This article was adapted from Ihor’s insightful interview on CMO Convo, CMO Alliance’s podcast exploring what it takes to be a great marketing leader.

As we enter an era of economic recessions and increasing cost-of-living crises, mastering conversion rate optimization is paramount.

You need to connect the dots on the B2B customer journey and provide a complete picture of customer behavior and conversion patterns. By understanding what's working and what's dragging customers down the funnel, you can navigate the complexities of conversion rate optimization more effectively.

In this article, we explore how you can effectively double your conversion rates. So, let's dive in and discover how you can equip yourself with the right tools to excel in CRO.

CMO Convo | User intent: the true secret to amazing conversion rates | Ihor Sokol
Ihor Sokol is here with us to share his tried and tested techniques for doubling conversion rates, techniques built on a key ingredient: user intent data.

The key to successful conversion rate optimization

If you were to ask anyone with more than five years of experience in the field, you would likely receive a variety of terms to describe conversion rate optimization (CRO).

However, at their core, these terms all convey the same idea. CRO is essentially a methodology aimed at enhancing the user's inclination and effectiveness in performing a specific action. This action could range from making a purchase or completing a conversion to signing up or registering for a service.

In my role, I am tasked with uncovering the underlying motives and intent of users and equipping them with the necessary tools to facilitate conversion. This involves fine-tuning various aspects such as content, user experience (UX), and user interface (UI) to create an environment conducive to achieving the desired action. The ultimate goal is to increase motivation while simultaneously reducing barriers to conversion — whether they be concerns, ambiguities, or frictions — that hinder users from taking that crucial step.

When I first started in this business, we primarily focused on making surface-level changes to improve user experience. We would alter the position of a call to action, modify button names, or even experiment with different colors for headers and menus. While these basic modifications certainly had some impact on element visibility and user engagement, I soon realized that the key to driving meaningful conversions lay in more sophisticated approaches.

It became evident that the real game-changer was delving into significant aspects rather than trivial tweaks. One such approach that has proven highly effective is what we refer to as a "dedicated conversion flow." Rather than treating all users as a homogeneous group, we break down their problems or intentions into distinct categories. Take the example of someone wanting to buy an apple. They may have various motivations, such as hunger, a dentist's recommendation, dietary considerations, etc. Each user may have a unique intent behind their action.

Our role is to identify these user intents, segment key users accordingly, and then personalize the content based on their specific motivations. By doing so, we create a tailored and seamless user experience that caters to their individual needs. We call this approach the "dedicated conversion flow." It's a highly sophisticated methodology that goes beyond superficial changes and focuses on aligning the user's motivations and intentions with a seamless conversion journey.

By understanding and addressing user intent, we can increase user engagement and guide them through the conversion funnel. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that users convert based on their individual motivations and needs. It's about crafting a user flow that not only meets their expectations but also motivates them to take that desired action.

Redefining A/B testing: Unleashing the power of data-driven hypotheses

As we strive to hire top-tier product managers for our global products in Ukraine, our focus remains on surpassing the standards set by leading product companies across the country and Europe. Given that our primary market encompasses the USA, UK, and Europe, it is essential for us to elevate our knowledge base, expertise, and processes. However, I have come across a surprising revelation during my conversations with professionals in the field.

When discussing the methodology of generating hypotheses for A/B testing, it astonished me to learn that many rely solely on brainstorming sessions with designers, copywriters, and other team members to determine what should be tested next. There seemed to be a lack of data-driven decision-making at play. I couldn't help but wonder, how do they pre-validate these hypotheses? Their response was unexpected — they simply throw all their ideas into the mix, resulting in a pool of 10 to 15 hypotheses for A/B testing. Moreover, each hypothesis can have multiple interpretations in terms of design, copywriting, UX, and UI. Consequently, five to seven alternative variations may emerge from a single hypothesis.

However, what struck me was the relatively low A/B test win rate, hovering around 15% in major product companies. This raised concerns since conducting an A/B test requires significant investments in development, design, copywriting, and management.

When nine out of ten experiments fail, the return on investment falls far short of optimal levels. It became evident to me that their methodologies were lacking in-depth investment in formulating hypotheses. If these hypotheses were more data-driven and encompassed a sophisticated range of user experience research, quantitative analytics, UX prototyping, UI design, and copywriting, their success rate could dramatically improve.

In contrast, our benchmark is set at a 30% A/B test win rate. Just recently, we reviewed the results of our work with a new client over the course of three months. In that time, we launched 10 A/B tests and emerged victorious in eight of them. This 80% success rate led to an ecstatic client who experienced a significant 25-28% uplift in site-wide revenue. For us, this outcome was exceptional, an outstanding achievement. The client hailed it as one of the best investments they had ever made.

The reason behind our impressive success lies in our allocation of resources. We dedicate substantial efforts to researching user problems, frictions, concerns, ambiguities, and barriers to conversion. Our objective is to identify methodologies that deliver enhanced value to users even before we prompt them to convert.

By reducing the obstacles that impede conversion and introducing effective user experiences and persuasive copywriting, we encourage users to take the desired action — conversion.

​​Mastering the art of conversion rate optimization: The commitment to results

Conversion rate optimization is no easy feat. It took me several years to develop a comprehensive methodology that delivers consistent and impactful results. When engaging with clients, our commitment to specific outcomes plays a crucial role in winning their trust and securing successful partnerships. Let me illustrate the math behind our approach.

We understand that our average A/B test win rate stands at 30%, meaning we need to launch approximately three A/B tests to achieve one successful outcome. Additionally, our typical A/B test win rate falls between eight and 10%. Combining these figures, I can confidently approach a client and say, "I will launch three A/B tests, ensuring you experience at least one win on average." While we often achieve higher success rates, I can mathematically guarantee a minimum 10% uplift in a span of three months.

In the first month, we focus on comprehensive research, including questions, data tracking, analytics, and formulating hypotheses. In the second month, we execute A/B testing, launching two, three, or even four tests, depending on the circumstances. By the end of the third or fourth month, we expect to deliver a minimum 10% uplift.

Our success lies in the strength of our methodology. We possess deep expertise and a clear understanding of each stage of the process. To formulate effective hypotheses, we begin by asking vital questions: What is the performance of the funnel? Why are certain stages underperforming, and what factors contribute to this? We delve into user intent by examining search queries, and understanding how users find us organically or through PPC advertising.

Furthermore, we analyze the product discovery flow on the site, whether users rely on site search, mega menus, or other pathways. This wealth of information allows us to identify crucial insights necessary for success.

From there, we proceed to data tracking and analytics, employing a range of methodologies for quantitative analytics and UX research. We pay meticulous attention to designing the user experience and user interface, ensuring seamless interactions and intuitive navigation. Effective copywriting plays a significant role in persuading users to take the desired actions.

Finally, we enter the crucial phase of A/B testing, where every stage must be executed with expertise to maximize results. The process requires significant investment and commitment. Personally, I have spent half a decade researching, studying, and refining our methodologies. I have even documented multiple methodologies as academic works, detailing the processes involved, how to identify essential information, and the requirements for successful analytics.

The journey to achieving exceptional results in conversion rate optimization is a gradual one. It requires ongoing investment, continuous growth of team expertise, and meticulous documentation of processes. By committing to this approach and refining our strategies, we have witnessed a remarkable increase in our A/B test win rates over time. What may start as a 20-25% win rate can eventually climb to 30% or beyond.

By approaching conversion rate optimization with the right mindset, committing to a comprehensive methodology, and continuously investing in expertise and processes, you can achieve remarkable results. It may take time, but the impact will be undeniable, positioning you and your clients for long-term success.

Unlocking profitable growth: The power of conversion rate optimization

As businesses reach a certain level of growth, they often encounter a critical realization — their ability to acquire new customers through traditional channels becomes finite. To overcome this hurdle, many companies explore diversification strategies, seeking new markets and user profiles to target. These endeavors can prove highly effective, as demonstrated by one of our clients in Australia, who successfully expanded their customer base fourfold within a year through targeted advertising campaigns and PPC efforts.

However, to sustain growth and reduce acquisition costs, businesses must prioritize conversion rate optimization. By optimizing their PPC campaigns and enhancing their website's conversion rate and key metrics, companies can significantly reduce acquisition costs.

Consider this: if Google sends 100 users to your site, but only one converts, it signals to Google that your site lacks effectiveness. Consequently, your cost per click or cost per acquisition will increase. Conversely, if out of those 100 users, 55 actively engage with your site, exhibiting the behavioral metrics that Google favors, your cost per click or cost per acquisition will decline. Therefore, it is crucial to create a highly engaging website with a seamless conversion flow that enables users to easily navigate and find the products they seek. Similarly, when using PPC, direct users to a limited number of products that align with their search queries or keywords, maximizing relevance and driving down acquisition costs.

Reflecting on my early days as a freelancer, I encountered e-commerce giants and marketplaces in Kyiv, Ukraine, where millions of potential customers existed. Surprisingly, some of these top companies struggled to grasp the concept of conversion rate optimization.

However, times have changed, and today, my belief is that every business must invest in commercial optimization to drive profitability. While many excel at driving traffic, understanding how to optimize the user experience and increase conversion rates remains a daunting challenge for most. It is no wonder why many companies hesitate to invest in this crucial aspect of their operations.

If you observe the landscape, you'll find that there are only a handful of conversion optimization professionals worldwide. These experts navigate from company to company, making significant changes, as they possess the high proficiency required for successful conversion rate optimization. From my perspective, it’s imperative for businesses to prioritize and master conversion rate optimization early on if they want to remain competitive in today's fast-paced market.

The data-driven path to effective conversion rate optimization

Conversion rate optimization is a multifaceted approach that requires design-level thinking and a strong commitment to evidential decision-making. It is crucial to adopt a data-driven approach and question the basis of any premise, conclusion, or assertion. Instead of relying on feelings or subjective opinions, we must prioritize evidence collected through data analysis and A/B tests.

When presented with a hypothesis, I always ask for evidence to support it. While some individuals may have valuable insights based on their experience, it is essential to pre-validate ideas through methods such as focus groups or user tests. By observing users' interactions and responses in these pre-validation stages, we can determine whether the proposed changes or additions will be effective. Once an idea passes this initial validation, it can be developed into a full-fledged hypothesis for A/B testing or further validation.

Conversion rate optimization involves the collaboration of various teams within the company. Top management must be on board, recognizing the importance of CRO and its impact on sales and overall business success. Additionally, the process requires active participation from departments such as data tracking, user experience research, quantitative analytics, development, design, copywriting, and quality assurance. It truly becomes a company-wide effort.

For a company to remain competitive, its conversion optimization methodology must be deeply ingrained within its culture. While traffic acquisition and other elements are important, conversion optimization is the driving force that enables sales and business growth. It is crucial to remember that commercial optimization is directly tied to conversion, the ultimate goal of driving sales.

Furthermore, the evolution of conversion rate optimization extends beyond the initial conversion metrics. User Experience Optimization (UXO) comes into play, focusing on continuous retention, reducing churn rates, increasing lifetime value, and promoting repeat purchases. Many clients approach us with concerns about high churn rates after the initial engagement. In response, we delve into the reasons behind the churn and provide solutions. This transition from CRO to UXO reflects our commitment to optimizing the user experience throughout the entire customer journey, cultivating long-term relationships.

Revolutionizing conversion optimization: two practical examples

In the ever-evolving world of conversion rate optimization, new strategies and techniques continue to emerge. Two compelling examples that demonstrate the power of innovation in optimizing conversion rates are the concept of providing value before conversion and the unconventional approach to conversion forms.

Traditionally, the advice for optimizing conversion forms was to minimize the number of steps. While this approach is logical, it may not always yield the desired results. Our internal development team discovered a groundbreaking concept that we call "educate and provide value before conversion." This approach emphasizes the importance of offering something of value to users before asking them to take action.

To illustrate this concept, let's consider a client we worked with in the US — an SEO-based company specializing in car insurance. Despite generating significant traffic, certain pages related to determining the appropriate amount of car insurance were not converting effectively. Users would visit these pages, consume the content, and then leave without taking further action.

To address this issue, we created a quiz funnel flow. We asked users a series of questions to determine the ideal level of car insurance coverage for them. By the end of the quiz, we provided personalized recommendations and a call-to-action to compare insurance quotes. This approach increased the conversion rate of the page by a staggering 150%. Users were highly engaged because they received exactly what they were seeking — knowledge about their insurance needs.

Another intriguing example relates to optimizing conversion forms. Conventionally, breaking down forms into digestible steps was considered effective. However, for complex products such as B2B SaaS solutions, this approach may not be as successful. For instance, one of our clients offered payroll automation software — a complex product that required buy-in from multiple decision-makers within an organization.

Initially, we tried breaking down the form into manageable steps and even provided explanations for each field. However, these efforts did not produce the desired results. So, we embarked on an in-depth research journey to identify why companies initially sought payroll automation solutions. We discovered that one common problem was the time-consuming nature of processing payments, leading to errors and increased costs.

With this insight, we implemented a revolutionary approach. Instead of immediately presenting the form, we engaged users with targeted questions. We asked them about their payroll automation goals, the benefits and features they deemed most important, and even allowed them to select a suitable price point. By the time users reached the form, they had been educated about the product's capabilities and were highly motivated to proceed.

This unconventional approach, although seemingly counterintuitive, resulted in a remarkable 70% increase in the conversion rate. Our client initially hesitated due to the form's increased length, but the outstanding results silenced any doubts. This change propelled our client's business to new heights, generating millions of dollars in revenue.

These examples underscore the importance of embracing innovative approaches in conversion rate optimization. By providing value and educating users before conversion, we can significantly enhance engagement and drive conversions. Similarly, challenging conventional wisdom when it comes to conversion forms can unlock untapped potential and yield remarkable results.

The dynamic landscape of conversion rate optimization demands a willingness to push boundaries and explore new frontiers. By continuously evolving our strategies and adopting innovative approaches, we can unlock the true power of conversion optimization and drive substantial business growth.

Getting inside the minds of your Gen-Z customers
Aidan Tighe, CMO of MOSEA, joins us to discuss his unique perspective on building marketing strategies as a CMO aimed at increasingly influential consumer group Gen-Z.

The importance of data-driven decisions and experimentation

In the realm of conversion optimization, two critical factors to consider are data-driven decision-making and the validation of ideas through experimentation. These principles ensure that efforts are based on evidence and minimize the risk of implementing changes that may not yield positive results.

The first principle is to never act on an idea or opportunity unless there is evidence to support its potential success. It's crucial not to waste time and resources on unfounded assumptions or untested strategies. Before proceeding with any significant changes or initiatives, always ask, "What is it based on?" If the data is lacking or inconclusive, it's best to hold off until further evidence is collected.

Pre-validating ideas is essential to avoid investing significant time and resources into full-fledged A/B tests or development work prematurely. While personal passion and belief in an idea are valuable, it's even more effective to rely on data-driven insights. Having substantial data makes decision-making easier and more convincing. With an evidence-backed approach, it becomes challenging for clients or stakeholders to argue against proven strategies. The availability of data demonstrates expertise and instills confidence in the decisions made.

The second principle emphasizes the necessity of testing before implementing any changes. Even if an idea seems promising, it is crucial to test it thoroughly before rolling it out. This practice mitigates the risk of significant negative consequences on conversion rates. It's not uncommon to see businesses suffer substantial losses in conversions due to implementing updates without proper testing. For instance, a client may invest months of work into a redesign only to experience a 70% decline in conversion rates. This situation necessitates rolling back the changes and incurring further costs and resource allocation.

To avoid such scenarios, it is essential to embrace experimentation and testing. By conducting rigorous tests, businesses can gauge the impact of potential changes and make informed decisions based on the results. Testing provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of different strategies, allowing for data-driven course corrections and optimizations.

In summary, data-driven decision-making and experimentation form the backbone of effective conversion optimization. Collecting and analyzing data before acting ensures that decisions are well-founded and minimize the risk of wasted time and resources. Additionally, thorough testing allows for the validation of ideas and reduces the chances of negative impacts on conversion rates. By adhering to these principles, businesses can increase their chances of success and make informed, evidence-backed decisions.

Unleashing the power of conversion rate optimization: My journey of passion and expertise

My name is Ihor Sokol, and I'm the Co-Founder of Conversion Rate Store. Originally from Kyiv, Ukraine, I lead a team of thirty talented individuals in our agency. My journey has been quite straightforward. I started my career in corporate business, specializing in communications and crafting landing pages for marketing purposes.

However, there came a point when I felt I had reached a plateau in my professional growth. This realization led me to make a bold decision — I quit my job. Determined to explore new opportunities, I embarked on a quest to find my true passion. I dabbled in various ventures, including startups and even delving into the crypto industry. Yet, despite these endeavors, I yearned for something more intellectually stimulating.

It was during this time that I began to investigate the convergence of marketing and development. Creating landing pages became my focus, but I soon discovered that for most clients, a landing page was a dime a dozen. They could easily find numerous providers offering the same service, making it challenging to differentiate myself. I needed to find a way to optimize the user experience and transform landing pages into effective conversion tools. I wanted to sell not just the service but also the results it could deliver.

To achieve this, I started emphasizing the importance of driving specific levels of traffic and generating a predetermined number of conversions based on expected conversion rates. This shift in perspective required delving into analytics, user experience research, and extensive analysis of user behavior. By focusing on these areas, I aimed to create landing pages of higher quality and greater effectiveness.

This pursuit eventually led me to the fascinating realm of conversion rate optimization. It's a perfect amalgamation of psychology, user research, analytics, A/B testing, statistics, and much more. The process involves understanding the psychology behind user actions, conducting extensive research, analyzing data, and iteratively testing different elements to achieve optimal results.

Now, I can confidently say that things are going well. I feel like I have finally found the intellectual challenge I had been longing for. Conversion rate optimization is where I belong, and I am thriving in this space. It combines all my passions and expertise, allowing me to continuously push boundaries and uncover new opportunities for growth.

How are you moving the needle on your conversion rates? Are you struggling with effective A/B tests? Share your story with a global network of CMOs and marketing leaders on the CMO Alliance Community Slack channel.