Introduction to Conversion Optimization by Brian Massey

Several years ago, TXU Energy introduced its new internet-enabled thermostat, the iThermostat. This was TXU’s version of what Nest became, a thermostat that you could monitor and change from any computer or device attached to the internet.

One of the tests we ran at Conversion Sciences was an email test. We wanted to know if we could increase sales of the iThermostat by changing the subject line of the promotional email sent to TXU customers. We composed subject lines to appeal to three types of buyers we were targeting.

When we had completed our tests, the top two subject lines were, “Now you can control your thermostat online” and “Get the Internet Thermostat for $49.99 Installed.”

These two subject lines looked like they were tied. The same number of people opened them, and they generated about the same number of clicks.

One of them however, generated 25% more sales. The subject line “Get the Internet Thermostat for $49.99 Installed” delivered a whopping 64% more sales than the control, “Limited-Time Offer: Save 33% on the TXU Energy iThermostat.”

Process Is Everything

These results were only meaningful because we had used proper CRO techniques when we set our test up.

First, we used exactly the same email copy for each subject line. Likewise, we used the exact same landing page. This way, we could be sure it was the subject line causing the changes in sales. We randomized selection of the email addresses into groups so that there wasn’t any unexpected bias.

Finally, we measured success all the way through to the sale. Had we only focused on open rates and click-through rates, we would not have picked the subject line that ultimately generated the most revenue.

How can one subject line generate more sales when the same number of people are clicking through as with other subject lines? Did the subject line somehow prime the reader to buy? Did the winning subject line cause those more likely to buy to click through?

Conversion optimization is complex. If a marketer isn’t careful, she is likely to make incorrect assumptions about what her visitors want from her and what makes them buy.

This course is designed to help you make good decisions about how to get more conversions: more buyers, more tryers and more subscribers.

So, What Is CRO?

The acronym “CRO” stands for “Conversion Rate Optimization.” The conversion rate calculation is popular because it can be applied to a wide variety of actions, from list signups to software trials to ecommerce purchases. It is calculated by dividing the number of people taking an action by the number of people who are asked to take an action.

This allows us to understand how well an email or page or ad is performing regardless of how many people see it. We might see 10% more sales this month than last and believe that is good.

But if visitors to our site increased by 20% at the same time, then our conversion rate is actually going down. Sales have increased, yet something is causing us to sell less as a percentage of visits.

In email marketing, for example, there are a number of conversions that take place. Recipients of the emails must open them. Those who open must click on an offer and be brought through to a landing page. Those who see the landing page must take action.

Each of these is a conversion and each can be improved with the right process.

Is CRO About Fast Wins?

It takes time and discipline to find the right process for your business and products. But, when you do, it will be a source of revenue for a long, long time.

This course describes exactly how to apply CRO disciplines that turn traffic into subscribers and / or buyers. The contributors are the best in the industry and recognized leaders in their areas of expertise.

Building a CRO Machine

We first learn how to build email lists from the traffic we get to our websites. Then we are guided through the process of crafting email and landing page copy that turns subscribers / visitors into buyers. The course then tames research and analytics, showing us what to measure.

Once we have a foundation laid down, we are taken through the disciplines of creating and executing tests. It is through testing that you will find the insights that turn ordinary email lists and landing pages into real business assets.

Finally the course draws all of this into a process that ensures you’ll enjoy strong results week after week, test after test.

It can take years to find the right mix of frequency, content, offers and calls to action that make your website / company profitable. This course slashes the time it takes.

Like TXU, there is more revenue to be found. All you have to do is find the right components for your unique audience. This course will show you how.


  1. Always tie your tests back to bottom-line goals. Measure tests all the way through to the sale.
  2. CRO isn’t about quick wins. It’s about meaningful tests backed by thorough conversion research and executed using a disciplined, step-by-step process.
  3. There is always more revenue to be found. Conversion optimization is never finished.

For more from Brian, check out Conversion Sciences.

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