Part 1/3: Conversion Rate Optimization from A to Z

Learn about conversion rate optimization and the tools you need to get started.

Adama Hawa Diallo - Her Online Business Podcast

Are you getting started with conversion rate optimization? Our Founder and CEO, AJ Davis, talks through all the tools you need to start implementing and optimizing your website today.⁠

Questions AJ answered:

  • How did you get started with Experiment Zone? Talk me through it.
  • What elements should an entrepreneur or business owner have on a website?
  • What is conversion rate optimization?
  • Do you have a tip for new entrepreneurs who don’t have the tech skills and want to start working on conversion optimization in their business?
  • What are the common myths regarding conversion rate optimization?
  • What is A/B testing?
  • Why is it so important?
  • Can you give us a few actionable tips/methods for entrepreneurs looking for ways to optimize their website?
  • What’s the most common reason for people failing at this?
  • What are some specific roadblocks to watch out for?
  • What support and/or resources are available?
  • What services and solutions do you offer for businesses who want to optimize their website for conversion?

Tools to start optimizing your website:

  • First Impression testing.
    • Make sure visitors know what the site is about.
    • Make sure they know where to click.
  • Click tracking (like Hotjar, LuckyOrange)
    • Know where visitors are clicking
    • See how far visitors are scrolling
  • Analytics (like Google analytics)
  • Google Optimize


Adama 0:05

Hello, and welcome to her online business podcast, the podcast for aspiring and experienced female web entrepreneurs. I am your host. And here you will find marketing tips for building your online business. interviews from inspiring female entrepreneurs from all over the world listens and mistakes from my experience in entrepreneurship, and much more. I am passionate about helping other women live their dream life thanks to an online business that matches their passion and serves their purpose. So let’s hang out, have fun and grow together.

Hi, and welcome back to how online business podcast This episode is going to be the first of a three part podcast series that I’m going to do with a lockable gtaw optimization expert AJ Davis. AJ is an industry is spelt in user experience strategy with a proven track record for the ring true value to businesses. She is the founder of experiment zone, which provides conversion strategy and testing for online businesses. Prior to starting experiment zone, ag lead optimization strategy for Fortune 500 companies during her tenure at K head, he was also the lead UX researcher on the Google Optimize product, we decided to address the topic of conversion optimization for your website in three parts because we have a lot of different aspects to cover. And we want you to get the best out of his service. So today’s episode is going to be about conversion rate optimization and ABX testing. Next week, we are going to talk about the Google Analytics and key metrics that you should focus on regarding your website. And in the third episode, we are going to talk about the overall user experience and what every website needs to be user friendly. So without further ado, I’m going to let AJ tell us a little bit more about her and what she does as experimental. Hi, Jay. And thank you so much for being here. Thanks so much for having me. Oh, tell us a little bit more about you your background and where you from.

AJ Davis 2:21

I’m from Austin, Texas. And I am a conversion rate optimization specialist. And I have a company called experiment zone. And what we do is that we help companies improve their conversion rates on their websites. My background, I was spending some time working at Google as a user experience researcher, and I got to work on this brand new product, which ultimately became Google Optimize. And Google Optimize is a tool that lets people split test their website, meaning they can have the current version of the website run against a new version or a modified version of the site to really understand the impact of that modification. And I got to talk to these people because I was user researcher. So I did a lot of interviews, I talked to them about what they did. And I realized at one point that I was jealous of them that I loved that they got to make decisions about how to make better user experiences using real world data to confirm that they made the right choice. So I took a risk. And I decided to do this professionally, I left Google and I went to Austin, Texas and decided to work at one of the top agencies called clear head. And I worked at clear head managing some of their top accounts, and really loves getting in there making recommendations for customers and validating that those things, in fact, did move the needle did help increase their revenue. I found it experiment zone so that every business can access ways to improve their experiences. And so that decisions are based in data, both quantitative and qualitative data.

Adama 3:55

So your company is called experiments on how did you get started with your company like dopey a little bit? Really?

AJ Davis 4:02

Sure, yeah, we started the company in February of 2017. We were very lucky in that our very first client was my previous employer. So I was able to negotiate for them to be my first client. And so starting on day one, I had a paying customer, and was able to get started and build a business. And it’s been fun. You know, things have changed a little over the years, we’ve had to adapt to different situations. And with COVID, there’s been some ways that we’ve had to adjust as well. But overall, it’s been a really positive experience.

Adama 4:35

Awesome. And so what it meant should an entrepreneur or business owner, you know, have on the website, when they want to make sure that the website converts and everything.

AJ Davis 4:48

Yeah, there’s hundreds of lists that you can find online that are just basically laundry lists, you can find long checklist of things that you must include. But ultimately it comes down to three elements. But your website must have. So the first thing is that you must empathize with the user or with the visitor. So when somebody comes to the site, they need to be able to see the problem or the goal that they are dealing with, what’s this website about? Who’s it for, they need to be able to get to that information. The second thing that your website needs to be able to do is state in really plain language, what you sell or offer, I’ve seen hundreds of sites where they skip that step. And they just kind of talk about, like their philosophy for a very long time before they ever show the product or the service that they’re selling. And so you need to be able to communicate very quickly, because people are easily distracted, they have a lot going on, and let them know how you are going to solve their problem. And then the third thing that you really need to communicate is why you are the business to buy from for that solution. So why should I work with this company to solve my problem or achieve my goals? And if you can take care of those three elements, you’ll be leagues above a lot of the other websites that are out there.

Adama 6:01

Okay. So, yeah, unexpect in terms of conversion rate optimization, can you tell us what is it exactly in just simple words?

AJ Davis 6:13

Sure, I’ll break it down. I think the word conversion rate optimization contains actually three different definitions in it. So I’ll just walk through those so that we’re all on the same page about what we’re talking about. So a conversion is simply the idea of changing or causing something to change from one form to the other. So for retailers, it’s often from changing a visitor from your website to a customer, or somebody who’s purchasing from you. It could also just mean simple things like I’m browsing your store, and now I’m shopping your store, or I picked out an item. So it’s just a shift in something, it’s getting somebody to take an action or goal on your website. So examples of these would be product sales, add to cart, shopping cart completion rates, email newsletter, signups and then the second element, the first element was conversion. And so if you take conversion rate as part of the first two words of conversion rate optimization, conversion rate is simply a mathematical formula, which is the number of goals achieved, or the number of conversions divided by the total number of visitors. And that will give you a percentage rate that will help you understand over time how you’re doing in terms of conversion looks like. And then all three words together, conversion rate optimization, it’s a process for increasing the percentage of people who take that desired action. And so this process includes understanding who your visitors are, how they’re landing and moving through your site, what actions they take, what actions they don’t take, and then ultimately, what’s getting in their way of them completing the desired actions on your site. And so basically, to do conversion rate optimization, you need to have an understanding of what’s happening. And then you will do three things, you’ll generate ideas for improving the site experience, you’ll evaluate whether those ideas are really practical and effective. And then you’ll measure whether or not the ideas work by running an A B test and keeping an eye on your analytic.

Adama 8:09

Okay, I see thanks was a very simple definition of conversion rate optimization. So now, do you have a tip for new entrepreneurs who don’t have the tech skills, but two wants to start working on progression optimization in their business?

AJ Davis 8:23

Yeah, I think the first thing is to really make sure you understand your customers. So if you do one thing today, it would be to talk to your customers, I talked to lots of businesses, and there’s often a reluctance to talk to their customers from a lens that isn’t just a sales conversation. So if you think of it as information gathering, you’re not trying to sell them, you’re not trying to convince them, you’re trying to understand their pain points and where they exist today. And if you can really understand your audience, if you talk to five or six people, and get a sense for what pain points they have in common, what words they use to describe that, you’ll be much better off on your website and communicating back to that audience so they can see themselves and their pain points in the messaging on your site. I see. So regarding having a website, I’m sure that you saw a lot of mistakes that people make, and they don’t realize that it’s actually affecting their conversion rate. So can you tell us the most common myths regarding conversion rate optimisation? And how you can get past some of the mistakes that new entrepreneurs like you to make? Yeah, great question. I think what I often see is that people will look at their competitor sites, and just copy it or mirror it and think I’ll just do what my competitors do. And that will be good enough. Yeah, the best practices or what your competitors are doing, don’t account for your context. They don’t account from your unique audience or your offering. And so your customers are different and they may respond differently to those elements and to those messages. And you should also not assume that your competitors are testing or really doing conversion rate optimization. And so if you make the assumption, they’re not doing conversion rate optimization, then you have an opportunity to move past them and to accelerate beyond them and to exceed them in the market. Because you can do a better job at communicating what you do, you can do a better job connecting with your audience. The other thing I hear is, oh, I’m too small to do conversion rate optimization, because people think conversion rate optimization is the same thing as a B testing. And a B testing is an important tool for conversion rate optimization, but it’s not the only tool. So if you can generate ideas, if you can evaluate ideas and measure them, you can do conversion rate optimization.

Adama 10:44

Yeah. And so you just talked a little bit on ad testing. So can you give us a definition of ad testing so that we can see the difference with conversion rate optimisation,

AJ Davis 10:56

the term AV testing can be interchangeable used with the term split testing. Basically, what it means is you split your audience or you have two versions of an experience and a version and the B version. And these two different versions of the experience, half of your visitors will see the version and half, we’ll see the version, you’ll see them at the same time, and everything else on the page will be the same. So that will allow you to isolate the impact of that one change where b is different than a and then measure how that impacts the other variables. So if I change the position of the Add to Cart button, and I see an increase in the percentage of people who click on the Add to Cart button, and an increase in the number of people who order, because we’re doing a scientific approach, and we’re split testing the audience, we can say with confidence is related to that change that we made, as opposed to just random noise, if we just make a change, so we do that we move that button for everybody, we don’t get a sense of what was the impact because there’s a lot of other environmental impacts, it could be that I moved the button on July 1, and then there was a holiday on July 4, and so fewer people came to the site, or people have lower intent when they did get to the site. And so we can’t always control for those other variables if we’re not doing split testing. So AV testing gives us the ability to feel very confident in the decisions that we’re making, and to get a really clear signal of the impact.

Adama 12:20

So in your opinion, why is a B testing so important? And what are the tools that new entrepreneurs can use in order to do their own AV testing, for example.

AJ Davis 12:32

So AV testing is really important, because it allows you to make data driven decisions, you can use statistically significant data to understand that this change that you made is the reason that there was an impact or a change. It allows you to isolate those variables and changes from all the other environmental factors. And then what I’m most interested in and most excited about is that you can learn from real customer behavior. Yes. So it gives us the chance to really see what our customers doing and challenge our own assumptions. Most AV tests don’t win. And we’re putting our best foot out there. And this is just true across the board. When we put an idea out there into the world, a lot of the time, we assume it’s the right choice. Because we’ve done hard work, we’ve done the research, we’ve evaluated it, we say this, is it. But if we actually take the time to validate it at the end of the day and say, is this actually helping us? A lot of the times it isn’t? So AV tests allow us to even update our own priors. And understand, you know, that like maybe we’ve been making this assumption that this heuristic is true. But then we may learn that that’s not true for our audience.

Adama 13:38

Yeah. And so in terms of tools, what can you do to do your own AB split testing,

AJ Davis 13:45

there’s a lot of tools out in the market, there are some that are very robust. And then there’s some lower cost options. So just to name a few, Google Optimize the product I worked on, and it exists in the world, it’s free, it’s a great tool, especially if you’ve never done it before. It ties into your Google Analytics. So you have a very easy integration with your data set. And so it’s very easy to get started. There’s a lot of other tools out there. AB tasty is one bw, oh, dynamic yield Optimizely monetate. You know, the list goes on and on. There’s all types of tools that are out there. But you do start paying for it at some point as you get more functionality.

Adama 14:25

They’re finicky. And yeah, as you said, a free very commonly used tool is Google optimized. So you can always start with face first. And so in terms of optimizing your website, do you have any actionable tips and methods that people can look for in order to start implementing this optimization strategy?

AJ Davis 14:44

Yeah, I think there’s three great tools to get started for any business. Regardless of how much traffic you have. The first one I recommend is called first impression testing. It’s a way to make sure visitors know what the site’s all about, and make sure that the site checks those three boxes that we talked about. At the beginning, the solving my problem, how do you solve it? And why should I work with you. And then you also can make sure people know where to click and take action on your site. A really important thing is to make sure when people land on your site, they have a clear action to take. So here’s what I do on the site. And so first impression testing can be done, there’s a great tool called five second testing Comm. And that will allow you to just like plug in your questions, plug in your website, and it will automatically show it to their participants, and then ask them questions to correspond with it. So it’s a great tool to really understand, like, do people get what your site is about? The second tool set that I would recommend is click tracking. So there’s tools like hot jar, lucky, orange crazyegg, these are tools that are often very low cost, or in the case of hot dry, there’s a free version. And you can understand where visitors are clicking on your page gives you these visual maps. So you can see where people are clicking, and you can see how far they’re scrolling. And that can be really useful if you want to make sure people are seeing important information about your business. And then the third thing to make sure you have is your analytics, whether that’s Google Analytics or something else, to make sure you really understand how many people are you getting on your site? What pages are they seeing whenever they’re leaving? How much time do they spend, and just getting an understanding of what’s happening today.

Adama 16:22

He gives you a lot of tools that you can start using and some of them are free or have a free version. And don’t hurry, it was a little bit fast for you, I will put in the it is not on my website, the different tools that AJ will talk about during this series.

AJ Davis 16:39

And just a reminder, we’ll be doing a second part of this very shortly where we’ll be talking specifically about Google Analytics. So yeah, curious to learn more about that we’re gonna have a great conversation around that soon.

Adama 16:50

Definitely stick around for that next week. That’s true. And so

AJ Davis 16:55

for you, what are the maybe most common reason why people will still fail at optimizing their website? So we know, more or less what kind of tools we need to use and what type of content or elements we should have on their website. But we still fell at optimizing it for some reason? And do you have maybe an explanation for that, or something that you saw your clients doing? And that was maybe the reason why they were still stuck in this? Yeah, I think the number one reason businesses fail at this is either they are a little afraid of data. And so they don’t collect it, or they have this like monsoon of data. And they’re not sure what to do with it. Yeah, so a lot of them have so much customer data, and they’re collecting it, they’ve got all these tools running. But then they ultimately don’t know how to take action, and they just ignore it. So knowing why you’re collecting data. And what you’re going to do with it is a really important thing to do and to define. But you also have to not be afraid to collect it in the first place. So get something started and then get curious and ask questions about your website, and then make sure you have the data to answer those questions. Yeah, I mean, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you have a lot of data, as you said, maybe some businesses had the website running for years and years, but we didn’t have an expert who could analyze his

Adama 18:18

data. And as he said, then take actions and some recommendation regarding that. So I guess also, asking for help can be useful in this area issue really don’t know where to start, and you already have a huge database that you want to start using.

AJ Davis 18:36

Yeah, we see that a lot of the time, it’s just that the person in charge of the data has too many responsibilities. Yes, they may look at it on some regular cadence, they might be having an automated report sent to them, but they may not have the ability and the freedom to really be curious with the data because they have a lot else on their plate. So bringing in an outside team, or hiring someone specifically to be looking at the data with the lens of conversion in mind can really make a difference, because you can really start to uncover opportunities. There a couple other reasons I see people fail to, you know, one of the things I see is it’s really easy to be too close to your website. So oftentimes, you are looking at it often and you build a site or, you know, you’ve worked at a company for several years, and it just kind of stagnates and you’re not really thinking of it from the lens of somebody who doesn’t look at the website as often or who doesn’t know the brand as well as you do. And so bringing in outside perspectives can really help with this, whether it’s a conversion rate optimization expert, like our team or some customer research and feedback. And then the last reason for people failing is that a lot of the times when they do go to talk to customers, they’re asking their customers what they like, or what they would do, or potentially just like checking a box because they need to, you know, get that seven out of 10 come Instead of observing and asking about, like past behaviors, that people are much better about talking about what they have done before, or walking through it in the live setting, as opposed to the question, What will you do next week, a lot of us have good intentions around, you know, the first of every year, we all say we’re going to do all these things, but then the data shows that people don’t really live up to what they said they’re going to do. So that would be my third thing is, you know, stop asking people what they will do, or if they want something, and instead talk about what they’re actually doing what they’ve actually spent money on. Yes,

Adama 20:39

true. Surely, when you are trying to collect data to improve your overall user experience, and customer experience, it’s important to know that people will sometimes enter what they think he wants to end to end stuff. And so it’s better to analyze their behaviors rather than just walks, you know, because walls are just swells. And sometimes we say things that we would not actually do, but we don’t realize

AJ Davis 21:09

it. And you can use words, but you have to crop the question really carefully. So the way that you can use words is to say, you know, last week, you know, over the last seven days, what have you purchased over the last seven days? How many times have you done X, Y, and Z, that’s going to more likely lead to something that’s insightful and true, as opposed to in the next seven days? What do you expect to do? True?

Adama 21:33

Yes, phrasing is also very, very important. And so that’s one of the maybe what blocks that people have when they start to collect data. And as a result, we collect the room data, and they then do the wrong analysis. And then we take action, do you see have a specific word blocks regarding data? And how can people make sure that we collect the right one, even if they are still room for error, but just to like to optimize for this aspect of data collection as well,

AJ Davis 22:04

I think one of the things that we see is that people fixate on the conversion rate itself. So what you know, for an e commerce site, that would be the percentage of people who order, and it’s really important to know what other metrics go into understanding what happens there. So for example, if you’re making a change on a product detail page, you definitely want to know if you’re changing how many people add to cart, but there might be some other things that impacts as well. So if you’re changing the way the images work, you want to understand, do people click differently through the images? Do they see a different number of images? does it impact how they swirl on the page? does it impact their Add To Cart rate, and you do want to also track add to cart, cart visits, checkout, the checkout starts in orders. So you want to know your conversion metrics, and you want to know your story metrics. And what I often see is, especially for teams that are new to AV testing, they’re fixating on one variable, which is how you make your decision. But you need to understand all the other things that are being impacted because of that change. The other thing that I see related to some specific roadblocks or things that come up with conversion rate optimization, is there’s this idea of like, what am I done, and a lot of the times people think, like, I’m gonna have a target conversion rate, and then I’ll be done with having to optimize. And the thing is, is like, there’s a couple things that happen, customer expectations change and the markets changing. So if your competitors are continuously updating their site and doing things that better serve their customer, you’re going to fall behind. So you need to keep using this process to understand what the landscape is and to keep up with what people are expecting from websites. And then your own site changes. So sometimes, there’ll be a new feature that gets added or some part of the navigation that gets removed. And if those things don’t get tested and analyzed, they can have a big impact, and you wouldn’t even know what happened. And so just knowing that your website is this living thing, and it’s existing in this living world, where lots of things are moving and changing. That’s why you need to make this a continuous process.

Adama 24:11

Yeah, true. And I think that’s very important. What you just said is that the website should not be static. It’s like a living element of your business. And sometimes, if not, all the time, the most important element of your business when you are 100%. Online. So yeah, it’s important to make sure that to test every changes that you make on your website, just so that you know if anything changed in your analytics, you know that it is probably because you tend this aspect of your website maybe a week ago or something like that, and you can then see the difference and you will not be completely lost regarding maybe a drop or an increase in your different conversion rate and analytics. So yes, we talked about the definition of progression rate optimisation A B test Things the roadblocks that people should watch out for. Do you have recommendations about the resources that are available out there for people who want to get started? And maybe have, you know, all these definitions that we talked about and understand really what optimization is about before actually doing it themselves?

AJ Davis 25:22

Yeah, I’ve got a couple of things to recommend. So we’ve got a beginner’s guide to conversion rate optimization on our blog, at experiment zone comm that we can link to that in the notes. And that’s a great tool just to get a sense of like, What are all these pieces we talked about, and we’ll have some information about different tools that are available. And some of the trade offs. There’s a great book by Steven Krug book called Don’t make me think Don’t make me think is a great book for people who want to build empathy for their customers and understand why user experience is really important. It’s a really light book, it’s very easy to get through, it’s got some nice visuals. So it’s a great starting book, to understand about website optimization and experience optimization. And then there’s also a tool for tracking your conversion ideas and outcomes. So when you’re generating those ideas, and then evaluating them, it’s called hypothesis And that’s a great website where you can sign up and keep track of all the things that you want to be a be testing and implementing on your site.

Adama 26:17

Well, thanks for his resources, AJ. So I will also put all the resources that it is just cited on my website so that you can also access it and pick the one of your choice. And so regarding you own company, and what you do at the experiment zone, what are some services and solutions that you offer for businesses, we want to optimize their website for conversion for small

AJ Davis 26:41

businesses, we offer conversion consults, where we’ll review your website and give you actionable feedback about how you can improve your conversion rates. And you can book time with us at experiment zone comm slash audit. And you can get an hour free just by mentioning this podcast. And that’s a great tool for just getting in the moment feedback about what things you can do for your specific website that you can implement today to help improve that experience for your visitors. The other thing that we offer our strategic experience optimization partnership, so we do strategic and tactical support for generating, evaluating and measuring changes to your site that drive conversion. And so as part of that we do conversion strategy, analytics, user research and surveys, as well as AV testing. And if you’re interested in getting more information on that you can reach out to us at experiment zone Comm. And

Adama 27:35

yeah, I definitely encourage you to get in touch with AJ and the experiments on Team especially for the one our website audit at experiments slash audit, because I think that would be a great starting point for you to in order to know what is happening with your website and how you can go forward and improve your overall conversion. Okay, so we give you today an overview about conversion rate optimization, a B testing, and the different tools and resources that are available for you today to start optimizing your website. And next week, we are going to talk about Google Analytics and the different metrics that should should be focusing on if you want your website to be user friendly. AJ, can you tell us a little bit about what we will discuss next week regarding analytics and the different metrics? Sorry,

AJ Davis 28:32

yeah, what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna make it super simple. We’re going to talk about just the basic things that every single business should be able to do to understand what’s going on with their website. So I encourage you to open up the podcast and listen as you’re in Google Analytics. And we’ll do a walkthrough and we’ll also include some specific call outs for reports that are really helpful that you can start monitoring and keeping track of, as well as some advanced metrics and things that you can do to really understand your specific site. So it will be a great guide for anybody just getting started with their site or looking for some advanced insights about how they can really understand what’s happening with their customers so they can improve their conversion.

Adama 29:13

Yes, true. And I hope you are excited about the program of next week. And so I will leave you with that today. Thanks a lot. Again, AJ, for all his great tips, and we will talk to you next week.

AJ Davis 29:30

Thanks so much for having me. I look forward to our next conversation.

Adama 29:36

That’s already the end of it. Thanks a lot for listening. I hope you enjoyed it. If she did, then give me a five star review on Apple podcasts or Google Play. share this episode with your friends and comment to let me know that you like these kind of subjects. Also, if you want to hang out with me, follow me on Instagram at HDIW Oh, watch more of my entrepreneurial journey and my services. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast to get notified when a new episode comes out. Until then, I wish you a nice day and I’ll talk to you soon. Take care Bye

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