How to Start and Scale Your Conversion Optimization Efforts in 2024
There's no better time to get more bang for your buck than right now
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It’s Wild Out There
In 2024 marketing and product teams are being asked to do the impossible, with renewed emphasis on acquisition and retention, all while budgets are shrinking and performance results are monitored more than ever before.
This means companies are looking to get every last drop out of their teams and budget.
One of the most efficient ways to get more out of your budget, and your team, is to implement a conversion optimization program optimized for learnings and improving conversion.
Today’s newsletter is all about how to start and scale a conversion optimization program in 2024.
Conversion optimization efforts are exciting, fun and fruitful, but before allocating the time and resources to developing a conversion program, you’ll want to make sure your company and teams are ready to build, scale and maintain it.
I recommend a few prerequisites before jumping all in:
2,000-5,000 unique monthly users
You should make sure your website or product has sufficient traffic to achieve statistically significant results and to ensure that you can run a few tests at a time.
Starting and scaling a conversion optimization program means allocating resources to it consistently over time. These resources will be budget, team hours and headspace. If your product and marketing teams can’t spare a few hours of meeting and execution time, you might not be ready.
When starting a conversion optimization program, conversion seems to be the right goal, but despite the name of the program, you actually should be focusing on accelerating the speed of learnings.
Conversions (and revenue) will come as a side effect of increased learnings.
When focusing on learnings, you can piece together user behaviors and optimize your products based on those results.
Optimizing for learnings means a better product and a better user experience.
When you first start building your conversion optimization program you’ll want a few key centralized players to kick things off right.
A centralized team means that a few select individuals dedicate some portion of their time to these specific efforts. Maybe it’s 40 hours a week, maybe it’s just 5, it all depends on your needs.
I recommend starting with a centralized team, though decentralized teams exist and do well in the right scenarios. In my opinion, when starting a new conversion program, having centralized players streamlines and facilitates learnings faster than a decentralized program would.
Alright here’s the recommended team:
An executive sponsor is someone who sits on the executive or senior leadership team. Depending on the company size and structure this person might be a director, a vice president or a C-suite member.
I’ve had a sponsor in all of these roles, and all of them can work, so long as your executive sponsor is bought into the vision, understands the results and can advocate for your program and team.
Subject Matter Expert
You need someone to be the driving force of a team like this, someone who can talk the talk and walk the walk. When starting a conversion program it can be helpful to bring in an advisor who has experience building programs and teams like this to be your subject matter expert, in fact this happens to be my speciality, so if you find yourself in need of someone to help you start and scale a program, reach out.
You can also bring someone on full time for this role, I’ve seen both work out just fine.
When deciding between advisor or full time hire, consider your budget, how early you are in this journey, whether or not you want to invest in in-house talent, and if you know what your goals are or what they should be.
If you aren’t sure about your answers to those questions, consider an advisor who knows how to guide your program to success.
You’ll need some level of engineering support to get this program running, but I love what Elena Verna says about growth engineers “You don’t need a Stanford CS degree to change the header copy on your homepage.”
Engineering support will be required, but ideally you want to set up a program that requires minimal code, so that you can streamline running experiments and gaining learnings.
Having a program that is code intensive will always turn into a bottleneck. As much as possible, enable other team members to set up, run and monitor tests.
Engineers can act as support when needed or build out the more complex experiments.
You need to understand what your results are telling you.
Having a dedicated analyst will not only help your team to communicate the learnings clearer and faster, but they will also be able to uncover hidden insights that weren’t easily visible to others.
Product managers excel at bringing order, documentation and clarity to any conversion optimization program.
Product managers can help organize the work, the roadmap and document results to optimize learnings and growth as you scale.
In some cases product managers execute the experiments themselves too. Having more team members who can execute will accelerate learnings and growth.
Many of the acquisition efforts will come from the marketing side, but this might vary based on the company and product.
In my experience, having a dedicated marketing team member facilitates experimentation and learnings because they can do the work themselves, or work with the marketing team to setup, run and analyze experiments.
It’s also important to have a marketing member who can communicate with marketing stakeholders to ensure smooth experiences.
Having a dedicated designer might seem like overkill, but trust me when I say, experimenters are not designers. Having a dedicated design resource to provide designs in a timely and efficient manner will empower your conversion optimization team to succeed fast.
Designers often live in the product in a different way than others do and can offer unique perspectives or alternative variations that might not have been considered previously.
The Tiger Team
The team members and organization can and likely will change as your program grows and scales, so don’t be afraid of workshopping so this works for you and your needs.
You also don’t necessarily need a dedicated person for each of these roles, I have personally held 3+ of these roles depending on the company and the resources available.
Generally there are only a few tools you’ll need to start your program. You might need a few more than I have listed here, depending on your company, size, budget, product, etc.
Familiarity with a testing tool is the reason you might hire an advisor as these types of tools are often complex and require years of learning to master.
Here are a few tools I recommend for your program
Knowledge and Learnings Hub
Having a central location to document learnings is crucial at the start and especially as you scale your program.
Adam Fishman makes a comment I really like, he says “I’ll often hear companies say, “Oh, we tested that already.” To which I respond, “That’s great, what’d you learn? Can I see the experiment writeup?” Oftentimes that’s met with an uncomfortable silence because they never. wrote. anything. down.”
Write it down, please.
Here are a few tools I like and have used in the past:
Wherever you’ll write it down and reference it, that’s the best spot.
Data Storage and Collection
Your A/B testing tool should do a lot of the heavy lifting for you here, but I like to have backup data to correlate findings and ensure we’re honest in our data collection and reporting.
Everyone should be collecting data, but if you aren’t, here are a few of my favorite tools to do it:
The Plan and Timeline
Gathering learnings can happen quickly, if you start in the right place and act fast. But it can also take time.
Depending on how complex your tests are, how large your sample size is and what area of your product you’re testing, all of the learnings can come at different paces.
I recommend starting with high impact, low effort tests to prove that the juice is worth the squeeze. Try to isolate areas where a small improvement could result in significant learnings and potentially significant improvements to your success metrics.
Don’t avoid longer term or more complex tests because of the difficulty, or the need to produce results quickly. Try to balance high impact/low effort tests with high impact/high effort tests.
The focus should always be on high impact and learnings, especially at the beginning.
Conclusion: It’s A Significant Lift, But It’s Worth It
Building and scaling an efficient and productive conversion optimization program is no small task, but the upside is enormous.
Last week I wrote about how by running one test for a small business we were able to increase conversion and raise prices at the same time. The impacts on a larger business with more revenue potential can be even bigger.
Some of my biggest wins resulted from testing small components of the user journey, but yielded huge learnings, growth gains and revenue.
🧑🔬 Do You Want to Start and Scale Your Conversion Optimization? 🧑🔬
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