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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistThu, Jul 30, 2015 7 min read

Good Clicks, Bad Clicks & The Fallacy Of CRO Best Practices

ThinkstockPhotos-475885604How often do you analyze the performance of your landing pages and find that traffic has increased, but not leads? Any time you see this occurring and try to correct it, you’re actively engaging in conversion rate optimization (CRO).

Our friends at HubSpot use this definition for CRO: Conversion rate optimization is “the process of creating an experience for your website visitors that'll convert them into customers.”

“Good Clicks Vs. Bad Clicks In CRO”

The core of inbound marketing is providing your target buyer personas with valuable content that educates them on potential solutions to their pains and problems. Ideally, the prospect is enticed enough by your content offer that they’re willing to share a little information about themselves in exchange for it. Getting this educational content (i.e., your offers) in front of your target persona first requires that they convert on your landing pages by entering their information and clicking “submit.”

Where you get the attention of your target persona, however, has a big impact on your CRO.

Are you promoting your landing page on LinkedIn or Twitter? If so, your target persona has to convert (click) on the link you’ve posted to social media. Then, once they’re on your landing page, you have to convince them they’ve made a good click.

A bad click is any decision a web user makes that takes them to a page they don’t want. If they’re baited into clicking on a misleading headline or if they’re promised one thing and delivered something else, the user feels like they’ve made a bad click.

So, a good click validates an end user’s decision and makes them feel confident that you have something they want or need. Someone will determine whether they’ve made a good click or a bad one in a fraction of a second after they arrive on your page.

Make sure you’re not misleading, misrepresenting or under-delivering. The user’s expectations when they elect to click on your link and what they’re offered when they arrive on your page must align.

Getting users to believe they’ve made a good click (either via social media, in an email marketing blast or on a search engine results page) is the first step toward effective conversion rate optimization.

 I’ve Delivered A Good Click. Now What?

Let’s say someone searches Google for tips on how to lower their energy bill in the summer heat. Out of the 9.8 million search results (and the 12 that make the front page, which are the only ones that really matter), they’ve decided to click the link to your page.

The title of your Google link is an accurate reflection of what’s on the page. You’ve written a killer headline, and you’ve provided copy on benefits as well as included social proof. You’ve done everything you need to convince someone they’ve made a good click.

But, they bounce anyway. You had an opportunity, and you lost it.

CRO testing helps you figure out why. Don’t approach these tests lightly, though.

The Fallacy Of CRO “Best Practices”

As Neil Patel aptly points out, you should question everything you read about CRO best practices.

The essence of Patel’s essay is that so-called “best practices” can’t really be applied to CRO because every situation is unique. Just because one company saw conversion rates increase by changing the color of their CTA button doesn’t mean yours will too. In fact, such a simple (but untested) change might cause your conversion rate to tank.

You have to gather your own data and conduct your own tests for meaningful CRO.

CRO is like science. Every test you run needs to have a hypothesis. Don’t test for the sake of testing. Test something specific. Try to predict your results. When you’re wrong, conduct more tests to figure out why. When a CRO test appears successful, second-guess it. Test it again to see if you can reproduce the results.

Don’t overwork yourself. Conversion rate optimization testing does not necessarily mean creating a landing page from the ground up every time you run a test. Make small tweaks to the most impactful parts of the page and test them out. Maybe your submission form is too long. Maybe your CTA is unclear. Maybe you're conducting your CRO testing during a bad period, like when site traffic is down overall.

The variables in your test are unique to your business. Don’t rush into changing around your landing pages because you read somewhere that doing one thing a certain way worked for one person.

First, make sure your page delivers on the need for your user to feel validated that they made a good click. Then, start systematically testing the various elements of your page to determine its weaknesses for CRO.

You may be surprised with the results you find.

Start Today Tip – Pick your highest-value pages to start your CRO testing. Look at your web analytics for your most-visited landing pages. Is your conversion rate in a place you’re happy with? Think about whom you want to land on your page. When they arrive, will they feel like they’ve made a good click? Start coming up with ideas on what could validate your reader’s choice. It could be your headline, the body copy, colors or other details. Once you’re certain that you’re delivering a “good click” experience, start coming up with ideas to test your CRO. Test them one at a time – a word here, a color there. Predict, record and take notes on what’s working and what’s not. CRO is a never-ending task, so be prepared to invest in it accordingly.

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.