[Originally published September 3rd, 2008 on GrokDotCom.com, an award-winning, but now defunct, Marketing Optimization blog.]
Readers of my blog, and especially those involved in testing, know that conversion rate optimization is the goal we’re after. It’s a great feeling to know that a test you worked on increased conversion or some other KPI, especially when it’s a “Home Run.” I define Home Runs as triple-digit increases in conversion rate.
But one of the dangers of early testing efforts is the problem that some baseball players have: “swinging for the fences.” (Apologies for the baseball references, but it’s getting to be that time of year.) What if your test, or series of tests, doesn’t appear to raise conversion rate? Do you dismiss the tests as failures because they’re not home runs?
Of course not!
Worst case scenario is that you’ve learned something about executing meaningful tests, and about what does or doesn’t resonate with your customers. But more often than not, you are affecting your website in more subtle ways. Remember that conversion rate is often a blended, averaged, blunt instrument. Especially when it’s averaged across large volumes of organic search traffic, SEM traffic, email house list traffic, different product lines, etc.
Here are some things you can monitor when your tests aren’t having huge impacts on your overall conversion rate:
- Micro-conversion rates – If you’re testing product detail page layouts and “Add to Cart” buttons, check if those test variables are having an effect on the micro-conversion rate of adding products to the cart.
- Funnel conversion rates – If you’re testing lots of minor copy changes to your shopping cart, check for changes in your funnel conversion rate.
- Bounce rates – If you’re testing images, copy, or other changes designed to build up the credibility of your site, watch for changes in bounce rates.
- Conversion rate by segment – If a key traffic source’s conversion rate goes up in a test, but is “averaged down” by other less important traffic sources, that may in fact be a successful test.
These types of incremental improvements are test results to get excited about! If your micro-conversion rate increases, and your funnel conversion rate stays the same, that’s still more money in your bank account. If you reduce the bounce rate, you’ve gained the chance to convert that customer later, instead of your competitor.
So don’t dismiss the base hits because you’re disappointed about not hitting a home run (this time.) Take it from a patient analyst who’s favorite baseball player was famous for lots of base hits and not all that many home runs 🙂