CXL Minidegree: Conversion Optimization Part [1/12]

Aaron Baker
5 min readNov 2, 2020
Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash

It is always with the best intentions that the worst work is done.

Oscar Wilde

As marketers, too often do we make assumptions on what will work. Of course, anyone worth their price will typically work from best practices. But… is that enough?

So now we have the best of intentions and best practices. Why does this not always lead to the best results? And what can we do to get the most out of our marketing efforts?

Introducing, Conversion Rate Optimization.

Conversion Rate Optimization, often referred to as CRO, is the practice of using the scientific method to test (Hypothesize) what strategies make money and what strategies equate cash to kindling.

In the world of marketing, nothing is given to you for free. You have to test. Test your copy, test your landing pages, test your user flow. Hell, if you’re getting over 1 million unique visits a day, you have my permission to test the colour of your buttons.

Until we have PROOF, we will not know if what we’re doing is the best we can do. This is why I’ll say it again.

To truly get the most out of your marketing effort you must what? Test.

The Conversion Optimization Series

Over the next 12 weeks, I will be diving into CXL’s Conversion Optimization Minidegree program.

CXL is known for their conversion optimization. They’ve helped countless companies improve their results and better yet, make more money!

Through this program, I will be exploring the techniques that they use to achieve their impressive results.

After completing the course we will have learned how to;

  • Implement organized and efficient CRO programs using digital psychology, UX, and web analytics,
  • understand what works on websites, and what doesn’t,
  • develop better A/B tests that win more often.

Taught by expert practitioners, you’ll have access to the best minds and practical knowledge that can be applied to your ongoing experiments.

I’ve also completed CXL’s Minidegree in Digital Psychology and Persuasion. My review can be found here.

Is CRO right for me?

There are two schools of thought on this one. To run a true CRO program, it’s generally considered optimal to have at least 5000 visitors a week. If you’re hitting those numbers, congratulations! We have ton of techniques and tools for you later in this series. Anything less than 5000 unique visits a week and you run into 2 problems.

Problem 1: Longer testing cycles

Running variant tests on sites that don’t produce enough data points is incredibly slow. When you have low site traffic, expect your tests to take weeks-months and not days-weeks

Problem 2: Statistical Insignificance

When you have fewer data points, your results are statistically less significant.

Basically, you can’t apply learnings from 100 people to a population of 100,000 people and expect to get the same results.

Fear not, if you have a low traffic, there are solutions for you. Introducing Heuristic Analysis! This is also known as defaulting to HiPPO’s (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion). In this case, I’m also assuming the Hippo to be the expert in the room.

With Heuristic Analysis, we use our CRO experience to determine if the landing page is executing on these “best practices”.

However, for most of us in the lower tax brackets and don’t have extensive CRO experience, fear not there are frameworks we can work from. Here is a great source is written by the conversion king himself Peer Laja. This is where you can learn more about CRO frameworks.

Most of the frameworks deal with the following criteria…

Clarity — Can I understand the value proposition? Is it clear what the site and offer are about? Is it obvious what my next step should be? Is there one primary call to action? Is everything important above the fold?

Friction — Are all the forms as short as possible, all processes as simple as possible? Are security and privacy concerns addressed? Main questions answered? Main doubts eliminated? Ample proof provided?

Distraction — Are there elements on the page that are not directly contributing to people taking the most desired action? Anything blinking or moving automatically? Remove all of them.

Urgency — Is there anything that compels people to take action right away?

Traffic sources and scent — Do people who land on this page come with the right expectations? Does the page content match what they seek?

Buying phases — Are they researching or ready to buy? Are we asking for too much too soon?

With that said, the bigger issue here is that your traffic is low and you should be prioritizing customer acquisition first over conversion optimization. For some reason, many marketers have an aversion to using best practices and CRO in the same sentence. Not me. Best practices have their name for a reason. They are tried and (nearly) true rules that you should start off with in order to set yourself up for success.

Once you combine best practices with a great offer, your traffic will pick up and can reach that 5000/week milestone. And at that point, we can explore the magical world of CRO.

Best Practices

Blindly copying and implementing “best practices” is stupid — nothing scientific about it. You’re essentially using somebody else’s solution to their problems for your problems.

Peep Laja

If you are debating on a design decision you should draw from the experience of others. Best practices aren’t hard and fast rules. They need to be observed and reshaped for your unique situation. Just like snowflakes, companies are all unique, they all have their own unique offers and they will require their own unique adaptation to CRO best practices.

In next weeks article we will explore what these best practices are, landing page optimization and we’ll go through Chris Mercers famed google analytics for beginners course

Final Thoughts

After completing CXL’s Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree, I feel uniquely confident about my ability to grasp and find practical ways to use the tools and techniques described in the CRO Minidegree.

I give theis first week a 3.8/5. There was some time spent on introducing CRO that I imagine to be helpful for the uninitiated, but for me, i’m looking to get a more in depth understnaing of running successful testing programs.

Until next week!