The Challenges of Using Multiple Conversion Optimization Tools

In 2012, Corporate Executive Board surveyed thousands of workers at the world’s biggest companies. CEB learned something surprising: Only 44% of workers reported that they knew where to find information they need for day-to-day work.

Those workers felt that their workflow was so spread out among various tools and processes that their productivity and output were severely handicapped. Does that sound like your job?

To be fair, the people surveyed in that study didn’t all work on conversion optimization teams. Nevertheless, the perils of using too many tools is apparent.

If you’re like most CRO teams, you spend your day in front of several tools. At any given time, you have six or eight tabs open in your browser, all of them critical to your job.

Is that really the best way to work? Sure, your boss may think he/she is helping by equipping you with more tools, but that can actually create some serious challenges that impede your work.

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Wasted time and energy



When your process is broken into multiple tools, you inevitably waste time trying to track your progress. If you’re like a lot of CRO teams, you’re using a disjointed process that goes something like this:

  • You dig through your analytics tool to find insights.
  • You use a team communication tool like Slack to bounce ideas off one another.
  • You create a project for testing in Trello in coordinate your team.
  • You create your test instances in Optimizely or another A/B testing tool.
  • You dig back through your analytics after the testing period to get your results.
  • Throughout the whole process, you update Trello, keep your team informed in Slack, and keep managers and stakeholders in the loop via email.

You have to drill to the right page on the analytical tool. You have to attach links to Slack comments to point team members to the right test projects. You have to read and manipulate Trello cards. You have to over communicate with your team and managers so no one is confused. This type of workflow spreads information over too many applications, increasing the likelihood that something will be missed.

That’s a pretty common CRO process, but it uses four tools. Each time you jump from one tool to another, you and everyone else on your team has to reorient themselves. Some CRO teams use as many as eight tools.

At face value, these little adjustments seem simple. What’s so tough about reading a Trello card, right? Unfortunately, when you add all these little delays together, they can eat up a lot of your time.

Furthermore, each tool comes with a learning curve. Each builds an obstacle between you and the information you need. Business consultant Wayne Turmel warns against impeding your work with tools:

“So you wind up using Yammer for instant messaging, to manage your files and version control, Sharepoint for whatever the company makes you save, and who knows what else. Before you know it there are five logins, five passwords, and five learning curves to go through just to ask the folks in Dallas where the Johnson file is.”

[Tweet “Extra, unnecessary tools build barriers between you and the information you need.”]

A process should be clean and easy to follow. The workflow should be clear and simple. Whatever tool you’re using should visualize the entire process, from beginning to end, without requiring any kind of mental adjustment on your part.

Reporting is a pain



Every good conversion optimization process is based on data. Without data, we wouldn’t know what to test or what type of impact our changes had.

Answer this question honestly: How often do you create reports? Monthly, for sure. Probably weekly, too. Many CRO teams create reports daily. In between, you probably dip into your analytics to get an idea how a particular test is performing. If early data lets you draw a conclusion, you want to know about it.

When you use multiple tools, reporting is a challenge. It would be great if everything was kept within your analytics tool, but that just isn’t possible. You might have to grab visualization data from CrazyEgg, A/B testing results from Optimizely, or include video replay data from Mouseflow. Pulling all of that data together can take hours. That time would be better spent generating new testing ideas.

(With Effective Experiments, you can generate reports with a single click. Even better, you can customize those reports for your business’ needs.)

Reporting is especially tough when your reports are expected to include multiple levels of data. Many CROs don’t just have to report on the results of their optimization tests, they have to report on the team and the tests themselves.

For instance, management might want to know why a test that was scheduled to run for two weeks actually took three. You might have to pull data from your project card on Trello to explain the discrepancy. Or each test might need to include a projected impact on the company’s ROI. That might require input from someone from another department.

Furthermore, reporting is a critical part of ideation. Your reports will point you in the direction of further insights. The sooner you can generate your reports, the sooner you can get more tests started.

No high level view

Many CRO teams work in an environment where managers, executives or stakeholders want to peek into all facets of the business. Naturally, they want to oversee departments that are designed to grow the business (like conversion rate optimization).

Unfortunately, CRO doesn’t produce sudden, obvious changes. It’s not a sexy or dramatic discipline. Day-to-day, the website or application looks pretty much the same.

Your boss or other stakeholders often try to get a glimpse of the CRO process by joining your various tools. They’re attached to your Trello boards and monitoring your Slack channel.

But this is a hectic process. There’s constantly people to invite or permissions to award. And who hasn’t experienced the cringe-worthy comment of a non-CRO team member who inappropriately modifies a project or has “just the best idea?”

Even if you do manage to include management in all your tools, they still don’t have a high level view of what’s happening because there is no single viewpoint. They’ll struggle to keep up and misunderstand what you’re doing. Remember my first point about wasted time? That’s compounded for your managers because they won’t spend as much time in your tools as you.

Lack of a high level view is a problem for your managers, but it ultimately falls on you. If you use multiple CRO tools, you’ll get caught regularly explaining your progress, often at length.

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So what’s the solution?

None of this is to say that you should abandon all of your tools.

“The technological leaps of the past century have made it easier and easier to complete more tasks in less time,” says productivity expert Laura Stack. “So embrace and encourage new trends, devices, and software as they appear.”

That means you shouldn’t add every new tool to your toolbox. You just need to pick the right one.

If using multiple tools makes your job harder, the solution is pretty clear: Use one tool that provides all the CRO features you need and integrates with anything you can’t walk away from. Don’t be afraid to pay for something, as long as it does everything you need.

We’re biased, but we recommend Effective Experiments. We built our tool specifically to replace all other conversion rate optimization tools. But if you choose to use something else, make sure it simplifies your process so you can spend your time and energy testing.

If you’d like to give Effective Experiments a try, request a demo today.

Manuel da Costa

A passionate evangelist of all things experimentation, Manuel da Costa founded Effective Experiments to help organizations to make experimentation a core part of every business. On the blog, he talks about experimentation as a driver of innovation, experimentation program management, change management and building better practices in A/B testing.