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The Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

Chapter 8: Myths Conversion Rate Optimization

Myth 4: If I replicate a successful company’s website (wording, layout, color scheme), my conversion rate will go up.

Myth 1: Conversion Rate Optimization is about following “best practices” like changing button colors, making my call to actions red and crossing my fingers.

At various points so far in this guide we’ve touched on the many Conversion Rate Optimization myths. In this chapter, however, we’re going to discuss them in a bit more detail.

By this point, you should get that this is NOT what Optimization is about but we’re mentioning it again because this myth is so pervasive. If you have a low conversion rate, you can be sure it’s not because your buttons are the wrong color or your call to action is blue instead of red. Making little tweaks like this might result in slightly higher conversions but they don’t remove the true barriers to conversion, such as:


  • A lack of trust/confidence in your site
  • A lengthy conversion process that seems like too much work
  • Your website is just too slow
  • Your copy is confusing
  • Your call to action—though bright red!—is still obscured by unnecessary images, links, and copy
  • Your tags and adwords lead users to believe you offer a product or service you don’t in fact offer


And on and on …


You get the picture. The barriers to conversion are seemingly endless and each one has a distinct solution that almost certainly doesn’t involve changing button colors. You can’t truly ascertain what your site’s biggest barriers to conversion are without rolling up your sleeves, running some tests and putting yourself in your users’ shoes.

Myth 5: Conversion is the only metric that matters. All my efforts should be focused on getting as many visitors as possible to convert.

Myth 2: Conversion Rate Optimization is about guessing what my users want.

Variations of this myth include:


  • Users don’t read.
  • Users don’t scroll.

We briefly discussed this as it applies to landing pages in Chapter 6, but this myth is cited in reference to any optimization efforts you might be undertaking. Keep in mind, however, the users who are genuinely interested in whatever you’re offering are likely to want more information. They will read and they will scroll…


But it’s your job to meet them halfway. Make your copy as clear,succinct,and engaging as you can—without cutting essential information. Make your page as uncluttered and easy to navigate as possible.


For example, if you’re cutting, splicing and jamming together five pages worth of copy because you read somewhere that you have to keep everything “above the fold,” your user is going to be infinitely more frustrated than if he or she simply had to do a little scrolling. 

Variations of this myth include:

  • I know my users so well, surveys aren’t necessary.
  • Testing isn’t necessary because I know my site is better than what’s out there.

Anyone who tells you that you optimization is all about guesswork and gut feelings is probably operating under the illusion of this myth. As we’ve discussed again and again in this guide,a strategic approach is essential to any optimization plan.


While hunches can be important steps in the formation of hypotheses,you have no way of knowing whether those hypotheses are correct unless you have some way to gauge two things:the importance of the page or element to the user in their decision-making,and the user response to the change.


Analytics are an important piece to this puzzle but we also can’t overstate the importance of user surveys and testing. 

Variations of this myth include:


  • Conversion rate optimization is simply a matter of making my website “cleaner” and “more modern.”


This myth is similar to #2 in that it relies on something other than actual data to dictate an optimization plan,which—you guessed it—is the real problem here. Maybe you’ll see an increase in conversions if you copy a successful website,maybe you won’t. If you do,it’s likely because in doing so you inadvertently removed a barrier to conversion of which you were unaware.


Not only that,but ripping off someone’s design is beyond lame. These changes are merely cosmetic. They don’t begin to address the other,deeper issues that might be hurting your conversion rate—like inappropriate keywords,user concern regarding your site’s security,and so on.


The only way you’ll uncover and remove these obstacles is to stop guessing and take a hard look at your site’s stats via analytics, user survey and user testing.

Myth 3: Long copy doesn’t sell.

Yes, optimizing conversion is important—after all, that’s what this whole guide is about. But it’s also important to understand that for many visitors conversion is a process. You can show them how conversion will benefit them and remove the barriers standing in their way but ultimately they have to take that final leap.


Your goal is not to manipulate users into converting whether your product or service is right for them or not. You want to convert engaged users who will love what you have to offer and help your business to grow by telling their friends all about you. 


This means you should pay attention to other meaningful metrics in addition to your conversion rate. For example, your Visitor Recency (how long between visits) and Visitor Loyalty (how frequently people visit) can give you some ideas about how engaged your users are, as well as help you figure out how to better foster this engagement. [1] You can find frequency and recency reports in Google Analytics under Behavior > Frequency & Recency.


Surveys also come in handy here. If your customer satisfaction metrics and Net Promoter Score® are low, you can dig into those responses to see if the user’s expectations are misaligned with your offer. If you find that you have the wrong people buying your product, you’ll want to reevaluate the traffic sources and ads that are sending visitors to your site.


This list is by no means exhaustive and as CRO gains traction you can be sure these myths and more like them will continue to circulate. However, the one thing to keep in mind is this: any tip, trick or hack that promises quick gains without taking into consideration your unique circumstances, mission and metrics is probably too good to be true. Remember, real optimization requires you to roll up your sleeves and figure out what’s right for your site.

Chapter 8 Notes


[1] http://www.incomediary.com/8-myths-that-are-hurting-your-conversion-optimization-efforts

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