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Conversion rate optimization briefing

A marketers guide to running structured AB and multivariate tests to boost results from websites

How will this CRO guide help me and my business?

Our research shows that despite the tools available, the majority of businesses aren't active in running structured tests on their websites, aimed at increasing leads and sales.

With this guide we’re looking to encourage more businesses to step up their testing activities at higher capability levels and develop more sophisticated continuous, optimization programs.

What is CRO?

In the guide we define CRO as:

"The process of seeking to improve the commercial returns from websites using a series of structured tests and improvements"

We know that many dislike, even hate, the term 'CRO' since it's increasing revenue and profitability of a site that is the true focus, but marketers do use this term rather than the more accurate 'Structured Testing and Optimization' so we will roll with this.

Who is the CRO guide for?

This guide is aimed at anybody looking to understand more about the process of structured testing and how to set up a process and select tools to run structured tests, or use it more effectively. It will help:

  • Marketing Heads and Directors that hold budgets and need to understand more about what’s involved and the business case
  • Managers responsible for getting better results from their website who want to learn how to set up a process
  • Designers and Information Architects who are looking to develop a data driven approach to web design

The structured testing approach recommended is widely applicable across business categories ranging from FMCG to B2B, e-commerce to not for profit.

What’s inside the CRO guide?

The guide includes:

  • A practical introduction to Split testing, which is the best way to get started with CRO for most businesses
  • A maturity model for you to assess website optimization from Optimization expert Craig Sullivan, covering Culture, Process, Testing and Analytics focus, Insight methods and mission
  • Setting up an optimization process and the pitfalls to avoid
  • Running and managing tests
  • Recommendations on free and paid analysis tools for each step of the process with the focus on Google Analytics

Resource Details

  • Authors:  Hugh Gage, consultant at Engage Digital. Robert Jones has also added a User Experience section and checklist. Mark Hall has updated this guide in 2018.
  • Last updated:  28th March 2018
  • Format: 10,000 word, 47 page A4 page PDF Ebook with examples and checklists
  • Related resource: Digital Marketing Optimization Guide – explains how to set up measurement programmes, Goals, Dashboards, KPIs and process to develop an insight-driven approach to improving results from digital marketing.

About the authors

Mark Hall 

Mark Hall has focused on improving the usability and conversion rates of websites for over 15 years. He enjoys doing the customer research that gives him the insights needed to craft high-converting experiences that both satisfy users’ wants and achieve business goals.

Mark began his career as a staff engineer at The Boeing Company. Prior to SiteTuners, he led user experience research and design engagements for clients including Edmunds, AutoZone, Macy’s, Kaiser Permanente and American Express. As a consultant at Human Factors International, Mark also taught web design and usability testing courses.

Mark holds a Bachelors in Engineering from the University of Washington, an MBA from the University of Colorado, and is a Certified Usability Analyst. He enjoys speaking at local events and writing articles on voice of customer and conversion topics. When not working Mark enjoying playing tenor saxophone, biking, following his favourite soccer teams, and spending time with his family.

Hugh Gage

Hugh Gage

Hugh Gage of Engage Digital is the Smart Insights expert commentator on Digital Analytics. Hugh has worked in digital communications since 1994, switching from roles in media where he was Head of Online Planning and Buying at Manning Gottlieb OMD, to senior analyst at Logan Tod now part of PwC. He was one of the first to hold the Google Analytics Individual Qualification and is also a DAA Certified Analyst. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

Robert Jones

Robert Jones is a specialist in CRO, UX Research, insight and digital Marketing. He is CRO Analyst at Enjoy Digital. He has a Psychology Masters of Research, has run large digital marketing campaigns to build research panels and worked in insight roles for Vision Critical, ASDA and WhatUsersDo. He also managed all of Smart Insights member resources and published several guides including “How to conduct Persona Research” as well as contributing over 100 blog posts to the Smart Insights blog. When he isn’t working on marketing campaigns he is most likely eating authentic Italian food or planning his next short trip. You can connect with Robert on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.


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