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A user-centric approach to conversion rate optimization (CRO)

conversion rate optimization

One of the most common mistakes in conversion rate optimization (CRO) is to try to improve conversion by immediately start A/B testing. Why is this a mistake? If you move things around you will see changes but not understand what’s behind these changes. It’s all guess work and you won’t know what works and what doesn’t.

If you want to optimize the resources that you spend to improve your conversion rate, then you want to adopt a user-centric approach to CRO. User-centricity starts by understanding the needs and the behavior of your users to then move to execution based on learnings and data.

The benefit of a user-centric approach to conversion rate optimization

Adopting a user-centric approach eliminates the guess-work and dramatically reduces the amount of iterations you need to increase conversion. By understanding why users do or don’t do a certain action, you will limit the scope of what you have to test. The result is to limit the number of tests you need to run to positively impact conversion.

As Hotjar puts it: “It may sound weird coming from a company that sells a tool that helps people optimize websites—but, as a principle, we believe that the best optimization tools are free.

Your brain, ears, eyes, and mouth are the primary tools you need to understand your customers, empathize with their experience, draw conclusions based on the data, and ultimately make the changes that improve your product conversion rates.

To understand your users’ needs, start by collecting qualitative data on their experience. Qualitative methods clarify the why behind the numbers you collect, while quantitative methods only allow you to measure what.

conversion rate optimization

Quantitative and qualitative approach to conversion rate optimization

Quantitative and qualitative methods do not exclude each other. They give different insights and should be combined together.

What works best is to start with qualitative research to get the bigger picture. Then, decide on what elements you want to focus on to increase conversion and only at the end move to execute quantitative tests.

Qualitative methods

Now that you have established that the first step is to qualitatively understand your users’ behaviour, let’s have a look at some of the most common methods you can use.

  • Customer interviews. A great way to start is to ask questions directly to your users. Customer interviews can be done in many different ways. In general it is a good way of running interviews by asking open ended questions rather than yes/no questions. Let your users directly describe their experience with their own words. In this article you can read 7 tips to nail customer interviews from the start.
  • Surveys. Surveys are another great way to get qualitative insight. You can ask the same questions you’d ask in a face to face interview. Surveys can be a fast way to get responses. However, in a survey you will miss the non-verbal part of communication. In a survey, it’s also impossible to clarify what you want to ask, so the risk is that every now and then the respondents will misunderstand your questions.
  • User reviews on forums. Reading the feedback your users left on forums is an amazing way to get their untainted opinion on your service. It’s a great method because you’ll get authentic feedback. Users’ reviews in a forum will immediately allow you to spot where you should improve to rank higher with your customers.

One of the advantages of qualitative research is that you don’t need big numbers. Usually 5 to 15 interviews will uncover enough insight to start.

Prioritise the tests roadmap

Once you have a good picture of your users’ experience, you need to sketch a road map of experiments you want to run to improve conversion.

Start by brainstorming on the different tests you can run. Then prioritise the tests starting from the ones you expect to have a higher impact on conversion.

You can download here the free template to plan your CRO experiments.

Quantitative methods and CRO

The planning part is now covered. You can start doing! You will probably have a list of tests you want to run, but don’t forget that A/B tests are not the only tests you can run. Here are the top 3 quantitative methods you can use for conversion rate optimization:

  • A/B testings. By far the most used among quantitative methods. With A/B tests you test two versions of the same page or screen that differ for one element. Keep in mind to only change one element at the time. Also, track both the micro-conversion (single page) and the macro-conversion (whole funnel). Lastly, don’t test only with your new variation, but keep online an unaltered version of the page or screen you’re testing with. This will help you avoid false positives or negatives. This template contains all the elements you should consider when running A/B tests.
  • Elimination test. Elimination tests are also a form of A/B testing. The only difference is that you don’t test by changing an element, but rather by eliminating it. Try by deleting the parts of your page with which users do not interact. The assumption is that reducing confusion will increase the conversion towards the tasks you care about.
  • Full redesign. Often A/B tests are not enough and you need a more substantial change. A redesign of your app or website is in order. Also in this case, test by having a control group and a split group.

For quantitative methods to be significant, they need to rely on a significant number of users.

Read here how to calculate the sample size you need.

What are the best tools for conversion rate optimization?

There are many great tools you can use for quantitative testing. Their price range varies a lot, so make sure to adopt what is fit for purpose. Popular tools include: Hotjar, Visual Web Optimizer, CrazyEgg, Instapage.

Also general analytics tools like Google Analytics are a good starting point, since they record what happens on your website.

User-centric CRO and Design Accelerator

Design Accelerator is specialized in helping companies optimize their conversion by adopting a user-centric approach. Feel free to get in contact here to check how we can help you increase your conversion rate.

Do you want to read further about CRO and UX? Check these articles:

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