You’ve heard the expression, “attitude is everything.”
It’s one of those inspirational shticks that you hear at the end of Ra-Ra sessions. And, as much as you may not like to hear it, it’s true.
When it comes to conversion optimization, I’m a tactical guy. I crave strategy. I meditate on metrics. I eat data for breakfast. I have dreams about Google Analytics.
But I also recognize the importance of attitude when approaching conversion optimization.
At the beginning of the New Year, along with the hard-nosed tactical advice, I also wanted to give you a straight-up dose of conversion optimization advice from the heart. It’s not exactly warm and fuzzy. (Remember, this is Jeremy talking, not your mom.) But it is important.
Here are 6 attitudes that I think every conversion optimizer needs to have.
1. Be willing to make conversion optimization mistakes.
The only reason conversion optimization is successful is because you make mistakes.
Take split testing for example. You’re going to pick some tests that just fall flat. They have no statistical validity. They don’t prove anything. Maybe it was a completely waste of time.
You learned something. You learned that your test was crap. That’s something. Mistakes are awesome, because whenever one happens, you get to hack another notch in your “learned it!” belt.
The more mistakes you make, the more successes you’ll gain.
I know that basketball and conversion optimization have absolutely nothing in common, except this quote, so here it is:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Michael Jordan is the legend of basketball. And why was he so successful? Because he was willing to make so many mistakes.
Okay, back to conversion optimization.
CRO is rife with mistakes. People are throwing around mistakes like a dog shakes off water. They’re everywhere. Why? Because people believe what Mr. Conversion (or whatever guru you follow) said, they do what he told them, and then they fail.
Replicating “best practices” might be the biggest failure you can make. But go ahead and make mistakes. Rather than assuming that someone’s best practices are legit, go ahead and make your own dang mistakes.
2. Learn everything there is to know about conversion optimization.
You have a limited time in your day, in your life, and in your career. Use it to learn all you can about conversion rate optimization.
Read all the blogs, check out all the tweets, follow all the influencers, attend all the webinars, and do all the conversion work you can get your hands on.
Neil Patel wrote this, in his “10 Marketing Predictions You Should Prepare for in 2015:”
We’ll see a demand in conversion optimization….It’s a unique skill set, but you’ll see a lot more people learning it over the next few years. Why? Because companies are willing to pay a lot of money to boost their conversion rates.
There are more people moving into this field. You’ve got squatter’s rights by being here first, and therefore, you have to own it. Know it. Learn it. Kill it.
Conversion optimization is a huge field. I challenge you to learn everything you can about it.
Like any sub-niche in digital marketing, conversion optimization is going to look completely different twelve months from now. That’s why you need to learn all you can about the status of CRO right now. As trends change, you want to adapt. You can build on your existing knowledge, and take on the new nuggets that you learn.
If you feel like you’re stuck in your conversion optimization knowledge, here is what I recommend:
- Read Quarto’s “Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization.” This is a great place for anyone, regardless of their knowledge level to do a little brush up.
The chapters cover the following topics:
- What is Conversion Rate Optimization?
- Why Conversion Rate Optimization Is Important
- The Basics of Conversion Rate Optimization
- Building & Testing an Optimization Plan
- User Experience & Funnel Optimization
- Landing Page Optimization
- Reducing Bounce & Exit Rates
- Myths about Conversion Rate Optimization
- Tools to Test & Optimize Conversion
- Measuring Conversion Efforts & Calling Winners
- Bonus Advanced Tips & Hacks for CRO
Once you’ve read the entire guide — no more than a few hours of your time — then move on to my second recommendation:
- Start doing A/B testing on your website. The best way to learn is by doing. You’ll gain the most traction and progress by actually conducting tests, analyzing results, and making changes.
- Keep up with the major blogs. There are plenty of great resources for conversion optimization news. Here are five sites that I recommend:
Make this learning process part of your daily professional life.
3. Test everything that is testable.
The CRO’s air, water, and food is testing.
Split testing is at the heart of every successful conversion optimization intent. If you can learn to test, then you will succeed at conversion optimization. That’s all there is to it.
There are very few things that are not testable in conversion optimization. That leaves you with a huge variety of subjects that you can analyze for performance.
I’ve provided a roadmap for your testing strategy for 2015. I recommend that you follow this split testing strategy in order to incrementally move the needle on your conversion rate, and to amplify your revenue.
Testing is the way that progress happens. You can create the most profitable year of your life if only you commit yourself to testing everything you can. Test your emails, PPC ads, headlines, images, checkout process, everything.
4. Develop an insatiable curiosity about the human mind.
The better you know the human mind, the better you’ll get at conversion optimization.
Conversion optimization, at its very basic level, is about persuading people to do something. In order to help them do that, you’ve got to understand how they think.
This is why I’m obsessed with psychology. If you read my blog at all, you’ll understand that I’m passionate about digging into the user’s mind. Behind every click, every call to action, and every conversion is a process of thought — psychology!
In my conversion optimization work, I put a huge emphasis on A/B testing. In my experience, A/B testing is the most powerful and direct way to gain actionable data and incontrovertible proof of what works.
The next most powerful source of data and information is psychology. In my article on the importance of psychology for CRO, I made this statement:
I recommend always asking the why question. “Why are we doing this? Why are we changing the button size? Why are we using green for this header?”
That’s the first step — turning on your mind, looking underneath the hood, and trying to figure out what the user is thinking.
The second step is to create a hypothesis. Before you rush off to set up a split test, stop and think about what a user might be likely to do, given a certain situation. Will users notice an orange button better than a green one? Will they be annoyed by a popup, or will it increase subscriptions? Create a hypothesis before you run a test.
Now, your mind is ready to begin testing. The background work you’ve done — the mental preparation — is important. When you do conduct a test and gain the data, you’ll have a much better foundation from which to analyze and act on this data.
Finally, and most importantly, know your users. Every site is different. Every product is different. Every market is different. You must understand who your users are, what they want, how they act, and what will influence them best. The time that you spend digging into the minds of your users is time well spent.
Here’s a three-step approach to better understanding your users:
The better you can understand your customer’s thoughts and decision-making process, the better you’ll be better able to create a conversion-centric website.
5. Be hungry for more.
When it comes to conversions, you deserve more.
What’s the highest possible conversion rate that your website could have? It’s 100%. Do you think that will ever happen? Probably not. But compare 100% to the point you’re at right now. What is your current conversion rate? 2%? 3%?
Wherever you’re at, there is always room to go up. Larry Kim wrote, somewhat provocatively, “Everything You Know About Conversion Rate Optimization Is Wrong.” His point was that many CROs settle for low-level conversion rates. They’re scoring 3% or 4%, and they’re content. So they rest on their laurels and simply don’t get any better.
What a waste! Here’s what Kim wrote:
Through our analysis of this massive amount of data on landing pages and conversion rates, we were able to identify some common traits of the top converting landing pages. What do they have that you don’t? Believe it or not, there isn’t much standing between you and conversion rates double or triple what you’re seeing today. But the way you’re going to get there is totally counter to typical conversion rate optimization wisdom.
In his research, top performers were scoring conversion rates of nearly 12%!
It is possible to get your conversion rates higher. But you’re not going to get there through smug satisfaction with the status quo. You’re going to have to be hungry.
(I’d almost say “be desperate” but that kind of sounds weird, so we’ll just stick with “be hungry.”)
Since we’re at the start of a New Year, it’s a great time to set some new goals. Here are the two goals that I suggest
Decide what conversion rate you are going to target for 2015. I recommend double what you had last year. So, if your average conversion rate in 2014 was 3.4%, then your 2015 conversion rate goal for 2015 should be 6.8%.
Don’t snort-laugh. This can happen! Look at the research from WordStream. You are only in the “awesome” group if you’re at 6.8%. You don’t want to be awesome. You want to be a unicorn. 6.8% is nowhere near unicorn status!
- Set a testing goal.
Obviously, you’re not going to achieve your new top-notch conversion rates just through wishful thinking. You’ll only get there by doing something. And what is it that you should be doing?
That’s why you need to set a testing goal for 2015. Again, go for double. How many tests did you run in 2014? Okay, double it. Or triple. Or more.
In order to test most effectively, you’ll need to get organized. Create a split testing calendar, complete with what you’re going to test and for how long. Stick to the schedule, and don’t slack off. Testing is what’s going to move your conversion rates up.
The bottom line is this: Stay hungry. 2015 is your year to dominate.
6. Know your users.
My final winner’s attitude for 2015 is simple but powerful. I’ve alluded to it above.
Know your users.
In this complicated mix of testing, analysis, psychology, conversion rates, paid ads, organic traffic, and revenue increases, there’s something fundamentally simple: You’re working with people.
That’s one of the reasons why conversion optimization is so fascinating. You’re dealing with humans — sentient beings who want to buy your product, read your content, or purchase your service.
Who are these people? What makes them tick? Why do they click? What do they want? How much time do they have? What are their hobbies? How educated are they? What are their lives like?
The better you know your users, the better you’ll be able to meet their needs. Remember, you’re not just selling somebody some stuff. You’re interacting with other people.
Ready for 2015? If you’re in the conversion optimization field, it’s going to be exciting. Stuff is going to happen, and you’re going to be the cause. Here’s how to get your head in the game:
- Be willing to make mistakes with your conversion optimization. Mistakes are where you learn your best lessons.
- Learn everything there is to know about conversion optimization. You can never learn too much.
- Test everything that is testable. Testing is the proven path to progress.
- Develop an insatiable curiosity about the human mind. Remember, psychology wins the day.
- Be hungry for more. You’re not going to improve your conversion rates unless you really, really want to.
- Know your users. After all, they’re at the very foundation of conversion optimization.
Read other Crazy Egg articles by Jeremy Smith.
And consider upping your game with Crazy Egg’s heatmaps. They give you deep insight into what your users like and how they behave, so you know what to test on your web pages.