I was performing conversion rate optimization tests before I even knew what they were. Fresh out of college, I found myself mercilessly pounding the pavement in a quest for my first job. I went on dozens of interviews those first couple of months out of undergrad, all with conversion rates of less than zero. Wanting success and finding none, I quickly started tweaking aspects of my interview experience to see if any of the changes netted a beneficial impact. Blue tie over red? Open suit jacket versus buttoned? Hair slicked back or parted?

Personal CRO Test
While I never actually wore a tank top and a baseball hat to an interview, I did quickly find that how I dressed to go to my interviews drastically changed my luck in the job market. Just like that - boom. CRO in action. I like to tell myself that eventually the reams of mini data I gathered were enough to land me my first job (or I just got lucky). When performed correctly and efficiently, CRO tests on your website can net you a variety of benefits, but you're going to want to make sure you know what you're doing before you get started. Keeping the following points in mind before running your first tests will drastically help.

#1. Understand What a Conversion is for You

Knowing what constitutes a conversion is the first step, and it is not always as obvious as you might think. Are you tracking placed orders? Newsletter sign-ups? Booked appointments? Examine your site and take stock of every potential action you are asking of a site visitor. Ascertain which is the most important and set that as your main conversion to track. Once you've figured out what a conversion means for your business, examine the steps that users have to take to convert. More often than not it is the buttons, fonts, and colors that users have to navigate with to achieve a conversion that you will want to tweak in order to increase your conversion rate.

#2 Test Multiple Variables at Once

Text color and size, message prominence, form placement, copy positioning and image use are all variables that can have subtle, yet measurable effects on how willing a person is to convert on your site. You'll want to make sure you test all of these. There are three types of test you can perform:
  • Time-split
  • A/B Tests
  • Multivariate
Time-splits are generally regarded as not efficient, and A/B tests are solid, but don't provide the wealth of insight multivariate testing offers. You'll definitely want to test multiple variables at once if you want to make large changes to an entire page - particularly if each individual element you are testing is relatively minor on its own. There are programs that are great for these types of tasks, namely Visual Website Optimizer and Optimizely, and if you're looking for a free option, Google offers Google Content Experiments as well.

#3 Know What to Do with Your Information

So you run a bunch of tests and gleam lots of useful data for your site. You're seeing that your conversion rates are improving and your cost per acquisition has dropped, netting you extra budget. What to do now? Use the money you're saving on other marketing channels or media. Perhaps you can partition off funds to promote yourself via Adwords campaigns, or invest into print or more traditional media. Partner your conversion data with site usability surveys to add a qualitative aspect to your quantitative data. Or, keep performing CRO tests on important variables of your website. There's always room to improve. Engaging in CRO tests forces you to take a very hard look at your website and understand exactly what it's conveying to the world and how the world is responding to it. Whether you're a start-up with a tiny budget or an established company with decades of experience, the knowledge you gain from these tests can make your website run smoother, provider a better user experience, and net you money! For more information about CRO, you check out other posts we've written here.
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