Conversion optimization is a topic that almost everyone can get excited about. Who doesn’t want to share in the glory when you’ve doubled or tripled the conversion rate? Few people would say “no” given the opportunity to increase a website’s revenue exponentially. But you can’t just rush to redesign your website and expect miracles to happen. What you need is data. Or rather, actionable insights obtained from data.

One common complaint I hear over and over is “Our conversion rate is too low!”.  It sounds like you’ve rolled up your sleeves and are ready to get to work. But wait a minute – How do you KNOW your conversion rate is low? Did you compare your conversion rates to industry norms? Do you have historical context to justify that claim? What leads you to believe it should be higher? Is this knowledge based on accurate data? How can you answer the above and determine that you have a serious opportunity to optimize your conversion rate?

One approach I recommend is segmenting your data to understand the trends and behavior of your highest value customers. Advanced Segments in Google Analytics or any other web analytics tool provide you with the tools to begin your data quest. Create segments to determine the behaviors of your highest value customers. If your average order size is $100, create a segment to identify visitors who spend MORE than $100. Or identify visitors who have a higher conversion rate than your website average. Then analyze their specific behavior. What kind of keywords do they come in on? What sources? Are there specific products they purchase together at once? Is there a specific marketing message or vehicle that is driving these visitors to your site?

Once you’ve determined one or more common behaviors of your high value visitors you can start thinking about how to guide customers to behave similarly. If you segmented by video views and determined that video viewers are more likely to convert, you may test swapping out specific elements of your website with video. If you know that your highest value visitors use your site search to find “specials” or “sales” you may want to test a prominent promotional element across your site.

Using the above approach ensures that your testing methodology is rooted in highly actionable data and avoids the temptation to test something you just “think” would work better.