CRO Testing Strategy

Creating an Effective CRO Testing Plan for Your Business

This article was first published on August 8th, 2023 and was last updated January 2024.

No marketing campaign is complete without a plan, including CRO testing. It’s easy to think that A/B testing can be sprinkled on top of your existing marketing plan. However it’s more than that. 

Conversion Rate Optimization is a valuable testing tool that can inform the design of your digital marketing campaigns in addition to increasing your revenue, and enhancing the user experience on your website. In that sense, CRO is your recipe for success. To ensure you are getting the best out of your digital marketing, and everything is statistically significant, here’s everything you need to know about CRO testing. Let’s get started!

What is CRO Testing?

“CRO” refers to “Conversion Rate Optimization” in the context of digital marketing and website optimization. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is a process of improving the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or filling out a form.

A “CRO test” would typically involve conducting experiments or tests on a website to identify and implement changes that lead to increased conversion rates. These tests often include A/B testing, where variations of a web page are shown to different groups of users to determine which version performs better in terms of the desired conversion metric.

3 Types of CRO Testing Strategies

There are various approaches to CRO. While the specific strategies may vary, they often fall into three broad categories:

1) Website Testing (A/B Testing-Split Testing, Multivariate Testing):

  • A/B Testing: Also known as split testing, involves comparing two versions (A and B) of a web page. This determines which one performs better in terms of the desired conversion goals. Elements such as headlines, images, call-to-action buttons, or page layouts may be varied to identify the most effective combination.
  • Multivariate Testing: Similar to A/B testing, but it involves testing multiple variations of different elements simultaneously to understand how they interact with each other. This is useful for optimizing complex web pages with multiple elements.

2) User Experience (UX) Optimization:

  • Focuses on improving the overall user experience to make it easier for visitors to navigate the website and complete desired actions. This involves optimizing page load times, simplifying navigation, improving the clarity of content, and ensuring a user-friendly design.
  • Conducting user feedback surveys, usability testing, and analyzing user behavior through tools like heatmaps and session recordings are common practices in UX optimization.

3) Personalization and Targeting:

  • Involves delivering personalized content and experiences based on user characteristics, behavior, or demographics. By tailoring content to specific audience segments, businesses aim to increase relevance and engagement.
  • Personalization strategies may include dynamic content, targeted messaging, and using data-driven insights to understand and meet the unique needs of different user segments.

4 CRO Testing Steps to Help Create a Successful Strategy

Step 1. Website Audit

A solid CRO testing plan begins with an audit. A good CRO website audit has 2 steps; the first is to look at your website analytics tools to find underperforming pages and navigation drop-offs. The second step is to look at those pages on the live version of your site to look for those types of testing opportunities. Here’s what you should be looking for:

Website Analytics:

  • Look for pages with high-traffic.
  • Look for pages that are key to the customer journey.
  • Look for pages with a bounce rate or exit rate.
  • Look for pages that are already being targeted for ongoing marketing campaigns.

Once you have determined which page(s) you want to test, you’ll move on to the live site audit. 

Site Audit

  • List every piece of content on the page. This includes banners, copy, images, etc.
  • List every call-to-action on the page. This includes buttons, links, and written CTAs
  • List every potential distraction or anxiety a customer might have on this page.
  • List the ways the mobile website or landing pages differs from the desktop version of the site
  • Look at the navigation menu. How is it arranged, and is it easy to use?

Step 2. Prioritize Your Opportunities

Once you have completed your website audit, you’ll have at least 5 potential areas to test: 

  • Content
  • CTAs
  • Distractions/anxiety
  • Mobile optimization
  • Sitewide navigation

For each of these potential CRO testing software and tools, you should craft a specific, open-ended business question you want an answer to. Examples of these questions are: 

  • “How much content do users want on this page?”
  • “Which CTAs do users want on this page?”
  • “How do users want the navigation menu to look?”

Each of these questions will serve as a testing purpose. 

Now, you must prioritize which of these business questions you want to focus on first. That’s where the 3 E’s come into play.

The 3 E’s:

  • Exist:What exists on the page?
  • Exploit: How can we make what’s on the page better?
  • Explore: What can we add to the page?

With CRO testing, we recommend starting large and working your way down to the smaller details. To do this, we highly recommend following the 3 E’s, in this order, when you create a CRO testing plan. This will help you track what you have already tested and what you can test next. 

This all sounds very confusing, but here’s how the 3 E’s look in practice:

  • Remove content from the pages to see if users react positively or negatively to its removal. If the average conversion rate increases when the content is removed, that means users don’t like that content. 
  • You can remove the content users didn’t like or further perform CRO testing to learn what users don’t like about it.  
  • Find out where specifically users want each piece of content on the page.
  • Find out how users want each section of content to look. These tests may include testing the section’s size, color, layout, images, and font. 
  • Test the addition of new content on the page, if desired.
  • Test to see where users want the new content on the page, etc. 

We always recommend starting with removal tests because they get you the most information with the least amount of effort. These tests are easy to build and the quickest way to identify areas on that page that need improvement. 

With each round of testing, your changes should be getting increasingly more specific. First, start with the page as a whole, then section by section, content by content, then part by part, until the whole page is done.

Step 3. Draft Your Roadmap

You have to have a testing roadmap. That is a non-negotiable. This roadmap will outline your testing strategy and keep you on track. 

Once you know what your testing opportunities are and you’ve prioritized them, it’s time to put them on your roadmap. Your roadmap should outline how many tests you are running per month, what pages you are testing, whether the tests are running on desktop and/or mobile, what variations you are creating (see next section), and your success metrics for each test. 

Keep in mind that your roadmap needs to be flexible. The test results of one test will inevitably impact your future test ideas, and that’s okay! CRO is all about following the data. 

This means re-visiting your roadmap each month and updating it accordingly. Once you find a vein of gold, you want to keep digging until you’ve mined it all. Making sure you have a detailed excavation plan will ensure you don’t miss anything long term.

To make sure you are planning ahead but still keeping things flexible, we recommend planning for 3 months at a time. You can always add a “future test ideas” section to keep track of ideas you want to circle back to. 

Step 4. Create Your Variations

Creating your variations may be the most important step to creating a CRO testing plan because of the multivariate testing. I mean that, literally. They are the hypotheses that will answer your business question.

Because your variations are hypotheses to the business question, they should all be directly related to the test’s purpose. Each variation should be a potential answer to the question. In order to get the most out of your test, each variation should be as different as possible while still being relevant to the business question and related to each other. 

Remember to check your biases. Throw in at least 1 variation that is the opposite of what you think will win, and always test your variations against the original. Sometimes, the answer is the one you least expect! Here’s how this might look in practice.

Testing Purpose: “How much copy do users want on this page?”

Original Variation – 150 words of copy

Variation 1 – 250 words of copy

Variation 2 –  500 words of copy

Variation 3 –  No copy

Notice how all of these variations answer the specific question we asked but differ in their execution. In this case, the “negative” variation removes all the copy from the page. 

In this test, we believe that adding more copy will improve the conversion rate, but we also have to keep in mind that users may like the amount of copy on the page or don’t want any copy at all. 

It can be challenging to write good variations for a test. It takes a lot of practice to get it right. The best advice we can give in this endeavor is to be brutally honest with yourself when examining your variations. While writing your variations, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What will I learn from these variations? 
  • What will I learn if 1 of these variations beats the original? 
  • What will I learn if half the variations beat the original?
  • What will I learn if all of the variations beat the original?
  • What will I learn if all of the variations are different from the original?

If you can’t see how the potential results will serve your testing purpose, you have two options.

  1. Change your variations
  2. Change the question you are asking.

Once you have determined your testing variations, plug them into your roadmap. Now, you can start running your tests and getting answers!

Build Your CRO Testing Strategy with Summit Scout!

It can be daunting to plan a CRO testing plan from scratch, but the information you can glean from well-planned testing can be invaluable to your business. Following these steps will help you craft a solid CRO testing plan for your website

However for best results, you should work with a Conversion Rate Optimization specialist to get your campaign rolling today! Visit Summit Scout’s CRO and organic SEO services today to get started!

Ansley Merrill

Ansley is the Content Marketing Manager at Summit Scout. Since graduating from Utah State University with two degrees in Communication Studies and Journalism: Public Relations, Ansley specializes in creating engaging and informative SEO content for readers, customers, and partners through different marketing channels. Along with creating new content, Ansley works to keep content organized and creates and executes new content strategies. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel, visit National Parks, and loves all things Disney.