CXL Conversion Rate Optimization Foundations: Review

I’m so excited that I got into CXL Institute’s Conversion Rate Optimization minidegree program. To be honest, I was at first intimidated because it’s such an extensive topic but I’m so thrilled that I started it.

CXL Institute is a world leader in teaching advanced digital marketing skills. Yes, it’s the only platform where the world’s top marketing experts teach about CRO/UX, marketing, and analytics.

So, I’d be sharing some of my thoughts and best takeaways from this week’s lessons on CRO foundations. By the way, the entire minidegree is about 85 hours of video and online learning material so it’s pretty comprehensive.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

As a direct response copywriter, I’m always excited about conversions. But interestingly, I didn’t realize how other factors such as product messaging, social proof, and UX design affect conversion rates. Turns out, it’s not just having the right offer to the right market.

From what I understand, CRO is essentially improving customer touchpoints so that they do what we want them to do—take action! Whether it’s to take them to our product pages or sign up to our email list, we put an effort to make the process as enjoyable and frictionless as possible. And by doing so, we can help businesses grow and become more profitable.

CRO Basics

Brian Massey delivered a short (compared to the other lessons, at least) but fun talk about what CRO is all about.

It’s focused on ideas not tests

Yes, CRO involves tests but it’s looking at research and analytics to understand customers better. 

Statistics shouldn’t be scary

When it comes to CRO, numbers count. You need to ask relevant questions, get a bigger sample size, and have a good sample quality.

CRO Best Practices 

Peep Laja, the founder of CXL shared the best practices when it comes to conversion rate optimization. I liked that they have a point-by-point summary of these lessons.


E-commerce Conversion Rate Optimization

Since I’m more focused on helping e-commerce businesses, let me share some of my takeaways in this niche.

For e-commerce category pages, make sure to use filters to help customers narrow down their choices and get to the products they want to buy ASAP. And a left-hand filter is the usual way to do this.

When you have promotions, use self-explanatory product badges like Exclusive!, Most Popular, etc.

As for images, large well-presented products are better. Peep even cited a company that lined up 3 products with large images vs 5 products seen in small ones. Amazingly, this small tweak resulted in a whopping 25% increase in sales!

For buttons and call-to-actions, the golden rule is “Don’t make them think”. Moreover, use the sentence, “ I want to…” as a guide. 

Wondering which CTA to use for that web form? Well, anything but submit. People don’t like to submit. You can use “Click here.”

As for the checkout button, it needs to be at the top of the page. Keep reminding your customers about the perks of shopping with you such as trust badges, returns, alternative payment methods, and free shipping.

Persuasive Web Design

This is very important since we trust what we see. Yes, as they say, “Seeing is believing.”

5 Principles of Persuasive Web Design

Be clear and specific

Did you know that it only takes 50 milliseconds for us to make visual judgments? 

This means when somebody lands on your site, he or she needs to be able to instantly answer these 3 questions:

  1. What’s this?
  2. What do I do here? 
  3. What’s in it for me?

Keep visual appeal

You need to consider two things like visual complexity and familiarity. We’re drawn to simple things and those that are familiar to us. Don’t go for something too complicated.

Think of the visual hierarchy

What exactly does this mean? The biggest part is seen as the most important. Also, you need to use contrast to emphasize your call to action.

Always keep their attention

Here’s another fun fact: 80% of our attention is concentrated on the things that are located above the fold. 

That’s why you need to place your unique value proposition and call to action in that area.

One Action Per Page

Ask them to take action when they’re ready. However, when you have a product that’s complicated or like a big buy such as a car or a house, then you might like to use a long-form sales page with the above-the-fold for the value proposition.


Intro to Conversion Copywriting

This is my favorite part so far since as a direct response copywriter,  I use words to get people to take action NOW. But in this section,  I was able to learn more about how to apply CRO into the copy.

You need to optimize for clarity, information, and persuasion.

In order to do this, you need to steer away from bland and jargony (is this a word?) copy. Use simple and clear words that are conversational. We’re not going for a thesis or academic writing here. 

Make the copy about the people who are going to read and eventually buy from you. Use the words and phrases they would use.

Plus, forget the hype and superlatives that nobody would believe anyway.

Instead, be specific about how you can benefit your reader. What does your product do specifically to target his pain point? And then prove it with social proof.

Should you put all the info on one page? Not necessarily. As mentioned, when you have a course or product that’s complicated, you can go for a long-form sales page.

However, you can also put additional information on another page through a link. For example, if you’re selling computer software, you might like to put the technical details on another page.

What about pricing? A good rule of thumb is “Show value before price.”

If it’s affordable, you want everybody to know right? And if it’s expensive, you need qualified buyers to understand the value so they can decide to buy it.

Final Thoughts for Week 1

I thoroughly enjoyed the lessons I’ve had the past week. The lessons are well-organized and comprehensive. 

I’ll continue to share my thoughts in the weeks to come. Do look out for my next post as I share the best product messaging tips I got from conversion copywriter Momoko Price.


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