Without Data, Teams are Missing the Mark on Conversion Rate Optimization


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Over time, any marketing professional develops instincts for what works and for what doesn’t. But I’d be failing in my job if I let these gut feelings guide every decision. Today’s marketers should be fluent in the language of customer conversion, able to rattle off cost-per-click and cost-per-impression numbers; they should track the percentage of emails opened and know the industry benchmarks. And it doesn’t stop there! For some smaller businesses these metrics alone may be enough. For larger companies, however, you need more – more data, more analytics, more ways to improve conversion.

Moving at Market Speed

Marketing is always highly dynamic. By the time you’ve solved one problem, three more usually spring up in its place. As a society, we generate roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes of information every day. Luckily, you only need a few hundred megabytes. But they better be the correct ones! If you gather data from customers’ and potential customers’ interactions with your website, you can identify roadblocks on your customer journey and come up with creative ways to remove them – before you lose more prospects to competitors.

Iterate, Collect, and Refine

Modern marketing is all about constant improvement, and that improvement should be data-driven. I’ve always believed that great marketing mixes art and science: the art is all about coming up with ideas; the science happens when you make a hypothesis, design and implement a test, and record the results.

Given the amount of data at our disposal, it’s a loss to not run your marketing org on these principles. At Heap, we like to commit to a “product mindset” of constant testing, data collection, and iteration. If our behavioral data shows that many would-be customers depart our website at a certain point, we’ll run A/B tests to see how we might improve conversion. We’ll also track the downstream effects of any change we make in any customer pipeline: data frequently reveals patterns that instinct and intuition alone would miss.

Even better: with today’s advanced analytics tools, data science capabilities are now accessible to businesses that don’t employ full-time data analysts. This combination of automated data gathering and data science are more likely to generate the “a-ha!” moment that dramatically improves conversion. Sure, you’re tracking conversion funnels on your site, but new tools can show you what users do between those funnel steps, or what alternate paths they’re taking. If 60% of users take an alternate path to conversion, your traditional funnel analyses would likely miss them altogether! But when your tools can alert you to these alternate paths, you can redesign your site around them.

Informed Intuition

This new data science is inordinately powerful, but (despite claims to the contrary) it doesn’t remove the human factor in marketing. Rather, it often lets its users practice what I like to call “informed intuition.” Data science may show where customers or clients encounter friction, and marketers’ intuition can provide hypotheses for improvement. Once the change is implemented and tested, the cycle of iterate, collect, and refine begins again.

A conversion rate is a metric, albeit a simple binary one: It shows whether or not a potential customer successfully exited a sales funnel. With today’s analytics tools, marketers can observe, and react to, much more complicated user patterns. In today’s dynamic and lightning-fast market — remember those 2.5 quintillion bytes generated every day — today’s conversion optimization tweak may be out-of-date by this time next week. With data science and informed intuition, marketers can future-proof their work and guarantee that results are all that they should be.


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