10 lessons on Conversion Rate Optimization

Hello, this is Cathy from Assion


Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) in its simplest form is finding out why your website visitors are not converting into customers and then fixing it. Actually there is a lot more to it.

Here are 10 lessons we should know:

Lesson #1: Gather qualitative and quantitative data before you start testing
Do not run tests based on your gut. You’ll end up running a ton of tests that fail. Instead, make sure you base all your testing on data.
Numbers don’t paint the whole picture. For this reason, you need qualitative data, so don’t be afraid to ask your current and potential customers questions.
It’s better to have more data than less. For this reason, you should spend a month gathering and analyzing data before you start testing.

Lessons #2: Do A/A tests before you do A/B tests
A/A Testing is an A/B Testing experiment where the two alternatives are in fact exactly the same.

  1. There are two good reasons to use A/A tests from time to time:
    Checking your Split Testing tool. You are relying on the result provided by your A/B Testing tool to make critical decisions about the look, structure and navigation flow etc of your website. If the tool is not working as it should, it means that all these changes could be killing your conversion rate instead of improving it. An A/A Test would help you to detect this. If the tool tells you that one variation in an A/A Test is significantly better than the other, well, it is time to CHANGE!
  2. Reminder of the importance of a careful interpretation of the results. It may surprise you the result is an A/A test are not going to be exactly the same for both alternatives. Even if you are showing exactly clones of the same page to al your visitors, random effects will make that both clones have a slightly different conversion rate. It is useful as a way to make our customers realize that they should not rush to select an alternative. As soon as a variation is slightly better we all feel the urge to stop the test.

Lesson #3: Don’t expect increases on a monthly basis
When we run A/B Testing, we expected increase in conversions on a regular basis, at least every other month.

Boy, were we wrong!

The truth is, you tent to get only a few wins each year that drastically affect your revenue. Those wins typically make up for all of the fees you pay to consultants. CRO is a long-tern investment, not a short-term one.In other words, don’t expect to make a return on your investment within the first three months. Expect to start seeing a return in about 6 months. By the end of 12 months, you should be cash flow positive on your CRO investment.


Lesson #4: Multivariate testing isn’t always a good thing.
In a multivariate test, a web page is treated as a combination of elements that affect the conversion rate. Essentially, you decompose a web page into distinct units and create variations of those units. Let’s assume you make the following variations:

Headline: headline 1 and headline 2
Text: text 1 and text 2
Image: image 1 and image 2

Multivariate testing doesn’t ever truly prove that a certain element was responsible for the conversion rate increasing . It can only strongly suggest it. Since every user element in question which convinced them.

You need to choose the right tool for the job. Each are valuable:

  • Multivariate testing requires more work, takes longer, carries more risk, but can provide arguably more accurate results.
  • A/B testing is simpler, quicker, less risky but you won’t always know whats worked unless you test one thing at a time.

Lesson #5: Don’t optimize for conversions, optimize for revenue

Most CRO consultants focus in increasing your conversion rate, but they don’t focus on increasing your revenue, which, at the end if the days, is all that matters.When you are running tests, you will quickly get an understanding of how a conversion decrease can increase revenue. The quickest way to do this is to increase your prices.

For example, assume that you sell flowers online. Out of every 1,000 people that visit your website, 5% concert into paid customers. Because you charge $10.00 for each flower you sell, you end up making $500 in revenue for every thousand visitors.
Let’s assuming you decide to increase your prices to $20.00 per flower. Due to your increased prices, now out of every 1,000 people that visit your website, only 3% convert into paid customers.

In this scenario, you make $600 in revenue for thousand people that visit your website. Even though you conversion rate went down from 5% to 3%, you still were able to male more money by increase your price.So when you are working with CRO consultants, have them focus on optimizing your revenue, not conversion rates.

Lesson #6: Focus on macro conversions, not micro conversions

The difference between “macro conversion” and “micro conversions” is that macro focuses on the big picture while micro focuses on the small picture. For example:

  • Macro conversion: How many people end yo buying your product.
  • Micro conversion: How many people click the “add to cart” button or view your “pricing page”.

When running A/B Test, don’t run test that will boots your micro conversions as that will not guarantee a boost in your macro conversions. Focus on macro conversions such as increasing the total number of sales, instead of optimizing how many people view your pricing page.

Lesson #7: Drastic changes = drastic results
Once you optimize your conversions by making all of the major changes, you will notice that small tweaks-from headlines to button colors-stop having huge impacts on your conversion rate. It’s not that those small tweaks are not important. Its just you have taken care of all the low hanging fruit that is stopping people from converting. At this point your best chances of boosting your conversion rates or, more importantly, revenue s to make drastic changes.
Many of these won’t work our, but some will have a positive impact. Just get creative as that is the trick to boosting revenue. Here is a good example of making a drastic change on contact page. “Changing my contact page to an infographic”

Lesson #8: Don’t forget to optimize your back end for conversions
When you think of optimizing conversions, what comes to mind? The concept turning more visitor into customers. Right?
More important is, what about increasing the lifetime value of your customers? An example of it would be getting them to spend more money with you or getting them to refer their friends to you.
There are a lot of things you can do to boost your back-end conversions, so don’t just focus on the front end. In many cases, it is easier to optimize your back end than front end, so focus on both.
Lesson #9: Consultants aren’t miracle workers, they need direction

If you want to get the most out of your CRO consultant , here are a few things you need to do with your consultants:

  • Require that you have a call at least once every two weeks.
  • Assuming you have enough traffic, make it a requirement that you have to run at least two tests a month. It’s a numbers game after all.
  • Don’t expect your consultant to come up with all if the ideas You know your business better than anyone else, so make ure you throw your ideas out there. The biggest conversion increases came from ideas your business parters and you had.

Lesson #10: Just because you had huge wins doesn’t mean you will see large revenue increases
Even if you are using good A/B Testing software, focusing on optimizing revenue and measuring macro conversions instead of micro, it does not mean things will go the way you want.

For example, because a test says it increases your revenue by 30%, it doesn’t mean it will maintain that increase in the long run. The best guess is that there are other variables that come into play such as the changes in quality or volume if your traffic over time.This doesn’t mean you should discount those tests or stop testing. Instead, this means that you need to test constantly and work on optimizing your conversions/revenue.


Before you start your A/B Test, you’ll need to have two things: traffic volume and conversions. If you have fewer than 10,000 monthly visitors or $200,000 in yearly income, it may be hard to optimize your conversions.On the flip side, if you have over $500,000 in yearly revenue, then you should consider making CRO a line item expense. Just like you would pay a bookkeeper or accountant each year, you should constantly pay a CRO consultant.