The Conversion Rate Optimization Cheat Sheet for Developers

The Conversion Rate Optimization Cheat Sheet for Developers

Conversion rate optimization

As the go-to group for all things web, you, as the developer extraordinaire, often find yourself taking on the role of conversion optimizer. Because, let’s face it, no one else knows the site’s backend like you do. But keeping up with optimization, on top of everything else you do, is not easy.

Developers may be best placed to make sure that analytics tracking (such as Google Analytics tracking code) is installed correctly alongside split testing tools, and that custom goals and revenue tracking are accurately recording data from sites. – Luke Hay, Senior Conversion Strategist, Fresh Egg

Before we get too far, let’s define CRO. Conversion rate optimization is not the blind boosting of sales — because there are certainly easier ways to do that — like reducing your prices well below what your products are worth. You would probably go out of business anyway, so who cares about conversion then?

CRO is about systematic, steady, sustainable growth. It is optimizing your website (not your conversion rate) so that the business will grow. The goal, as my friend Peep Laja of ConversionXL states, is to “acquire customers more cheaply — from any channel — than your competitors, so that you can grow faster.” (PDF Warning)

This post is just for my developer friends — I know you are out there killing it day in and day out building awesome sites and are now finding that conversion optimization is cropping up on your Todoist with increasing frequency.

You are in a great spot to verify that Google Analytics (GA) is accurately capturing data on your split tests and ensure that custom goals and revenue tracking are setup correctly. But you are also perfectly positioned to create a Google Tag Master (GTM) strategy and implement other tracking tools and pixels.

Plus, I know that you are spending a substantial amount of time responding to fix requests from the marketing department, so it may be nice to have a little background on this CRO business.

You may ask, “Why do I want to get bogged down in all of this marketing stuff? I like building websites — and that’s what I want to do.”

There are two simple answers:

  1. Money.
  2. Money.

Clients are going to pay you more and you will offer more value to your employer if you understand how to turn the sites you build into conversion machines. Also, the era of building a site and waiting for it to happen is dead. If your sites are not built to convert, then they are little more than a virtual billboard on a desolate highway.

First Things First

Before you jump in and start changing a bunch of your analytics settings and tying them to various tests, you must understand where you come from.

Pizza meme

Establishing a solid baseline, a line in the sand, allows you to accurately interpret the results of all of the cool changes you are going to make. Without that foundation, you will be lost, and you may be lost without even realizing it (which is the worst).

You Have This Stuff in Order, Right?

Of course, before you can even start building the baseline, you need a few things:

  • Membership: as a full-time member of the team or founder of the project/business
  • Buy-in: cohesive agreement around the need to optimize (even if you aren’t sure about the goal just yet)
  • Access: logins for all of the tools you will use (GA, Mixpanel, KissMetrics, Periscope, etc.)
  • Knowledge: awareness of all of the business intelligence tools currently in-place

It’s Goal Time, Baby!

So you know where you stand, you have assembled your team and everyone is psyched to make some serious wins, except… what exactly qualifies as a win and how will you know it when you see it?

It’s possible that you already have some goals in place. They may even look something like this:

Business goals

Love the ambition, but I’m afraid you are going to have to dig a little deeper if you really want this to work. Not sure if your goals are meaningful? Check out these bad goal warning signs:

  1. You are drowning in data. Do you have a serious case of TMI (too much information)?
  2. This sounds all-too familiar: Goals, sure! I have tons of goals – let me show you my goal wall.
  3. Even with loads of data, you cannot answer key questions.

Not sure if your analytics are meaningful? If your data is healthy, you should be able to quickly and easily answer the following questions:

  1. Is the business growing?
  2. Is the business healthy?
  3. What are the results of our tests week-to-week/fortnight-to-fortnight/month-to-month?
  4. Are the changes we are making having a positive impact on conversions?
  5. What is happening right now? Is there anything occurring in the market that we need to capitalize on?
  6. Did something just break?

Just Give Me the KPI Already!

So there are really two things happening here: (1) you are getting your data in order and (2) you are developing a strategy to optimize growth.

There are also two things at play when it comes to landing on a Key Performance Indicator.

The first is to identify a high-level KPI. This is a traction method by which you define the health of the business — it is the one number that must continue to grow if the business is to survive.

Do not get overly complicated here. Just keep it simple and remember that the answer is not always sales. If you are operating a VC-funded membership site, your core metric may be active users or something more ethereal like building a really freaking cool product.

Here’s a Hint:

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