When a lot of people think of split tests, they usually think about changing the headline of a page or the color of the call-to-action (CTA). There’s room for those tests in the overall scheme of things, but testing is so much broader than that.
According to the eighth annual Econsultancy Conversion Rate Optimization Report released in October 2016, 55% of companies see “conversion rate optimization as crucial to overall strategy.”
Recognizing the importance of conversion rate optimization (CRO) and effectively utilizing optimization resources are two different things, though. It is, however, relatively easy to tell how CRO-mature your company is.
Direct response landing pages take some work to get right, but they offer unique opportunities.
That is, if you control where the traffic comes from (e.g. an AdWords ad for a product trial, an email offer for a service, etc.) and your landing page is designed specifically for that offer, you have options to improve the page that would not exist for more “general” pages on your site.
Usability testing is a very powerful tool, but it’s not a very versatile one.
Your web site exit surveys, as a source of data, can uncover commonly failed tasks, general satisfaction about the web site, and demographic information about your users. Your web analytics tool can, as a source of data, uncover effective marketing channels, help you find the top pages to fix, and assist you in spotting ideal candidates for split testing.
How far has conversion rate optimization (CRO) come after 15 years?
With the emergence of numerous tools, services, and companies focused on website testing and optimization, one would think that CRO has matured.
If you’re launching new features on the web site or improving a section that’s failing, the most critical technique available to you is arguably the usability test. If you’re not actively conducting usability tests as part of your user experience arsenal, you’re missing out on one of the best options available to you.
Personalized. Customizable. Dynamically-served.
Those things have come to develop strange relationships with online marketers.
On the one hand, they’re great. They promise closer relationships to the visitors, better user experience, and higher conversions.
Online marketing has a range of tests.
The one that gets a lot of play and media attention is split tests, and with good reason – it’s a reasonably versatile, low-cost test, and you can apply it to existing pages and functions. However, if you’re launching something new or overhauling existing web site functionality, split tests will not be useful until the end of the process.
On its own, web analytics software is just a window to the past. A testing tool, on the other hand, does not track things downstream like customer lifetime value (CLTV).
Quantitative tools will tell you what’s broken on your site. But you need qualitative tools to come up with ideas about why it’s broken.
“If you build it, they will come.” Not.
This is often true for small e-commerce businesses. Alex Harris of alexdesigns.com observes that small business owners put up a web site and assume that people will come and start spending money.