Tips from 2 conversion experts
I received a lot of feedback after releasing #2 episode of Startup Growth Academy. For the record: my aim was to provide a simple…

I received a lot of feedback after releasing #2 episode of Startup Growth Academy. For the record: my aim was to provide a simple checklist of early stage conversion optimization actions, for startup founders to begin using immediately. I included methods which I believe do more good than harm, however the list sparked a discussion with 2 conversion experts, who were concerned with some of the points I made. Therefore it seems a bit of clarifying is in order: landing page design is just a part of a huge conversion optimization process and some of my guidelines might not apply in every case. Please remember that conversion optimization is a hell of a lot of serious issues. This is the advice I received from Peep Laja from ConversionXL:

Try random buttons and layouts – that’s NOT what CRO is about. Research and data is what really matters. Real test hypotheses come from those things, not case studies and best practices. Best practices only work for a portion of sites, AND its using somebody elses solution on somebody else’s problems, not your problems.”

I couldn’t agree more – the best solution is something different every time, so treat my checklist as a starting point for future experiments. Apart from that, it’s the mindset and knowledge required for testing, that really matters. “Also – while its true that everyone needs to run their own experiments and do their own research, the problem is that most don’t know how to run proper experiments, and most have no idea how to conduct conversion research.” According to Peep, the whole process of reaching your conversion goals looks like this:

- Create buyer personas

- Drive relevant traffic and create relevant messages (for personas)

- Make your design good

- Create compelling value propositions

- Understand buying phases

- Reduce friction

- Focus on clarity

- Eliminate noise and distraction

- Engage visitors

- Add urgency

- Follow usability standards

For a clear and thorough description of the above points check out this article:

Results of your experiments may take you by surprise, so don’t make hasty assumptions. Oli Gardner from also told me that conversion can be tricky, since – counterintuitively – sometimes more complex solutions can actually produce more desirable results:

“Each extra field on your form increases friction and can lower conversions. Unsubstantiated claims like „Every additional field leads to a x% decrease conversion” are more detrimental than helpful – it may vary for different pages. Sliders/carousels are a distraction (often terrible for conversion) but I wouldn’t say they cause any more friction. For me it’s about attention ratio. Every extra message or link on your page increases the ratio of interactive elements to CTA. An effective landing page has a ratio of 1:1.”

That’s a very valid point. In most cases, you should care about usability and stick with one call to action per page. You can lean more about the perfect attention ratio from Oli’s article: the other hand, as Sean Ellis states in of the GrowthHacker.TV episodes: “when the desire is strong friction doesn’t matter”. Visit one of the airline websites to understand what he means – no matter how clunky the usability you will grit your teeth and deal with it… because you badly want to purchase that ticket they offer. However, that’s a very rare situation.

Peep and Oli – thanks a lot for your comments. The lesson is: don’t take anything for granted and learn the optimization methodology before starting experiments. Do you want to add something more to this conversion discussion? Feel free to share your thoughts!


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  • Oli Gardner

    Friction always matters. If I’m trying to buy a ticket from Air Canada and their site frustrates or delays me (perhaps on a certain device), I’ll go to Expedia where I’ll be instantly exposed to the offerings of direct competitors.

    When you know there’s an alternative, your patience thins significantly.

    Only in a monopoly is there a negation of the impact of friction.

    • Greg from

      You’re right – it might be more about “alternative” than “desire”. Anyways, I wouldn’t recommend making things harder on purpose… ;)