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5 Popular Misconceptions about Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Did you ever believe something to be 100% true only to find out later it was just a misconception?

When I was growing up, I remember believing an outrageous myth about one product in particular… Pop Rocks. Pop Rocks are carbonated candies that fizzle in your mouth. The belief was that if you ate a good amount of Pop Rocks at the same time you drank a mouthful of soda, the carbonation would cause your stomach to explode ! Needless to say this was completely false, but it is easy to believe something when you don’t know the truth. Now, CRO is a bit different than Pop Rocks, but the principal is the same. What you believe about something may not exactly be based on the truth.

So allow me to dispel 5 popular misconceptions about Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). While believing these misconceptions won’t cause your stomach to explode, they may hinder you from getting the results you would like.

CRO Misconception #1

A professionally designed page is enough to convert your website visitors

Designing a page that is professional, aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate is a big part of what constitutes a successful CRO test, but this will only get you so far. When it comes to motivating or persuading your audience to take action, copy is King. The copy is what takes your visitor on a journey of discovery. As you educate your audience about your products, services and who you are (Value Proposition), your copy should answer the questions that your visitor has in their head while they are navigating your pages. And it should also provide solutions to the problems and challenges your audience is facing so you can move them from an initial interest to a desire to take action. Design definitely makes a difference, but never forget your copy.

CRO Misconception #2

If my tests underperform, then they were a waste of time

Not every test is a winner. Your variations will not always outperform the original. As a matter of fact, according to VWO , a popular A/B testing platform, one out of every seven tests is declared a winner with Statistical Significance. The good news here is that even the tests which underperform are still valuable because they educate you more about your visitors’ behavior such as what motivates them, what they like and dislike. Having this information empowers you to make intelligent decisions and create strategic plans that have a greater chance of succeeding because you are using data to back up your hypotheses.

CRO Misconception #3

CRO is simply a mixture of gut intuition, opinions and best practices

“Let’s put a green call to action button there, make sure it is above the fold and make sure we use large font size so our audience can see everything clearly…” You may have heard similar “best practices” like these as they are common in our industry. Best practices are always good to apply to your pages; after all they are best practices for a reason. However, simply applying these strategies without testing and looking at other factors does not tell the whole story. A holistic approach to CRO is a combination of best practices, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, insights, heat mapping, recording of visitors’ sessions, polling and surveying your visitors, among other things.

In addition, what you like personally and what you think might help a test may not get you the wins you expect. Once in a while you may have a feeling that something will work and you end up being right, but more often than not, that is the exception to the rule. When you have an opinion or a gut feeling about something, line it up with the data collection I mentioned. If everything matches up, that is the time to test it. More often than not, you will see more wins when you back up your opinions with facts and research.

CRO Misconception #4

I can increase my conversion rate by just copying my competitors

Looking at your competitors and seeing what they are doing from a best practices viewpoint can certainly be helpful, but it is not a guarantee that those same practices will work for you. Even new techniques you see them using may not be successful for your audience. That is why testing and gathering intelligent data is so important. Even though your competitors are in the same vertical as you, the motivation, behavior and brand loyalty will be completely different for your company. Testing and gathering data on your own site and audience will help you to understand more about your specific visitors and help increase your conversions.

CRO Misconception 5

Branding colors should be used across the site, including the CTAs

You may have a style guide or at least some guidelines about the colors, layout, font sizes and styles you will use on your website. Your branding colors represent you, and there is an immediate association and recognition by your visitors and fans. But, while these branding colors help to establish relevancy and consistency, using these colors for your CTAs may not give you the favorable returns you expect. The purpose behind the colors you use for your CTAs is so they stand out and become prominent on the page. When you use your same branding colors for your CTAs, it actually defeats the purpose because they no longer stand out, but blend in with the rest of the site. Doing this can remove your visitors’ focus and attention from your CTAs to items on your website that are less important. Try testing CTA colors that stand out, even if they don’t match your branded colors.

Did you believe any of these misconceptions? I find that a majority of people believe at least one. The good thing is that no matter what you believe, proper testing always tells the truth. I can’t say the same for my childhood friends. Unfortunately, some misconceptions just never go away.

Last tidbit of advice: If someone offers you Pop Rocks and soda, don’t worry, it’s just a misconception. Extensive testing has proven your stomach won’t actually explode.

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