4 Ways Sports Tactics Can Increase Conversion Rate

Jan 07, 2015
Guest Post

pricing page exmaplesSurprisingly, competitive sports are much like conversion optimization. Whether you’re playing a sport or optimizing a web-site, you want to be the best you can be in order to increase conversion rate. While conversions might be points or goals in sports, they are purchases and downloads in conversion optimization. Here are some insights that we can gain from competitive sports and apply to conversion optimization.


Insight #1: How you Can Dig Deeper

When the World Series comes along, do you think coaches make decisions based on statistics? Of course they do. Is it just based on who has the most home-runs and who strikes out most often? Of course not.

Baseball, like many other sports, is famous for reading very, very deep into statistics. Some people’s full time job is job analyzing baseball statistics. They can tell you the odds a particular player hits a home run on a particular field against a particular team with a particular score in a particular time of year etc.

It might sound like a bit much, but wouldn’t you want to know if it would help you win? And we’re talking professional baseball – the big bucks.

As conversion optimizers, you’re trying to make the big bucks too. Just as the number of home runs isn’t a good enough statistic on its own, neither is overall conversion rate on its own. If you’re only using that, dig deeper!



Here’s a screenshot of some conversion rates for one of our clients. We didn’t just see the rate, and we didn’t just look at the conversion rate by browser, but we looked at it by each particular version of each browser. Clearly, some versions of internet explorer had issues. We were only able to get that fixed and increase overall conversion rate as a result because we dug this deep.

Dig deeper to increase conversion rate:

  • Geography – maybe there’s something you’re missing that people in a particular country or city want from you. In the Audience -> Location -> GEO section of Google Analytics, you can see conversion rate by region, filtering down to the city. It’s easy to note whether one city is converting way more than another. This is a good place to start investigating.

  • Device – Is your user on mobile, desktop, or tablet? You might not know it, but conversion rate can be drastically different from mobile to desktop, and might indicate you need to make some changes! In an experiment for one of our clients, the overall conversion rate only increased slightly. However, after applying filters, we saw that desktop increased conversion rate by 15% whereas the conversion rate for mobile stayed the same. Then after focusing on the mobile site, we increased the overall conversion rate by 14%. This couldn’t have happened without applying these filters.

  • Source – Did your user come from search, referral, or a paid ad? If Facebook users are most likely to buy your product, you might want to focus more of your efforts there. If your email campaigns have a low conversion rate, you might want to rethink your strategy. You can see this information in Google Analytics under Acquisition -> Channels -> and switching up the primary and secondary dimensions. Here, it is essential you have the proper URL tagging set up in all your campaigns. Post coming soon on how to set up proper tagging!

Here’s our guide for where to start tracking in Google Analytics.


Insight #2: How to Challenge Your Assumptions

Sticking with baseball, batting order is an incredibly essential part of any game plan. The goal is to get a few guys on base so the heavy hitter can hit a home run and thus score many runs. To figure out who bats first, second, and third requires some serious optimization and experimentation. Coaches don’t just decide the order on a whim, or because of what other teams are doing, and they definitely aren’t stuck with their current order. They’ll try out different orders and use what works best.

The same way coaches can’t think too rigidly about their batting order, you can’t think too rigidly about your funnel.  Too often we see companies think that they must start with the homepage, then to a category page, then a cart page, and finally a check-out and thank you page. But that’s not necessarily the way that is going to maximize conversions. To maximize your conversions, you have to think about how you can take people along the desired steps of your website until they perform your desired action. Why not try out a different funnel to see what works?

One important tool to help analyze your funnel:

When thinking about your funnel, you should take a strategic approach. One of our favorite tools is the “funnel visualization” tool in Google Analytics. It tells you where your leaks are as people make their way from the home page to the completion page. Using it, you can better hypothesize how you can optimize.

Insight #3: Using Tools to Increase Conversion Rate

Let’s say you were going to play a tennis match against a random opponent for a lot of money. Would you want to know where they hit the ball most often? How about if you were stepping into the biggest soccer game of your life. If you could know exactly where on the field the opposing team’s players usually run, would you want to know?

I bet you would want to know, and I bet you would prepare. Professional sports players do this all the time through the use of heatmaps. See the examples below.

Maybe it’s not the same as the biggest game of our lives, but your websites are your livelihood. They are important and you want to have all the information you can have. If you haven’t seen a heatmap of your website, you’re doing something wrong!

source: gamesetmap.com & dailymail.co.uk

Heatmaps show us where people are clicking, where they hover their mouse, and how far they scroll down a page. With the aid of heatmaps, we can strategically place important messages and calls to action right in the line of our consumers’ focus.

Some other ways you can dig deeper into heatmaps:

  • Scrolling – If you know users don’t typically scroll all the way down the page, you can keep the important information on the top.

  • Escape routes – If you see they’re clicking on a button that’s mostly irrelevant or taking them away from the page, you can take it out of the page or put it somewhere else.

  • Forms – Many heatmap tools also come with form analysis functionality. If there’s a form on your page, you can see how long people spend on each item. If one item takes way too long, you may consider clearing it up.



Insight #4: How to Test and Win

In sports, it seems obvious that results are determined by winning or losing games. Your final strategy going into a game is important. Coaches don’t just haphazardly think up who they want to start off in the game and what strategy they want to go with. No, they make theories of what they think will work based off of evidence gathered and test it out in practice. In practice after practice, coaches can evaluate entire strategies against others or they can evaluate small details such as how fast an individual player can run across the court. Only after this, do they make a decision as to the gameplan.

It’s also important for website optimizers to practice too before implementing a gameplan. Practices take the form of AB Tests. In AB Tests, you can try out different gameplans before making one into the permanent webpage. You can test something as small as the color of a button or as big as an entire page redesign at a time. Practice makes perfect, and there’s no other way to know you’re improving unless you AB Test.

Some other ways to dig deeper into AB Tests:

  • Test everything, and test often – You never know what can be optimized until you try

  • Start at the top of your funnel – While not a golden rule, it makes sense to start testing where the most users are on your site. This way, you can get quicker feedback in larger numbers about how the test is doing. Also, you send more people down your funnel to convert later on.

More than on this list, there are several important rules to know before launching a test. There are also a bunch of common mistakes you should be aware of that people often make when launching one.

Wrapping up

After a game, and after a night’s rest, the next thing a team does is evaluate how they did. They watch the video, look at the numbers, and figure out how to improve. Optimizers have to do that too with tests, but even more in depth. This data feeds back into our Similarity #1: Digging Deeper is Better. See what worked and what did not.

What is your key optimization resolution for 2015?


4 Ways Sports Tactics Can Increase Conversion Rate 5.00/5 (100.00%) 12 votes
  • http://bloo.ie/ jack@bloo.ie

    Really Like your article, especially the comparisons with sports. On insight 3 have you guys looked at trying to get people into live chat conversations? I see you have chat on yours site and wondering about integration? Best Jack

    • Doug Baltman

      Hi Jack, we do often try to get people into live chat situations and there are a number of tools to do this. Personally, I like to do it in two different types of cases. First, sometimes a funnel or a form is kind of complicated or it is important enough to set up a live chat feature to guide the user down the funnel. Second, sometimes when researching how I want to redesign a page or funnel, I want feedback from users about their experiences. In those cases, I put up the live chat in the research analysis phase only.