An effective conversion rate optimization strategy will benefit nearly every business with a website. They are designed to improve the website experience for the visitor and to optimize the likelihood of achieving conversions, whether that is a purchase or an inquiry.  Though it is essential, a CRO strategy can be complicated and so many businesses can quickly fall into bad habits.  Let’s address seven of the most common CRO mistakes, understanding how they hinder results, and what your team can do to avoid them in the future.

Not defining a “conversion”

It’s very difficult to optimize your “conversion” without having a conclusive understanding of what this term means specifically to your business.  A conversion could signify any progressive change of prospective buyer state achieved through your website, from subscriptions to accounts created and leads generated; due to this, the term is split into macro conversions (large changes that affect the buyer journey such as inquiries) and micro conversions (smaller changes that benefit but don’t evolve the buyer journey, like blog subscriptions).

If you want to achieve true conversion success, you need to first identify the conversions your website aims to achieve – what return does your website offer your business?  Once identified, your team need to prioritize these conversions, focusing your CRO strategy on improving one specific area of business gain before moving onto the next.  We would always recommend focusing on macro conversions, ensuring your website provides tangible results your team can action for business growth.  Once “conversion” has been properly defined, there is a universal understanding of what a conversion increase or decrease means and why that result is important.

Not having the right tracking tools

CRO strategies are built upon measuring and analyzing website activity data and conversion results – without the proper tracking tools, your team are unable to accurately understand conversion rate and the measures taken to optimize this figure.  Failing to select and implement the appropriate tracking tools for metric collection and CRO analysis is like building a house out of cards – nearly impossible, and indefinitely unsustainable.

Start by outlining how you will gather the data required to calculate the conversion rates, then extend this query to ask how you will measure the activity your website sees daily.  Whilst a website analytics tool is a great place to start, we would recommend using multiple tools with varying features, including heat-maps, visitor recordings and geo-location insights.  Using multiple tools offers a number of benefits, from a wider variety of measurement features to multiple readings of the same vital figures, helping your team easily identify anomalies in expected behaviors.

Once you’re comfortable with calculating conversion rates and understanding online behavior in detail, ask what tools you need to properly conduct tests and experiments.  Your team will need to execute consistent experimentation to identify the most effective and beneficial website improvements – without the ability to measure the success of tested elements, your CRO strategy will stagnate and become ineffective.  Select the vital tools your team need for this process and implement them into your strategy.

Not giving tests time to breathe

When working with a CRO strategy, many businesses are keen to gain positive results instantly (or very quickly).  We understand the desire to see consistent improvement for all your hard work makes waiting for tests to take full effect difficult, but this fast movement can destroy your CRO strategy and worsen your chances of conversion success.  Testing different elements across your website to identify effective, actionable changes is the backbone of a CRO strategy – without giving these tests time to breathe and offer genuine, valuable insight, you’re sabotaging your own success.

When planning which website elements to test for increased optimization, plot these changes out on a calendar, ensuring you leave sufficient time to test each element, gather results and make changes before scheduling the next website evolution.  This calendar ensures your team has a structured framework to follow, conducting tests and allowing time to ensure results are genuine.  For a business website, it’s a known fact that conversion lessens over weekends, during the last week of the month and in popular holiday seasons; to ensure these known dips in results don’t misinform your experiments, plan carefully and work methodically.  The slow and steady optimist wins the race, as they can say with confidence what will and won’t work, thanks to thorough, extensive testing.

Only A/B testing

A/B split testing is often associated with conversion rate optimization, because this form of test directly pits one option against another, and (usually) offers a conclusive result.  This is a favored testing technique among many businesses for the reasons listed, but focusing all your efforts on this type of test can be dangerous.  A/B testing isn’t always the best option for your website and won’t always provide the most accurate result. Just as multiple website analytics tools can benefit your strategy, embracing many different types of testing can work wonders for your CRO success.

It is true that for some CRO elements, A/B testing is best, so work to understand where you want to use this test strategy, and where other techniques will be more beneficial.  Working with features like heat-maps and visitor recordings offer a different form of insight than A/B testing, and for some website elements, may provide an advanced measure of effectiveness.  The best strategies don’t put all their eggs in one basket, so don’t put all your faith in A/B testing.

Not experimenting on pages performing well

Just because a web page is converting successfully doesn’t mean your CRO work is done – it’s likely this page still has the potential to produce even better results, or in some cases, the ever-changing world of online marketing may make this success short-lived.  The online world is not static – what works for conversion rate optimization today may hinder results tomorrow; leaving well-performing pages to just “do their thing” is risky and can hurt your strategy in the long run.

It’s important to understand why a specific page is performing well, as your team can draw insight from this success and replicate elements on other pages.  It’s also important to continue experimenting and measuring well-performing pages to ensure that the webpage is as optimized as possible and identify any weaknesses the moment they show.  When looking to optimize your website, the best-performing pages are a great place to start – they obviously already contain something your visitors engage with and enjoy, the sooner you identify this element, and improve it for the ultimate conversion, the easier your CRO processes will be.

Not creating actions from results

For many CRO strategies, there is a miscommunication between a test or experiment, and the changes made afterwards.  This occurs when teams are keen to make CRO changes based on tactics or best practices instead of research.  Making changes based on anything but the results gained from your website trackers is risky, and sometimes highly damaging to your conversion success.  Your team can only achieve your best conversion results when gathering insightful website data, analyzing these numbers to discover trends and patterns, then converting these results into actions.

When building a CRO strategy, clearly outline the process your team will take to gather results, understand what they mean, and design actions points in response to their findings.  This process can be re-evaluated and improved as time goes on but implementing this sort of process early in your CRO strategy ensures your team always make the best decision and understand how they can convert a list of numbers into an effective, optimization change.

Giving up after a “failed” test (or ignoring the results)

One of the biggest mistakes made in a CRO strategy is discarding and ignoring the results of a test because it “failed”.  Many teams believe an experiment that produces an inclusive result has been a waste of time, as the outcome is of no use, and no actions can be taken.  This is far from the truth.

Sam Woods gives us a piece of invaluable advice, stating “A test doesn’t ‘fail’ unless something breaks.  You either get the result you want, or you learned something”.  It’s important to always ask why a test result was conclusive, or indeed, inconclusive, and what that result teaches your team.  Let’s say, for example, you’ve run a test comparing call to action button colors, and the results reveal little difference between the two – this teaches your team at least three possibilities.  1) Both button colors are effective and entice your audience.  2) Both button colors are equally ineffective and don’t provide the best conversion results. 3) Another element of your call to action effects conversion results.  With these three insights, your team has a selection of options they can act to move this optimization strategy forward.

By understanding these seven CRO mistakes, your team can build a superior strategy that aims to avoid these pitfalls, ensuring the ultimate success.