One of the most common questions I’m asked about conversion optimization is:
How do I figure out where to test first?
It’s a smart question to ask. You can’t test all pages at once. With limited time and resources to commit and, most importantly, limited traffic to allocate to each test, test prioritization is an important part of your conversion rate optimization plan.
The alternative happens when companies start with the areas they believe are obvious. You might consider the popularity of the page or look for under-performing pages, or start with pages your HiPPO hates.
Those are all things to consider, but they don’t give you the whole picture.
Optimizing the optimization process is often just as important as the tests themselves. Prioritizing where you invest energy will give you better returns by emphasizing pages that are more important to the business.
The Three Criteria to Prioritize Pages
You need to consider three criteria to prioritize which pages to test and in which order: Potential, Importance and Ease.
How much improvement can be made on the pages? Although I’ve yet to find a page without some potential for improvement, you can’t test everywhere at once and you should prioritize your worst performers. This should take into account your web analytics data, customer data and expert heuristic analysis of user scenarios.
How valuable is the traffic to the pages? Your most important pages are the ones with the highest volume and the costliest traffic. You may have identified pages that perform terribly, but if they don’t have significant volume of costly traffic, they aren’t testing priorities.
How complicated will the test be to implement on the page or template? The final consideration is the degree of difficulty a test will take to get running on a page, which includes technical implementation and organizational or political barriers. The less time and resources you need to invest for the same return, the better. This includes both technical and “political” ease. A page that would be technically easy may have many stakeholders or vested interests that can cause barriers. I’m looking at you, home page.
You can quantify each of your potential opportunities based on these criteria to create your test priority list.
We use this PIE Framework™ in a table to turn all of the data inputs into an objective number ranking.
Your Prioritization is Unique
There are no standard rules for which pages are best to prioritize. Your website lives in a unique target market, including factors like your competition, seasonality, and internal cultural environment; all of these affect how your site is used and should be optimized. The priority rating you give each of your potential test pages will depend on this unique business environment.
By using the PIE Framework, you’ll remove gut feeling from the decision and focus your team on an objective, relative ranking.
Applying the PIE Framework
Recently, on my morning walk to work, I recorded a story of how we applied PIE with a conversion optimization client.
How do you prioritize your conversion optimization test opportunities?
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