultant you hire is the one that is able to deliver on the strategy YOU need.

Solid CRO firms will tell you right out if they are unable to help you and may even recommend alternative solutions to your business problem, Use these questions when the time comes to pick a conversion optimization consultant for your online business. Who knows? It may even be us!

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

Note: The following conversion copywriting tricks are reprinted from the ebook 21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions.

You just lost some potential revenue.

There goes some more.

A poor conversion rate will pick your pocket day after day. That’s why you’ll love these 7 conversion copywriting hacks. They’re quick and easy. And you can start using them today.

REPEAT YOUR CUSTOMERS/PROSPECTS

You may have heard that you should write like your customers speak. It builds rapport and credibility. Readers are more likely to think to themselves, “This company gets me and my issue.”

But rather than just guess what your target audience would say, use their actual words.

That’s what Sarah Peterson did when promoting her Etsy course.

The highlighted phrase stood out among responses to a survey she sent to prospects.

A key phrase from survey response

A key phrase from survey response

She used that exact phrase to resonate with prospects in her sales email.

The key phrase inserted into marketing email

The key phrase inserted into marketing email

There are several ways you can do this same thing.

  1. Speak with your customers and prospects. Pick up the phone and have a quick chat. Do more listening than speaking, and write down what they say. Or, if the person gives you permission, record it so you can transcribe it later.
  2. Survey your audience. This could even be as simple as a one question survey that you put on your website. Make sure that it’s open-ended.
  3. Search reviews and forums. See what people are saying not just about your offering, but your competitors as well. This can be a great way to uncover pain points.

SWAP YOUR HEADLINE AND SUBHEAD

It’s amazing how many times I see a landing page where the subhead is stronger than the headline. Maybe the writer is trying to be clever or creative. Perhaps they think the headline shouldn’t be more than a few words long.

Whatever the reason, it’s killing conversions. If it’s not immediately clear what you’re offering me, why should I read on?

Fortunately, the subheads usually have this information. So an easy fix is to just make the subhead your headline.

Here’s a good example:

The subheading is the value proposition

The subheading is the value proposition

A stronger converting headline

A stronger converting headline

See how much clearer this page is when the subhead and headline are switched?

CUT YOUR FIRST PARAGRAPH

This is a hack that goes back to the heyday of direct mail. It’s designed to help you get right to the point.

Getting to the point quickly sounds pretty obvious. But you’d be surprised how many marketing pieces waste words trying to introduce themselves or state the obvious.

People don’t care about that. They care about themselves. What is it your offer is going to do for them? Tell them right away why they should care.

If your first paragraph doesn’t do this, scrap it and start with the next one.

ADD ASSUMPTIVE PHRASING

Here’s a nifty little psychological hack.

Write your copy as if the conversion is a foregone conclusion.

Simply look through your copy and add phasing like this to some of your statements:

“When you start your trial…”

“You’ll love how…”

“As you’ll see…”

The power of this hack lies with the endowment effect, a phenomenon where we value what we already own more than something we never had. By writing as if your prospect already owns what you’re selling, he or she imagines that situation.

Presuppositions are another type of assumptive phrasing you can use to add persuasive power to your copy. These statements infer something else is true. For instance, if I ask, “Which of these copywriting hacks are you going to use first?” that infers that you are indeed going to use them.

You must accept the inference to be true in order to avoid incongruence within the sentence. We’re wired to avoid incongruence because it requires more brain power.

Use this to your advantage by creating presuppositions with words such as:

Finally. “You can finally get in shape without spending hours in the gym.” (Presupposes that you had to spend hours in the gym to get in shape.)

Start. “Start earning the income you deserve.” (Presupposes that you aren’t currently earning what you deserve.)

Stop. “Stop wasting time on diets that don’t work.” (Presupposes that you are wasting your time.)

Again. “This car makes driving fun again.” (Presupposes that you once enjoyed driving but now find it to be a chore.)

Anymore. “Getting your kids to do their homework won’t be a battle anymore.” (Presupposes that getting your kids to do their homework is a battle.)

How will you use assumptive language in your marketing? (See what I did there?)

USE THE WORD “BECAUSE”

We like to think that we’re rational. That’s why we like to have a reason for doing things people ask of us. But here’s the interesting part. Simply having a reason is often more important than the reason itself.

Consider this famous social experiment:

In 1978, researchers approached people in line for the copier machine and asked to cut in front. They tested the effectiveness of three different phrases.

  1. “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” was successful 60% of the time
  2. “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?” was successful 94% of the time
  3. “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?” was successful 93% of the time

It’s not surprising that people let the researchers cut in line more often when a reason was given. What is surprising is that whether that reason was valid or bogus had no significant impact.

Look at that third phrasing again. Of course, they had to make copies. So did everyone else in line. That’s what a copier is for.

So why did that excuse work?

Often with small requests, we take a mental shortcut. Instead of processing the actual request and reason, we recognize that a reason was given, and we comply.

It’s important to note that the reason for the request becomes more important as the request gets larger.

When the researchers repeated the experiment with 20 pages instead of 5, giving a bogus reason had the same effect as giving no reason. Both were successful only 24% of the time compared to 42% when a valid reason was given.

To use this in your marketing, look for areas where you want the reader to do something and add a “because.”

“Act now because this offer expires in 10 days.”

Because you’re the type of person who…”

“We’re giving away free samples because we want you to see for yourself.”

USE PATTERN INTERRUPTS

Attention spans are short these days. Even if your copy is great, most readers will start to lose interest if you don’t shake things up a bit. Pattern Interrupts are a great way to do just that.

Pattern Interrupts are a neuro-linguistic programming technique designed to break the expected pattern of thoughts or behaviors. There are a couple of ways to use it in your marketing.

The first is to keep readers engaged. In a long-form piece of marketing, the reader expects paragraphs to follow paragraphs and on. This familiar pattern allows the brain to go on autopilot. You don’t want this. You want readers’ attention.

Break the pattern by adding testimonials, sidebars, callouts and other devices that temporarily interrupt the narrative of your text. Take a look at these examples.

Interrupting the pattern and flow

Interrupting the pattern and flow

Interrupting the pattern and flow

Interrupting the pattern and flow

You can also use a Pattern Interrupt to disarm readers or refocus their attention. People don’t like to be sold to. As a result, they reflexively put their guards up when they expect a sales pitch.

But what if your copy doesn’t start off as expected?

Use a Pattern Interrupt to disarm readers or refocus their attention.

Readers expecting a typical sales pitch will probably have a different mindset when they read something like this:

Shift the mindset

Shift the mindset

REMIND READERS OF THEIR FREE WILL

A team in France first proved how effective the “But You Are Free (BYOF)” technique is with this social experiment.

One of the experimenters would stop people in a mall and ask for change to ride the bus. In half of the instances, he or she added the phrase, “But you are free to accept or to refuse.”

Significantly more people gave money when the BYOF technique was used. Not only that, but the amount they gave was twice as much.

Follow-up studies have proved BYOF effective in requests for donations to a tsunami relief fund, participation in a survey, and many other situations.

It works by combating something called psychological reactance. Wikipedia describes it this way:

“Reactance occurs when a person feels that someone or something is taking away his or her choices or limiting the range of alternatives.

Reactances can occur when someone is heavily pressured to accept a certain view or attitude. Reactance can cause the person to adopt or strengthen a view or attitude that is contrary to what was intended, and also increases resistance to persuasion.

With this one simple phrase, you remove reactance and open your prospect’s mind to your persuasion. “

Note: The specific wording doesn’t matter as much as the sentiment. You can also use variations such as:

  • The choice is yours
  • It’s completely up to you
  • You may do as you wish
  • But obviously do not feel obliged

When you see how well these techniques work you’ll wish you started using them sooner.

Download the full ebook for all 21 copywriting hacks.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
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At Conversion Sciences, conversion optimization is so important that we think every site should benefit from it. We take every chance to teach businesses about it. The AB testing process is an important part of conversion optimization and is within reach of almost any business that prizes data-driven marketing.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a systematic process for increasing the rate at which website visitors “convert” into leads and customers.
When visitors arrive at your site, you want them to take a certain action. You might want them to subscribe to your mailing list, purchase a product, call your company, make a donation, fill out your contact form, or any number of things. CRO seeks to maximize the percentage of visitors who perform this desired action.
And as traffic becomes more and more expensive to acquire, CRO continues to become a bigger and bigger deal for online businesses.

When to Use Conversion Optimization

Conversion optimization has become an important part of digital marketing because available tools are becoming easy to use and inexpensive. Businesses generate more sales from the same traffic.
Businesses will turn to conversion optimization when:

  • Search ads, like Adwords get too expensive.
  • Their organic search traffic isn’t growing fast enough.
  • They aren’t getting enough revenue from their email list.
  • They want to compete with bigger companies on the Web.

Conversion optimization gives the business more control over its own destiny, increasing revenue and delighting more customers. [pullquote]AB testing is a powerful tool in the conversion optimization game.[/pullquote]

Understanding Conversion Optimization

At a high level, a website’s basic revenue model looks like this:
Traffic x Conversion Rate = Revenue
Let’s say you are getting 100,000 visitors each month and converting 3% of them into customers. In order to double your revenue, you can either (A) double traffic by getting 100,000 extra visitors each month, or (B) increase your conversion rate from 3% to 6%.
As you can imagine, it is usually much cheaper to fix a few things on your site and increase the conversion rate than to increase traffic by 100,000 people. And this is based on a simple three variable formula.
In reality, many websites and online enterprises consist of numerous steps in a complex chain of conversion funnels.

Conversion funnels are complex, and it's easy to lose someone along the way without CRO and AB testing.

Conversion funnels can be complex, and it’s easy to lose someone along the way without CRO and AB testing. Image credit: Digital Marketer


Low conversion rates at any point in this lengthy funnel can gut revenue totals, and consequently, optimizing the conversion rate even slightly throughout the multiple stages of this funnel can result in a massive increase in overall revenue.

The AB Testing Process

The best data-driven marketers take a systematic approach to optimize a website’s overall conversion rate. And while that approach is fairly complex, the core process includes the following:

  1. Data gathering & analysis
  2. Hypothesizing & Prioritizing
  3. Design & Run AB Tests
  4. Interpretation & implementation

To summarize, you begin by gathering intelligence on the your target audience. Next, you predict a series of website changes that will improve the overall conversion rate and then test those changes with a live audience. You run tests to confirm or refute your predicions. Finally, you implement changes that improve the conversion rate and discard those that don’t.

1. Data gathering & Analysis

The CRO process begins with gathering and analyzing both quantitative and qualitative data in order to achieve a well-rounded understanding of the website’s target market and how they are engaging with the site.
Data software, surveys, and usability tests are often used to collect and analyze this data.

2. Hypothesizing & Prioritizing

Once data has been collected, it’s time to hypothesize a series of site changes that will potentially increase conversions. Each idea for increasing conversion rate is called a hypothesis, or “educated guess”. These predictions are usually based off the data collected, “best practices”, and the personal experience of the data-driven marketer. The hypotheses you focus on will be based on your core testing strategy.
Changes are then made and compared against the original site in front of a live audience using a AB testing.
Each hypothesis should have the form:

If we    describe change   , we expect more visitors to    describe desired outcome    
as measured by   metric   .

For example:

If we add “Free shipping on all orders” to our product pages, we expect more visitors to purchase as measured by revenue per visit.
If we include the phone number in our headline, we expect more visitors to call as measured by web-based phone call rate.

Taking the time to write out each your hypotheses ensures:

  1. That you are testing something very specific.
  2. That you are testing something that results in a desired outcome.
  3. That you can measure the results.

Conversion Sciences enters our hypotheses into a spreadsheet and rates each on a scale of 1 to 5 for four categories:

  1. Based on my experience, how big of an impact do I expect this hypothesis to have? (1-5 with 5 being a big impact)
  2. How much traffic sees the page on which this hypothesis applies? (1-5 with 5 being a lot)
  3. How much evidence do I have that this hypothesis is really a problem? (1-5 with 5 being most)
  4. How hard is the test to implement? (1-5 with 1 being best)

Add 1, 2 and 3, then subtract 4 to get your hyopthesis weight. Do this for each test to get a ranking and sort the spreadsheet by weight. Those hypotheses with the highest weighting will jump to the top. These are your “low-hanging fruit”, the first things you should test.

3. Designing & Running AB Tests

This is where the new tools come into play. AB testing tools offer ways to change your website for some visitors, while leaving it the same for others. The tools allow you to do this without changing your website because the changes are made in the visitors’ browsers.
One visitor will get a page (A) as it is, then the next will get a version of the page (B) with your change. The tools manage this so that about the same number of visitors see each page. These AB testing tools then report on which version generated the most revenue and tell you how much more revenue you would expect to get.
If the original generates more revenue — we call it the Control — you can be assured your change would have hurt your site. If the modified version generates more revenue — we call it a Treatment — then you’ve found an improvement and can code it into the site.
AB Testing tools have a learning-curve. Most offer “WYSIWYG” interfaces for changing elements. Some tests will require that you have a resource familiar with Javascript, HTML and CSS.

4. Interpretation & Implementation

After running a series of AB tests, results are analyzed and interpreted and additional tests may be run. The goal is to identify a slate of changes that yield statistically significant improvements in the site’s overall conversion rate.
Verified improvements are implemented as permanent changes to the website, and then new hypotheses may be made and tested until the target conversion rate is achieved.

What You Can Do With an AB Test

When evaluating page elements to test and improve, CRO specialists typically start with “best practices”. Best practices are techniques that tend to work for many websites. Testing page elements based on best practices will often improve the site’s conversion rate immediately, and they provide a good baseline from which the data-driven marketer can plan and implement more tailored tests.
It’s important to note here that “best practices” do not work for every site. In fact, here’s an entire blog post worth of case studies where doing the exact opposite resulted in massive wins for various businesses. Also, mobile optimization is so new that there really aren’t any best practices. This is why AB testing is so important.
That said, it’s good to have a basic understanding of best practices when attempting to optimize conversions on a website.

1. Develop an Effective Value Proposition

Your website must convey a value proposition that gives the visitor a reason to stay and explore. The value proposition is constructed out of copy and images.
The value proposition doesn’t have to be unique, but it must describe the reason you occupy space on the Web. It should include who your offering is targeted at and why they should care about it.
Your value proposition may also include pricing, delivery, return policy, and what make you unique.
Each of your visitors will come in one of four modes: Competitive, Methodical, Humanist, or Spontaneous.

  1. COMPETITIVE visitors are looking for information that will make them better, smarter or more cutting-edge. Use benefit statements and payoffs in your headings to draw them into your content.
  2. METHODICALS like data and details. Include specifics and proof in your writing to connect with them.
  3. HUMANISTS want information that supports their relationships. They will relate to your writing if you share the human element in your topic.
  4. SPONTANEOUS visitors are the least patient. They need to know what’s in it for them and may not read your entire story. Provide short headings for them to scan so that they can get to the points that are important to them.

Your goal is to write copy directed at whichever of these groups visit your site.
In addition to understanding what motivates your audience to buy, it’s also important to understand what stands in the way of them making that decision.
Most buyers can be broken down into two categories based on two different fears:

  1. Transactional buyers
  2. Relational buyers

Transactional buyers are competitive bargain hunters whose greatest fear is paying a dollar more than they need to. They aren’t looking for “cheap”. They are looking for the greatest possible value they can find for the lowest possible price.
In order to appeal to transactional buyers, your copy should be focused features, price, and savings. 
Relational buyers, on the other hand, are focused entirely on quality. Their greatest fear is buying the wrong thing, and they are more than happy to seek out expert help and pay a premium in order to assure they receive a quality product.
In order to appeal to relational buyers, your copy should be benefits focused with educational content, copious social proof, ratings, and reviews to demonstrate that selecting your product is a guaranteed win.
Things to test:

  • The language on links and buttons.
  • Headlines and subheadings.
  • Wording of discounts and specials.
  • Description of return policy and shipping policy.
  • Adding bullets and highlights to copy.
  • Change copy that talks about your company into visitor-focused copy.

Remember that nobody cares about your business or products until they’ve found what they are looking for. People only care about how your business can solve THEIR problems. Remember to keep the copy and messaging consistently focused on the customer on every platform and at every point of interaction. Personal stories and intros have their place and can be quite effective, but again, only when the context is customer benefit.
For further reading, check out these great value proposition examples and the case studies on their implementation.

2. Design to Help Your Visitors Choose What’s Next

Design is important to your conversion rate but not for the reasons most people think. Your site’s design should be focused two things:

  1. Highlighting your persuasive copywriting
  2. Helping the visitor choose to act or to take the next step in their journey

Visitors should have an idea of what your landing page is all about with five seconds of arriving. They should then be taken through a streamlined journey rather than needing to browse around and find their own way.
A simpler, more intuitive, and more straightforward site design a great place to start.
Things to test:

  • Making links and buttons with calls-to-action stand out.
  • Move important information, such as free shipping offers “above the fold.”
  • Swapping columns.
  • Increasing the size of images.
  • Placing security badges near the “Add to Cart” button.
  • Increasing the font-size of important information like price and stock.

These are some places to start.

3. Focus on Entry Pages

A good conversion funnel isn’t just a webpage. It’s a combination of ads, search results, blog posts, email marketing, social media, webinars, and much more. Each of your campaigns will bring visitors to your site on different pages. Start on these pages and find look for ways to help visitors choose the next step.

For ecommerce sites, product pages are often the entry page for search traffic.

For ecommerce sites, product pages are often the entry page for search traffic.


For many sites, the most common entry pages will be:

  • The Home Page
  • Category and Product Pages for ecommerce sites
  • Post pages for blogs
  • Signup pages for webinars, reports and other offers

The Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages report in Google Analytics will tell you which pages are your most frequently visited entry pages.

Google Analytics offers a list of entry pages, which they call "Landing Pages"

Google Analytics offers a list of your entry pages, which they call “Landing Pages”


If you can get more visitors into your site from these entry pages, reducing your bounce rate, you will have more opportunities to win prospects and customers.

Conclusion

[pullquote]AB testing is a tool that is within reach of more and more marketers.[/pullquote] It is powerful because it

  • Ensures you aren’t making changes that hurt your online business.
  • Helps you understand what your visitors are really looking for.
  • Disciplines you to make smaller stepwise changes to your site.

To continue your journey into the world of CRO, check out Conversion Sciences Free CRO Training.
If you have any questions or if you noticed I left out some key info, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments. And of course, don’t forget to share this post with any of your colleagues who could benefit from an introduction to AB testing.

About the Author

Jacob McMillen HeadshotJacob McMillen combines professional copywriting with clean web design, giving small-to-midsize businesses the high-converting websites they need to make meaningful online profits.

The optimization industry is plagued most by a  poor acronym: CRO. Here is my reasoning for changing this damaging moniker.

The Importance of Acronyms

The three letter acronym (TLA) that defines an industry or organization is crucial to its success.
We all know of organizations who’ve been carried by their TLA. IBM comes immediately to mind. Here is a company that is universally recognized by its TLA. More recently, the search engine optimization industry has enjoyed significant success with the SEO TLA.
Industries with poor TLAs have fared much worse. Remember the WOM industry? Neither do we. In fact the entire social media industry has fallen on hard times due in part to the lack of a compelling TLA. SMM? Please! It’s basically a mumble.
Several industries have even consolidated their TLAs in an effort to get traction. Social media teamed up with local search and mobile to create Social Local Mobile, or SLM. When this didn’t work, they tried to slip a few more letters in. Hey, SoLoMo people, lower-case letters are still letters! This is really an acronym haiku.
Today, the TLA for the conversion optimization industry is CRO, or Conversion Rate Optimization. This is a sad moniker for a set of disciplines that offers so much promise. The conversion rate is the number of transactions or leads generated divided by the traffic for a given period of time. It is a metric of optimization, not the thing we are optimizing. Anyone can easily increase the conversion rate of any ecommerce site by cutting all prices in half. This would bankrupt almost any business, however.
Why Conversion Rate? It’s like naming our industry Bounce Rate Optimization (BRO) or Revenue Per Visit Optimization (RPVO). No, we don’t optimize conversion rates alone, so CRO is fundamentally flawed.
[sitepromo]

CRO Alternatives

Despite the cool allusion to a black carrion bird, it cannot stand. We can say we optimize for conversion, and could call the industry “CO”, but a quick letter count reveals that this is a two-letter acronym (TA). We spend most of our time optimizing websites, so website optimization, or WSO would work. But we have to come clean and admit that “website” is just one word, and “WO” is a TA. Furthermore, WSO is owned by the World Safety Organization, so the Association of Three Letter Acronym Selection and Transfer (ATLASt) likely wouldn’t grant it to us.
We can upgrade our TAs to TLAs by adding ancillary words. Online Conversion Optimization gives us OCO. Since we’re really optimizing for revenue, we might embrace Online Revenue Optimization, or ORO. We could use the SoLoMo approach and call it OReO, but the makers of a certain sandwich cookie may take issue with this.

Submit Your Ideas to ATLASt

ATLASt LogoWe request that you submit your ideas for a new TLA to ATLASt. This organization is basically the ICANN of three-letter acronyms. Please note that it is an official MUO.
Submit your ideas on behalf of your organization or you as an individual. It doesn’t matter to the application process.
If we get enough conflict generated, ATLASt will have to do a poll to determine the proper TLA for our industry.
DON’T DELAY. SUBMIT YOUR TLA TO REPLACE CRO.

Join the Cross-out Protest

In addition, I recommend that you write CRO with the “R” crossed out anytime you use it on the web. This is our visible protest. Here is the HTML:

C<strike>R</strike>O

or

C<span style=”text-decoration:line-through;”>R</span>O

Use this in your blog posts, marketing or anywhere you want people to know that YOU DO NOT OPTIMIZE CONVERSION RATE ALONE.
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If you ever went to the government and asked them what your fair share of taxes should be, they would first ask you how much you made last year.
And that would likely be the answer.
Likewise, a conversion optimizer would probably be the last person to ask how much to budget for conversion optimization. “How much budget do you have?”
Nonetheless, I’m going to give you the tools to add conversion optimization to your budget next year. Then, when you call us next year, you’ll be ready.

Where to Get Your CRO Budget

One key question you need to ask is, where will I get my CRO budget? I have some suggestions.

1. From IT

The basis of any conversion optimization effort is a sound analytics and measurement foundation. This consists of tools that slide under your website and are bolted in place. This is IT stuff.
Our research has shown that most businesses’ websites have some level of implementation of analytics. You don’t want to be left behind. This is a crucial behavioral database that will be invaluable as you begin to vet ideas for testing.

2. From the Things You Should be Testing Anyway

It is a golden age of marketing. We have more tools, data sources and shiny objects to drive our online businesses than any marketers have ever had. We can mobile gamify our ratings and review process using direct visitor feedback to drive personalization throughout our content funnels.
In other words, we’re overwhelmed, and the first sign of a marketing department that is overwhelmed is the decision to redesign. [pullquote]Your website probably doesn’t need a redesign. It probably needs to be optimized.[/pullquote] Put the redesign money into an optimization program and see immediate results.
There is a good way to get your head around all of the things you could be doing to your site. You could test the ideas. Instead of blindly pouring money into exit-intent popovers, live chat, or personalized recommendations, you should test them. We have seen these work and we have seen them fail.
Your conversion optimization team will know how to use data to make good decisions on where to spend your money. Budget for optimization first.

3. From Your Ad Spend

Paid search is a great way to generate qualified traffic. However, our success in search causes our fundamentals to “regress”. It becomes harder to increase traffic, and the new traffic often is less qualified, less profitable.

When you spend more, get less traffic and make less money, it's time to try optimization.

When you spend more, get less traffic and make less money, it’s time to try optimization.


[pullquote]When your traffic is flat, ad spend is rising and profit is dropping, you know you should be putting some of that into optimization.[/pullquote] This may seem like a no-brainer, but there is a period of sweat and anxious hand-wringing.
You see, conversion optimization takes time. There is a very real dip in performance. When you reduce spending on ads you reduce your traffic and your revenue. For a period of time, your revenue drops until your optimization efforts get traction.
It might look something like the graph below. This assumes a modest 5% increase in revenue per visit (RPV) each month for one year, and that 8.9% of ad spend, or $8900, is invested in optimization each month. In this example, we began with a conversion rate of 1.7%.
If you can make it through a short valley of death, borrowing from your ad spend can be very profitable.

If you can make it through a short valley of death, borrowing from your ad spend can be very profitable.


Monthly revenue dips due to the reduction in PPC traffic. Revenue returns to baseline levels in month four. Revenue is positive in month six compared to investing in PPC only.
The Return on CRO (green line) turns sharply north, even though we are still investing 8.9% of ad spend each month. This is what powers conversion optimization. You have a compounding effect working in your favor, but you have to invest on the front end.
Send me an email if you want to see all my assumptions.
It’s this four-to-six month dip that marketers and managers fear. How do you sell a drop in revenue to your boss?

4. Pony Up

The other option is to reach into your own profits and slap down some cash on your conversion optimization team.
I’m not going to sugar coat this. There are three costs you must deal with when investing in optimization.

The Components of a Conversion Optimization Budget

The Software

The first cost is the least bothersome. Conversion optimization requires a certain amount of data to succeed. [pullquote]Testing is not that hard. Deciding what to test is quite difficult.[/pullquote]
The competition in the marketplace is pretty brutal. Each year, we get more functionality from cheaper and cheaper tools. At a minimum, you’ll want a good click-tracking tool, a good session recording tool, a strong analytics database and a split-testing tool.
Depending on your traffic, these can be had for a few hundred dollars each month up to several thousand dollars each month.

The Team

None of these tools matter if you don’t have someone to pull the levers, turn the knobs and read the graphs. The main functions found on a conversion optimization team are:
A researcher to collect qualitative data.
A statistically-responsible person to collect and evaluate quantitative data.
A developer to create the changes in each test.
A designer to implement design changes.
A patient QA person to be sure nothing is broken by a test.
A project manager to keep the momentum going.
It is possible to have one super-amazing person who can do all of this. It is the death-knell of your conversion optimization program to ask someone to do all of this in addition to another job. Your PPC person is not going to be able to do all of this and their job too.
These are fairly expensive employees. Consider hiring an outside agency, like us, to get started. As of this writing, Conversion Sciences can provide these functions for less than ten-thousand dollars a month.

The Opportunity Costs

There is a cost to testing that is not seen in reports. It’s the cost of losing treatments. In any list of “good” ideas for increasing your conversion rate and revenue per visit, fully half will actually do more harm than good. We don’t know which of our ideas are “losers” until we test them. When we test, some percentage of your visitors will see these losers, be turned off, and won’t buy.
This is lost revenue. With proper management, this downside can be minimized, but it is the cost of doing business. It’s the price of admission, the overhead, the burn, that funny smell in the kitchen.
It’s hard to budget for this particular line item, but it should be part of your discussion.

Be Clear About Your Upside

If I haven’t scared you off, there is good news. We call it the upside, the green bling, statistical bignificance, and sometimes we just dance.
You should understand what your statistical bignificance is. You must know the answer to the question, “What happens if my conversion rate goes up a little?” We call this a Basic Unit of Upside.

Conversion Upside Calculator
Click for a Conversion Optimization Upside Report that does the math for you.

We offer our Conversion Optimization Upside Report to help you understand your upside. It calculates what your yearly increase in revenue would be if you only added 0.1 to your conversion rate or revenue per visit. Plug in a few numbers and you’ll see what small changes mean for your bottom line.

A Little More Motivation

For most businesses, conversion optimization is a ten-thousand-dollar a month investment or more. Many businesses are spending a whole lot more than that.
If conversion optimization is on your “maybe next year” list, consider what might happen if you give your competitors a year’s head start on you.
The business with the highest conversion rate has the lowest acquisition cost and can profitably boost bids on their paid advertising. Plus, Google favors high-converting landing pages when assigning ad placement.
With a realistic understanding of the costs of conversion optimization and a real appreciation for the potential upside, you should be able to make the case for adding it to your shopping list in 2016.
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Feature image by frankieleon via Compfight cc and adpated for this post.

Will CRO agencies adopt SEM, or will SEM agencies integrate CRO?

The perfect storm of online business, the peanut butter and jelly, the gin and tonic, the Abbot and Costello will be SEM and CRO. The reason is that the conversion rate of any business is calculated by dividing transactions (leads, sales or calls) by the number of visitors overall. Those businesses with the highest conversion rates enjoy both targeted, qualified visitors and optimized websites.

High converting sites optimize both sides of the equation.

There is no better source of qualified traffic than that brought through search engine marketing (SEM).

Both organic and paid search traffic represents visitors who have expressed a certain intent. If you can deliver an on-site experience to match that intent, you will gain customers at a lower and lower acquisition cost.

What kind of agency is going to deliver this one-two punch? Will a CRO agency adopt the search marketing services and bring them to market or will a search agency adopt full-stack website optimization practices?

Brian Massey of Conversion Sciences and Jim McKinley of 360Partners will debate this question in their free Webinar on September 17th The CRO + SEM Agency: Challenges and Opportunities.

The conversation will begin with violent agreement on the importance of bringing these two practices together. We will examine the trends in search marketing and website optimization.

Then things will get interesting. These two industry veterans will tackle some of the harder questions.

  • Do these need to be under one roof, or can agencies partner to deliver a complete package? Why or why not?
  • How would search agencies have to change their business models? How would a CRO company have to change?
  • Why do so few agencies claim to do both?
  • For those agencies that offer both, are they really providing the double-digit conversion rates that the combination promises?

Watch the webinar on-demand.

The knockout punch came near the end of the webinar. Who won, UX or CRO?

Watch the Webinar Replay

Listen to the Podcast

We shot this webinar because I had two things happen in the past year that made me wonder if we shouldn’t be doing more UX as a part of our CRO efforts.

First, we helped redesign a client site using conversion optimization. During the redesign, the client experienced significant increases in demos and sales of its software. To date we’ve almost tripled their demo requests.

Then, I happened across a landing page that I felt was very well done. When I asked the designer of that page how they had arrived at that design, Adam Treister told me they had done a UX process on it. And he had documented the process in a Udemy course. The page increased enrollment clicks by 246%.

Two different approaches. Two great results. I invited my UX friend Sarah Jabeen of DiscoverSTEAM to debate this with me. How are these two process different? How are they the same?

There is only one way for you to find out.

Conversion-Scientist-Podcast-Logo-1400x1400



21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The long-scrolling flat style landing page is all the rage this year. This style of landing page suffers from some problems, however.

  • Large background images slow load time.
  • Information is presented in small bites. Sometimes more copy is needed.
  • Banded sections often look like the bottom of the page, reducing scrolling.

With the right approach, you can make these pages high-converting landing pages. Here’s how.

In my recent CrazyEgg Webinar How to Reverse-Engineer a High-Conversion Landing Page, I reviewed twelve landing pages using my “backward landing page” framework.

One stood out.

Here’s an excerpt of that presentation featuring the Body Language for Entrepreneurs landing page from Udemy.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Nail the Top of the Landing Page

The purpose of the top of the page is to give the visitor reasons to explore the rest of the page. It’s the headline, the offer and the hook for the page.

Include all Supporting Components

Five components and one contaminant to avoid in a landing page.

Five components and one contaminant to avoid in a landing page.

There are five basic components – Offer, Form, Proof, Trust and Image – and one contaminant to avoid (Abandon) in a landing page, which I outline in the CrazyEgg video.

The Body Language for Entrepreneurs includes all of them at the top, with no opportunities to abandon, such as social media icons, site navigation, or search.

Offer

Your offer is the promise and pricing that this page provides a visitor. A complete offer is perhaps the most critical element of the landing page equation.
image

image

Form

The landing page should quickly make it clear that the visitor can take action to get closer to solving their problem. The form should have a way to act and an effective call to action.
The call to action should answer the question, “What will happen if I complete the form and click the button?”
image

Proof

Support the claims made in your value proposition with proof.
image

Trust

Building trust builds credibility and authority. Your logo plays a role on a landing page: a trust-building role.
Often symbols can be used to borrow trust from other entities. This is what Body Language for Entrepreneurs did.
image
image

Image

A lot of space was dedicated to red buildings in this theme.

A lot of space was dedicated to red buildings in this theme.

If you’re going to slow the load speed of your landing page with a big background image, you better make it count. Designers like to use stylish backgrounds for effect. That’s fine, but not on a landing page.

Images should advance the value proposition. In the Body Language for Entrepreneurs landing page, they show the presenter. That’s relevant. Will I enjoy spending five hours with this person? Do they look credible? It’s all answered with the background image?

Nail the top of the landing page for incredible results.

Furthermore, they use video, which is image at 30 frames per second. Consider video if you don’t have an effective image that explains your value proposition.

Abandon

There is only one link in the upper area of the Body Language for Entrepreneurs page. It lets the visitor see all of the 56 reviews in the Proof section.

It actually doesn’t qualify as Abandon because it opens in a popover window. The visitor never leaves the page. Very smart.
The Udemy logo is NOT linked. Very smart.

Keep the visitors you paid good money to acquire. Don’t send them elsewhere or they will be gone forever.

Does This Design Really Work?

I asked Adam Treister, Growth Marketing Manager at Udemy to tell me how he arrived at this design and how this page was performing for him.

It was no accident.

Adam documents the process in his excellent Udemy course User Experience Design: The Accelerated UX Course.
The original page looked like this:

The original Udemy landing page for ad traffic

The original Udemy landing page for ad traffic.

After several iterations using UserTesting.com, VerifyApp.com, Google Consumer Surveys, and CrazyEgg, they tested the profile photo using PickFu.com. Finally, Adam’s team did a split test using Optimizely.

How did this process work for them? They saw a 246% increase in clicks with the new page. That’s not a typo.

Why This Might Not Work on Your Landing Pages

Every audience is different. They have different goals, needs for information, and are coming on a variety of different platforms. Images and words are powerful

The best way to ensure that your landing page works is to test the components: Offer, Form, Proof, Trust, and Image.
If your landing page is generating at least 150 transactions a month, Conversion Sciences will provide the complete testing team to find the highest-converting combination. Get a complete testing team for the price of a part-time employee.

Request a consultation and we’ll let you know how to make your landing pages surprise you.
Brian Massey

In 2014, we declared Austin, Texas the Conversion Optimization Capital of the World. We will be updating our yearly list of Austin’s greatest conversion minds on CRO Day, April 9. Subscribe and see if you agree.

If Austin is the conversion capital of the world, it was a supernova of conversion optimization brilliance this past week when the Conversion XL Live conference was held here. Luminaries from around the globe converged here for a program that covered topics from landing page design to “bandit” algorithms.
I learned a lot.
Here were some of the highlights for me.

The Dame, The Detective and the Double-cross

The Detective BogartI used Humphrey Bogart detective movies to illustrate that conversion optimizers use a variety of data sources to determine what to test and what not to test.  The femme fatale will appear in the detective’s office and pose a problem. The salty detective will investigate, looking for clues. If he’s not careful, he can be double-crossed by the data.
[pullquote position=”right”]For a data detective, the initial hypothesis is the “dame’s” story. Of course, she is hiding something.[/pullquote] He must find clues to tease out the truth using alternative data sources. He can use post-test analysis techniques to make sure he wasn’t double-crossed by his data.
Some of the alternative sources I discussed were:
Aggregated Behavioral data like Google Analytics and AB Testing Tools.
Aggregated User Interaction data like click tracking tools and form-tracking tools.
Individual User Interaction data, like session recordings, ratings and reviews data and live chat transcripts.
Self-reported data, such as surveys and online feedback.
Customer knowledge, often found by interviewing sales and customer support people.
When you prioritize hypotheses that have lots of support in data, you keep yourself from being double-crossed by unexpected results.

Mobile Website Design

We believe that the mobile Web is like the desktop Web in the 1990s: we will look back and laugh at the choices we are making today.
Amy Africa has done a lot of testing on mobile websites, and gave us a flood of Mobile Web 2.0 tips. My notes were extensive, but some of the her revelations were surprising.

        

  • Don’t think in terms of pages. Think in terms of screens and scrolls.
  •     

  • Make your “action directives” (action buttons, search options, etc.) big and bold.
  •     

  • 80% of mobile success is having the right navigation.
  •     

  • One third to one half of mobile visitors will use search. Design search results pages as if only three items will be seen.
  •     

  • Mobile forms are abandoned more often on mobile.
  •     

  • Email is of even bigger importance with mobile users than desktop users.
  •     

  • Social logins can reduce abandonment if done right.
  •     

  • “Oversell the phone number” in the purchase process.
  •     

  • Responsive design comes with a mobile performance hit.
  •     

  • Transfer mobile visitors to the desktop by sending email or text.
  •     

  • Email will make up for deficiencies in the mobile experience.

She introduced me to some new terms, including “donuts”, “spreaders” and “cart hoppers.”
It’s clearly an exciting time in the mobile world.

Predictive Analytics and Machine Learning

Matthew Gershoff introduced us to the world of predictive analytics and machine learning.
Optimization = Learning efficiency + Applying the “best” learnings
New tools, such as his company Conductrics provides tools that use the key ingredients of optimization.

        

  1. Setting goals
  2.     

  3. Sensing the environment, usually through analytics.
  4.     

  5. Having the ability to act and execute on learnings.
  6.     

  7. Observing outcomes.
  8.     

  9. Learning the decision logic of visitors.

These ingredients are the basis for machine learning.
He recommended courses on VideoLectures.com to get up to speed on machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Conversion Maturity Model

Brooks Bell was interviewed by conference host Peep Laja about the Conversion Maturity Model that defines how advanced an organization is with respect to optimization.
Her namesake company surveyed 300 companies, rating them on six criteria.

        

  1. Culture
  2.     

  3. Team
  4.     

  5. Tools and Systems
  6.     

  7. Process
  8.     

  9. Strategy
  10.     

  11. Performance

The executive sponsor at a company is key to the success of the optimization effort, she pointed out. Very true.

Conversion Optimizers from Everywhere

Austin truly was the Conversion Supernova of the World.
In from Vancouver, Oli Gardner of Unbouce took us through the rules of good landing page design. He provided us all with some free tools to help us evaluate our landing pages and forms.
André Morys runs one of the largest conversion optimization companies in the world. He’s both hugely entertaining and German.
Michael Aagard flew in from Denmark to share some of his most embarrassing testing mistakes and his triumphs.
Yehoshua Coren is a cross-cultural phenomenon as the Analytics Ninja from Israel.
Lukas Vermeer traveled from The Netherlands to share his conversion challenge game, So You Think You Can Test?
Michael Summers of Rockville, MD showed us the powerful insights to be gained from eye-tracking studies.
Anita Andrews showed us how using the wrong goal will result in poor testing decisions.
You should be at ConversionXL Live next year.
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Online retailer iNature Skincare® sponsored a video that turned into a phenomenon.

Released on October 29, 2014, the Comfortable: 50 People 1 Question video had garnered over 4 million views within two weeks.

iNature Skincare had sponsored a viral hit.

Unfortunately, sales did not rise as much as one would think. Why not? It is not uncommon for viral videos to fail as buy-ral videos.

We took a look at their site and felt that they hadn’t mapped the visitors journey appropriately.

The Visitor’s Journey

In this case the visitor’s journey starts with being moved by the video. It should then move to becoming aware of the brand, to understanding why the brand sponsored this video, to considering their products, and then to purchase.

I feel good. I want to feel good some more.

After viewing the video, we feel pretty good. Or sad. Or nostalgic. These feelings aren’t typical when considering skin care products.

As viewers, our first response is to get more of this feeling. The most common way to extend the feeling is to share with others. This is clearly happening.

However, iNature Skincare should be enabling this next step. I would have liked to know why iNature sponsored this video.

How does my feeling relate to the sponsor?

iNature Skincare’s viral video is benefiting other brands, brands not nearly as closely aligned with it.

For me, PS Print is getting the love from this video because they are advertising here. This is most likely a retargeted ad. I think iNature Skincare should be here.

Other advertisers are getting the benefit of this viral video through advertising.

Other advertisers are getting the benefit of this viral video through advertising.

My recommendation was that iNature Skincare should ask the producer to add an overlay or advertise on the video with a message that says, “Why did iNature Skincare asked 50 people this question? Our story.” This would run before the filmmaker, Jubilee Project had a chance to make their pitch at the end.

This ad would allow visitors to take the next step in the journey. If you were producing such a video, you would want to use the end of the video to bring the viewers to the next step.

The sponsor shares my values.

The ad would need to bring the visitor to a page that answered the question posed.

Every ad should bring the visitor to a page that continues the journey. Home pages are notoriously bad at that.

The page should communicate that there was a reason for the effort, and tie the message to it’s products. We really don’t have to work too hard to do this. The message, in words and pictures would be:

We chose to sponsor this video because one of the people interviewed was clearly impacted as a child by acne and eczema. Our products could have helped. We’re still working on the Mermaid Tail.

If I have skin problems, my next question should be, “Really? How?”

The sponsor can solve a problem I have.

iNature Skincare has strong proof of the effectiveness of its products. It has an award-winning package design that lends it credibility. But we must honor the visitor’s journey.

Now is the time to begin building out the company’s value proposition in words and images.

I felt that the compelling proof found in a study was their most powerful statement of the power of the product. This study was small. Eight babies were treated with their product and the results measured on two scales. The before and after pictures are available on the site.

This page offers compelling evidence of the safety and effectiveness of the products. Click for full image.

This page offers compelling evidence of the safety and effectiveness of the products. Click for full image.

The results on this page are unclear, but the pictures are powerful. The product is effective and save enough for babies.

What product did this? Unfortunately, iNature Skincare leaves the visitor hanging on this page. This is an ideal time to introduce the product that had such an impact and offer more information. This could be done in the right sidebar area of the page.

A mockup of the Consumer Study page with a next step for the visitor.

A mockup of the Consumer Study page with a next step for the visitor.

I would also add products at the bottom of this page.

I can afford the product that solves my problem.

The visitor now needs to do a cost/benefit calculation. It’s time to introduce the product and complete the value building process. For iNature Skincare, the product page does a good job.

I recommended putting a picture of the product used and a link to learn more about the product. The page that featured the product was imperfect, but provided a good deal of information.

The iNature Skincare product page.

The iNature Skincare product page.

This was a good next step because after providing the product information and the price, the presented the next step in the visitor’s journey.

Should I buy now? Can I delay?

The next step in the journey is the choice. So far, the question in the visitor’s mind – “Should I go on?” – has been an easy one to answer. Each click offered more relevant information in the journey.

Visitors that don’t have skin problems have fallen away. Now we are talking to those who need our product.

It’s time to bring them to choice.

This is the job of the call-to-action button. For most ecommerce sites, “Add to Cart” tests well as the call to action. It is presented here in bold read.

This is the traditional next step in the buyer's journey for ecommerce sites.

This is the traditional next step in the buyer’s journey for ecommerce sites.

The button is very wide, and almost doesn’t look like a clickable button. It also lies well down the page. It could be missed. Nonetheless, it offers a natural next step in the visitor’s journey, an important final step.

If, at this point, the visitor does not purchase, then we can assume that

a) they just weren’t ready

b) we didn’t do a good enough job of building value

Price is rarely the issue. When I tell you that your product is too expensive, they mean that you didn’t do a good enough job explaining the value to me.

Could iNature Skincare entice more of these lost visitors to buy?

The Complete Journey

We’ve mapped out a journey from first exposure through to purchase.

  1. A good feeling from branded content
  2. Discovering a brand that shares my values
  3. The realization that the brand solves a problem I have
  4. Understanding the product’s value proposition
  5. The decision to buy
  6. Finalizing the transaction

Each point along the way holds an opportunity for optimization. Here are some opportunities for iNature Skincare to improve these waypoints.

Let Your Visitors Find Their Own Journey

For many visitors, we will not know where their journey started. So, we have to make it easy for them to create their own journey.

iNature Skincare as a non-standard design. The navigation bar is in a sticky band along the bottom, instead of along the top as is expected by most visitors.

This cuts 110 pixels off of the page height, space which could be used to further the value proposition.

The floating navigation bar at the bottom of the takes up precious space.

The floating navigation bar at the bottom of the takes up precious space.

Every page on the site needs to offer a next step toward evaluating the products. There are no next steps on the Our Story, About, Dry Skin or Before and After pages.

Every page should answer a question and continue the journey.

If you are stuck on designing your buyer journey, I recommend you buy Buyer Legends from Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg. They outline a process for laying out powerful stories that marketers can actually implement.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
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