Heather Barmby

CRO: The route to testing: What comes first?

As with all journeys, you need a beginning, a middle and an end. Conversion Rate Optimisation is no different. Knowing where to begin can be a daunting task, so a well thought out strategy can pave the way to success.

Our CRO expert, Heather Barmby, highlights her guide to the principles of testing, including what to start with and how to determine an effective testing strategy…

CRO isn’t just a case of optimising pages, it’s about optimising decisions and CRO best practice is often not following best practice as we know it. Makes total sense, right?

So, where to begin? Each business is unique and as such, its testing strategy will be too.  Broken down, there are six paths you can take when deciding what and where to A/B test, and the more paths you take, the more informed your testing strategy will be.

1 – Business insight.

You know your business better than anyone. Over time, you may find parts of your website that aren’t performing as well as you’d like. If something is frustrating you, there’s a high chance it’s causing friction for your visitors, too. Look at what you have to offer and consider this: if you were on the other side of the virtual fence, would you be inclined to buy?

2 – Visitor feedback.

Visitor insight can be vital in helping to identify any gaps. For example, if you’re receiving feedback from customers highlighting that there’s a page or process not working as anticipated, this is likely a conversion blocker and could be a starting point in your testing strategy.

3 – User testing.

Without the use of third party software, it’s sometimes difficult to gain an understanding of exactly how visitors are navigating around your site and what their thoughts are. This is where user testing comes into play. By asking users to perform specific tasks and offer constructive criticism, you may be surprised at the feedback you receive and how it can help to inform your testing strategy.

4 – Analytics.

Exploring your Google Analytics can prove invaluable. For example, if you notice within your data that category pages have a particularly high exit rate, this could be where you focus your efforts. How are filters performing? Are your product images optimised? Is there enough added value on this page? Do you understand your visitor demographics?

Having an appreciation of your visitor demographics (age, gender, location etc.) could pay dividends when it comes to optimising your website. A younger demographic will generally gravitate towards mobile, whereas an older demographic will typically be more comfortable on a desktop/tablet device. If you have a younger visitor base, are you checking that your site is fully optimised on mobile devices?

5 – Competitor analysis.

It goes without saying that keeping an eye on your competitors is something that all business owners should be doing. Finding inspiration from your competition is great and it may give you ideas you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of, as well as keeping you up to speed on marketplace trends.

That being said, proceed with caution when it comes to copying a change that you see on a competitors site, onto your site.  It may be that they’re currently A/B testing that change, which could ultimately go on to have a negative impact on conversion rate.

6 – Expert advice.

Listen to the experts. Our conversion rate specialists have extensive knowledge of how visitors behave, know what to look for and will be able to review your site with a critical eye. This can save you valuable time and money. Randomly plucking A/B tests out of the air could be detrimental to your conversion rate over time and having a hypothesis that supports the need for a each test is important. Increasing conversion rate means looking beyond just conversion rate and exploring other KPIs such as exit rates, bounce rates, actions performed (add to bags, search usage) etc. All of these are elements which are important contributing factors to overall conversion rate.  

Implementing the testing strategy:

It’s important to note that not all A/B tests are created equal – as a precautionary measure, you can run an A/B test at a lower percentage (30/70 split, as an example) to somewhat protect your starting conversion rate. Additionally, it’s speculated that across the board, an average of 80% of A/B tests don’t succeed – in the sense that they don’t increase conversion rate. However, there are no losers when it comes to A/B testing, you either win… or you learn!

Little known fact: CRO can also have a positive impact on SEO, PPC, Social Media and Email marketing. Talk about getting your monies worth! If you want to find out more about how our CRO experts can help you achieve the best possible conversions rates, get in touch today via [email protected] or on 01642 988 416.


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