I’d like to continue with the the topic I started to write a few months ago – a CRO Maturity Model. I’ve promised to write a separate blog post about every pillar. Due to Conversion Conference preparations and a great summer it took me more time to follow up on the previous article. But with autumn coming, there will be more time to write.
This time the focus I’d like to focus on CRO knowledge.
There are many disciplines you may learn and take advantage of within your daily CRO workload. However, as in other areas, there are a few underlying truths.
Three Underlying CRO Truths
1. The more you know, the more you feel uncertain
Do you feel the same way? The more A/B tests I do, the less I want to predict the results. The more I know about our users, the less I feel I understand their motivations. But overall it leads to dismissing some common biases and it helps you realize the level of complexity you’re dealing with.
2. Never stop learning
I would add: “Particularly in a fast paced field like e-commerce”. As the world around us evolves at an incredible pace, so does digital marketing. Social networks become a considerable part of our real lives, mobile is getting stronger and digital advertising is getting more targeted than ever. CRO tools keep evolving as well, and digital measurement possibilities continue to grow. The bright side is: a) it is not boring, and b) there will likely be more jobs than less in the upcoming years. On the other hand, it requires us to keep up with the latest trends and news.
3. Earn your 10,000 hours to become a professional
I admit that I haven’t read Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell where he came up with that idea that you need 10,000 hours to become a professional in your field. It is probably even more if you want to stay competitive. Do some math and find out how many hours you’ve devoted to CRO or similar disciplines. Recall your early career tasks and how you would approach them differently now, based on your experiences since then.
The Yin & Yang of Conversion Rate Optimization
CRO consists of two main knowledge areas: Analytics and User Experience. Each uses a different hemisphere of your brain. Your left hemisphere is primarily the domain of math and logic, and thus, Analytics. The dominant functions of your right hemisphere are primarily visual imagery, spatial abilities and creativity, and thus, it is closer to User Experience.
As you’re no doubt familiar, some people have more analytical brains and some more creative. They’re inclined toward skills which focus on one of the two hemispheres. They have jobs which are tailored for them, with statisticians and scientists on one side, artists and designers on the other.
The challenge with CRO is that you simply need both – a focus on both numbers and creativity. And if you’re not a superhuman you likely can’t be a real expert of both disciplines. Therefore it’s a good idea to have a colleague who can help compensate for your weaker discipline. Find a soulmate in your company and start rocking!
You don’t necessarily need to be a visual or interaction designer, but you do need to have a feel for a great user experience. Absorb the basics of usability, interaction design, accessibility, visual design, copywriting, information architecture, and persuasion. Don’t underestimate the influence of cognitive science, psychology and motivations, either.
It is essential to make your website easy to understand, clear and persuasive so the customer feels your site is the best place to make their desired purchase. And all the above mentioned disciplines help you to create such a website.
There are some (in fact, many) very good books about those topics which can help you to become more knowledgeable. My favorites are:
- Steve Krug: Don’t Make Users Think
- Susan M. Weinschenk PhD.: 100 Every Designer Needs to Know About People
- Dan Ariely: Predictably Irrational
In contrast to the User Experience, the world of Analytics is a domain of numbers, formulas and reports. As online sales are by far the best measured channel, it would be culpable not to be obsessed with data.
The measurement advantage gives you the ability to make data-driven decisions. You can abandon the realm of gut feeling decisions and let hard data guide your next steps.
On the other hand, it requires you to possess an analytical approach and solid math skills. As with the case of User Experience you don’t need to have a PhD in Statistics or Mathematics, but you definitely need to know the basics.
Become best friends with your digital analytics tool, MS Excel (or your favourite calculation tool), and pivot tables. Understand how web metrics work and exactly what they mean. Use the potential of controlled experiments, targeting, and A/B (MVT) testing. Learn about the importance of quantitative and qualitative research (which touches also upon the UX area).
Books that I would recommend in the analytics and testing realm are:
- Avinash Kaushik: Web Analytics: An hour per day & Web Analytics 2.0
- Chris Goward: You Should Test
- .. and your tools handbooks 😉
When it comes to Conversion Rate Optimization, Analytics and the User Experience are like yin & yang. They are both different, mutually complementary, and necessary.
What do you think about knowledge and CRO? What do you feel is important and how do you improve your knowledge? Thanks for sharing your point of view with us!