Conversion strategy – why you shouldn’t start with tactics
There's a big difference between tactics and strategy, and getting it wrong is holding back your CRO efforts.
Before we get started with what a conversion strategy is, there’s seems to be confusion over what the word strategy actually means and a lot of people get strategy confused with tactics.
“Strategy is a set of choices used to achieve an overall objective whereas tactics are the specific actions used when applying those strategic choices.” source
To simplify it even further, strategy is the plan, and tactics are the execution of the plan.
Before you set out your conversion strategy, you have to define your goals and objectives, here’s a simple diagram we’ve made to explain this with an example next to it:
Don’t trust what you read online
If you search ‘conversion strategy’ or ‘CRO strategy’, you’ll find tonnes of articles telling you ‘top 5 CRO strategies’. We call bullshit on this.
First of all, they’re mostly giving you tactics and not strategies. Secondly, you can’t copy and paste a strategy made for one business with a certain set of problems and use it on a completely different business with a completely different set of problems, it’s not going to work in reality. Steer clear and use the framework above.
Where we see people going wrong with conversion strategy
1. Diving straight into implementing best practices
Something we’ve seen far too often is when marketers blindly implement a list of ‘best practices’ that are recommended in a ‘top 20’ type article.
First of all, this is tactical and doesn’t have an overarching strategy defining your actions. Secondly, best practices won’t always help. Sure, improving page speed, accessibility, and adding reviews will most likely help you, but for everything else, there’s a reason we A/B test: not everything will work with your audience.
Let’s say 50% of your 20 changes work, and 50% don’t. You’ll end up in the same position as before without knowing what’s worked and what hasn’t (you can’t isolate the impact of each change) so you’ve learned nothing for the future. There’s also the risk that more changes fail than win, and then you’re worse off than before with a big development bill to pay.
2. Diving straight into A/B testing
This is also a tactic-first approach. It’s better than nothing, but it runs the risk of lacking a focus around what problems you’re solving for users. We’ve seen too many companies A/B testing trending elements like sticky CTAs and button colours rather than taking a step back, doing their research, creating hypotheses, then testing said hypotheses in a controlled manner.
3. Using strategies which aren’t based on user research
In order to have a good hypothesis in A/B testing, it needs to be backed by some valid research rather than just opinion and cognitive biases. The same goes with your conversion strategy. Your CEO might say “X competitor has this on their website, let’s copy them” but you don’t know if this works for them, or if it will work for your audience or if it’s solving a problem. Always listen to research data and don’t let a HIPPO guide your plan.
A great conversion strategy focuses on your customers
In a letter to shareholders in 1997, Jeff Bezos said two phrases which all good strategies should remember: “It’s all about the long term” and “Obsess over customers”. Amazon is continuously optimising and leads the way in running a high converting website that’s not focusing on pretty designs but on what their customers want. That’s why Amazon.com boasts conversion rates for non-prime customers at around 13% and prime customers at around 74%. Source.
A great CRO strategy will be:
- Focused on your customers
- Adaptable to change
- Not just for your CRO / Marketing department alone – your CRO strategies should be integrated within the company’s culture
- Involving proper processes for research, hypothesis development, testing, and execution
With a good conversion strategy, you’ll be more likely to achieve winning tests on your website and that will generate more leads/sales, improve return on investment, improve customer satisfaction, and generate higher customer lifetime value.