You’ve just read, “The Ultimate Guide: 317 Tips to Optimize Your Website” and now, you’re all set to invest in conversion rate optimization (CRO) & roll-out massive A/B testing.

Not so fast. (And no, this is not the ultimate/ultimate disruptive guide...)

Here are some important questions to ask about your business if you’d like to:

  • Reduce your risks (or hate feeling like you're walking blindfolded across the Grand Canyon on a wire with hordes of Great White sharks swimming below you).
  • Limit wasting resources (or you're sick of witnessing precious resources being shoveled into a bonfire & doused with gallons of gasoline).
  • Avoid pulling your hair out for the obvious-that-was-not-so-obvious, but completely ignored for reasons unknown (that's not referencing The Killers' song).

Myth #1 with CRO: Your checkout button alone will save your business & always needs to be improved

But, wait. You’re asking...

What color should my checkout button be?

There are better questions to ask, first. Here’s why. 

Think about if you owned a grocery store. Yes, that store; the best in your city. Your favorite one where their produce is always fresh, their steaks are aged & seasoned perfectly, they always carry that one local brand no one else does, & there are countless delicious food options. 

  • Would you run an ad for customers & tell them your store is open so they'll visit, only to keep the front door locked or make them wait a few seconds every time before they could enter your store?
  • Would you block their shopping cart in every aisle to limit where they could move & only allow them to move in 1 direction, even if it frustrated them?
  • Would you hire someone to chase visitors out of the store every time they visited or ignore the person that's constantly chasing visitors away?
  • Would you keep the shelves stocked with outdated inventory that had long expired and then, take months or years to replace it?

Are you still asking...

Why is no one clicking on my 'ADD TO CART' button?

  • If before reaching the checkout, visitors had to walk through a gauntlet of spilled milk & broken eggs on the floor, would you leave that mess as is?
  • If the staff constantly told visitors the wrong information about products, the store, etc. or never answered visitors’ questions, would you reward these people?
  • If you observed people walking into your store & 98% of them walked in, only to walk out within 10 seconds, what would you do? Would your first step be to fix the cash registers?
  • Would you pay $ & allocate resources towards finding more people similar to the 98% walking right in & walking right out? And then, continue to pay more, to keep reaching that 98%?

This would be crazy, right?!

If you responded with, “Hell No!” you can understand why it might not be the color of the cash register or the words printed on it that need to be addressed. (That’s not to say your cash registers don’t matter, but the point is there can be more serious issues besides just the color, design, or the wording of them).

Instead, often a better place to start, is by asking yourself & discussing with your team:

1. What are your business goals & objectives? 

Clarifying business goals & objectives for your team helps tremendously with execution. Whether it's a yearly goal, a 30 day OKR, or somewhere in-between, it's vital to clarify goals & objectives with your team & have a way to measure progress.


2. What are you optimizing for?

No one wants to be “fixing” issues that don’t exist. Avoid that path.

  • What are the problems that need to be fixed?
  • Do you need help identifying these areas?


3. Why is it important to optimize that?  

  • Why is this a concern?
  • How does this fit with your business objectives & goals?
  • Does it pertain to KPIs or key metrics?


4. Are you talking with (and listening to) your customers? What are they saying?

I'm not talking about product reviews here. Those are certainly important, but I mean actual customer interviews & conversations with open-ended questions. (Not focus groups either).

Identifying which tasks they're seeking to accomplish, disclosing what problems they're trying to solve, & how they measure success can help unlock invaluable insights.

One can also better understand the language a customer uses. (Think about how helpful these details are for copywriting, creative, marketing campaigns, sales pages, etc.)? These interviews and surveys can also assist with improving usability for your websites visitors. 

  • Which tasks they are seeking to accomplish? What's a priority for them? Why?
  • What problems are they trying to solve? What's preventing them from doing so?
  • What constitutes success for them? How do they measure success?
  • What type of language are they using?

(The Value Proposition Canvas from Strategyzer is a fantastic resource to assist with this).

The Value Proposition Canvas from Strategyzer


5. How do visitors & customers behave on your site?

  • To provide the best experience for customers, it's not enough to just listen to them. One needs to observe & understand their behavior as well. (You've likely experienced this, in some instances, even with the best survey or customer interview process, what customers share, might not always align with how they actually behave).


6. What feedback does your sales team have?

  • What feedback or objections do they hear from leads/prospects & customers?


7. What feedback does your customer service/support team have?

  • What are your customers saying to them?


8. Which patterns from the above communications & discussions are you seeing?

  • Why are visitors & customers leaving?
  • Why are they returning?
  • Why are they returning your products?
  • Why are they angry, upset, frustrated, confused, etc.?
  • Why are they happy about your products or business?


9. What are you, your team, & your business not doing?

  • Should you be focused on something that you're not doing? (This isn't strictly limited to marketing either).


10. How do you value usability & user experience (UX)?

  • What steps have you taken regarding usability & UX?

Does your business value relationships, nurturing these relationships, & helping users & customers make informed decisions that your company stands behind? Or are is your business only focused on today’s sale?  Be honest. 

Think of how powerful the combination of listening to customers, listening to various team members, and understanding customers behavior is for improving usability & providing the best experience for your customers.


11. Are you planning any major website changes?

  • Why are you making changes?
  • Based on what?
  • Are you aware of potential negative backlash from users & customers? What steps are you taking to address their concerns?

We all know, you’ll never please everyone, but a little communication & heads up can go a long ways.

(Don’t forget to review Google’s guidelines for website testing).


12. Which best practices are you following? 

No, they're not all evil, but it does matter whom you're listening to.

  • Conversely, which ones are you ignoring? Why?


You don't need another "Ultimate" marketing article...

Before you start fixing your checkout button & reading the 1,237 ways to optimize your site, please keep asking these types of questions and digging in for more insights.

These questions are not definitive or comprehensive whatsoever, yet it would be quite crazy to ignore them. They certainly are not the "Ultimate" questions. However, ultimately, your business will benefit from asking better questions and seeking out more insights. 

A Quick Recap of 12 Questions to Help with Optimization

1. What are your business goals & objectives?

2. What are you optimizing for?

3. Why is it important to optimize that?  

4. Are you talking with (and listening to) your customers? What are they saying?

5. How do visitors & customers behave on your site?

6. What feedback does your sales team have?

7. What feedback does your customer service/support team have?

8. Which patterns from the above communications & discussions are you seeing?

9. What are you, your team, & your business not doing?

10. How do you value usability & user experience (UX)?

11. Are you planning any major website changes?

12. Which best practices are you following?


Myth #2 with CRO: Improving conversions means you should only focus on conversions

Don’t let others fool you, optimization is not always about conversions.
(Perhaps, we need to stop calling it (CRO) conversion rate optimization, instead, just optimization. What do you think?) 

Optimization is not always about just conversions from SiteUpturn

As you can see it’s not always about conversions or what’s on or not on the page. These can all be devastating to a business (and have nothing to do with your checkout button).

Margins, costs, risks, & profit matter as well. Increasing conversions doesn't always necessarily = a healthier & profitable business.

The Fear & Embarrassment

Let's acknowledge the elephant in the room here. These are tough questions to ask (you may even feel uncomfortable just reading them) & they eerily relate to reasons why companies fail. 

Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail research by CB Insights

Source: CB Insights

In some organizations, team members are afraid to ask them. In other organizations, whether it's something such as struggling to identify the 'perfect set of questions' to ask customers, or shear embarrassment of what customers might think, there's some reason offered which first results in reluctance.

Then, this gives way to a hesitation to move forward. (It can begin with a such a seemingly insignificant delay). Eventually though, it snowballs into a significant barrier that can cripple a business. (It's still collecting cobwebs there on the to-do list for some organizations). 

Can your business afford not asking these questions?

If you want your business to endure & remain competitive (i.e. maintain a durable competitive advantage), these types of questions need to be evaluated & addressed.

There’s a full spectrum of optimization that extends beyond just button color, button copy, and sometimes, even conversions. Don’t let the ‘Ultimate Guides’ fool you. Your business deserves better...and so do your customers.

What’s your biggest struggle with Optimization? Let me know.

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Brian Soell

Founder / Chief Marketing Officer of SiteUpturn

Brian is the founder & CMO of SiteUpturn. You can find him on LinkedIn.

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