There are many reasons why your
attempts at conversion optimization
could fail. If you avoid the mistakes
listed in this article, then you will be
more likely to succeed — it’s as
simple as that. To achieve success in conversion optimization, here are the five
biggest mistakes to avoid.
1. Getting blinded by your own knowledge and preferences
If your conversion optimization efforts are largely based on what
you like and how you behave, then you are more likely to fail.
Not everyone is like you; there are at least three other temperaments
According to renowned psychologist David Keirsey, everyone
falls into one of sixteen temperaments. The temperament of the
buyer influences what will convince them to buy a specific product,
and what will make them buy it specifically from your company
Which temperament are you trying to sell to? To learn about
how to sell to people who may be different from you, read the work about temperaments done by Keirsey and the interpretations
made by firms like Future Now, Inc.
My own consultancy firm, inUse Insights, has also done similar
work, grouping visitors into four types that are illustrated
by different birds: owl, penguin, swallow and peacock. The lesson
here is that you should learn as much as possible about your
audience, and don’t fall into the trap that they are just like you.
Besides that, you know a lot more about your company,
product or service than your visitors, and you may therefore
make the mistake of assuming that your visitors know more than
they do. Don’t get blinded by best practices, either; they are not
always silver bullets. Your audience and context may differ.
2. Optimizing for the wrong visitors
The assumption that all visitors to your website are there to convert
is wrong. When analyzing why visitors are dropping out
without converting, you need to know what they came there to
do in the first place.
Some visitors end up on your website by chance, some because
you cater to their interests or needs, and others because of
a mistake. You will rarely convert those who came to visit your
site by accident. If you combine a survey (attitudinal data) with
your Web analytics tool (behavioral data), you’ll be able to ask
for the intention of your visits upon entry and analyze their
It’s not unusual to find out that the group you have a reasonable
chance at converting constitutes 10 percent or less of
your visitors. With that new knowledge, you can focus your conversion
analysis on the segment that came to your website to
convert but never did. Work hard to make that group convert,
and forget about the rest — for now.
3. Focusing on only one metric or goal
Testing and conversion optimization is often based around the
idea of increasing the rate for a specific metric, a specific goal.
Nothing wrong with that, but you may forget to check how your
efforts are impacting other goals and metrics.
Maybe you are increasing one goal at the expense of others?
Maybe your conversion rate has gone up, but your average order
value, margin or return on ad spend has decreased? Always
make sure to look at the big picture. If you’re just looking at —
and optimizing for — one metric, there’s a risk that you’re fooling
4. Making testing a goal in itself
I’ve come across organizations that have set goals on how many
A/B or multivariate tests they should run in a set period of time.
That’s a bad idea.
Think about what incentives do to people, particularly if
there is a reward involved. If the goal entitling an employee to a
bonus is the number of tests executed, be prepared for lowperforming
tests and maybe even ones that decrease rather than
increase your conversion rate.
A good goal is not addressed as the number of tests run. Instead,
focus on the monetary goal you want to reach, or actions
that you want your visitors to take, and run as many tests as you can based on hypotheses and traffic volume. Your goal should be
to increase something (purchases, downloads, etc.) or decrease
something (visits to the contact page from visitors who have read
the FAQ, etc.), not to run a certain number of tests.
If you focus on the number of tests, chances are that you will
be too eager to test that you forget about building a solid
hypothesis, and run tests that don’t have enough traffic to
complete within a reasonable amount of time.
5. Coming to the conclusion that nothing works
Have you run tests and not seen any improvement? Rather
than conceding that there is no way to make a difference and
simply giving up, it is more likely that you overlooked something.
There may be something further you could do to collect
more relevant data.
Has your Web analytics tool been implemented properly?
Have you integrated attitudinal and behavioral data in your
analysis? Have you done usability testing? Have you used a tool
such as ClickTale that shows behaviors that are not necessarily
linked to what you can actually do on the website?
One way to quickly get new ideas is to ask your non-tech
Web-savvy friends to perform a task on your website without
Conversion optimization is for everyone
Keep in mind that conversion optimization is not just for e-commerce.
It’s for everyone.
It does not matter whether you’re selling a product, a service,
information or an idea. We all have specific actions in mind
that we want website visitors to take. Conversion optimization
is about making a larger share of visitors do those actions. It
could be about making a donation, becoming a member, changing
an opinion about something, or many other actions.
As long as it’s measurable, it’s a candidate for conversion
About the Author: Lars Johansson is the co-founder of Ampliofy (Web analytics products
based on Google Analytics) and inUse Insights (Web analytics
consultancy). inUse Insights is a Google Analytics Certified Partner,
Google Website Optimizer Certified Partner and Google for Nonprofits
Provider. Lars blogs about conversion optimization and web
analytics at www.WebAnalysts.info.