Conversion Rate Optimization

How To Help People Understand Conversion Rate Optimization

I was recently introduced to an owner of an offline-only bricks and mortar business by a mutual friend. During the conversation he asked what HelloClicks did.

I then went on to explain the same as I always do that a “huge part of our business involves helping companies increase their sales by optimising their websites with the help of research and testing.”

It’s a well rehearsed answer.

To my surprise, he followed up with a slightly unusual response – “That must be an easy sell”.

Even though he wasn’t quite right with that statement, as CRO can actually be a complex service to sell. He did however, understand the potential that it can have for businesses.

Starting Out In Conversion Rate Optimisation

Conversion Rate Optimisation involves a diverse amount of skills in order to run a successful testing program.

As there are now a huge volume of tools around that make AB testing much more accessible for businesses of all sizes, lots and lots of companies “think” they are running a successful optimisation program.

However, what they don’t realise is that the tests they are running could be doing more harm than good.

And this is purely down to a lack of knowledge.

This can make things a bit more difficult when it comes to truly understanding CRO. Companies “think” that they are already running successful testing programmes. Or it isn’t something that will work for them as they have tried it before and saw no improvement in performance.

Although, there is one plus side to AB testing becoming more mainstream. Conversion Rate Optimisation as a result is growing in awareness.

Way more companies are now understanding the value they can receive from it because of which, CRO is rising in popularity :

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Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) at first is an impressive proposition.

The idea that a company can dramatically increase their sales by 41% or more by optimizing their website is surely very appealing to most businesses.

However, because of the complexity of CRO, it can be difficult to explain.

There’s a fine line to explaining enough that they understand the foundations and explaining too much detail that the person you are talking to becomes dazed and confused.

In this article, i’m going to discuss areas where we have made significantly learnings, whilst running a CRO agency and ways we have overcome hurdles :

  1. Challenges Convincing People About CRO
  2. Helping People Understand Conversion Rate Optimisation
  3. Helping Companies Adopt CRO

If you want to learn about CRO as a strategy, take a look at our post What Is CRO?

Let’s get started!

Challenges Convincing People About CRO

CRO is a difficult conversation to have with any person that’s unfamiliar to it, especially a C-level executive of a company.

You start by explaining that you’re going to run a testing programme of different variations of their website to try and increase the amount of revenue the website generates. Which always sounds very straightforward as well as attractive (and will usually have a positive response).

Then you go onto explain that you will need to find what to test. In order to do that,  you would need to do a research stage that will hopefully provide a huge number of insights as to what motivates your customers to buy as well as what is currently holding them back from doing so.

Then, we’re going to dig deeper into these insights by hypothesizing the best way to address the issues that have been found. By testing them with a new version against the original to see if we can improve the results.

It’s all going well so far.

As you provide further details,  you get to the point where most prospects internal warning system goes into overdrive.

“Oh yeah, those tests that we run, they’re not always going to see an increase in conversions. More often than not, they’ll perform worse”.

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Sure it would be worded more delicately, but you should understand the point i’m trying to make. CRO can be difficult for people outside of the industry to understand.

According to VWO, only 1 out of 7 tests is a winning test. That statistic alone confirms how much ‘losing’ takes place with AB testing.

As conversion optimisers we understand that all the testing that is done, will provide learnings and insights. But for someone new to the industry it can sound a lot like “marketing talk”.

However, optimisers do know that when a test is successful, the results can dramatically change businesses for the better. But it’s difficult to explain, when this is obviously not guaranteed.

Explaining to anyone that the results aren’t guaranteed to see a return, can be a difficult conversation to have.

At this point it’s a good time to walk through exactly why 6 out of 7 tests fail and the positives that can be taken from an experiment if it does.

Dealing With The Most Common Objections

The question that is always, always asked is :

How much of a conversion rate increase can we expect to receive?

At this point, it’s hard to not be caught between a rock and a hard place.

Our skills are known as being optimisers and not as psychics. So it really is very difficult to predict how much of an impact our AB testing will have.

If you give a conservative number, you may not appear very confident in your work.

If you give a high number and you don’t hit it, then that’s going to look as though you’ve under delivered on your promise and will probably result in you losing the client.

There’s a saying that goes “You are only as good as your last performance”.

And this is how we respond to the inevitable questions related to how much of a lift in conversions someone should expect to see.

This is about the time when it’s probably a good idea to show some case studies and the results that those companies have seen. If you can show it in revenue terms, even better!

It’s really the only answer that you can give.

It wouldn’t be fair for to even give them a “ballpark” figure.

Key Takeaways :

  1. Back-up your offer with case studies.
  2. Don’t guess conversion rate lifts, show the increases companies in similar industries have had.

Helping People Understand CRO

CRO is complicated.

There aren’t many services that will cover this many areas :

  • Usability Testing
  • Customer Research
  • Customer Interviews
  • Session Recording
  • Data Analysis
  • Analytics
  • Web Development
  • Wireframing
  • Design
  • Statistics
  • Experimentation
  • The list goes on…

People say that Growth Hackers need to be T-Shaped. But Conversion Optimisers aren’t far away from that definition either.

To the average person, explaining how CRO works is often better received when the explanation is made as simple as possible to begin with.

Then if they ask questions, this is where you can elaborate.

When we begin discussing CRO, we adopt an ‘as much as you want’ approach.

We’ll give as much information about what it is and we’ll always try to educate them at the same time.

Helping Companies Adopt CRO

Let’s start with .

They are one of the most vocal companies when it comes to the volume of testing that they do.

Well known for running thousands of AB tests concurrently, their results speak for themselves – They have “conversion levels 2-3x the industry average.” Source.

And to be running a CRO program as spectacular as that, you need to be doing more than just AB testing.  There needs to be a CRO Culture.

Huge well known companies are making this part of their company culture and succeeding because of it.

Take a look this talk Stuart Frisby who was the Head of Design for He explains their testing culture and how to build one :

So we know that companies benefit from adopting CRO. But what can help them get to that point?

In our experience, the best way to start building a culture is by being as transparent as possible about the CRO programme between departments.

Explain the exact research that is taking place and what has lead you to believe that this is something that is worth testing.

Share the hypothesis and the reasons for doing everything. They may question a few things at first, but if you demonstrate your knowledge,, this will make them more confident in you.

There’s 3 goals that we have when it comes to adopting CRO :

  1. Involve as many relevant departments as possible

As an agency working with a client, you will have a few different people that you may be involved with from the company. These will usually be the people that are already onboard with CRO.

However, to get the ball rolling when it comes to company-wide adoption, you need to be involving various departments in what you are doing.

These departments can range from but aren’t limited to :

  • Designers
  • Branding
  • Customer Service
  • Sales
  • Content Editors

It’s extremely interesting if you’re working with a team that really wants to fully adopt CRO and an experimentation culture. Over time, as they start to understand your process more and more,  often they will begin coming to you with new insights or new things to test.

  1. Keep the various departments updated with the results of the experiments

Creating a way of sharing your test results depends on what works for you.

The main thing is sharing your results so as many of the departments as possible are kept up to date. This can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.

The most important thing is that you do it.

  1. Help them understand that tests that fail are OK.

Generally speaking, humans have a negative connotation with failure. So this is the first obstacle to get over.

The way to do this is to clearly explain why even if a test fails, there are learnings and insights that we can take away from it. Maybe by giving examples where you have made significant findings from tests that have failed.

Final Thoughts

Even though understanding CRO and it’s adoption is important, it isn’t crucial.

There will be people that just simply don’t have the time to read regular emails about your experiments and findings. It will just be adding to their daily workload.

It’s just one of those things, so don’t let this dishearten you.

The main goal is to provide value to the website you are working on with the CRO work that you are doing.

I really hope that you have managed to find some useful information from this article, please feel free to reach out in the comment section below if you have any thoughts or questions!

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