There are millions of things you can try in order to improve conversion rates. If you had infinite time, money, and traffic, you could test every one. But you don’t.
Most companies are lucky to get between 10 and 100 optimizations per year on their website.
With so few shots available, growth leaders can’t afford to just try stuff and hope it works. Each iteration is precious and you want to make a difference sooner rather than later. So how do you accelerate conversion rates?
As my friend Esther Dyson (renowned visionary and all-around good person), once said: 'Always make new mistakes.'
In any creative process you will fail, a lot. There is no shame in failing. It is part of discovering what actually works.
No one wants to lose. We only deal with it so that we can find wins. Each loss can get you closer to a win if you set yourself up so that wins and losses reveal a bigger truth about potential customers.
Losing experiments can reveal underlying customer desires (is speed more important than reliability). They can reveal user experience dynamics (should we invest in personalization). They can reveal elements of persuasion (what kind of social proof works). They can reveal the impact of conventional wisdom (do consumers want to view a sales video on your site). Thankfully, lessons can be drawn on many levels.
The stigma associated with negative results can cause organizations to hide and repeat failed initiatives many times over. Thanks to the lean startup movement, people feel more emboldened to share losses more freely in their company. But we still have a ways to go.
The most important thing is to fail forward. If you lose, make sure you share your losers with teammates to keep them from repeating your mistakes. It's also never a bad idea to ask teammates about past experiments relevant to your initiative when prioritizing a backlog. This helps you avoid wasting time and money relearning their mistakes.
The only thing better than learning from your losses is preemptively learning from someone else’s losses. We built DoWhatWorks to help people learn from everyone else’s trial and error so they do not waste time on losing strategies and find wins faster.
You can improve your odds by looking beyond the four walls of your organization. To get one-off ideas, talk with peers at other companies to see what they have tried that has worked. If every scientist had to discover everything themselves, we'd never discover anything new. Yet somehow every business has to relearn every lesson.
To learn from everyone’s winners at scale, you can use DoWhatWorks. It now detects thousands of tests a year. It is available in private beta to other product and growth leaders to help them avoid losses, double down on winning concepts and accelerate conversion rate optimization. Learn more and request early access here.
Not all companies are big enough to run tests. If you can't run tests, learn from people who do.
But if you can run tests, you should run as many split tests as you can. Period. Testing is the most reliable way to learn. Many will fail, but the more you test, the more you learn. Each test provides insights on what works and doesn’t, and the more results you see, the better you will be at steering towards bets that are more likely to work.
Use tools (Optimizely, VWO, Google Optimize, etc.) that can help you execute tests more efficiently. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) tools can speed up execution and reduce the size of the team needed to run ongoing optimizations.
Tests will always need time to yield results, but shaving days off of the process can earn you a few extra iterations a year.
Unfortunately, companies limit their shots each year by spending longer than they need to get things launched. Common blockers include legal, getting members of a team to buy in, and getting people across other teams to buy in. These organizational dynamics can slow effective product managers. Anything you can do to speed up launches will help find wins faster.
Teams spin their wheels selling creative ideas when they lack data. When data is sparse debates come to an impasse, time gets wasted and often decisions are made based on the most senior person's opinion. The more you can bring data to justify decisions, the more you will speed up internal deliberation.
Ultimately, growth is driven by the number of things you try, the percent that makes a difference, and the impact of winners.
Conversion Growth = (# of iterations) * (% that win) * (impact of winners)
An extra couple of tests a year, combined with a better win rate, can have a profound impact on your results.
If you want to leverage DoWhatWorks to up your win rate, request access to the private beta here.
Photo credit: Marc-Olivier Jodoin