4 Examples of CRO ‘Best Practices’ Getting Spanked

by Angus Lynch on January 14, 2015
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If you’ve read anything about conversion optimization (CRO), you’ve probably seen the term ‘best practices’ thrown around.

CRO best practices are commonly accepted areas you should be addressing to increase your chances of finding a successful conversion optimization test.

I stress “increase your chances” for this reason: CRO best practices often fail, which is why it’s important to always have solid optimization processes in place.

So with this in mind, here are 4 examples of CRO best practices being taken to the woodshed.

Example 1: Compare Courses

Best practice used: Move all CTAs above the fold

Australia-based Compare Courses (CC) offers courses that help students from all over the world meet their professional goals.

In an effort to engage more visitors, CC added a lead enquiry form and a Request Brochure button.

All three calls-to-action were of equal value and the overall goal was to increase conversions on their website.

This is CC’s original Bachelor of Accounting landing page.


The CC team hypothesized that if the “Send Enquiry” form were brought above the fold, it could generate more conversions.

The team also decided to place testimonials and social proof next to the form. Here’s what the test page looked like.



It was expected that by placing the lead enquiry form above the fold and adding social proof and testimonials, that lead enquiry conversions would increase.

But while conversions from the “Request Brochure” form increased 13.3%, the new test page actually saw a 53.87% decrease in “Send Enquiry” conversions.


When there are multiple calls-to-action on a page, make sure that you test each one when any changes are made. Otherwise, if conversions changes are evaluated for one call-to-action – it will be difficult to fully know if the conversions for the other calls-to-action increased or decreased.


Such split tests as the above reveal that it’s imperative that you have “best processes” in place. Best processes will help you identify issues that are custom to each client website. Whereas, best practice is more of a one-size-fits-all, best processes allow you to clearly define your websites specific needs.

Example 2: SlideShop.com tests sidebar best practice

It’s commonly accepted that left menu bars go widely unnoticed. In fact, these 3 eye-tracking images from the Neilsen Norman Group add validity to that theory.

The bright red shows the highest areas of attention – followed by orange, yellow and then blue respectively as attention declines.

Notice that there’s very little focus placed on the left-hand menu bars?

However, the following split test actually denies that theory.

Here’s the control…

And here’s the challenger:


After adding a left hand menu bar, Slideshop saw an 8.9% increase in visitor engagement and a 34% increase in visitors adding products to their carts.

How could this be?


We found the results from this test very surprising. Even us—as a conversion optimization agency—had grown to accept that sidebars should always go on the right. The takeaway here is test test test no matter what.

Example #3: Vendido tests signup form placement

The next split test gets really counter-intuitive. If the primary goal of your page were to get people to sign up, then shouldn’t your sign up form be placed prominently on the page?

Not necessarily.

Venido is an Alibaba company that provides free ecommerce stores. In an effort to increase sign ups they conducted a split test.

The original page contained their marketing message to get visitors to sign up as well as a form so that visitors could sign up right there reducing funnel steps:


The test page had similar marketing content but only included a less aggressive “Sign Up Now” button:


This design added an extra step in the sign up process.

Surprisingly, removing the prominent sign up form and adding an extra step increased sign up conversions by a staggering 60%.

Again, this is why best processes are vital and testing is a must.

Example 4: Yuppiechef’s menubar…help or hindrance?

Typically a main menu bar is a valuable tool to get visitors around your site. Yuppiechef conducted a test to see if their menu bar was more of a help or a hindrance.

They were hoping to raise conversions on their wedding registry sign up page.

The original page had a menu bar for easy navigation throughout the site.



The test page design removed the navigation bar altogether.


Yuppiechef was surprised that the page that did not include a menu bar increased conversions by 100% – bringing sign ups from 3% to 6%.


You shouldn’t throw all best practices out the window, but your optimization process must be based on solid bedrock of best processes.

Without processes established, any gains you achieve from best practices will be fleeting at best, damaging at worst.



One response to 4 Examples of CRO ‘Best Practices’ Getting Spanked

  1. Nice article!
    Perfect example of why you shouldn’t draw any conclusion before testing.

    People will always surprise me! It’s so hard to understand the psychology behind conversions sometimes…

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