How To Optimize Your Website? Research & Testing Tips You Need To Know - Review
Updated: Sep 20
Oh hello again! In this week’s review, I will be covering some important takeaways on how to optimize your website, the vital importance of running growth experiments, and why and how to research and test your users, or how I like to call them - your people!
For those of you who are just joining in, let me introduce myself - I’m Andrea, a hungry career seeker who stumbled upon a 12-week Growth Marketing minidegree with CXL Institute. It wasn’t really a stumble, it was more of an ‘a-ha’ moment - a moment of sudden inspiration, realization, and insight - a deliberate decision to move forward and learn from the best to be the best on this path of life (cue The Lion King theme song).
I am officially on week 2 of diving into Growth Marketing. If you missed week 1’s recap, I highly recommend you start there. I covered what Growth Marketing is all about and some key foundations to it all.
Before we dive into this week, I would like to start off with some important call outs:
My background is in Traditional Marketing or Brand Marketing. Now, I am learning a wealth of knowledge from the head honchos in the Growth Marketing industry and my main goal is to share some take-aways with you in hopes that you get some inspiration and insight to dive deeper in areas you wish to.
YOU WILL NOT AND CANNOT AND SHOULD NOT EVER THINK YOU CAN IMPROVE YOUR BUSINESS OFF A LISTICLE.
Let’s start there…
There is no “hack” to Growth Marketing. There is “Growth Hacking” but that’s something within Growth Marketing but is different. I repeat - you cannot “hack” Growth Marketing. There is not one end all be all strategy. And yes, there are a million blogs claiming there is one, or if you “do these 11 steps” or even “3 steps” then all your Growth Marketing and business dreams will come true. And they are false and lying to you.
That’s because every business is different. Even if one business copied another, it’s different. Just because it worked for one business, or even your competitor, doesn’t mean that it will work for you. Don’t be naive and don’t build your business off a listicle or design trends. Don’t copy market leaders. Just don’t do it. But why? Well, you are not gearing yourself up for optimization.
Now let’s talk about Optimization and Conversion Research.
Conversion optimization is a process, a database of ideas on how to build upon opportunities to help your business grow. This process does the following:
Identifies where the problems are on your website.
Identifies what are the problems.
Identifies why it is a problem to begin with.
Turns the known issues into a test hypothesis - it has to be a hypothesis!
Prioritizes tests and instant fixes, then prioritizes ideas to solutions.
Research is the foundation to everything regarding optimization. It’s not just about collecting data, it’s about asking the right questions to provide you with the data you need. There are many different research processes out there. Below is the one that was created by Peep Laja, the founder of CXL Institute, the instructor for this lesson, and a conversion genius.
This process helps you gather 6 types of data to help you make great optimization decisions and come up with tests that tend to win more often and have a bigger impact. This framework will teach you:
Heuristic Analysis to assess user experience.
Digital Analysis to identify problem areas.
Technical Analysis to identify functional problems.
Qualitative Research to draw insights.
Let’s highlight what we’re looking at:
Technical Analysis: Is shit broken? Where? Does your website work on all versions of all browsers across all devices? Desktop, mobile, tablet? This alone can have a serious impact on your conversion.
Heuristic Analysis: I could talk all day on this but I won’t do that to you - in short this tests the usability (but much deeper than that) for your site. More or less you would want to go through every page with a team of people and critique everything on your site based on the following criteria. These are key factors for determining your conversion rate:
Relevancy: Are your ads relevant? Does the headline match the page content? Is your landing page relevant to what you do? Is there a match between your page and what the user is looking for? Do your call to action buttons match the value that the user is going to get?
Clarity: What do you and your website do? Is it crystal clear? Imagery included here! Make sure the images you choose match your copy and convey what you do clearly. Your website design clarity is extremely important too. Don’t try to go too fancy and confuse your user.
Motivation: What is being done on each page to increase the users motivation to take action? Why buy or sign up with you versus somewhere else? SUPER IMPORTANT CALL OUT HERE - every page should only have ONE call to action. Just ONE people!
Friction: What friction is being caused to your user? What is preventing them from moving forward with your site and you? Some examples of friction can be a slow site, text too small, distracting designs, a long check out or form filling process, calling them to sign up with you too quickly (need that motivation first) and so on! Why are they not moving forward with you? Where do they drop off?
Web Analytics Analysis: What are your users doing? Where are the leaks? Which actions correlate with higher conversions? Measure everything! You’ll need it later. Google analytics is your friend and learning how to set up these measurements will identify where money is leaking from your site.
Mouse Tracking & Form Analytics: Where do they click? Do they scroll down to the bottom of your page? Are there noticeable differences between devices? Where are people dropping off and how can you make it better?
Qualitative Surveys: By collecting qualitative data you can more personally understand your users and segment and target them in different ways.
Survey those who are getting ready to leave your page. Focus on uncovering the friction. Keep it open ended - not a closed question. For example “What’s holding you back from buying right now?"
Survey people who just purchased from you when their experience is fresh in their memory bank.
From here you gather enough data that can then be categorized, quantified, and prioritized.
User Testing: Recruit people who are your target audience, but at the end of the day, anybody is better than nobody. Focus on what users do - not what they say. You can give users a broad task, then a specific task on your site and watch how they go about finding that information, what questions they have throughout the process, what goes wrong, what’s difficult for them to understand etc.
Conversion Optimization is an ongoing process.
You always conduct user research (the most important part), from there categorize and come up with a hypothesis, create a treatment, test the treatment, analyze the results, then follow-up experiments to refine your hypothesis and go deeper. Then repeat! This is science my friends. This is where your big wins will occur and where you start to realize, I should have paid more attention during science class. Think of testing as a way to solve problems that are there but you didn’t know existed. Be open minded and throw your ego and bias out the door, or window, or wherever you are - just leave it outside.
Here are some important takeaways on Conversion Research & Optimization:
If you are a small business and just starting, you most likely do not have enough traffic coming to your website for conversion research to be effective. You need to focus on your customer development and coming up with a product or service that people actually want.
Do not end your test with a low sample size. This can skew your data and your conversion rate. Your test is complete when you have a large enough sample size, when your test has gone through multiple business cycles, and when there is statistical significance reached.
Surveys actually work if you do them right. There are so many strategies that I learned but here’s your 5 SparkNotes version (do people still use that): 1) Your survey must have a clear purpose. Don’t just ask a million questions at once thinking you will get the data you need. Make sure the information you collect is actionable. 2) the larger the sample size, the lower margin of error. A/B testing should be no less than 200, and in house surveys (like e-mail surveys) should have no less than 100 responses. 3) Don’t mix questions with behaviors and attitudes and always use verbiage that connects with your users. No multiple choice questions or leading questions either. 4) Don’t make your survey too long - survey mental fatigue is real and will set in. Only 10-15 questions tops! 5) Motivate your users to be objective, and give them some incentive for finishing the survey (gift card, freebee, etc).
Code, categorize, analyze and interpret your data. Then write a summary of your findings. Don’t just test or survey and think you’re good to go. This is where the big wins occur!
Tools are your friends. There are tons of incredible tools out there to help you with your research! But be wary of algorithmic tools - there are tools on the market that generate “instant” heat maps based on some algorithms. This information is NOT based on your actual users.
Qualitative Research is mostly about learning who the customers are, what they want, and the language they use. This can be translated into your website, marketing, and product copy, can help to understand friction and learn what matters to them. But most importantly - this can up your conversion rate!
User testing and A/B testing are not the same thing. There are infinite types of testing you can do and you should incorporate a mix. Don’t stop when one test fails. Be determined and keep going!
Great job for tuning in! If you want more thorough information on any of these topics, I highly recommend checking out CXL’s Blog and hearing from the experts themselves.
Until next week!