Inbound 2016 has come to an end. The hardest part of attending a conference like Inbound is when it is all over and you have to stumble back into the real world.
I haven’t quite shaken the habits I picked up over the four days spent with 160,000 marketing and sales professionals. On instinct, I tried to network with the woman at the checkout counter of my neighborhood convenience store yesterday. Her name tag said Janet. “Hi Janet, where are you from?” She threw me a dirty look and grumbled something inaudible. I don’t think we’re at Inbound anymore Toto.
Here are my 5 Conversion Rate Optimization takeaways from Inbound 2016 that would have even Janet saying “Ah ha.”
1. Design is not just how something looks but also how it works.
When we think about good web design, we often only consider the superficial things. Do the colors complement each other well? Are the fonts stylish? Is the photography attractive?
Your website exists to convert visitors into leads or customers. If is isn’t doing that, then it isn’t serving its purpose, no matter how pretty it looks. According to Jessica Meher of InVision, “Great UX is great design.”
2. Best practices are a starting point, not where you end up.
When you’re just getting started with Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), you’re going to come across a lot of conventional wisdom about what will increase your website’s conversion rates: fewer form fields, a brightly colored submit button, using the word “Free,” not using the word “Free.”
These best practices are an okay place to get some quick wins but are miles away from the end of your Conversion Rate Optimization Journey. Don’t just take my word for it.
“You should be skeptical of so-called ‘best practices.’” -Chris Goward, WiderFunnel
“Conventions are the enemy of creativity.” -Jessica Meher, InVision
“Best practices are a staring point, not where you end up.” -Peep Laja, Conversion XL
What works for one website, doesn’t always work for another. Your business is unique and your audience has different needs and expectations. Best practices will only get you so far. Instead, Chris Goward says, “You need to use framework thinking, not tips and tricks.” That framework looks something like this:
- Collect user data from Google Analytics, qualitative surveys, click tracking heat maps, etc to identify problems with your website
- Formulate a hypothesis of the cause of a problem you’ve identified
- Identify a possible fix to the problem
- Run an A/B test to compare your fix with the existing element
- After you’ve had enough traffic to be a good sample size, analyze the results
3. You don’t need more data, you need better data.
Data analysis is a delicate process. Peep Laja warns “Be careful with your interpretations. If you torture your data long enough, it will tell you anything.”
4. It is impossible to test everything so you have to decide what matters.
The average A/B test will take 28 days to complete. That means you can only run 13 tests a year on a given page. It becomes critical to be able to prioritize the problems you’ve identified so your spending time on the things that will make the most impact.
Peep Laja suggests creating a spreadsheet to track all of the problems you’ve identified, the fix you want to test, and the priority. This will give you an easy way to organize your efforts.
5. Google is ranking more and more on engagement. User Experience IS SEO.
The worlds of Conversion Rate Optimization and Search Engine Optimization are very quickly colliding. To determine relevancy and page authority, Google used to weigh heavily on keyword usage and inbound links. According to Rand Fishkin of Moz, as Google’s algorithm gets better and better at understanding user behavior, the weight is shifting towards user engagement.
Design your website for the user first and the search engine second.
In order to be successful with Conversion Rate Optimization, you need to develop a repeatable process that you follow rigidly. The benefits extend past happier visitors and more closed deals. A great user experience will even help you rank on Google.
This was my third time attending Inbound and the best year yet. My to-do list got a little bit longer, I made some new friends, and I’m already counting down the days until Inbound 2017.