Screw conversion rate optimization best practices

There’s no magic involved in boosting conversions. Basic research and a good plan are the foundations of the CRO process.

Day 1: The dirty secret CRO agencies don’t want you to know

A ton of the people who hear about Zeda Labs find us after stumbling on our work on the 16 Personalities’ website or hearing about it through someone else.

Compliments vary from how the illustrations are “so cool”, to how we were able to inject the brand with personality and give the site a clear message. Not bragging here, but want to know our secret?

It’s not that we are creative geniuses.

We don’t sit in our offices sipping whiskey waiting for our next amazingly unique idea to pop up. Our copy doesn’t come out of boardroom meetings where we try to convince executives on how good it sounds. We don’t pitch our illustrations as they crop up out of our subconscious and materialize into art.


That’s the romantic, 1960s, “Mad Men” idea of what a creative agency does. What’s under the hood is much more practical and strategic.

Our secret is conversion research.

Jumping to designing your new site, or writing your new value proposition because you think that’s the way to go and it feels in line with your brand, can be dangerous.

It’s like building your house without a blueprint. At some point it’s gonna crumble to the ground.

Your business wouldn’t exist with no customers. So think about it, do you really think you could grow by simply relying on your own thoughts and feelings about it? Then you’re not only building a house without a blueprint, you’re also doing it blindfolded!

Getting feedback and ideas directly from your audience is the foundation of effective Conversion Rate Optimization. That’s what separates good websites from great websites that dominate their niche and people remember.

And it’s simpler than most people think.

If you know the why behind it and have processes and systems in place to consistently gather the data you need.

Over the next 30 posts, you’ll learn all you need to make conversion research part of your business processes and then, how to apply it to increase conversions and profits.

We don’t want you to become a CRO agency. Your time and bandwidth are limited, so the aim is for you to learn the 80/20 that gets results so you waste less energy and resources on guessing what to do.

That’s why we specifically designed this course to give you only what you need, nothing more.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

Part I: Laying the foundation
Part II: Customer research
Part III: Strategy and structure
Part IV: Conversion copywriting
Part V: User experience and branding

Before we dive into all that good stuff, let’s dig deeper into what conversion research looks like.

First, what does a CRO process look like?

It’s straightforward:

Repeat periodically AND whenever you plan any strategic moves to make sure you’re constantly adapting and growing.

As you see, research is at the bottom. You can’t escape it, and that’s good!

Unfortunately building a funnel using templates won’t work. For the same reason an ecommerce funnel is different from a SaaS one or from someone selling info products. Your audience and business model dictate what’s your best chance for boosting conversions.

Research helps you figure out how to cut losses and focus on what matters. To get the full picture, you need two types of research: quantitative and qualitative.

As an example, let’s say you are tracking user data on your website.

The problem: Your analytics (quantitative research) tell you that a lot of people who end up on your landing page, leave after a few seconds. No one freaking buys! But you need to know more.

Narrowing down: You dig into your heatmaps (more quantitative research) to see how users interact with that landing page. Only 20% of users scroll below the initial section. This is when qualitative research comes in. You decide to launch a website poll to ask visitors what they are looking for and if they are finding all the information they need. In the meantime, you run a user test and find out that most users don’t understand what the landing page offers. It’s vague and doesn’t tell them what the benefits of your product are. Your value proposition is not clear!

The solution: You decide to interview 4 or 5 of your best customers. You ask them about their experience and finally get a clear idea of what it is that attracted them to your product in the first place (more qualitative research). You cross-reference it with your website poll data and fix the headline, subhead and call to action on your landing page. Just to make sure you’re covering everything you add a few questions to your FAQ based on the findings.

The outcome: You launch your revamped landing page and after 2 weeks, boom, +30% conversion rate.

You get the idea. The two kinds of research are not used in a linear way and in isolation. It will be a fluid process, one that you’ll be able to master and make yours, once you’ll have learned about each method.

The most important thing you need to remember for today, is that you need research and you need both types of research, if you want to be able to navigate your CRO efforts effectively and without wasting your precious time.

As the people over at Nielsen Norman Group say:

User experience cannot exist without users or UX – U = X (where “X” now means “don’t do it”)

Your homework

It’s time to be honest with yourself and with your business about what you really know about it and about your customers. Get pen and paper and write down the answers to these questions:

  • What is your current process for CRO?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • How is the success of your product/service being measured?
  • Who are your competitors and how do you stand out from them?

The real grind will start in our next post, so get ready. This first week will be all about core concepts and setting you (and your data tracking) up for success later on. Most of your homework in this course won’t require more than 1 hour to complete, but some of week 1 will be a needed exception. Don’t fret, we’ll be with you every step of the way.