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The beginner’s guide to conversion rate optimization (CRO)

Image: Sigmund

Conversion rate optimization: How?

Start with a problem:

The CRO process boils down to two key questions:

Finding the answers to these questions will help target easy areas for improvement.

A good place to start is with analytics. Understanding the pain points of your digital touchpoints will help you uncover opportunities that can lead to improved experiences. This helps identify:

These are known as “pain points” and will help uncover the possible areas for improvement.

The next step is to understand which users are facing these issues, and what they have in common. Is it simply all visitors of a particular page, or do users have certain characteristics? Do users in certain segments have bigger issues than other users? For example:

Let the optimization begin: A/B vs MVT test

Once we understand the problem areas, and who they affect, the fun part can begin: optimizing experiences.

Within the optimization process, both A/B and Multivariate (MVT) tests are powerful tools. They can help you to design the best experience for your users.

A/B tests

An A/B test allows you to test one element of content against another to determine which variant performs best. It’s possible to test more than two variants against one another, as long as you only change one element of your content. For example, changing the call-to-action button on a particular page, changing a product detail description, changing colors, etc.

To define a winner, you can choose which element you want your test to be scored against. This can be based on an action on the page, adding a product to a cart, an actual purchase, a filled-out contact form, or based on your goals.

An A/B test is best to use when you already have a clear hypothesis of how to improve the experience based on particular KPIs. In other words, when doing an A/B test, you already know which element of the page needs to be improved. The results of the test will reveal the best performing experience (A/B/n).

MVT tests

An MVT test allows you to test multiple elements in a piece of content to determine which version combination performs best, and to identify which element contributes to the content’s success the most. For each element changed, a combination of these elements will be tested. For example, if you are doing an MVT on a Product Detail page, you are changing three elements:

Changing 3 elements will result in eight different combinations to be tested:

The results of the test will reveal which combinations work best, but also which element contributes mostly to the winning experience. An MVT test can be used best when you are in a discovery phase. You may already know a particular page or touchpoint that isn’t converting well, but you don’t have a clear understanding of why it isn’t converting. The results of your MVT test can be further finetuned and optimized with an A/B test. For example, if your MVT reveals that “element 1” has the biggest contribution to the winning experience, you can further test “element 1” with an A/B test.

Insights vs time

It is clear that MVT tests will give you more insights, but there is one important catch. When changing multiple elements on a page or touchpoint, the number of different combinations will grow rapidly. When changing three elements, you will have eight different combinations to test. When changing four elements, it will be 15 combinations. When changing five elements, it will be 31 combinations. More combinations mean more traffic needed, and more traffic needed means more time to obtain a significant winner.

For example, if you want to do an MVT test on a webpage that has 10,000 daily visitors and a current conversion rate of 1.5%, the number of days to obtain a significant winner will grow rapidly:

In situations where it takes a long time to acquire significant results, the long test period can influence your results (especially when there are seasonality aspects at play). It’s important to be pragmatic in such cases. Try to reduce the number of elements you want to test (less is more). A good way to sharpen your hypothesis is to do a short face-to-face test with a very small group of users. Use these quick insights to perform an MVT with a reduced number of combinations, but with a bigger audience.

Useful tools to do A/B or MVT tests:

MVT and A/B tests are the best way to determine your next course of action when it comes to CRO. Based on the outcomes of these tests, you will have a clearer understanding of how to move forward with some data-driven insights on how to improve your client-facing digital touchpoints, thereby converting more leads into revenue.

Are you on the right track with your digital strategy? Find out now!