Why We Need CRO— Review

Jenna Hamlet
9 min readSep 28, 2020

I have always been passionate about media and the mindset behind how an item or service is branded to potential consumers. There is something so intriguing to me about conceptualizing an idea, and using digital means to cultivate it into a reality. My background in videography, photography, post-production editing, and social media management has always been stimulating to my creative mind. Still, I am continuously seeking ways to advance my skill sets.

There are countless avenues to discover more about the human mind. Why do we choose to buy one product over another? When we see an Apple advertisement on Instagram for the latest pair of wireless headphones, what compels us to swipe up to learn more? When we see a commercial for a juicy, steaming hot burger, why do our mouths begin to salivate at the thought of ordering one for dinner? There is a complexity to how individuals not only process an item or service advertised before them, but the method in which they decide whether or not they want to obtain it for themselves. I wanted to learn more about this process, and that’s where the CXL Institute came into play.

When I decided to take the Conversion Rate Optimization course that is offered on the CXL website, my mind was opened up to new possibilities that come with turning a curious customer into a monetary transaction. There are countless consultants, marketing agencies, and businesses that can promise a positive outturn. It is easy to hire a company to create a website, or post for your social media pages. Oftentimes, they claim they can deliver all of the things that you are hoping to receive, which is more than likely to achieve a profitable outcome. When it comes down to actually seeing those results in the form of a business deal or monetary terms, many companies are left disappointed. The missing factor to these results are the conversion rates. In order for a product or service to be successful, there must be a transaction.

You can pull in an individual who is scrolling on social media with a compelling advertisement, bring them to your home page, and even have them peruse for a bit of time; however, if they are not moving past the “interest phase,” then they will be gone as swiftly as they came. I want to take my potential clients from simply being curious, to the next stage of booking an appointment because they want to learn more. I am excited to share with you some of the valuable information I have learned so far in the CRO course created by CXL.

In the Intro to CRO, we discussed that where you are new to conversion rate optimization, or looking to improve your own CRO program, you can build success with the proper tools and organization. When you define CRO and explain what it can do for your business, it helps you gain the support of your organization.

All the marketing we do for our businesses has the potential to support the company’s growth, or have a negative impact. The same way the Finish Line website update negatively impacted the company’s ROI, the choices we make can turn out the same for our own brands. How can we estimate which way it will go? How is science involved in this? The same way that Finish Line can get to the end of their project and still fail, or our marketing strategies simply don’t work — it all has to do without brains… our inclinations and biases.

We discussed the variations of biases, including: confirmation bias and novelty bias. With confirmation bias, an individual will only pay attention to the things that they already agree with, things they deem as “good.” Novelty bias shows itself in the form of grabbing our attention with something cool or interesting in the moment. The novelty of it is that we think it’s going to work or benefit us, but it often doesn’t. We want to get these biases out of the way when it comes to optimizing our conversion rates, and data and science helps us to do just that. As creators, removing our biases will eliminate the focus on what we personally believe our target audience wants, and enables us to actually deliver what they are desiring.

In the CRO Intro, the idea of losses setting us back really hit home for me. When a marketing strategy doesn’t pan out the way we anticipate, or we get held up a bit too long in one area of implementation, we get behind. We lose time. When this happens, instead of letting ourselves drown in the stress or frustration, we must utilize our data and continue on. Making changes according to the new position we’re in, rather than trying to make up for lost time in our yearly goals is essential. CRO helps us launch our strategies properly and in the right direction.

Agency discord is losses that have us questioning our agencies, rather than collecting data to help. We start looking at other brands’ bad ideas and begin implementing those failing strategies. Where does that get us? In the safe zone. We stop taking risks, put in filler words, and basic layouts because we think that we have to replicate some other business, rather than thinking outside the box. This is a roadmap that results in fewer leads, fewer sales, not to mention reducing our potential growth. How, you might ask, do we avoid such an issue? We look to the basics of conversion rate optimization.

Momentum is important. The number of tests is important… but the most valuable aspect is our ideas. Bosses, colleagues, the internet, advertisements, and creative teams — all of these group together for some fabulous ideas; however, without organization, they all wind up on the website without proper analyzation of each aspect

Firstly, how do you look at data? How do you interpret it? What data should you believe and what is useless?

  • Reviews and sample sizes > We innately go off samples and experiences. We use other people’s behaviors to make decisions in your own mind.
  • Ask good questions > Collect good ones, research them, and then write them down.
  • Increase sample size > Higher numbers helps us to know what we’re looking at is true overall. There is power in numbers.
  • Improve quality of sample > Find places where people have problems and where you can use your services to solve them.

Another highly valuable topic discussed in the CXL course is managing ideas. Ideas are at the core of both a scientist and a digital marketer. Both science and marketing are very creative. We can use tools, such as a list, to manage ideas. A list is a place to save ideas and whose idea it is. Whenever an idea comes at you during a process, you can add it to your resources and validate them even in the middle of a project so you can research it later. Once you have a list, you can begin to research it and add ideas to that specific item.

Speaking of specific items, another way to strengthen your CRO game is to specify each item. We need to hypothesize. This sounded a bit intimidating to me at first, but I promise, it won’t be so scary once you see how the CXL course breaks it down! Here is a hypothesis example you can use as your own model:

If I ________, I expect ________, as measured by ________.

This example will make sure you are very specific and show your ideas for what they are. It helps you narrow down each item that comes out of your initial thought. When you get good at this, you’ll be able to ask better questions to reach your goals at a faster rate.

Next, we need to rank ideas, not accuracy. Rank in the mindset of: Confidence, Effort, Impact,

  • Can I find some data to support this?
  • This is the confidence or proof we have in this idea.
  • Which is hardest to use?
  • How much effort is required to test this out?
  • Which will have the biggest impact?
  • Which will have the strongest response?

You can rank each idea with these steps and score them from 1–5 to narrow down your choice. I found this to be an extremely important bit of information. I typically struggle on where to begin when there is a big list of ideas in front of me. Ranking them in this way will move the process along much quicker, and in turn, help me achieve success at a faster rate.

But how do we know what is testable? Well, to put it simply, sources of data (insight) are all around us. Here a few tips:

  • Google it!
  • Data points are knowing what has worked for others, and considering that it might work for us as well. Keep in mind that we cannot fully rely on this as a guarantee — similar businesses will still have different outcomes because of varying audiences, locations, etc. Use other business as a general outline, not a lifeline.
  • Marketing studies, surveys
  • USE the idea list!
  • Puts your thoughts to work for you
  • Is there valuable info that should be on the homepage so the user is not searching for a FAQ and then gives up because it’s not easily accessible?
  • Every time you go to make a set of ads, a landing page — pull out your studies and research so you’re not wasting your time
  • Feedback, feedback, feedback
  • When someone finally subscribers or the equivalent — ask them! What made them do so?
  • Collect data on what content is working, layout, wording, etc.

These are ways to avoid continuously disappointing yourself and those around you with your results.

With all this being said, what is going to make our visitors comfortable in calling us, buying from us, etc…? This can be discovered through A/B Testing. I compiled some of the points that really stood out to me in regards to what it does and why we must utilize it:

  • Present visitors different versions of a creative project and find out which version delivers the most subscribers, leads, sales.
  • Requires rigor, understanding statistics
  • Have to be good at writing hypotheses, testing on one thing
  • You have to decide if where you’re testing has enough of an audience
  • Eliminates bias and lets visitors decide
  • Follow all the rules of behavioral data
  • Sample size is big enough to predict the future
  • Collected over time and not a static snapshot
  • 2 -6 weeks of collection time
  • Collected on recent traffic
  • People who are coming into current environment/product line
  • What works for them in real time
  • Current prospective customers
  • Double Blind > Can’t shape the data because you don’t know who’s coming and they don’t know they’re being tested
  • Failure intolerance — most tests are failures
  • Analytics show the issues that you’re expecting to see
  • Many of the things you’re going to go through will not deliver what you want and you have to be okay with that
  • Be okay with great ideas not panning out
  • Set expectations for many failures being part of the process
  • The better you get at hypotheses, the better you’ll get at choosing the right things to test

This particular section eliminated a lot of my nerves about the more data driven side of marketing. A/B testing is a journey. It prepares you to get to the bottom line of the answers you need, and success can be found in those very answers.

So, how do we bring this all together? We implement what we’ve learned about CRO in every situation we find ourselves in. We become more visual and authoritative in presentations. We recognize biases will never go away, but we can become powerful in presenting the proof. When this happens, the meetings get shortened, because you have solid answers with data to back you up. We continue building credibility in the data that is collected. Finally, whenever an agency comes to you with a design choice, we can feel confident to ask: “can you supply some data for this?” We want proof, evidence, and facts. Oh, and let’s not forget one very vital ingredient… creativity! Add a little crazy back in. Don’t play it safe. Those “out there” ideas may not always win, but what if that outlandish idea you had could fundamentally change your brand and alter the course of your business?

Now enough talk. Let’s get to work!