Chapter 6 The Secret to CRO Testing? Culture [How to Do it]
The most crucial thing to understand about CRO is that it’s not a one-off effort to improve website performance.
In fact, when the first test program ends, it should lay a foundation for further optimization efforts. CRO and testing should be an inseparable part of the everyday operations of any ecommerce store.
To start your testing culture off right, start with success. Your first few tests should provide wins large enough to validate the concept of testing.
CRO and testing should be an inseparable part of the everyday operations of any ecommerce store.
If in the first few tests, you achieve a large relative lift in conversions, the entire idea of conversion optimization and A/B testing will appear as valuable and sensible to everyone in your company.
If, on the other hand, the results are lackluster or worse still, negative, then the process may appear unfounded or flawed.
To ensure that your hypotheses and tests are valid and successful, make sure you conduct your research properly. That way, your tests will have a higher probability of actually being successful and proving your hypotheses.
What to do after testing
While testing may seem like a never-ending story, it will inevitably eventually reach a point when there are no more opportunities for large enough gains to justify the process.
At this point, the process starts all over again, but with a view toward improving the overall design by changing it. And this is when a whole new round of testing begins.
Rinse and repeat until you’re rich.
In parallel with conducting optimization and testing, your organization will need to adopt and establish a testing culture.
This means developing an in-house capability to create hypotheses, conduct testing by training your staff, and creating a knowledge base to effectively establish a testing program after initial testing has concluded.
Don’t forget to document the process
We have not yet mentioned the subject of properly documenting your CRO process. This step is as important as any other, since without recording the process, you will not be able to repeat it.
Your initial documentation should outline the most important metrics and the goals you want to achieve. As you have seen in your measurement plan, this outline enables you to focus your efforts on the most important metrics, or KPIs.
Each step of the research process should also conclude with a document that lists the methodology used and the issues identified. This document will be useful as a reference for hypothesis creation.
Every hypothesis created must also be documented and recorded, so that it’s possible to compare the solution and its performance with the hypothesis and your expectations.
If you fail to document your hypotheses against your test results, you will not have any reference to how successful a test actually was, or where it went wrong.
Each test result should report the improvement achieved, and whether or not the challenger hypothesis was accepted.
Finally, your testing program report should contain a summary of major issues that were identified, what was solved successfully, and what issues remain unsolved. The final testing program report serves as both the validation of the entire program, and a cornerstone for the next round of testing.
This report must be preceded by measurements, of course, so that there are real indicators of success.
This documentation simultaneously provides a blueprint for developing your ecommerce store’s internal CRO expertise, so that eventually, you can operate your testing program independently.
How to develop indigenous CRO capability
When the initial, large-scale CRO program is complete and has provided improvements that validate the entire process, it is time for your company to start developing its own CRO capability.
By working jointly with a dedicated CRO agency, your staff will acquire the experience and know-how necessary to run the CRO research and testing process on their own.
The advantages of an in-house CRO program for any ecommerce site are numerous. They range from being immediately able to test every single improvement to the site, no matter how small (following the good advice “You should test everything”), to using proper methodology, to being able to execute large-scale overhauls informed and driven by data.
To do CRO or not to do CRO?
As we wrap up this guide, we’ll try to provide you with an answer to this question.
If you operate or own an ecommerce store and sell goods or services, you probably want your store to perform at its peak efficiency.
If you are dedicated and serious about your business, you are likely instinctively already doing many of the things this guide mentions:
- Of course you want to please your customers — so you’ve already adopted some forms of personalization.
- No ecommerce store can remain in business for long without being able to engender trust — so you’ve already included security seals and other trust markers.
- And most owners have heard of or stumbled upon content marketing and copywriting, and know copy’s potential to create conversion improvements.
Even though your company might not yet have experimented or applied the concept of structured research, your website likely wouldn’t still be operating unless you’d established a good analytics background (and some ecommerce platforms offer very good analytics foundation out of the box).
Remember that having solid analytics is an essential prerequisite to starting any CRO research, but it’s not the only one.
Remember that having solid analytics is an essential prerequisite to starting any CRO research, but it’s not the only one. You also need people who can make sense of analytical data, and people who can gather and interpret other types of data.
Concepts like A/B testing are also highly publicized and well-known, so engaging in A/B testing may have tempted you before. Some store owners may even have been guided by infamous experiments detailing “43 shades of blue” or claiming that “green buttons convert better”.
While experimenting with every aspect of a website is something that everyone should do on a daily basis, conducting experiments without any structure is not particularly efficient, and can even be harmful.
Studies have shown that companies that adopt a structured CRO approach are twice as likely to experience significant growth than those that do not. The same linked study also uncovered that less than 40% of companies run more than five tests per month.
The thing is, you can use structured process even without testing anything. By applying heuristics to find out trouble spots, solving technical issues and addressing the issues of content quality.
Don’t hesitate to develop and adopt your company’s testing culture.
Once you adopt CRO and allow it to influence and inform every aspect of your business, you will create benefits that vastly outweigh the initial investment in CRO.
CRO enables your company not only to track, estimate, and improve sales by enlarging the number of people who buy from you — but to learn a great deal about your customers, the way they behave, what they want, and why they want it. Knowing this helps you both in day-to-day activities and provides a foundation for developing your business in the future.
Plus, by experimenting and testing, you can take calculated falls instead of suffering the full consequences of a non-research-based failure. You can compare what currently works with what just might work, and measure what enables your business to perform better.
And even though running a test for a month or more may seem long, it’s actually a shortcut to improving all aspects of your business.
Once you decide to start CRO, you will have to make a choice between hiring an agency or building an in-house team. Whatever you choose, make sure the CRO effort follows the structure we’ve described, and is founded on sound data. That way, your results will, in all probability, bring success and ROI.
After reading this guide, the connection between the successful experimentation and research should be clear. If you want to take full advantage of CRO, you’ll be better off doing it right and signing up for the whole package.
So here’s your answer to that question: Yes to CRO.
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