2 Must-Read Books for Understanding Conversion Rate Optimization
People constantly reach out to ask me what my favorite reads are on CRO, or if I can recommend books to provide a good foundation in CRO.
Anyone who wants to learn about the fundamentals of CRO can do so by picking up a few good titles. Below are two of my 2 favorite reads on the subject of CRO to get you started. For someone new to the subject, it can be a little overwhelming to begin with – but these books will provide a solid basis regardless of your background. Whether or not you’re seeking to focus on CRO or remain a generalist, the concepts behind these books will serve you in good stead.
1. Convert!: Designing Web Sites to Increase Traffic and Conversion by Ben Hunt
Understanding your visitors and the basics of traffic and conversion.
This is an oldy but a goody. Probably the most gifted book to my close friends and family when they ask me how I got started with conversion optimization.
This book was published in 2011, so a lot of the SEO related sections are really outdated, but for me the foundations that Ben discusses in relation to the attention ladder was a massive paradigm shift for me.
In a nutshell, a user goes through step 1 through 5 starting at not even being aware of a problem, all the way through to being ready to buy from you.
He goes through how he identified simple yet powerful solutions in design, classic optimization techniques, and targeted testing. How to use testing to improve conversion rate, and several other techniques that combine creativity and analysis to produce best possible results. Ben provides clear guidance on how to research, design, structure, and expand sites from the most important aspects of user engagement and profitability.
Understanding the principles laid out in this book will allow you to see opportunity where before you didn’t even realize it existed.
Like I said, outdated book in some respects, but the fundamental principles behind them are timeless. This book is one of the most important reads on conversion optimization for me, and the one I’d recommend anyone with an interest in the subject start with.
A / B Testing: The Most Powerful Way to Turn Clicks Into Customers by Dan Siroker
Understanding A/B Testing, also known as Split Testing
This book is a must for anyone who seeks to understand split testing. It breaks down the simple idea of showing distinct versions of a site to live traffic and using this to scientifically measure the effect each change has on visitors. How it is used to drive effectivess of marketing and user experience, all resulting in increasing conversion rates. Split testing has been key to the success of giants like Google, Amazon, and Netflix. But now that anyone can learn split testing, and it no long requies costly engineering and resources, there’s no reason we shouldn’t all apply it to small and medium sites.
This book provides the mental model and frameworks behind this key concept in CRO.
It breaks down split testing and uses case studies to back them up.
The concepts in this book allowed me to remove all emotion from the design decision-making process, and instead allowed me to view decisions objectively as “experiments” and make powerful data-driven decisions.
Instead of going through the process of what you think is the right way to design a site, or even wild guesses, it removes you from your ego and allows you to change the frame and ask the users what they want to see – by testing.
Dan goes through what to test, how to choose the right test for purpose, and how to personalise the experience for site visitors.
A must for anyone looking to get started with split testing software, or looking to take their website to the next level, no matter your technical expertise.
After reading these two books, you’ll have developed a rock-solid foundation in the concepts behind CRO. You’ll know enough to get going and learn some more through experimentation and trial-and-error. But armed with the guiding principles of CRO, everything else comes easy.