Thinking Beyond Testing: How Conversion Optimization is Evolving to Help Brands Better Connect with Customers

Conversion Optimization is about more than just testing. Used effectively, it can be an incredibly powerful method of learning more about your customers, and matching your site to their needs. 

Most marketers know the basics of old-school conversion optimization. You set up a classic A/B test on your website, say with a picture of a dog on one headline image and a picture of a cat on the second version. The version that gets the most clicks wins.

What you may not know is just how far conversion optimization has come over the last 14 years or the new tactics that marketers (and possibly your competitors) are using to better understand their customers and deliver conversions that matter.

Like so many aspects of digital marketing, Conversion Optimization has undergone drastic changes.

Conversion Rate Optimization was used to increase the percentage of people, or customers, that take a desired action on a website. This could be making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, making a donation, or sharing content.

It started as a great idea, focusing on leveraging A/B testing of design and content variations to determine which layouts, copy, offers and images performed best, and in turn would yield the best results in marketing efforts. However, Conversion Rate Optimization, like most digital marketing tactics, quickly evolved.

Over the last 14 years, Conversion Rate Optimization has become a broader strategy used to systematically understand customers, make changes that matter, and improve the value of conversions. This practice evolved into Conversion Optimization.

Today, Conversion Optimization includes many tactics outside of A/B testing, such as user testing, customer surveys, customer service interviews, UX reviews, heat-mapping and more.   Optimization practitioners have found that each of these research tactics offer valuable insights into the desires and behaviors of site users.

The bottom line: having a more complete picture of customers and what they need will help businesses effectively use Conversion Optimization to drive the right actions.

So how can businesses think outside of testing to make sure they are truly understanding their audience’s needs and effectively optimizing for conversions?

  1. Ask smarter questions: Don’t ask, “Why aren’t they doing what I want them to do?” Instead ask, “What do my users want?”
  2. Become a data hoarder:  Get into the mind of your users through a variety of tactics, such as user testing, heatmapping, surveys, chat log reviews, customer service interviews, and analytics.
  3. Prioritize:  Use the data gleaned from your audience to determine how to prioritize website optimizations, from entrance paths, navigation and flow, conversion processes, and optimization across devices.
  4. Work smarter, not harder – Remember that not everything needs tested. If heatmapping shows that website visitors are tapping on a product review that doesn’t link anywhere but should, that is a quick fix, not a need for testing.
  5. Build an Optimization Resource Library:  All of your assets, from prioritization, key data points and insights, and hypotheses should be used to inform the Research, Test, Fix Roadmap.
  6. Include the marketing and sales teams:  With anything, don’t forget to include the traditional marketing and sales teams. Their input about customer insights and requirements can be invaluable.

At Adept, our team is constantly evolving to keep up with the changing realities and best practices in digital marketing. Our Conversion Optimization team has been working hard to evolve our Conversion Optimization Roadmap tool to include all the research inputs needed for effective and efficient conversion optimization. We’re excited about our enhanced Conversion Optimization prioritization process and resource library to help our partners achieve their growth goals for online conversions.