The Definitive, No-BS Guide to Increasing Conversions (Phase I)
How to Kill It in the Conversion Game…Again and Again.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is just as easy to get wrong as it is to get right. There are many factors that go into developing a successful process and each is dependent on your business and your audience.
We should test that….The scientific approach to marketing and business will continue to spread in the coming years…Thinking about a single ‘conversion rate’ within the context of complex business environments is far too limiting.
– Chris Goward, Founder of WiderFunnel
A robust, comprehensive process, based on the results of testing, is what drives sustainable results. Not hacks or tactics that may bring about a one-time boost but fall-short over the long run.
Intricacies abound and it is easy to become overwhelmed. That is why I decided to create this eBook. It documents the precise steps my team and I follow to ensure that our and our clients’ conversion rates are always growing.
One of the best things about CRO is that it doesn’t require a huge monetary investment to see results; in fact, if you are doing it yourself, the only investment is time, hard work and attention to detail. But, the benefits don’t end there. Not only does it bring in more business but when done correctly, it brings the right kind of business; customers that come back for more and bring friends.
As a bonus, I have included downloads of all the forms and checklists my team and I use – so you can do exactly what I do!
At my companies Cubatica and Blueprint Solutions, we have followed this plan for over four years and our conversion rates are steadily climbing. What was once 1% has grown to 4.6% and I have no reason to think that our conversions won’t continue to rise.
I have also used this approach with my clients’ projects. Here are some of the results I’ve gotten using the strategies I’m about to share with you:
– Achieved 220% ROI on spending just over $400,000 per month.
– Scaled one partner from £5,000 to £2 million per month in sales in under 12 months.
– Scaled another partner from 200,000 sales to 1.2 million in 6 months.
– Scaled another partner from $0 to $1.6 million in sales in under 8 months at 3x ROI.
– Hit over 500% ROI for spending $25,000 a month.
And of course, that’s just a few highlights. In the following pages, I’m going to share with you my CRO approach, as well as links to a simple, free tool I put together that you can use to calculate these things for yourself.
Before you dig in: If you want the results but not the work…
Look, performing a solid CRO campaign is no small task. While I stand by what I’m about to share with you, I also get that your time may be best spent doing what you do best. If you’d rather skip the steps and get the results, click the button below and fill out my CRO application and I’ll add you to my waiting list. When I have an opening and, and if we’re a good fit, we’ll set up a time to review your next step together.
Otherwise, let’s get things rolling – read on!
Who Am I?
Before I launch into the process I use to grow my business and that of my client’s, we should get to know each other…I’ll go first.
My name is Joshua Bretag and I am the founder of Cubatica – a data-driven growth agency, and Blueprint Solutions – a digital marketing, web designing, solution building, goal achieving powerhouse. We have helped companies like Inbound.org, The Chivery, Lostmy.name, The Berry, Canva, Student Universe, Inbound.org and Insightly achieve remarkable results.
So yes, I know a thing or two about growth and conversion rates and have had plenty of opportunities to put this process through its paces.
A Special Thanks
A special thank you to my indirect mentors: Yehoshua Coren (Analytics Ninja), Peep Laja (ConversionXL), Simo Ahava (Simo Ahava’s Blog), Julian Juenemann (Measure School), Annie Cushing (Annielytics), Robbin Steif LunaMetrics and Avinash Kaushik (Occam’s Razor). Your insight and guidance have had a tremendous influence on this process and my business. Thank you.
What’s Inside this Amazing Guide
- Who Am I?
- What’s Inside this Amazing Guide
- Why Your Business Needs CRO
- What am I signing up for?
- Download Your Treasure Map
PHASE I: ESTABLISHING A BASELINE
- Step 1: Information Gathering
- Step 2: Google Analytics Health Check
- Step 3: Technical + GA Fixes
PHASE II: SETTING UP TOOLS AND GATHERING DATA
- Step 4: Tool Setup
- Step 5: Website Walkthrough
- Step 6: Usability Analysis
PHASE III: CLEAN DATA ANALYSIS
- Step 7: Heuristic Analysis
- Online Customer Surveys
- Live Chat Logs
- Web & Exit Surveys
- User Testing
PHASE IV: MORE ANALYSIS
- Step 8: Quantitative Analysis
- Content Reports
- Screen Resolutions, Browsers & Devices
- Site Search
- Key Audience Insights
- Mouse Tracking
- Ring Model Check
PHASE V: CONTENT AND TESTING
- Step 9: Copywriting Review
- Copy Test
- VCC Test
- Step 10: Sorting: What I should test first?
- Step 11: Hypotheses and Test Plans
- PIE Framework
- Step 12: Test
PHASE VI: RESULTS AND REPEATS
- Step 13: Results
- Step 14: Update Personas
- Step 15: Rinse and Repeat Steps 11 to 14
Why Your Business Needs a CRO Process
Optimizing your conversion process is a holistic approach to improving your company.
The fruits of your labor will spill into nearly facet of your business:
- Doubling your conversion rate means that cost-per-acquisition (CAC or CPA) gets cut in half or even more – Click to tweet
- Your profits will increase – not only because of the extra business but also because it is costing less to acquire that business
- CPA or CAC (depending what vertical you’re in) is optimized when you know the best ways to spend your customer acquisition budget
- Affiliate campaigns improve – both you and your affiliates earn more
- Small improvements (slightly better information, slightly faster load than competitors) are enough to make a huge impact on market share
- Spend less on advertising – cut your advertising budget while maintaining or even growing your customer acquisition rate by simply understanding and improving the best performing channels.
- Scale your advertising to land grab market share and drive more customers to your product/service at a more cost effective price.
Now, having said that, there are a few tenets that need to be part of every CRO plan. This eBook is a guide to the process my team and I run CRO at Cubatica and Blueprint Solutions. It is super detailed and requires a fair amount of work but the results are amazing!
Here is what other people are saying about our CRO process and what it has done for their business:
Within 2 weeks of implementing, we saw between a 10-20% conversion rate lift, which far more than justified our initial investment.
– David Jaeger
If you’re a 7 figure business looking for help with conversion rate optimisation, automation and really going deep into your numbers… speak to this guy. In the “Wild West” of today’s digital marketing, he’s one of the rare few who gets it.
– Scott Bywater
A tested and successful process that gets results….enables you to go 200kph when you were just cruising at 50kp.
– Laurent Soulat
Joshua’s CRO work has increased our clients’ conversions, average session duration and they love the new designs (which sometimes is more important to them than conversions). If you are looking for an extremely talented, data driven, and expert conversion rate optimizer, I highly recommend Joshua Bretag.
– Luiz Centenaro
Working with Josh on lead generation has been a fun and highly rewarding experience. His expertise in conversion optimisation combined with a solid data-driven approach helped triple conversion rate resulting in more leads and lower CPA from paid search. Highly recommend if you are serious about increasing leads.
– Alban Guillemot
Joshua and the Cubatica team are conversion czars. I run a conversion focused agency myself and these are the guys my team often taps for help when we run into an issue we can’t figure out in house.
– Steven Daar
What am I signing up for?
My process involves a lot of data gathering and analytics. There are several checklists and reports to keep all of the data organized and ensure that no step is missed. Whether applying this to a client project or using it grow your own business, the process is the same.
You will start with heuristic, qualitative and quantitative research; progress into Google Analytics health checks and then into an analysis of the collected data.
The results of the analysis becomes the basis for the hypotheses and testing plans that follow. In the final phases, you will enhance your buyer personas based on the results of testing.
Special thanks goes out to Peep Laja of ConversionXL; his course heavily influenced the CRO process at Cubatica and Blueprint Solutions. It provided the framework on which we were able to build this amazing and comprehensive process. If you need more in-depth CRO information, I highly recommend attending Conversion XL Institute. No seriously, STOP READING and just go do it. Thank me later.
Download Your Treasure Map
Download this Testing Analysis Sheet. It is a high-level master plan that captures all of the data you will generate throughout the CRO process.
The spreadsheet starts with an overview and includes links to each of the parts. Once you start gathering inputs, you will refer back to this spreadsheet frequently to quickly move through the collected data (and there will be a lot!).
Your first tool is in-place. Feels good doesn’t it!
PHASE I: ESTABLISHING A BASELINE
Step 1: Information Gathering
Before getting into anything too deep, define the objective of the CRO project.
- Why is CRO a priority?
- What are the expectations around deliverables?
- What skillsets do we have internally?
- Is there buy-in from senior management?
Be realistic about your expectations and goals. Don’t expect to increase your conversion rate by 50% in a matter of days or even weeks.
Your objective must be more than simply “selling more product.” The objective will guide many of your decisions so take care to clearly define your goal.
NOTE: Don’t fall into analysis paralysis. Focus your efforts on one key metric that rules them all. – Click to tweet
Not sure what I am talking about? Watch a great video about start-up analytics from Andy at 500 Inc. (thanks Andy Young – Growth @ 500 Startups)
- What are your key objectives for this CRO project?
- Who is controlling the project?
- How do you describe your business?
- What are the complexities of the business?
- What tools are you using to track website and sales performance?
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
- Marketing automation
- Website tracking
- App Tracking
- User information storage
- Website platform
- BI (Business Intelligence) tool
- Data Warehouse
If you are working with a client and not only your own business, there are few additional questions to ask to be sure that you are both on the same playing field.
- What are project lead’s contact details?
- Why have you chosen us? (Great opportunity to employ the tactics Neil Rackham discusses in his book, Spin Selling)
- What are your Google Analytics logins?
- What are your website logins?
- What are your FTP + Cpanel logins?
- Who are the developers and designers that have buy-in and that we need to work with?
- Do you have an existing framework for testing?
- How often are you backing up the site?
- Is there anything else we should know?
- How is your data warehouse setup?
- What internal, BI tools are in-place? (If none are in-place, take a look at Looker, [what a pun:] or Periscope).
Based on the client’s responses, generate a few scenarios that provide a taste of the results they can expect. I use two templates to create these scenarios.
At Cubatica and Blueprint Solutions, we often couple CRO work with performance marketing; especially when working with paid advertising.
Step 2: Google Analytics Health Check
The next step is to assess the current state – what does the site look like now? Are the right tools gathering the right data?
The right information is critical to conducting meaningful analyses, drawing accurate conclusions and making valuable recommendations for improvement.
Start with a Google Analytics Health Check to narrow the focus. Use the results to formulate the direction of the Heuristic and Qualitative analyses that will follow.
At a minimum, the GA Health Check answers the following:
- Is Google Analytics setup correctly according to our checklist?
1.1. What are the problem areas?
1.2. How can we fix them?
1.3. How difficult will these fixes be to implement?
1.4. Do we need to inform the client immediately or can it wait until the report is
- Are other tracking tools, such as Mixpanel, Kissmetrics, Amplitude, Periscope and Looker working and configured correctly? For a little insight on exactly how I use these tools, check out this blog post.
- Which tool is being used on the site to track and gather data?
- What are the results of Cross Browser Testing?
While this is more a Heuristic Analysis, it is included in the Health Check as a way to identify glaring issues affecting data and/or conversions. These are issues that the development team needs to get on immediately. For example, is IE v8.0 converting 80% lower than the other websites?
- What were the results of previous tests?
Even though there is a strong possibility that previous testing was conducted incorrectly, I still want to see the results. There could be a common thread woven throughout or a piece of information that opens the door to a whole new perspective.
However, the first step is to examine the method to determine if the testing was done correctly. The results are only a viable source of information for the personas and future tests if the test method was sound.
- How fast is the site loading?
Use Pingdom and GA (if a page speed modification was added) to conduct a quick page speed test. Red flags are CDN and caching-enabled; if these are not a part of the site, add each immediately, without waiting for the report.
When the GA Health Check is complete, compile all of the information into a report and send it to the client or the Project Manager.
Step 3: Technical + GA Fixes
Walk through the results of the GA Health Check. Focus on implementing data tracking fixes; especially those that center on GA.
With data gathering in check, shift focus and run through this list:
- Enable Google Mod pagespeed
- Enable internal search tracking
- Enable phone call tracking
- Ensure that goal funnels are setup correctly
- Ensure all forms are separated
If the site uses a “Thank You” form or nightmare-ish AJAX forms (thanks 21st designers!!!!), verify that events are tracked separately and that the data is passing to the CRM for full closed loop reporting with UTM parameters (tracking sales back to a specific lead, page and traffic source).
- Ensure that a GA or GTM code is on every page of the website and configured correctly (especially GTM containers, events, rules and tags) Not sure how to do GTM ? Checkout this course by Julian at Measure School
- Ensure that Adwords and Google Search Console (former webmaster tools) are connected correctly. Here’s a tutorial how.
- Ensure that there are four data collecting profiles:
- Filtered data
- Non-Filtered data
- Client view – to protect the integrity of the report, this is a separate view that does not allow filtering to be changed
- Testing Environment
Now that the fires are out, you can begin rebuilding.
Conduct a full Google Analytics Health Check audit and create the custom reports, dashboard and advanced segments. This last leg of the GA Health Check reveals which areas of the site need to be corrected.
When we conduct this analysis for Bluepoint Solution clients, the results of the full GA Health Check are provided in a report. At this point, the client can decide to have the fixes implemented by their own, in-house team or request a quote from us for the project.
If the client decides to have their own team work the corrections, we conduct a secondary audit to ensure that all of the recommendations were implemented correctly.
Now that your baseline has established, you can now move on in the data and tracking methods.
The Definitive No-BS Guide to Increasing Conversions
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