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4 Non-Obvious CRO Myths Debunked

4 February 2015 Den Savelyev
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We love debunking different myths, which have entrenched their positions in online marketing. We’ve already written about landing pages myths. Now it’s time to talk about conversion rates.

Myth №1: about the falsity of absolute conversion rate numbers

Myth №1: about the falsity of absolute conversion rate numbers

Are you ready? Then let’s begin!

After the mass growth in demand for SEO, there was an explosive growth of the PPC market, and – oh my gosh! – we have finally came to the point, when business owners start thinking about the actual tasks of online marketing – generating sales leads – and, therefore, about increasing them. Imagine two entrepreneurs sitting somewhere having a conversation, right at the moment you are reading this article:

  • “What’s your landing page’s conversion rate?” – asks the first one.
  • “3%”, – answers the second one.
  • “What a looser”, – laughs the first one with the smile of a Cheshire cat, – “I have 30%”.

Is this a real conversation? Could it happen in real life? We-e-e-ll, put this article aside for a while and answer the question: could this dialogue happen in real life?

Now, let’s take a look at the details. Very often we are told that it’s an undeniable fact that a conversion rate of 30% is better than a conversion rate of 3%. This Cheshire cat brags about it, right? The cat is sure that everything’s going great, but the real loser is him, not his opponent. Read next to find out why.

Let’s take another example. There are two absolutely identical landing pages. The first one gets traffic from transactional queries, the second one gets it from a large list of keywords. What are the results and conclusions? Firstly, of course, the final conversion rate of the landing page which gets traffic from conversional queries, will be higher. Let’s imagine it has a 30% conversion rate, while the second page has only 3%.

However we’ll also see that conversional queries drive low amounts of traffic – 10 visits per day and, accordingly, 3 sales leads. While the second landing page, that gets traffic from a large keywords list, has 300 visits per day and 9 sales leads at a 3% conversion rate.

The phrase “I have a 30% conversion rate” means nothing by itself, because traffic stats are not identified. Conversion rates usually drop off after growth in traffic. The greater the audience you reach, the more you lose in terms of the quality of this reach, as a rule. Anyway, it’s obvious that 9 sales leads are better than 3. One more point, yes conversional queries traffic drives more sales leads, but that’s why such traffic is more expensive to obtain in most cases. The cost price of each potential sales lead (of transactional queries) is higher, as a rule.

In conclusion: The final conversion rate means nothing, if we analyse it without analysing both traffic and its cost price. A 30% conversion rate is not always better than a 3% rate. You should use information about traffic and its cost price in order to understand what’s “better”.

Let’s move on.

Myth №2: false generalisations obtained from an experiment

Myth №2: false generalisations obtained from an experiment

I’m not going to tell you a long story here, let’s skip to the example right now. Recently an acquainted PPC expert sent me the following message via Skype:

“By the way, using 3 different forms, I have proven in practice that shortening them to two fields (Name and Phone number) significantly increases our conversion rate. I have conducted the analysis with help of both Yandex.Metrica and Google Analytics Content Experiments. I have also counted letters that came from these forms by myself. The most surprising thing is that most requests came from YAN (Yandex Advertising Network) campaigns. Before this, I was blocking ineffective platforms with low CTR – these were usually Yandex and Mail.ru email clients, but then I decided to experiment and not to block them. Yep, my campaign’s CTR fell, but the number of requests have increased!”.

My acquaintance drew two false conclusions:

  • Two fields in a form are better than three or more;
  • YAN drives more sales leads than search ads.

The rush for making quick generalised conclusions can be seen pretty often. People make them without getting a complete picture about an object of study. Moreover, any A/B-test has both a time and traffic limit. In other words, A/B-testing is just an assumption of a greater or lesser degree of probability. In a situation of constant data limits, people often write their hypotheses based on empirical experience drawn from one experiment. You should be aware of these conclusions: red buttons are better than green ones, social sharing buttons increase conversion rates, a page should be completely dispalyed with no need to scroll it and so on.

The correct conclusions that can be drawn from this experiment are:

  • At the given subject, landing page, amount and characteristics of traffic, two-field forms give a higher conversion rate than forms with more fields (things may go differently after changing any of the mentioned parameters).

The same thing goes for YAN:

  • At the given subject, landing page, amount and characteristics of traffic, YAN drives more sales leads than search ads (things may go different after changing any of the mentioned parameters).

Talking about the number of fields in a form is more nuanced. I think (again, this is our subjective experience, and we don’t make any generalised conclusions, because we understand that any new experience can turn our ideas upside down) that short forms often drive more sales leads than long ones, but clients are driven by using long forms.

Myth №3: a “correct” landing page gives a higher conversion rate than an incorrect one

Myth №3: a “correct” landing page gives a higher conversion rate than an incorrect one

Well, first of all we should explain what a “correct” landing page is. The opinion exists that a well-developed conversational landing page should contain the following elements:

  • Catchy headline with USP;
  • Description;
  • Description of a problem;
  • Offer (the essence of your proposition);
  • Sales triggers;
  • Countdown timer;
  • Social proofs…

…and so on. The number of these elements used depends on the relationship between practice and theory.

So, the conversion rate of a “correct” landing page may be much lower than that of an “incorrect” one. The structure of a landing page by itself impacts the final numbers no more than the amount and quality of the traffic that we “land” on a page. Even with the same amount and quality of traffic, a “correct” landing page may lose to a simple page with a one-field form and description of the benefit that a user gets.

As a rule (but it’s not the axiom!), “correct” landing pages give a higher conversion rate, if they are the first and only point of contact with your audience. If you sell a long-term service or product, which is being chosen for a pretty long time, then a “correct” page has no advantages over an incorrect one.

Myth №4. Conversion rate is the only measure of success

Myth №4. Conversion rate is the only measure of success

This myth is really one of the most vicious and harmful ones. What do we mean when talking about conversion rates? We mean the ratio of overall traffic to the number of final targeted actions (sales etc). What actions are targeted? Well, as a rule, they are: subscribing to newsletters, making an order via a form, ordering a callback, calling a gager, receiving an application for a mortgage, downloading a trial-version of some software and so on. In most cases everything ends after measuring the conversion rate of a targeted action. It means that we need an enquiry, and this enquiry is put at the forefront. But when did a huge number of requests become proof of success? I guess that firstly a successful businesses should increase its income and profitability, not the number of enquiries. High conversion rates alone mean nothing, if there is no growth in income and profit.

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Автор: Den Savelyev
The CEO of Texterra. He has been engaged in online marketing since 2003. Search engine marketer and growth hacker. The main hobby – online marketing. The main interest besides – online marketing. Religion – online marketing.
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© «TexTerra», At full or partial copying of materials reference to the source is obligatory.
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