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Conversion Optimization

10 myths about CRO that need to be debunked

Conversion Rate Optimization is making waves in the digital marketing world. Knowing the myths around it will help you make better decisions.

10 myths about CRO that need to be debunked

Conversion Rate Optimization is making waves in the digital marketing world.

Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz and SparkToro, dubbed it as “the most important marketing activity.”

Neil Patel named CRO as one of the most important trends in digital marketing in 2019 and onwards.

As traffic generation becomes more expensive due to intensifying competition, companies are looking at CRO to increase the efficiency of their marketing spend. Conversion rate optimization can make a difference when it comes to profitability.

However, for someone just starting out, it can become difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Not to worry though.

We have listed out 10 common myths that are prevalent about Conversion Rate Optimization, which you need to know to make the right decisions.

1. CRO is about increasing traffic (or confusing CRO for SEO)

This is a common one.

Many people think these two terms are synonymous.

Since a lot of companies think they don’t need CRO as they are already doing something about SEO.

Here’s the fundamental difference: SEO is about ranking higher on search results so that when someone searches a related keyword, your website is among the first ones to be visible.

This helps in getting more people to your website. In a nutshell, SEO has to do with increasing your traffic.

conversion rate optimization visual

At its core, CRO is not about increasing traffic.

It is about getting more out of your existing traffic.

It is about making all the necessary improvements on your website so that a larger percentage of your visitors actually complete the purchase that got them to your website in the first place.

2. CRO is ONLY A/B testing

There are many companies that provide A/B testing tools, that also claim to be CRO companies.

While A/B testing is definitely a very important component, there is more to CRO than just that.

A/B testing ensures that the changes made on a website are based on data, not on opinions or whims.

But there are other crucial stages that must precede and follow A/B testing. Any optimization exercise must begin with funnel analytics.

Based on that, you formulate hypotheses which are then A/B tested. The hypotheses that work are implemented. The ones that don’t work are re-formulated and subjected to further testing and so on. What’s being tested is as important as the testing itself. Testing alone isn’t optimization.

While A/B Testing is one of the most important methods for optimizing conversion rates, there are many other crucial methods as well.

3. CRO is a quick-fix, one-time thing

CRO is a process, it is not a tactic.

The essence of conversion rate optimization is to continuously improve the website’s experience based on data & experimentation.

It is not about changing the color of the CTA button or adding a spin-the-wheel feature.

It is about systematically learning why your visitors are buying (or not buying) and then optimizing your website based on what you learn.
conversion rate optimization visual

The tactics must be guided by an overarching framework and not be implemented in isolation.


4. Failed tests are bad, successful tests are good

This builds on #3. Different hypotheses are A/B tested and the ones that succeed are implemented.

But the ones that fail serve a purpose as well. You get to learn what doesn’t work.

It’s like when Edison found 10000 ways not to make a bulb to arrive at one correct way to do so.

Every failed test is an opportunity to learn.

You come back with a different hypothesis that is to be tested further. As mentioned before, it’s a cyclical process of continuous improvement.

Been wanting to be inspired by some great lessons from leading eCommerce brands? Read Marketing Lessons from 10 Great DTC Brands

5. What works for one website will work for all

Every website has different things going for it.

An optimization tactic that worked on one won’t necessarily work on another.

Every e-commerce business is a unique brand. The opportunities for optimization, therefore, are unique.

Make sure you keep in mind what is your company about, what is the story you are trying to tell, what is your brand identity, what your goals are etc. while optimizing your website.

conversion rate optimization visual

You should focus on core principles (e.g. the Call to Action button must stand out from the rest of the page) rather than on tactics (e.g. change the CTA button from green to red).

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6. CRO depends only on quantitative data

It’s tempting to think the hard numbers will reveal everything that you need to improve about your optimization efforts.

After all, visitor count, click-through rate, length of visitor session have all been such ever-present phrases, that CRO can be confused to be only this kind of numerical data. 

However, nothing can be farther from the truth.

When CRO is flatly confused to be numbers generated by heatmaps, A/B tests and surveys, another crucial aspect is missed out on. 

Qualitative data. 

This is the part that represents the interpretative quality about CRO.

The asking of relevant questions and trying to go beneath patterns and trends in numbers represented by quantitative data.

Why one-time buyers don’t make their way back, why the checkout process is difficult and why many customers abandon their cart all point towards qualitative data. 

And CRO is about quantitative and qualitative data working hand in hand to get a fuller picture on where a business stands, why its customers are behaving in a certain way and what its competitors are able to (or not) achieve & why. 

conversion rate optimization visual

7. CRO is about copying the websites of big brands

Think how Amazon features a “save for later” option.

Or Sephora offers rewards to join its online community.

Or even how Staples ensures its on-site navigation is top-notch. 

Each of these attributes is worth aspiring for, but copying them in isolation or even without a strategy is certainly NOT conversion rate optimization.

We realize how easy it is to think that a brand attracted more customers just because it changed the way its CTA buttons looked and worked. 

While it may be misleading to copy big brand website elements onto your own eStore, it’s not a bad idea to study why they do what they do.

Big brand case studies can offer you a glimpse into how established entities strategize to make their eCommerce brands agile enough to change with the times. 

An excellent example would be how Sephora introduced omnichannel marketing into their mix, thus uplifting how customers experience the brand across online and offline channels. 

Wondering about what it'll take to step up your CRO efforts? Check out Hiring a CRO agency: 12 key considerations (and expert advice)

8. CRO is all about experimentation

Experiments are a part and parcel of conversion rate optimization.

However, it’s a myth that CRO is ONLY about repeated experiments.

One of the ways to decode this myth is to understand that when you’re trying to maximize conversions, you’ll have to keep track of several aspects - tools, systems as well as the effort and time that can be put into testing experiments. 

Testing experiments for conversion rate optimization also need to factor in the type of tests that will work best for a specific scenario.

Usually, neither split testing nor multivariate testing works well in isolation - while the former takes lesser time, the latter helps you glimpse at a greater number of changes. 

Thorough and constant testing (and not whimsical experiments) is often considered to be the key for effective CRO.
conversion rate optimization visual

However, there are a few elements that need to be constantly heeded to make the most of any effort you put in. They include - 

  • The right sample size. Anything more or less than the number that clearly represents your target audience can create opportunities for misleading results. 
  • Anything that affects user experience. Count in navigation breadcrumbs, CTAs, shortcuts to checkout et al. The point of any CRO experiment is the intention to reduce friction and bring in greater ease throughout the customer journey. 
  • Tracking pixels and how they are used. Tracking pixels are tools that help generate statistics and information to plan your forthcoming offers and campaigns. 

9. CRO is confirming already formed opinions

The simplest way to say what CRO does is this: 

It helps a business make better decisions around retaining and growing customers, while improving overall value. 

While this sounds fairly straightforward, what makes it complex is that all businesses perform to the tunes of certain biases.

And the true role of CRO is to offer insights that can help the business move beyond these biases. For example, a business might be operating on a bias that their true target audience is pension-earning 70 year olds (a conservatism bias), while tests might be revealing completely different data. 

In real-time practice often, CRO is used to confirm already-formed opinions instead of transcending them to find deeper truths.

It’s not unknown that many people (as well as the businesses they run) are fixated on the “why” of a problem.

conversion rate optimization visual

So they keep looking for answers to get to the answers behind what seems to be posing a problem - without exploring ambient or even different routes. 

The problem only becomes more mired, because post-testing once a good-enough conclusion is reached in support of an existing opinion, a whole marketing strategy may be created.

Whole channels of communication follow, making it next to impossible to retrace the path that has been taken. 

10. CRO always results in dramatic changes

CRO is about reducing points of friction that make shoppers drop off, improving persuaders that inspire people to visit your eStore and enhancing hooks that make them engage and convert. 

However, it is commonly believed that CRO always results in dramatic changes.

Let’s say if a company pleasantly finds that their sales have gone up by 40% with their initial CRO efforts, they may believe this will happen every time. 

The crux of the problem here isn’t the belief in magic, but the avoidance that the probability of every test achieving 100% success is super low.

The way out is not to stop believing in CRO but to understand that CRO offers crucial information that then needs to be heeded timely and worked upon without pre-existing biases.

Because in real-time practice, CRO is an iterative process that is constantly trying to match fine-tuned optimization efforts against a dynamic, ever-changing business environment. 

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