Conversion Optimization – Part One: How To Choose What To Optimize

Conversion Optimization 101The most rewarding part of web marketing is tweaking what's already working and getting it to work better and better and better… There really is no end to this on-going optimization process, which can be as exciting as it is frustrating. Technologies are always improving. Customers and markets are always shifting. And the website data you have at your fingertips is always shifting and expanding. Although you probably wish there was some perfect formula you could just implement and rely upon forever, the truth is these changes are exactly what make web marketing so exciting and such an innovative world.

In this series of posts, I want to share with you a simple method for improving your conversion rates. This series is intended for the beginner -- we'll start from ground zero and move our way through all of the aspects of a basic conversion rate optimization project.

Here's an overview of the posts in this series:

Part 1 = How To Choose What To Optimize
Part 2 = How To Create An A/B Split Test
Part 3 = How To Review The Results
Part 4 = How To Decide What To Test Next
Part 5 = How To Build An Optimization Plan

First, a quick warning. Conversion Optimization is a little bit art and a little bit science. So realize that some of what I'll be describing might sound a bit nebulous. There's wiggle room here for creative thinking. My recommendation is that you start with a very basic approach and then expand and develop your approach from there.

It really is a lot like riding a bike -- very difficult to explain to someone else step-by-step. But you definitely know when you're doing it right (the bike stays upright and balanced) and when you're doing it wrong (you fall on your proverbial ass).

How To Decide What To Optimize

Like many things in life, Conversion Optimization starts with a problem. First, you need to know what it is you want to improve (hence, the problem). This always starts with a question of some kind. Here are some examples:

-You are getting a lot of traffic to your blog, but only about 1% of the traffic is opting into your list. Your question/problem is: How can we optimize the opt-in rate on blog posts?

-You are getting a lot of traffic to your website, but very few visitors are turning into leads for your local service business. Your question/problem is: How can we get more people to complete our free quote form?

You get the idea.

The basic idea here is that you have to isolate one very specific function of your website before moving forward. The more specific you are, the more narrow and focused your Conversion Optimization project will be (and likely the better, clearer results you'll get).

How To Formulate A Hypothesis

How To Form Hypothesis For Conversion OptimizationWe're going to lean a bit more on the "science" part of the art/science equation for this step in the process. Now that you have an idea of what it is you want to optimize, you can formulate a hypothesis to implement and test.

Usually, a hypothesis is formulated as an "If/Then" statement. (Like: "If I sleep 8 hours instead of 7, I will get higher test scores.") In order for something to be a hypothesis, it must be testable. So it's important that you're specific and that you focus on things that can actually be measured. It's very easy to measure higher vs. lower test scores. It wouldn't be easy to measure something like, "If I sleep 8 hours instead of 7, I will be happier." That might be something you can try to measure and quantify, but it's extremely subjective and very hard to measure (and thus very hard to test).

Here are some examples of hypotheses for your Conversion Optimization project:

-If I add a popup opt-in box to my blog, I will increase the overall opt-in rate of blog traffic.

-If I move the Free Quote form above the fold in the sidebar, I will increase the overall rate of free quote form fills.

These hypotheses are very clear and very testable. The best advice I can give you here is to avoid getting too far in over your head. Focus, focus, focus. Be as super specific as possible.

In the next post in this series, we'll look at how to build out your actual A/B split test. Have a question about this post? Leave your comment below.

Jason Clegg

Jason Clegg is the CEO & Founder of Convert With Content. He's on a MISSION to help small businesses convert tire-kickers into lifetime customers & raving fans with #ConvertWithContent marketing systems that work! His secret weapon is Infusionsoft.

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