A few months ago I was watching Whiteboard Friday (as I try to do every week), and Rand Fishkin released a really interesting episode called ‘Minimum Viable SEO‘. The idea behind it was simple, Rand compiled a list of the 3 most important things you should do for SEO if you only have a few minutes every week. According to Rand, if SEO isn’t your main thing and you don’t have the time to spend every day working on it, then those were the 3 most important things you should do.
This left me wondering, is there such a thing as ‘minimum viable conversion optimization’?
As I’ve mentioned before there’s no way around it, if you want to see more than just an uplift in conversions, drive meaningful growth and truly make a difference in your entire business, optimization has to be part of your company culture. Optimization must be ingrained in everything you do, an integral part of your growth process. Unfortunately that really can’t be done with just a few minutes every week.
However, I understand that not everyone has the time or resources to focus on growth and conversion optimization this way. So what would I and my colleagues recommend if you do only have one day a month to work on optimization? What would we tell you to focus on? that’s when the idea for this article was born.
To answer these questions, I contacted some of the top optimizers in the world and asked them exactly that:
If you had only one day a month to focus on optimization,
what would you do?
“I’d optimize nurturing emails.
I’d work on email if I could work on nothing else because the payoff can be so immediate.
If it paid off well, I may then be able to afford more days a month to work on more things (like lead generation, now that my emails are in a more optimized state). So I’d have to choose between a nurturing / onboarding sequence and a sales sequence.
Given where my software business (Airstory) is at today, nurturing new users is more important to me than trying to convert the ones that have activated. That’s why I’d work on the nurturing emails in a single day… Actually, that’s why I WILL.”
“… What you need to do is find the quickest way to some actionable insight. It does not have to be the most important one. It just has to be something that looks promising, where you can form an hypothesis, make a change and observe the effect.
How do you do this? With guerilla-style user testing.
Grab a computer and head down to your nearest coffee shop. Offer gift cards to some of the people there and have them review your site or app. Since most people use their smartphones for everything these days, have them use their own smartphone if you can. Record the session with a technique called “laptop hugging”.
This should give you some really valuable aha-moments, and now you should just prioritize them after what you think is the estimated estimated effort and impact.
Within your small budget you have no time for A/B-testing so just go ahead and implement the change directly on the site. BUT, don’t forget to note for yourself what is the expected change/result that you expect to see. Then look into the data after you’ve released the change to see if there is any detectable change (grab this free hypothesis formula to get started)
** Note on selecting users: Most usability problems are pretty “universal” by nature, so they will be detected by pretty much everyone. We use a principle called “Recruit loosely – grade on a scale”. This means you can recruit anyone, but they closer they are to your target group, the more you should value their input. If you have a very narrow target group, you should reconsider this method. For example, don’t head to a coffee shop to test a web site aimed at marine engineers selling ship maintenance remote monitoring systems.”
Founder and Chief Optimizer at GetUplift (That’s me)
When I sat down to think about it myself I knew one thing for sure: the most important part of conversion optimization is NOT the testing – it’s the research (getting into your customers’ heads). So if I only had one day a month to focus on CRO I’d dedicate each month to one step in the emotional targeting process:
Month 1: I’d start with reading into the data, analyzing behavior on heatmaps, analyzing the numbers on Google Analytics and finding those leaks in the funnel. I’d locate the problematic areas that need fixing and prioritize what to optimize according to the resources I’d need to make the change and the impact I could get on the bottom line if I made the change.
Month 2: Next I’d focus on the second part of the research – user research: I’d create a survey, send out questions to my team, and conduct those customer interviews. My goal for this day: getting to know the customers better and mapping out their intent, concerns, pain and emotional drivers.
Month 3: On the third month I’d look at all the information I gathered from the first few months of research and work on my hypothesis. Since I know where the problem is and who I’m speaking to it will be time to map out the changes I want to make in terms of copy, design, content, colors according to the information I’ve uncovered.
Month 4: Depending on the amount of monthly conversions I have, I’d either work on launching those changes as an AB test or go live with the immediately and monitor the results over time.
Each month, I’d focus more on gathering more data, learning more about my customers, their decision-making process and work on making changes around that.
Founder of CXL and CXL Institute
“Month 1: No matter the time you have available, research is where you wanna spend most of the time. Conduct conversion research using the ResearchXL framework to identify the problems and user needs/wants/goals.
I would start with a heuristic analysis – desktop and mobile separately – and write down my observations about friction, anxiety, relevancy and (lack of) motivation for each page. This is the quickest thing to do. If you have the traffic to run tests, put first tests up based on the heuristics. If less than 1000 transactions / mo, just fix all the issues you see (get your developer to do it).
Month 2: I’d check digital analytics for the biggest leaks, under-performing segments and pages + figure out what high converters are doing differently from non-converters who do engage with the site.
I’d recruit 5 to 10 test users and have them perform key tasks on the site. I’d proceed to setting up polls on high-leaks peaks + send out a full survey of recent buyers to identify their motivations, key hesitations before making the purchase and how they shop for whatever the site is selling.
Month 3: Read through and analyze all survey responses, poll answers. Watch the user testing videos. This would give me enough ammunition to develop a list of 50 to 100 issues to address with fixes or tests.
** I’d spend the rest of the months coming up with treatments, implementing fixes and/or tests, doing QA on them and setting them live.”
Growth Marketing Advisor
“I’d spend the day doing customer interviews and online polls to learn what questions, uncertainties, and pain points they have. I’d use the results to fuel content strategy.
- SEO: Create articles that answer top questions. Modify content to use words or phrases commonly used by customers.
- CONTENT: Investigate “hero shot” images that would help visualize answers to user questions and appeal to their desired emotion. (See Angie’s “hero shot scorecard”)
- Lead Gen: Create landing pages with downloadable “utility” resources related to the answered questions that empower users to easily perform next-step tasks related to that stage of the journey. (i.e. checklist, planner guide, comparison worksheet, scorecard, etc.) << Ensure traffic arriving for these questions can receive a tangible, instant gratification resource while capturing their info as leads.
- UX: Fix what’s broken.
- CRO: Add/gather specific social proof to buffer user-identified concerns/fears. Plan A/B tests to address friction, clarity or motivation points identified by users.”
SaaS Marketing & CX Strategist at A Better CX
“More than any other part of the customer journey, I find that the middle, the “evaluation” phase, is the most commonly in need of optimizing; Somewhere between the website and pricing page doing their job to onboarding to becoming a new customer.
SaaS companies are consistently looking to have their customers ‘self-serve’. They’ll often tell me they want to grow their audience or attract more leads, but after digging a little deeper, focus often shifts to converting more of the leads they’ve already generated, and operating more efficiently, with less sales and support burden.
Given one day per month to focus on optimization, I’d focus first on getting inside the heads of customers, so that I could then address every concern, and ultimately exceed every expectation during the evaluation phase of the customer journey.”
Founder and CEO at WiderFunnel
“If I only had 1 day a month, I’d hire someone to take some lower value tasks off my plate so I could focus more time on optimization!
Buuuut… if I don’t control the budget, I’d start with user testing and interviews. Talking to my customers, understand the voice of the customer. As quickly as possible, gain an insight that leads to important questions to ask so I can ask an important question with my next A/B test.”
Founder and conversion expert at AGConsult
“Month 1 (this is gonna be a long long day for you):
Do a basic technical and usability review of the site. Are there any glaring usability mistakes like false bottoms or almost invisible calls-to-action? Things that just don’t work in a certain browser? Fix those or have your team or development partner fix them for you.
Make sure you’re measuring all you need to in your analytics tool First of all: are you collecting the data you need? If you’re not, you won’t even be able to measure change. Sound obvious? You have no idea how often this still happens, even with our big-name clients. If you aren’t measuring right, you can’t know whether you’re improving or not.
Start up your user research
- Set up heatmaps on your most important pages.
- Start recording user sessions.
- Kick-start a few user surveys.
You’ll need all of this input for the coming months.
- What’s your data telling you? Where is your site leaking money? Where are you not making the most out of your traffic?
- What does the user research on those pages say?
- Check out what people are answering in the surveys.
- Watch the user session recordings.
- Use that information and your expertise to come up with solutions for the problems.
- Test or fix Have you got enough traffic and conversions to AB-test? Do so.
- Don’t have the numbers needed for AB-testing? Make the changes and follow up in your analytics tool.
Month 3: Ask your boss for more time. Because we haven’t even scratched the surface here. Seriously.”
“SaaS Marketing Consultant & Co-founder of Forget The Funnel
If I had only 1 day, I’d work on optimizing a targeted landing page for a specific segment of my customers.
- Any paid ad dollars are immediately better spent when the landing page is targeted, and
- as months go on, I could test the reach and effectiveness of different pages I create against each other, which would inform which customer segments to double my efforts on moving forward.”
Digital Marketing Strategist at InVisionApp & Growth Advisor
“If I had one day a month to optimize my website/funnels, I would spend the day optimizing optimization.
I would use the day to prioritize all the test optimization ideas that would help drive towards the North Star goals that month. This means identifying the quick wins, taking a look at the areas of greatest opportunity and importance, against the level of effort to implement the tests.
The rest of the month would then be focused on execution of the activities that will provide the greatest ROI on your Optimization efforts.”
Chief Optimization Officer – Online Dialogue
My first though was I’d spend 4 hours analyzing data, hypothesizing and then brief a testing agency on 4 experiments I want them to run in the coming months. However, I’d more likely optimize my own situation – I would use that one day in a month to find a job were they do know what it takes to grow a business”
Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré
Community Growth at Zest.is, SaaS Consultant & Customer Success Evangelist
“If I only had one day a month to work on optimization, then the single highest-impact thing I could do would be to focus on Customer Success. When your customers are experiencing success with your product, so many other things just take care of themselves – word of mouth marketing and retention rise with hardly any effort and growth is the natural outcome. To optimize for Customer Success, I’d begin by checking in to make sure customers were reaching their desired outcomes, or at least reaching success milestones. And if they’re not, find out where and why. That process would reveal places in the process I could improve, and where the process was breaking down and producing churn.”
Over to you
As you probably noticed, each expert has their own take on what matters more to their specific business and where they’d invest their resources. After reading this you have two tasks in hand:
- Choosing one of these processes, detailed by the experts that resonates most with your goals and business. Get started immediately, do not wait any longer – start optimizing with the time you have.
- MAKE MORE TIME. As I mentioned above, meaningful conversion optimization isn’t another task to perform, it’s a way of running your business’s growth strategy. For it to deliver scalable results that multiply your ROI, you’ll need to dedicate a lot more time to it on a daily basis.
Let us know in the comments, which expert’s proposal resonates with you most?
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