What decision-making criteria did you use the last time you designed a website? Did you base decisions on data? Or did you defer to the HiPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) in the room? If you approached your website design like many organizations today, there’s a good chance you based your decisions less on facts and more on the instincts of the HiPPO. Then, once your website launched, the results you were hoping for did not materialize. The problem is that a strategy based on opinion is only an opinion. It has no greater than a 50% likelihood of being correct. When your leads don’t convert, the HiPPO might be inclined to blame the traffic sources, when the actual culprit is lack of data.

There is also a common misconception that more traffic equals more customers. That is not only frustrating, it can be an expensive misuse of time and resources. Data-driven website design can help you avoid costly mistakes and get results. By understanding user behavior, you can optimize the user experience based on their preferences. Data allows you to capitalize on existing traffic, lower customer acquisition costs, and improve ROI.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is an insight discovery process that uses analytics and user feedback to improve the conversion rate of visitors on your website. Implementing CRO helps to increase the percentage of users taking a desired action. More simply, it helps you identify why users aren’t converting, and how to fix the problem.

Conversion Rate Optimization Process:

1) Gather Insight

This is the most important step because it helps you focus on what really matters. By doing both quantitative and qualitative data analysis, you can understand and optimize for user behavior. The goal is to discover who your ideal customers are and what matters most to them.

Quantitative measurement may include tools such as Google Analytics and click tracking. These tools help explain what users are doing on your site. Qualitative analysis tools can include session recordings, polls, and customer surveys that help you understand why. Interviewing your ideal customers can also reveal deeper insights. Ask open-ended questions to discover their motivations or hesitations during searches. Combined, the insights allow you to create a list of concepts you can test to determine those which might better resonate with your users. These iterative testing concepts should be targeted to your prospects’ ideal selves.

2) Define Goals and Metrics

Use different hypotheses as starting points for defining your goals and metrics. They will determine the value of your testing. Keep in mind that weak hypotheses result in weak tests. In-depth research must occur before you propose an approach for measuring and tracking against the conversion goal.

3) Test

Testing software (or a CRO specialist) can assist with the effective implementation, tracking, and launch of the test. For accurate results, predetermined sample sizes, traffic, and conversions will dictate test duration. If your website doesn’t meet testing thresholds, you can derive value by investing heavily in user research.

4) Analyze Results

The value of conversion rate optimization is the insight discovered through user research and testing. If a test is a winner, share insights and make adjustments. Not every test will crush it. Testing is a learning process. So win or lose, the insight will be valuable for iteration.

5) Repeat

To benefit from on-going optimization, the process must be repeated. Your plan will help guide testing order and importance. If properly constructed, you should never wonder, “What should we test next?”

Determining what resonates with your users is your first priority. Discover users’ pain points, priorities, and aspirations to remove the guesswork from your website design. The goal is to gain a better understanding of your audience so you can tailor messaging for them. This will increase the likelihood that they’ll convert to a lead. Leverage that knowledge to design a delightful experience that meets both user goals and business goals. Avoid HiPPO attacks by embracing data to capitalize on existing traffic, lower customer acquisition costs, and achieve better ROI. The business will then begin to experience the benefit of improving conversion rates based on data versus opinion.