Are you getting decent traffic to your website, but it just isn't converting into customers? You're ready to start working on your website conversion optimization. But if your first instinct is to open up your A/B testing software then you may be setting yourself up for failure.
In this article we provide a blueprint for the 5 critical steps to successful website conversion optimization.
1. Define a Successful Outcome
You'd be surprised how many people will start using their favorite A/B testing software without any clear idea of what they want to achieve. As the saying goes, if you don't know where you're going, then you'll end up somewhere else. A successful foundation for any website conversion optimization strategy is developing a clearly defining success.
You should be able to clearly answer the following questions before you start:
- What's the problem that you're trying to solve?
- What's your value proposition?
- What does the ideal successful outcome look like?
- What are your key goals and success metrics?
2. Conduct a Funnel Analysis
It can be very tempting to look at a low conversion rate on a particular landing page and decide to focus all your efforts there because someone else is getting higher conversion rates. But in the bigger picture, improving conversion on that page may not make much of a difference to your bottom line. So it's essential that you look at the end to end funnel for your marketing initiative and then decide where to focus.
Some of the key considerations at this stage include:
- Where is your traffic coming from and which sources convert the best?
- What are the key steps in your marketing funnel from traffic to customer?
- Which web pages are the biggest pain points and biggest opportunities?
3. Develop Your Initial Hypotheses
A hypothesis is defined as a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.
So what exactly does that mean when we're talking about website conversion optimization? Simply put, it means that you decide what you're going to test, what result you expect and then you test to prove/disprove that hypothesis.
You can develop your hypotheses in a number of ways e.g. brainstorming, best-practices, user feedback, surveys, usability etc.
The diagram above provides a simple framework to think about a hypothesis. And this can be used to state all your hypotheses before you start testing. Here's an example of what that may look like:
Changing the button text from “sign up” to “learn more” will result in more clicks to the signup page.
Once you've listed all your hypotheses, it's important to prioritize them so can focus your efforts on the most impactful areas.
4. Setup & Run Your Tests
Now you're almost ready to start testing. It's so tempting to start playing around with A/B testing software and making endless tweaks. But the first test you should run should actually be an A/A test, with identical pages to help you establish a baseline.
Once you've established a baseline, you're finally ready to start doing your testing. First, you'll have to choose between A/B and multivariate testing. And then you'll need to setup your tests and your challenger pages. There are a number of tools that you can use, including Google Content Experiments, Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer.
You'll need to run each test long enough to reach statistical significance i.e. send enough traffic to the page and/or get enough conversions to scientifically validate that the hypothesis has been proved or disproved. The folks at Visual Website Optimizer have created a useful calculator to help you determine what is statistically significant.
5. Analyze the Test Results
Once you've reached statistical significance with a test, you are ready to analyze the results. Be careful in making broad assumptions about projected conversion rates, leads and revenue for the coming year.
The primary goal of your test was to prove or disprove a hypothesis. So you need to be reasonably confident (95%) that you achieved that goal with your test i.e. we're 95% confident that changing the button text from “sign up” to “learn more” will increase clicks to the sign up page.
Ultimately, you need to focus on how each test helps you move closer to the successful outcome you defined at the start e.g. increasing your revenue from sales of product X.
Once you've analyzed your results, you need to decide what you're going to test next. Are you ready to test your next hypothesis? Do you need to revise your hypotheses and test plans? There are no right answers here. You need to decide whether there's an opportunity to significantly improve conversion rates of a page through more testing, or whether you're just beating a dead horse.
A/B testing software is becoming increasingly easier to use and more accessible. Unfortunately, jumping into using this software without the proper planning, can lead to poor decisions which could impact your bottom line. So if you want to improve your chances of success and drive more sustainable results for your business, consider using these recommendations to help build a solid foundation for your website conversion optimization.
Image: Gill Cocks