How are you going to improve your optimization strategy in the next year?
It’s that time of year, again: a time for reflection and resolutions.
As you look forward, you may be asking yourself…
What worked this year? What needs improvement?
How can I take my optimization strategy to the next level in the New Year?
Then, we compiled our own Stephen Covey-inspired list outlining the 7 habits of highly effective conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategists.
Remember, to learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.– Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Habits are hard to make and easy to break.
But as Covey points out, action is everything. Put this list to work for you and take your optimization efforts to new heights.
Here’s to being the most effective optimizer you can be in 2016!
1. Prioritize process over tactics
Processes and frameworks help guide a strategist to insights and rational hypotheses for testing. You can have a lot of data, both quantitative and qualitative, but if you don’t have a paddle you’re going nowhere.– Aswin Kumar, Optimization Coordinator
These processes allow us to gain insights from every test, even the ‘losing’ variations.
2. Make analytics-backed decisions
Analytics are your foundation for winning tests.
This data can reveal confusion and show you how different user segments are consuming information.
A high cart abandonment rate, for example, may not mean there’s a problem in the cart, but that there’s information missing on your product detail pages or other key areas. Users may be looking to the cart for information they can’t find elsewhere (like shipping and return details).
The ability to backup your hypothesis with data from analytics is an important part of ensuring you’re testing the right areas of your site.– Michael St Laurent, Optimization Strategist
3. Meet your customers
Web data alone can’t tell you everything you need to know about your users. Dig deeper by studying post-purchase and Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys.
Set up interviews with your customers to learn why they bought from you instead of your competitors — or why they almost didn’t buy. If you can, set up user testing to help you sniff out UX problems or website errors.
Real customers rarely use your website the way you’d expect.– Alhan Keser, Optimization Strategist
4. Learn the art of neuromarketing
Learning why consumers act the way they do will help you hone your strategies.
Brushing up on basic marketing psychology will help you make design decisions that improve clarity and reduce distraction, and write copy that improves relevance and reduces customer anxiety.
(Read about the LIFT model™ for more details.)
Always be asking ‘why?’ and be relentless in your search for answers.–Claire Vignon, Director of Optimization Strategy
5. Always be reading
Great optimization strategy relies heavily on constant learning. Here are some of our favorite literary resources:
Psychology, human behaviour and persuasion:
- Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
- Thinking, Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Web analytics, usability and information architecture:
- Web Analytics Demystified: A Marketer’s Guide to Understanding How Your Web Site Affects Your Business by Eric Peterson
- Envisioning Information by Edward R. Tufte
- Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug
- You Should Test That! by Chris Goward (Of course!)
Supplement your book-learnin’ with blogs: they move quickly and are a great resource for keeping up to date on new developments and trends.
Some of our favorites include:
- Optimizely and VWO. These blogs cover conversion optimization topics including case studies, best practices, A/B testing ideas and information about their products (testing tools) and features.
- QuickSprout. Although Neil Patel’s blog is not CRO-specific, it’s a great resource that will help you develop strong hypotheses. His posts are based on marketing tests and are highly researched. You will also find comprehensive guides on topics like SEO, CRO, analytics, content marketing and so on.
- WhichTestWon. Using data from previously performed A/B tests, this site lets you first vote on which page you think won, then see the actual test results. It’s a great way to increase your library of testing ideas. If you’re looking for more real-life text examples, browse the WiderFunnel library of case studies.
- Nick Kolenda | Psychology & Marketing. Nick’s blog is full of highly-researched, psychology-based tactics and the content is very easy to read.
6. Learn Design of Experiments (DOE)
Running a simple A/B test isn’t difficult, but an understanding of testing structure is necessary if you want to grow your results exponentially and decrease your chances of having an under-performing variation.
Rather than coming up with random variations and disjointed ideas to test, consider the potential for follow-up rounds and isolations and you’ll discover insight upon insight.– Nick So, Optimization Strategist
7. Stop, collaborate and listen
If you’re working on an optimization team, utilize this advantage. Different perspectives and experiences from experts bring a winning combination of friendly competition and team support to the testing process.
We like to get our team together every week to review our upcoming experiment plans and offer critiques and new ideas. Since we started doing this a couple years ago, our experiment plans and test results have continued to get even better.
Bonus! Be curious and get creative
Strive to learn. Keep asking questions. Shoot for constant improvement (don’t just sit back after a few winning tests). Always ask “why” and dig into the answers – this will help you continue to grow.
You can learn most CRO skills over time, but always asking the next question and never being satisfied with your site is what can set you apart.– Michael St Laurent
Curiosity feeds creativity. Take all of the data and past learning you’ve gathered and think outside of the box to create great experiments.
Anyone can test button color and move elements around on a page, but it’s the creative approach to testing that differentiates the amateurs from the pros.– Mitchelle Mejia, Optimization Coordinator
Like Mario and his Super Mushroom or Pop-Eye and his spinach, this list is simply a supplement. The way you choose to consume it will determine just how powerful a CRO strategist you can be.
How about you? What do you believe are important habits of effective CRO strategists?