CRO best practice tips – the alternative guide

'Best practice' can be a dirty phrase in CRO. We'll show you which advice to avoid and give you some real best practices that will help to maximise your CRO efforts.


When you’re running a conversion rate optimisation program, it’s good to have a methodology to guide your efforts towards maximum success and valuable learning when something doesn’t go to plan.

Using best practices and using a pre-defined CRO methodology are different things entirely. We often get asked to skip our research and behaviour analysis and just tell clients what to change on their website, in line with best practice and based on our experience increasing conversions. Skipping research and analysis in CRO doesn’t work long term and no CRO agency worth their salt will do this.

There are many millions of ‘CRO best practice’ guides, this is our alternative guide.

Firstly, ignore the ‘implement these 10 best practices’ articles

Somewhere along your CRO journey you’ll have discovered a large quantity of these types of article, telling you to how implementing best practices can get get you a 324% conversion uplift just like X. Take these with a great big bowl of salt. Let me tell you this: there are no silver bullets or magic quick wins. What works on one website may not work on your website.

The usual culprits:

  • Change your button colours
  • Reduce form fields
  • Change your CTA text
  • Add video
  • Create urgency
  • Give guarantees
  • Use the word ‘FREE’

These tactics are highly contextual, not based on problems your users are having, and are the equivalent of throwing mud at the wall and hoping some sticks.

Making changes like this could be a complete waste of time or impact conversion rate negatively. Also, you will also need a lot of traffic to detect a tiny uplift so testing something like button colour where the uplift could be small might not even be realistic on your website.

Secondly, consider using CRO best practice tips based on process

Here are some CRO best practice tips that will help to mould how you think when running an optimisation programme.

#1 Have a structured methodology

When you’re running an optimisation programme and conducting your own user research, it’s important that you create or follow a CRO methodology which structures and guides your process, and should be tried and tested based on experience so you are guided discover the actionable insight from the website and it’s audience to make a real difference.

If you’re conducting CRO without a methodology, then you’ll end up with insight which hasn’t been fully validated and lean towards solving the problems you perceive exist rather than the actual problems users are having. Cognitive biases are real.

#2 Base your decisions on data

Collecting the right data and then interpreting that data is essential to successful CRO. If you don’t base decisions on data, then you’re basing them on bias and opinions and that’s a pretty efficient route towards failure.

When gather data using quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, you can cross validate findings to ensure that the findings are accurate and reflect the experience users are having.This means your hypotheses will be stronger.

#3 Research users but don’t expect them to tell you what to do

Any changes to a website should be driven by a desire to improve user experience and get more sales as a result. But that doesn’t mean users know what the best experience is. As optimisers, we have to analyse behaviour and work out what’s best based on our observations.

Consider this example:

Quantitative research tells you there’s high drop off on the second stage of your sign up form.

Qualitative research tells you that users don’t like one of the mandatory form fields on that stage because it asks them for their bank details. You have to have this field though, it can’t be removed.

In this scenario, you know what the problem is and you know why users don’t like the field, but you have to work out a solution based on your expertise as an optimiser.

A few options in this scenario are:

  • Add some reassurance around the field explaining what you will do with the data
  • Change the point at which the field appears in the sign up
  • Explain at the beginning what you will ask for and why so it’s not a shock to users

When you’re ready to make a change, gather feedback via user testing or A/B testing so you can see what the reaction from users will be before it’s live on the website.

#4 Don’t stop at the website

We recently worked with a company that had an offline sales journey after the initial website conversion and there was a lot of drop off within the offline journey. We worked with them to increase the number of people that made it to the end of the process using insight we had gathered from our research and analysis on their website.

Also, lost website visitors aren’t gone forever – you can get them back. Capture email addresses when you can by offering something of value, or by offering to save their basket/products for later.

Something a lot of businesses don’t focus enough on is customer lifetime value. Once somebody has purchased, there is nearly always opportunities for repeat business. This is where email segmentation is important. You can serve really relevant meaningful offers to people if you know what they’ve already bought from you and when.

If you’d like to chat to somebody about your CRO programme and how to get the most out of your website, you can talk to us on 0161 713 2434 or send an email to [email protected]


Lee Preston

3rd September 2019

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