What Separates Exceptional from Ordinary in Conversion Optimization

By: Joni Lindgren

Conversion optimization is bigger than A/B-testing. It is to learn about users from data and to use that when you make decision about your communication or product. Speed in accessing that data and turn it to insights is what separates exceptional from ordinary because the faster a company can learn the bigger it can win. Speed is accomplished in two ways;

1. By wasting as little time as possible

2. Maximizing the amount of knowledge within the organisation at any given moment

Conversion optimization is bigger than A/B-testing. It is to learn about users  from data and to use that in decision making to reach business goals. Faster.

When I started out with conversion optimization, freshly squeezed and naively happy, I threw myself in to client tasks. I hypothesized and pushed out A/B-tests and occasionally I experienced what most optimizers do: not all people in the client organization was so keen on my ideas even though my variations won, it didn’t get implemented because of politics and opinions. I was loosing valuable time on organizational issues. So I stopped doing it like that and developed a different way of starting up new clients that would help me help them better. 

Assessing “readIness” before starting Will help you a lot

I started conducting an assessment to understand what was missing at a company for them to be able to both succeed with A/B-testing and actually use the insights it brings. You have probably read some posts on the topic of what you need to succeed with conversion optimization and I agree with it all but process and culture are the enablers of all the other stuff so I started from there. The assessment looks like this:

  1. Determine organisational readiness in process and culture
  2. Help the client understand their desired impact from doing conversion optimization
  3. Map out desired approach to conversion optimization in respect to step 1 and 2. (see model below)
  4. If needed: Take required actions to increase readiness to be able to reach desired approach

Outfox 3 approaches to conversion optimization

From my experienced there are generally three different ways that companies can do conversion optimization. I call them Detached, Attached and Integrated. The integrated approach is the one with the highest impact on bottom line because this is where your testing velocity has its max potential and the learning curve can reach steepest. For the scope of this blog post I will only give a brief description to each approach below.

CO copy


  • Detached – conversion optimization is separated from the “regular” processes. Usually but not exlusively performed by outside expert(s).
  • Attached – conversion optimization is a
    • an in-house consultancy that helps other departments when they want help
    • A role or tactic in one department, often marketing
    • an extern specialist is assigned to do the same.
  • Integrated – conversion optimization methodology and process is applied to or combined with other existing processes not exclusively in one department.

Every company should choose the approach that fits the organisational readiness and desired outcome. If you don’t have the readiness or desire to do an integrate approach you should obviously not do it. As you can see in the model, doing a detached approach still has an impact. Just not as high.

Company readIness: Process & Culture

I know you know why the process is important. To do anything at scale demands a structure. But why culture? Because of mandate:

Mandate has two legs and we need both. The official one you get from the bosses is called buy-in. You find it in every list on how to succeed with CRO because it is a must. The second, unofficial mandate is not often mentioned but very often experienced. This one is earned from the co-workers and is equally important because your co-workers are creating the company culture too. They also make decisions that effects the customer experience every day. For every person opting in to the optimization process and thus giving it unofficial mandate the faster and more often your company will make decision based on insights. Lets break down how we can gain speed:

  • Wasting as little time as possible
    • minimize time spent on implementing stuff that hurt KPIs
    • faster find out if a new campaign or product update is hurting KPIs (fastest way to do this i by A/B-testing)
  • Maximizing the amount of knowledge within the organisation in any given moment
    • more research and analysis done if more people knows how ask the right questions and where to find answers
    • possibility to test more and faster if IT process is aligns to the CRO process
    • insights reaches more people

live as you learn to reach an integrated CRO-approach

I love models. I can´t get enough. And as hard as it is, I aspire to live as I learn. Therefor I highjacked the Pirate metrics framework – AARRR that is used for growth. But instead of talking about product and clients I thought of it in terms of CRO and co-workers and created a framework for how I could succeed internally to get official and unofficial mandate for CRO. Here is a fictional  example:
AARRR for CRO scaling
To reach an integrated approach is not done in a day. Even if the company has organisational readiness it will take months. at least. But it is worth it.

Ok, so show me the real life stuff – or is this just theory?

It works for me and it works for Outfox. It has changed the way we sell, initiate, run and deliver client projects. At one of our current clients the sales curve looks like this:CRO real life results

This is a year on year sales curve. Sales. Money. Not conversion rate or test results. This client invested heavily in the process of conversion optimization. Every person happily invested in understanding it and gained from it. And we did not increase traffic during this time.

By: Joni Lindgren