Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is still emerging as a practice for product managers and website designers, and businesses can learn a lot from CRO experimentation. But there are also many myths about how it works and the outcomes it can deliver. Here’s some clarification of what it can and can’t do.Myth 1: CRO is a silver bulletMost businesses believe that as soon as they start CRO, sales will go up. Or their first test achieves a 30% uplift in conversions, so they expect every test to do the same. I’m sorry to tell you that CRO is no silver bullet.What CRO does do is give you information. CRO is not a sales tool, it’s a learning tool. Once you learn about your customer via experimentation, then you can consistently deliver greater online experiences that increase conversions, sign ups and/or sales.CRO can help you create micro uplifts that, in combination, deliver a bigger result. It’s a continuous process that works best when you integrate it with your other activities. Of course you can get significant uplifts, but don’t expect it from one test.Myth 2: Changing a button colour will increase sales 100%You might have heard the story about the company that changed the colour of a button on its website and increased sales by $2 million. While great results from a button colour change is not impossible, it’s a niche outcome that happens extremely rarely. They are CRO unicorns and reports of their success are greatly exaggerated.First of all, a small change needs a lot of traffic for that kind of result. In most cases, when doing small tests, it’s hard to get significant results; in countries like Australia with low traffic, it’s even less likely. Instead, organisations need to be clever about what they test, where they test and the types of experiments they run.Interestingly, it’s in the areas you don’t expect that often drive the highest conversion. One example: in ecommerce sites, two small features – the ‘filter’ and ‘sort’ functions – are a major factor in conversions.Myth 3: CRO is simple, anyone can do itComing up with ideas for a CRO test isn’t hard. Running a CRO test isn’t hard. What is hard is the process and rhythm of testing. Experimentation is not so much the individual experiments, but the systems, tools, time and effort it takes to implement and assess them. It takes years of experience to really understand the right formula for experimentation.
The difference with having CRO specialists is they know the process of experimentation, where and what to test. If you leave it to generalists, you’ll have a team that forgets experiments or does them haphazardly as they have a day job and CRO is just a side project. This prevents organisations from creating a habit of experimentation. It may be simple to run a CRO test, but are you really ‘doing CRO’?
Myth 4: CRO is a projectI’ve met organisations that have looked to use CRO to validate a few templates before they build their site. There’s nothing wrong with this in itself, but CRO shouldn’t be treated as a project that you do once, quickly, and then stop.Every change you make on your site changes the overall site behaviour, and it’s only through continuous experimentation that you can identify old and new friction points to optimise. We often find that one experiment leads us to another.With spurts of optimisation you need big changes – but as a result you are not sure what factors had the impact to create an uplift. Smaller, more frequent experiments allow you to increase conversions and at the same time learn what caused them.Additionally, technology and trends and consumerism are always changing and so should your site. Experimentation helps you keep up with the changing markets and consumer behaviour.Myth 5: CRO is only for increasing salesWhile many organisations look to CRO primarily to increase sales or leads, there are many other uses: from finding operational efficiencies to identifying friction points. In fact, CRO can be used to discover more about potential customers.For example, we tested three brand propositions for a brokerage client before they confirmed what they wanted to take to market. They were:1. Get access to US equities from the comfort of your couch2. Join thousands of Australians who have expanded their investment portfolio3. Save on $0 brokerageWe assumed the $0 message would win but found that #2 had a higher conversion rate. Why? Because people feel safer if others have done something that seems risky. This test changed the brand’s approach to market. CRO is more than a mythical sales test, it should be used to learn more about your site visitors as well as help smooth their journey so they take the actions that you want them to take. The reality is that it’s best practised incrementally and continuously so your conversions keep improving as the market context changes.