The Conversion Cocktail: Hypothesizing

by pratt on February 11, 2009

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cocktail The Conversion Cocktail: HypothesizingI find conversion science fascinating. From science to psychology, conversion is made up of multiple areas of study. I like to refer to this as the conversion cocktail. In this series of posts I’ll detail what ingredients are required for a successful conversion test.

As I’m reading through Always Be Testing The Conversion Cocktail: Hypothesizing by Bryan Eisenberg a second time, the cornerstone and key to success of any conversion test is jumping off the page: hypothesizing. Bryan calls this out in his amazing book, and in his book he goes into great detail about hypothesizing (in case you can’t tell, I’m encouraging you to buy his book and read it…like now). I think this critical element is too often overlooked, and thus our first key ingredient to our cocktail.

Looking at your conversion rate, you know there is always something to test (unless, of course, your conversion rate is 100%). Figuring out exactly what to test is where people immediately get lost. This is where hypothesizing mixed in with patience and educated guessing comes into play.

Open up the page you want to test. Analyze what your critical conversion points are. Now its time to get into the mind of the user: what could you do to better call out your conversion point? Would changing the location of your “Contact Us” form improve conversions? How about adding or changing the color of the submit button? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself.

From your list of questions, form a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a proposal intended to explain certain facts or observations. Continuing with the example above, your hypothesis might be: If I move my contact form above the fold, more people will fill it out. The reason this ingredient is so critical to the conversion cocktail is that if you don’t have a theory behind a test, you won’t be able to learn from it.

Sure you can get a rough idea of how to improve your conversion rate by blindly testing anything. But if you can provide theory behind the reason for your test, you’ll be able to get a better grasp on the way your client/customer thinks. Once you’ve tested your hypothesis, it will lead to more questions and more questions after that.

When it comes to conversion you can’t just surf the web to see what other people are doing to improve their conversion rates. Some theories spill over, but for the most part their customer/client-base is completely different from yours. An engineer will think completely different than a Doctor or a Teacher.

Still struggling to form your hypothesis? The best way to get into the mind of your users is to ask them! Setup user tests with current clients/customers or even potential clients and customers. Learn from their struggles, comments and their thought process to develop your hypothesis. Refer to my previous post about the keys to successful user testing for more details on setting these tests up.

The hypothesis you create will become the cornerstone of your conversion test.

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Jason February 11, 2009 at 5:16 pm

Awesome [chuckle] post! I will be buying “Always be Testing” as soon as possible. While blindly testing random elements might still help improve your conversion rates, doing a bit of planning and hypothesizing up front will increase your success exponentially.

Jon February 12, 2009 at 8:14 pm

I’ll second the recommendation on Always be Testing – great book. Thanks for expanding on the idea Taylor, always insightful.

MLDina February 19, 2009 at 9:57 pm

Great advice! A lot of marketers, both online and off, don’t even get to this point. If something isn’t working, affiliates especially tend to move on to a different offer for the fast money, instead of developing a long-term strategy and test. Forming a hypothesis, as you mentioned, will also help marketers keep track of theories for other campaigns.

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