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Statistically Insignificant Slice of Wisdom From Conversion Conference

Josh Summerhays

My head is still spinning from the awesomeness proffered at the inaugural Conversion Conference held last week in San Jose, Calif. Not only could I not share every bit of value (believe me, I tried – to the tune of 160+ tweets), I’m still distilling new insights from my scattered notes.

But, since I want to show you how cool I am for being there, here are my main takeaways:

The supply (and value) of conversion optimization (CO) best practices is limited.

If you’re new to conversion optimization , there is plenty to read, learn, and apply in a general sense. However, if you’ve been scarfing down CO goodies for a few years now, there aren’t a lot of new items on the menu that you haven’t tried.

I’m not saying that the CO field is getting stale. Quite the opposite—conversion optimization is a dynamic playing field wherein the majority of opportunity lies in the ability of a marketer to

  1. Discern their customers’ needs and
  2. Test potential solutions for those needs intelligently.

There are plenty of behind-the-times companies that would benefit from a shot of tried-and-true CO best practices, but the opportunity for huge growth lies in continual, smart testing. Learn definitively what works best for your customers, not just for the majority of other businesses, and keep trying to improve their experiences with your company’s website.

The opportunity to gain a competitive advantage through CO is huge … but going fast .

The secret is out about conversion optimization. It’s a lot easier to boost profitability by significantly increasing your conversion rate rather than cramming increasingly more traffic through the same mediocre website experience.

The proliferation of cost-effective, even free, analysis and testing tools has made CO more accessible and potent than it has ever been. If you aren’t getting on board now, you may find yourself hopelessly behind your competition a few months from now.

Conversely, if you establish a ninja-style culture of testing in your organization now, you’ll spin circles around your competitors and entrench yourself as a market leader.

You think you know your customers, but you don’t. You REALLY don’t.

Michael Summers and the great Jakob Nielsen threw a one-two punch that floored me.

What assumptions have you made about your customers and how they interact with your website? You think people get it because you get it.

You’re wrong. Most consumers aren’t wired to use websites the way we’ve decided to build them. Until you see people in action with your website and understand their thoughts and reactions, you will miss opportunities to deliver a more effective, helpful website experience.

Don’t just deal in averages from your data. Take the opportunity to engage in qualitative analysis to add depth to your analytics data, as well as break down your over-educated opinions about it.

In conversion optimization, the cool kids all say “gobbley gook” instead of “clutter”.

Tim Ash , conference organizer and SiteTuners founder, and Matt Mickiewicz , creator of 99designs.com and SitePoint, dropped “gobbley gook” in their presentations.

Inconsequential? I think not!

“Gobbley gook” is a much better descriptor of the absolute mess some companies make of their website and the confusion and frustration they heap on their customers.

Clutter doesn’t sound like such a big deal. Heck, I’ve got a little clutter in just about every personal space I own or occupy and it doesn’t seem to slow me down much.

On the other hand, gobbley gook gets in my way and makes life difficult. My little girl’s tricycle in front of the garage door? Gobbley gook. I have to deal with it much more quickly because it’s agitating! Your Web visitors can’t move the tricycle to get to your garage. They just bounce from your site and write off your company.

Maybe you haven’t started optimizing your website for conversion because the clutter doesn’t really seem that painful. Well, your would-be customers see gobbley gook everywhere and it’s bugging the crap out of them.

Start cleaning up the gobbley gook today!

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