009 Improve Your Conversion Rate With Conversion Research Part 1

Growing your online presence is never free. With growth, it’s mostly about reaching the right audience at the right time. But what happens when all those people come to your website? Do they continue to do what you need them to do? That’s where the real conversions need to happen.

In the first of a 2-part series, we’ll talk about conversion rate optimization, specifically conversion research and the three things you need to do. We will start with heuristic evaluation and the Lift Model as an effective conversion optimization framework.

Links in this episode:

Episode Notes:

In today’s episode, we’ll show you how to save money. Growing your online presence is never free. You spend money on ads, you’ll spend money on SEO, all those different things, and you should, but it should also make sure all that money is well spent and never wasted with growth.

It’s mostly about reaching the right audience at the right time. But what happens when all those people come to a website, do they continue to do what you need them to do and convert? Because this is where the real conversion needs to happen.

We’ll talk about conversion rate optimization, specifically conversion research, and three things you need to do go through examples. And by the end of this episode, you’ll know how to identify the biggest issues your website has and stop losing some of that money you spend on acquisition.

*A disclaimer, first, if you are a multi-million dollar a year company, it’s probably better to hire an agency or a specialist to do that. But if you’re just growing your business and just want to fix things on your website. Doing a conversion research is something you can absolutely do yourself.

A Brief Background About Conversion Rate Optimization

Put simply, it’s converting traffic to sales on your site. It’s a way to maximize, all the marketing initiatives that you’re doing at the moment. Conversion is always something they should work on.

“You’re never optimized and always optimizing.” – Jon Macdonald, President, The Good

Even for non e-commerce sites you should always try to look for things that can add friction to your, to your website, users or visitors. You have social, you have organic search, you have paid search. You have email campaigns, all those different ways to get people to come to your website, and then you need to optimize the web. 

Every website is partly good, partly bad, but there’s no perfect website. We can never set it and forget it. You always need to check your analytics, talk to users and see if they have any problems.

Why Is Conversion Research Important?

Research is not actually making changes to the website. It just identifying the most glaring issues your website has or the users have.

You don’t start with testing. You don’t start with fixing unless something is clearly broken, of course, but then it’s not zero it’s common sense. The first step always has to be research and finding what you need to fix.

Pillars of Conversion Research

The three pillars of conversion research we’ll be talking about today are:

1. Heuristic evaluation

Heuristic evaluation simply means expert evaluation. You sit down, you look at your website, try to find as many issues as you, look at your website through a mobile device and try to find as many problems as possible. And there are frameworks that can help you with that

2. Quantitative Research

Quantitative means anything that can be represented with numbers. So if you look at Google analytics data, that’s quantitative because you have a percentage of people that drop out, number of conversions, sessions, users, all those metrics.

3. Qualitative Research

And finally, we have the qualitative research, which is data debt cannot be directly represented with a number. So if you have usability testing. You’re going to have a description that says this user struggled with this feature. Or if you have a survey on your website, they write what their feelings are about the website, what they’re struggling with or actual customer feedback.

So those are the three pillars. I’ll go through them again: heuristic evaluation, which is expert evaluation of your website and you don’t have to hire an expert. You can follow a framework that we’ll talk about. Then the next one is quantitative research and finally qualitative research.

And you need to combine those three. Don’t just use one of them, because let’s say you, you look at the website and you think, maybe the layout is not really logical. Maybe people will struggle with it, but you don’t look at Google Analytics and people actually do not struggle, or you don’t look at a user research and people actually find it easy to use.

How To Get Started with Heuristic Evaluation?

Let’s start with heuristic evaluation and best practices in this one as well, because following the best practices for your industry, even though you shouldn’t do that blindly. In marketing, we love looking at best practices, but there’s a caveat specially in terms of CRO.

I think it’s good when to look at best practices when you’re looking at your hypothesis, but what can work for one company or on one e-commerce site and the same category may not work for another. So it’s the only way to get to figure out if that is correct is to test it. It can be two identical websites that, but have different audiences so they could have the same purpose, same kind of products, same layout, everything, different audience copy or competition.

The Lift Model

There are a lot of models or frameworks to follow, but for this episode, we’re focusing on The Lift model from Chris Goward of Wider Funnel Agency. It has been around for years and I think it’s the most common model that people are using. 

It’s a popular framework because it’s not only easy to use if you’re actually applying it, it’s easy to explain to anyone. And I think that’s the key. If you have, if you’re trying to fix a website for a client or trying to talk your friend, like what this model is, we’ll go through the six factors of it.

Conversion Drivers

  1. Value Proposition
  2. Relevance
  3. Urgency
  4. Clarity

Conversion Inhibitors

  1. Anxiety
  2. Distraction

Value Proposition

This is business optimization. If you don’t have a good enough value proposition and if you don’t state it clearly enough on the page, everything else you do is going to suffer. You know, you can, you can optimize as much as you want but your website needs to have a really good value proposition because people need to have a motivation to convert with you.


Relevance of course is, you know, if they land, if a user comes to your webpage, they’re not going to just drop there out of thin air. It’s going to be either someone sent them a link or they saw a social media post or clicked an ad or something like that.

And they have expectations. They expect to see something that the ad promised them or social media posts promised them, or the referral promised him if there’s a mismatch. So if you have an ad that says we are selling the best running shoes in the world, and then you have some terrible running shoes on your website. That person is probably not going to be that interested or excited and, and the, the relevance is not going to be there. So that’s going to hurt your chances to convert dramatically.


With clarity, it’s important to note that they have a lot to do with the writing. So I just want to mention there that we talk about this in different episodes, that copywriting is key and plays a big role here. You have to be clear first. And as we go through all these factors, I say, copywriting is the key. You need to be clear about what this page is, and you need to be clear about why they should convert there. 


Urgency is another conversion driver or booster. This could be internal or external or forced urgency. Internal is if it’s one day before Christmas and you need to buy a present, you won’t care how bad the website is. If that’s what they want to buy. External is if there’s six hours until the end of the sale, when there’s a promotion that expires, that’s how you can induce urgency in your users.


When I see this word, I always think about the pop-ups like what can add friction to your user experience when they are on your page. Even if they’re not buying, if they’re reading your blog posts, don’t put so many pop-ups that will really turn them off.  So to avoid distraction, remove the distracting elements as much as possible from your pages, especially on mobile.


Next one is anxiety. Let’s say there’s a new laptop company that shows up. You never heard of them. That you don’t know the brand, but you know, they say they have super amazing, great laptops, and you’re going to pay $2,000 for a laptop, but you don’t show if you can return if you don’t like it or if it doesn’t work as expected. That’s anxiety but if you’re buying a laptop from Apple’s website, you trust them completely. It boils down to the trustworthiness of your site. And that includes the design, copy and user experience of your website.

So make sure to remove the distraction and anxiety. This is part of conversion research because you’re finding those issues, but you don’t need to be an expert to see what’s distracting and what can cause anxiety just like you don’t have to be an expert to see if the page is relevant, clear, and there’s a sense of urgency on it. You may need to be an expert to define a great value proposition though. 

Recap and Final Thoughts

There’s no one size fits approach in CRO. Don’t blindly apply industry best practices. Do your research, your heuristic evaluation and apply the Lift model to find out the main issues of your site. Between common sense and best practices, you need to state what your return policy is, you need to have great product images like that. Industry-specific best practices are a good starting point. They’re not the end of the line.

That concludes part one where we talked about heuristic evaluation. Make sure you check out part two of conversion research as well where we talk about quantitative and qualitative analysis.

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