Practically every industry is inundated with all kinds of myths and misunderstandings. Admittedly, it applies to the field of conversion rate optimization. In fact, some of the ideas have managed to establish themselves so firmly in this area that marketers, without any kind of afterthoughts, are applying them full-on, despite the fact it’s hindering their business conversion dynamics.
Here, we take a close look at five common myths and try to shed some light on them.
Myth #1: A/B testing equals conversion rate optimization
Probably, the most common myth about conversion rate optimization is the one that equates the process with A/B testing. Simply put, A/B testing is about tweaking website, landing page or email elements in terms of position, color, size, and then testing different versions against each other to see which one will produce better results.
There is so much debate nowadays as to which button color converts best – green, red, or perhaps orange? But for the majority of businesses that experience problems with CRO, that’s not even the question. The real questions are: Do we understand how our customers purchase? Do we know what kind of information they will be looking for on our website? Have we provided them with everything they need?
In other words, which button color you choose isn’t really going to matter if you haven’t addressed very basic issues that are the real cause why visitors don’t convert. No-one leaves because they don’t like the button color, but they do leave if they feel they can’t trust the website. Or if they don’t know anything about your product and can’t figure the answers of your copy. Or because they can’t find your contact information to get in touch before making the purchase or subscribing to your content or service.
These are really just a few issues that could be hindering your website conversions. So, rather than beginning and ending the CRO conversation with A/B testing, businesses should strive to address major issues first.
Myth #2: We can simply guess what our customers’ needs are
Oftentimes, businesses assume they know all there is to know about their customers’ needs and, therefore, it is not so important to ask customers anything. While these assumptions and hunches could be the starting points for a CRO, but they certainly shouldn’t be taken as facts. Without any factual validation, they remain mere guesses that can take the whole CRO process in the wrong direction.
As a matter of fact, depending on the industry, the size of a business and their product/ service palette, the situation with customers can get rather complicated. You might be dealing with very different customer segments that will not only have different reasons for approaching your business but will also use your website in completely different ways.
In order to make things work out for all of them, it is absolutely necessary to turn to data. Say, using website analysis tools like Google Analytics to gather relevant data about the ways customers interact with your website. You can also survey customers and combine these two types of data.
The next step is to form hypotheses about what to change on your website and how – but this time, the hypotheses won’t be based merely on hunches, but on solid data. At this point, you can start with A/B testing that will either confirm or deny your assumptions.
After running A/B tests, you might want to survey users again. Ask them how each of the page elements you were testing influenced their decision-making process and how they felt about the changes you made. In this way, through a carefully crafted testing regimen, you can learn what design and content elements have the most effect on conversions.
Myth #3: If we copy what others are doing, our conversion rates will go up, too
You can copy a successful business’s website, but you can’t really copy their success along with it. If you’ve read through myths #2 and #3, you already understand that CRO at its core isn’t about website design. It’s about customers. And your customers and the customers of the company you’ve copied the web design from are probably very very different.
In rare cases where mimicking someone else’s web design results in more conversions, the design itself usually isn’t the real factor of change. Rather, the improvement is most likely a result of an unintentional removal of a problem or several problems that were obstructing conversions. For this reason, you should carefully evaluate your focus to see if you wrongly expect to increase conversions solely through website design.
Don’t get it wrong – design matters. Good design communicates a business’s professionalism and credibility. But it’s important to remember that it’s not the only thing that matters. You might need to dive deep below the surface, to the core values and objectives of your business, and reassess whether they’re aligned with the needs of your customers. You might also need to re-think the ways you position your products and promote your brand.
Myth #4: We can just find some tips and do it really quickly
Regardless of some of the hype you can read on the Internet, the process of improving conversion rates takes work and time. It’s not a matter of just applying a few quick fixes. Significant results can be achieved only through a systematic approach that is rooted in data, not by relying on off-the-cuff remarks that are widely available on the Internet as best practices and ‘how to’ articles.
Why is this so? Because CRO is the one thing where it’s not possible to generalize or make uninformed guesses. Let’s say you come across an article that outlines 20 conversion rate optimization best practices. How are you going to decide which ones are relevant to your website or landing page? Even though they’ve worked for somebody else, how can you know whether they’re going to work for you? How can you be sure they’re not going to cause setbacks in your CRO process?
Naturally, you’d have to test each one of them. In most cases, a successful A/B test takes two weeks to complete, so just imagine how much time you would need to spend on testing a hypothesis that can prove to be completely irrelevant, or even harmful to your CRO process. But if you back yourself up with data and have a well-developed process to follow, in the very early stages of CRO you will be able to set your priorities and invest time in that what matters.
Myth #5: Conversion rates are the only thing that really matters
While it’s true that even small improvements in conversion rates can have a huge impact on a business’s bottom line, it’s also true that visitors don’t convert just like that. Instead, they usually follow a pattern that draws them a little closer to conversion every time they interact with a business. Ultimately, the decision is theirs and businesses are there to facilitate the process.
The goal here is not to try to convince every visitor by any means that your product or service is right for them and nudge them into converting. What effect is that going to have in the long run anyway? They will purchase or subscribe once, figure out they didn’t get what they were expecting and then they’ll make sure everybody knows about their negative experience with your business. So, it’s important to always stay true and constantly seek ways to improve your message so that it inspires prospects to take one step at a time.
In order to do this, you will have to look beyond conversion rates and take into account any metrics and data that can help you better understand your customers. For example, take a look at the sources of your website traffic. How are visitors arriving your website or landing page? Visitors who come through paid sources such as ads will be in a very different mindset from those who come through free sources like social media. The first is more likely to be interested in the offer that was advertised while the second might just want to check out what your business is all about and have no real interest in making a purchase. You also might want to check how often people come back to your website and how much time elapses between their visits.
These metrics will give you a good idea both about your visitors and their interest in your site. If you discover that people come to your site for the wrong reasons, you can work on adjusting your advertising and refining your website content to foster more engagement.
This list of conversion rate optimization myths is by no means exhaustive, but it can help you recognize some of the real limiting factors that are preventing your website visitors from becoming your customers. Once you have a clearer idea how conversion optimization works, it should be easier to plan the whole process and to execute it in a more efficient manner.
Images sourced from Pixabay