Finding Your Own Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practices

By Chris Tauber

October 30, 2014

Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practices RoadmapIf you could test your way to a better conversion rate, you’d be a hero. The challenge is, there’s no single way to improve conversion. Each industry, each business, each website, each user, even each day has unique aspects of how to motivate a transaction.

Don’t worry. The good thing is, there’s an abundance of A/B test ideas and insightful ecommerce data to help improve your conversion rate. The key, then, is actually figuring out how to sort through all of that information to create and manage a conversion optimization testing program. You really need a road map to help you find your own conversion rate optimization best practices. Or, to make it all sound more impressive, you really need a Conversion Testing Matrix.

This matrix is not an overly complex framework. I’m talking about a simple, visual one-sheeter that distills the goals and status of your testing program. You should understand it at a glance—and so should anyone else in your company. You can use a visual-communications service like Data for Decks to help shape it for you, or tailor your own matrix in Excel.

While conversion is different for everyone, certain universal principles apply in the Conversion Testing Matrix. Ultimately, improving conversion rate means optimizing each part of your website’s conversion funnel. So, the matrix is organized along that funnel: the entry into the funnel, the products within the funnel, and the checkout process at the end. Each part will have its own primary KPIs, with the top of the funnel concerned more with engagement metrics, such as bounce rate, and the bottom with the commerce metrics, culminating in the conversion rate. You then develop your tests to optimize each part of the funnel.

How to Map Your Own Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practices:

1) Plot out how tests will graduate to best practices.

Start with the sections of the conversion funnel on the left and the eventual best practices on the far right. Granted, you’re never done testing. But each subsequent test should offer deeper and deeper insight toward the best practice that optimized the KPIs. Determining a best practice is a mix of science and art, so you’ll have to analyze your test results with what you know about your customers’ behavior to shape the best practice.

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2) Show how you’re going to get there.

As ideas come in for tests or certain data inspires a test iteration, pencil in a series of proposed tests. Each has a hypothesis and a method intended to progress toward a best practice. These proposals aren’t set in stone yet, but they are now more than just rough ideas. Put possible dates to also keep track of the schedule.

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3) Track where you’ve been.

With your testing program in full swing, any given test will be in one of these three states: proposed, active or completed. Record the status of each test to monitor the progress toward the best practice. On the matrix, only show the tests with the most meaningful results. This matrix isn’t a comprehensive look at every test; it’s a visualization of the key ones.

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4) See what’s coming next.

Follow these steps for every part of the conversion funnel. Each section of the funnel should have its own row that leads to best practices. In a quick glance, anyone can then get an overview of the testing program. The matrix is essentially a big bar graph of the program. This also allows you to see which aspects of the funnel need more tests. Fill in holes with proposed tests and your whole team will easily see which tests are coming up next.

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Once you’ve completed the matrix, you will have found your best practices. An added benefit of the matrix is that it shows the process behind each best practice, so, if need be, you can defend the best practices across your organization and achieve buy-in from stakeholders.

But finishing the matrix does not mean it’s time to rest. You are never done testing, iterating, and learning. Instead, it’s time to create a new matrix to learn more.

A/B map image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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