Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practices: 5 Mistakes Beginners Make

The great news about conversion rate optimization best practices is that other marketers have already pioneered successful recipes and identified some sure-fire duds. So you won’t have to waste time and money repeating those mistakes.

As a beginner, you can leapfrog the competition by using your resources more intelligently and avoiding costly errors. You will end up saving a ton of budget and hours by making these simple changes to how you approach your conversion rate optimization strategy.

Today, we’re going to share the top five mistakes CRO beginners make.

1. Making Changes Based on Opinion over Data

One of the most common rookie errors is launching a new variation without testing it. Just because a design looks cleaner, more modern, or more beautiful than its predecessor doesn’t mean it converts better. Resist the temptation to replace something old with something new without testing just because you think it will perform better. Be patient. Make sure the data supports your hypothesis that the shiny, new version is better than the original.

Just because a design looks more modern than its predecessor doesn’t mean it converts better. Click To Tweet

The most successful marketers aren’t the ones who can always predict which test will win—they’re the ones who don’t let their biases and ego get ahead of the data. They’re humble enough to know that their assumptions can be wrong—and often are. Note that there are some exceptions to the rules of analysis that we cover further down.

Most importantly, data never lies. If you’ve hit a conversion optimization plateau, the first place to look is your testing approach. Here are some real-world examples of how this happens.

Website Redesigns

People love to launch fancy, premium WordPress themes without testing because they assume the new version is superior to the old version.

However, a trendy or unique design doesn’t matter as much for conversions as you think. And even with experience, you can’t always predict the winning design by looks alone. So even though a new design may seem better, the numbers may tell a different story. A data-driven test can help you figure out which design guides users through the process most intuitively so you can base your decision on more than just a feeling.

Landing Page Layout

Landing pages play a crucial role in conversion optimization because they are the most common pages for lead collection.

Often, a marketer blindly launches a visually appealing landing page with more information and slick graphics because they assume that more is better than less. But the truth is that too many elements placed in the wrong areas can distract users from opting in. We’ve run into this scenario time and time again. With the best of intentions, marketers start “giving away too much of the farm”—so much so that users no longer feel the need to opt in.

Incremental Changes

Site owners often upgrade lead magnet designs or smaller elements, like footers, without testing. They think it’s such a minor change that a test isn’t needed and that a more modern design will surely outperform the old version. But that’s not always true.

Familiar designs may incentivize prospects more. Analyze the data to see if the new version actually converts better than the original. At the least, you’ll gain insight into whether it’s worth the time and money to invest in minor design upgrades in the future. 

Alexa’s On-Page SEO Checker tool can give you data-driven facts to guide your conversion optimization. The tool identifies SEO opportunities that increase the chances of ranking in search engines to generate more traffic.

2. Writing Ad Copy That Doesn’t Match Your Landing Page Message

Another common mistake is discrepant messaging between your ads and landing page. While it may seem obvious to keep the message the same, this conversion rate optimization best practice is often lost in the shuffle when juggling a litany of moving parts.

Any medium- or large-sized company likely has multiple ad variations running and a laundry list of buyer personas they’re targeting in Facebook ads and AdWords. For example, an established law firm may be targeting everything from “personal injury lawyer” to “how to countersue.” With so much to manage, advertisers try to conserve time by using a few landing pages for everything. That way, they don’t have to create and maintain tons of pages.

The problem with this approach is that you end up with watered-down messaging on landing pages that doesn’t effectively align with your ads and demographics. If your ad offers a report or solution but your landing page says to sign up for updates, users will get confused or angry and bounce. This poor user experience leads to a lower quality or relevance score, which increases costs and lowers the chances of your ad showing.

Build unique landing pages for your ads. It requires more effort than using a few landing pages for everything, sure, but it’s worth the payoff. Specifically, check to make sure you have ad-landing page alignment between:

  • Your headlines
  • Any keywords, offers, or phrases used

Build unique landing pages for your ads. It requires more effort, but it’ll pay off #CRO #tips Click To Tweet

To succeed in PPC, you need consistent messaging and a solid CRO marketing strategy. Check out our PPC lead generation article for details on building a high-performance plan.

3. Waiting for Statistical Significance When It’s Unattainable (or Will Take Forever)

If you aren’t familiar with statistical significance, it’s a measure of how mathematically confident you can be that your new test is a winner. After all, data doesn’t lie. There are free statistical significance calculators online to help you do just that. It’s important to use this method, yet beginners often rely too heavily on it before launching a test.

In the real world, reaching statistical significance may never happen because you can’t get enough traffic. This problem is especially true for:

  • B2B industries
  • Small businesses
  • Small marketing budgets
  • High-ticket sectors (like real estate, information products, and software)

Sometimes, you can reach significance, but it will take months upon months instead of weeks. Often, it’s not worth waiting because you could instead test and launch new initiatives faster to see noticeable results. If you’re only conducting a change once or twice a year, your results will stagnate.

So what do you do if your budget or the size of your market limits your traffic?

First, roll out the test across all viable landing pages. Often, you’re running a test, like a button color change, on just one landing page. But most or all of your landing pages have a similar-enough format that you can run the same test across all of them. It’s the best way to get more data, faster.

Next, use your best judgment to decide on a winner even if the test hasn’t reached statistical significance. Conversion rate optimization strategy is part art and part science. In lower traffic environments, you run into many scenarios where math only gets you so far. In these cases, we recommend using a 50-click benchmark before deciding on a winner

Finally, you can work around this obstacle by testing significant changes rather than small ones, an approach we’ll cover in more detail in the next section. A bigger test is likely to impact your conversion rate more, which means you’ll need less traffic to reach statistical significance. Or you’ll be able to reach that 50-click benchmark more quickly.

Alexa’s Site Comparisons tool can accurately gauge the potential traffic you can get in your industry. It’s a great way of assessing the historical traffic of competitors to check if you can reach statistical significance.

4. Using Small Tests Before Big Ones

When it comes to conversion rate optimization fundamentals, this one is a big deal. Stop using small tests before big ones; start by testing big changes that will make a meaningful impact on conversions. Many advertisers make the mistake of testing something that may only have a minor effect on conversion rate, such as:

  • Button color
  • Button copy
  • Changes made below the fold
  • Copy changes in the body paragraphs
  • Slight design changes to the background

Instead, make significant changes that will leave a lasting, noticeable impact off the bat. These changes may include:

  • Redesigning the navigation menu
  • Redesigning the page above the fold
  • Redesigning the look and feel of the entire page
  • Moving more important elements above the fold
  • Changing the main appeal that you’re selling in headlines (fear of missing out versus status elevation)

Use psychographic segmentation to learn as much as you can about your prospects. By doing so, you can infuse the most compelling psychology into your CRO tactics and make the biggest improvement to conversions.

Alexa’s On-Page SEO Checker and SEO Audit tools can give you ideas on how to optimize your page in an impactful way. Use them to discover ways to optimize your content to create a better user experience, improve visibility, and boost search performance.

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5. Running Too Many Tests and Pop-Ups on the Same Page at Once

Many beginners go crazy with conversion optimization techniques and run multiple tests on a page at the same time. It’s fantastic you’re pumped, but it’s also important to keep your data accurate.

Running multiple tests at once affects the accuracy of the analysis because each new element may be influencing (or confounding) the results of the others. Furthermore, running numerous pop-up boxes, hello bars, and site designs in the same user session disrupts the user experience. More than likely, your users will get annoyed and confused, which can compromise brand perception, session duration, and trust.

Running a test with many altered variables, called a multivariate test, usually only works for high-traffic sites and isn’t necessary to achieve excellent results. Leave this methodology to seasoned practitioners. Even they may not feel the need to use it. Instead, focus on the highest impact split tests, while being mindful of user experience
Click & Tweet!

Running tests with many variables (multivariate) usually only works for high-traffic sites. #CRO Click To Tweet


When it comes to conversion rate optimization strategy, most beginners don’t know where to start or what mistakes they could make. You can dramatically increase your conversions and eliminate wasted time and money by following the five conversion rate optimization best practices we covered here.

Before running a test, use this conversion rate optimization checklist to stay on track:

  1. Roll out changes based on data, not opinions.
  2. Make sure the messaging from the ad to the landing page is consistent and aligned.
  3. Don’t wait for statistical significance unless you have enough traffic to do so relatively quickly.
  4. Start by testing key elements, like headline and hero images, rather than less meaningful parts, like button color.
  5. Don’t test multiple elements at the same time.

You can apply these tips to any CRO marketing strategy, on any page. And for more guidance in that department, be sure to check out the ultimate guide to developing a marketing strategy.

Ready to optimize your pages for search?

Use these CRO best practices and Alexa’s SEO tools to prioritize optimizations to your site. Try the SEO Audit tool, On-Page SEO Checker, and more for free in the Advanced plan today.

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