What to Test First: 20 Conversion Rate Optimization Experts Share Their Advice

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Conversion rate optimization is more accessible than ever. Learn what to test first from these industry leaders.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) has become more accessible to marketers today thanks to helpful software and tools.

One of the most common questions I hear about starting CRO is, “What should I test first?”

Here’s some great advice on the topic from CRO experts around the web.

1. Peep Laja (Chief Conversion Architect at Markitekt)

Quoted in Rejoiner: “Start optimizing closer to the money. Your actual gains in terms of revenue are going to be way bigger. Get your checkout flow to rock first, then cart page, then the product pages so you slowly move further from the money. Leave your home page last: 20 percent uplift on your checkout page vs 20 percent uplift in your home page: checkout page win is gonna be way more absolute dollars.”

2. John Ekman (Conversionista)

Headshot of John Ekman

Quoted in Shopify: “First figure out where in your E-commerce funnel you have your biggest problems then create your AB-testing hypothesis."

3. Tad Chef (Search Specialist)

Quoted in Evergage: “To convert your visitor to a customer you need to keep them on your site. People typically do not read on the web, they scan pages.  The first secret to great conversion rates: keep people on your site.”

4. Tiffany Dasilvia (Director of Strategy at Powered by Search)

Quoted in Conversioner: “I like to first look at data to understand what’s happening behind the scenes, the first metrics I look at are: Time on site Frequency Mobile devices and the usual paths users follow. From there I go to user testing where I try to find people with different buyer personalities…”

5. Jeffrey Eisenberg (CEO of BuyerLegends.com)

Quoted in Rejoiner: “Test for impact first. Isolate the variables that matter by testing. Lots of traffic gets wasted on testing many variations of variables that don’t move the needle. Find out what does move the needle then test for variations.”

Related Article:7 CRO Hacks to Improve Conversion Rate of Your E-commerce Site

6. Anna Talerico (Sales and Marketing Manager at Ion)

Quoted in Wordstream: “...deciding what to test strategically can be more difficult. That's why I like to pull together two or three very different landing pages and run an A/B test on them. Rather than debate which elements to test first, it's important to just start testing.”

7. Amrdeep Athwal (User Experience and Optimization Expert)

Quoted in Slideshare: “Fix what’s broken first before you add functionality.”

8. Karl Banks & Ben Jesson (Conversion Rate Experts)

Quoted in Tribes: “Learn about the Theory of Constraints, identify what your bottlenecks are, and find ways to remove them.”

9. Kathryn Aragon (Content Strategist)

From CrazyEgg: “Look for the elements that could yield your biggest wins, and test them first: subject line and call to action.”

10. Frank Puscher (Web Design Journalist)

Quoted in Evergage: “Sometimes small changes can have huge effects. If you’re just starting to optimize your site, start with the low hanging fruit and you’ll see some rewards. For example, you can start by making sure that the landing page people arrive at is related to the ad that brought them there ensure relevance. Look for the basic problems that plague conversions when you first get started, eliminating these will help.”

Related Article: The Secret Weapon 10 Marketing Experts Use to Improve Their Conversion Rate

11. Angie Schottmuller (Conversion Optimization Expert)

 Headshot of Angie SchottmullerQuoted in Conversioner: “To decide what to test I map out and inventory issues and ideas we have for optimization, then I score them using the PIER framework. The PIE comes from the WiderFunnel model: Potential. How much improvement can be made on the pages? Importance. How valuable is the traffic to the pages? Ease. How complicated will the test be to implement on the page or template? Reusability. I added the “R” to score reusability of the insight learned.”

12. Omer Khan (Founder of ConversionAid)

Quoted in QuietLightBrokerage: “My #1 tip for improving conversion rates is to really understand your target customer. I often see people spending a lot of energy on the tactics such as landing page design, finding the right tools etc. But if you really want to improve conversion rates, you have to first develop deep insights about your customers’ pains and desires. Once you nail that, everything else becomes a lot easier.”

13. Piotr Kuźniewicz (Blogger at UsabilityTools)

From UsabilityTools: “If your form is not optimized, and it simply exists, you will eventually hit the wall...”

14. Sujan Patel (Co-Founder of Content Marketer)

Quoted in Conversioner: “I always start by formulating a hypothesis around the weaknesses of the site. I validate the hypothesis by surveying visitors using tools like Qualaroo and talking to potential and existing customers. This process usually gives me five to 10 different tests to run, typically around messaging and copy.”

15. Joanna Wiebe (Co-Creator of Copy Hackers)

From Conversioner: “I work with a lot of tech businesses, and they tend to follow Dave McClure’s pirate metrics (AARRR) for growth: Acquisition (sign-up) Activation (use product) Retention (keep using product) Referral (tell others to use) Revenue (pay for it). We start by identifying the metric that is most off-target or most in need of optimization. Perhaps we see in our reporting that Acquisition, Activation and Retention are on track against goals right now but Referral and Revenue are flat or trending down. We work with the business to identify which of the two Referral or Revenue make the most sense to focus on optimizing, based largely on their business strategy and goals.”

Example Conversion Metrics

Related Article: Project Management Tips for Creating an E-Commerce Site

16. Chris Goward (CEO of WiderFunnel)

Quoted in Modgility: “Consider three criteria to prioritize which pages to test: Potential, Importance and Ease.”

17. Talia Wolf (CEO of Conversioner)

From Conversioner: “For us, figuring out what to test is a two-step process. First, running an in-depth analysis of the funnel and understanding key behavior of customers. Using heatmaps, Google Analytics, surveys and any other analytical tool that can help discover the crucial pain points within a funnel that need optimizing and if optimized, can have a large impact on bottom line results. Next, once we’ve found the pain points within the funnel, is time to identify what the problem is and come up with hypotheses of how to fix it.”

18. Michael Aagaard (Conversion Rate Optimizer)

Quoted in Unbounce:

Michael Aagaard Quote

19. Alex Turnbull (Founder of GrooveHQ)

From GrooveHQ: “By optimizing for customer success, you’re more than likely optimizing for growth. And if your revenue doesn’t grow along with your customer success metrics, then you’re probably doing something wrong...”

20. Tommy Walker (Editor of the Shopify Plus Blog)

Quoted in Conversioner: “So, ‘what to test first’ really comes down to being able to gradually build up to the pages that have more stakeholders and require more resources. Essentially, you’re just trying to build a case that says ‘My research identified X,Y & Z problems on these pages, we had these hypotheses which turned out to be correct, made this much more revenue, and now I’d like to test these hypotheses on these higher priority pages, based on X,Y,Z things I’ve found here.’”


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