Conversion XL Live Recap: Key Insights From Conversion Masters
by Michal Leszczynski last updated on 0

Conversion XL Live Recap: Key Insights From Conversion Masters

Last week (March 29 – April 1) conversion rate optimization geniuses and fans met up at an annual conference organized by Conversion XL in Austin, Texas. 450 attendees from 28 countries, 27 talks, 4 workshops, 3 days of conference, and countless number of burritos. Add to it a beautiful resort outside Austin and a warm weather… This week just couldn’t get any better for conversionistas from all around the world.

Day 0 – Workshops

The conference kicked off with workshops with experts in the field of CRO (conversion rate optimization) and online marketing. Together with Michael Leszczynski we ran a workshop “How to sync emails and landing pages in a complete conversion-lifting strategy?” Here’s a recap of the workshop by Erica Dube. (Thanks Erica!)

Day 1 – People, Brains, and Psychology

At 11:00 am buses took attendees from Austin to the beautiful Horseshoe Bay Resort, about an hour from the city. Peep Laja, the organizer and founder of Conversion XL, gave his opening keynote speech and introduced the moderator, Leho Kraav. Day one was all about psychology and how to use it to optimize conversions.

Bart Schultz of Online Dialogue unveiled the true drivers of your customer’s behavior. He presented the dual process theory and how our brains have two systems: one subconscious and automatic, and the other conscious and not automatic. Bart also explained why pop ups convert, although people hate them. The big takeaway was a behavioral intelligence graph including three levels of CRO based on the journey, hypothesis, and tests.

Nir Eyal presented some key findings from his book “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products”. He explained how products can change our behavior and how to create the right hooks using internal and external triggers.


Roger Dooley talked about the neuro-persuation i.e. brain-based strategies for online marketers. Some of the key findings from Roger Dooley’s speech relate to: liking cues, social proof, decoy marketing, urgency, and friction.

Brian Cugelman, PhD described motivational factors and how we react to digital persuation. In his speech, Brian explained how evolutionary psychology can be used as a framework and how we can trigger emotions to nudge users in the right direction. He also gave many actionable examples.


AND!!!!! The GetResponse Monster got some love 😉

Talia Wolf gave a great speech on how landing pages can address emotional needs of customers. One of the key findings was the gap between desktop and mobile conversions. Talia presented her four-step process including: Emotional Competitor Analysis, Emotional SWOT, Emotional Content Strategy, and Testing. She also gave examples for each step.

Angie Schottmuller and her social proof power plays was an epic speech on how we can use customer’s feedback to increase conversions. A key finding from her speech was to identify your audience’s fears, guestions, and doubts.

Joanna Wiebe, Jen Havice, and Joel Klettke run a conversion copywriting panel. These 3 copywriting experts broke down every element of copy on chosen websites and discussed its impact on conversion.

Day 2 – Optimization and Testing Strategies + Processes

Day 2 was a real feast for all testing freaks (including myself:). Actionable tips and case studies mixed with sharp stats and fun facts left attendees with ready-to-implement test ideas and hypotheses. Below are the key findings from the speeches:

Claire Vo gave us the algorithm for the number of tests you can run per year: (52 / test duration weeks ) x (# of simultaneously testable pages/funnels). She also explained how you can measure the effectiveness of your testing plan over time:

  • Track quantity by measuring velocity (based on capacity calculation) and coverage (goal = 100%)
  • Track quality by win rate, average lift, expected value
  • Set goals and measure everything over time.

Ton Wesseling talked about utilizing your test capacity. One of the most important insights I gained from his presentation is the ROAR model and that you need around 1,000 conversions to run a successful test.

What to test when you have just over 1,000?

  • Big changes w/ big results.
  • Big design changes.

The ROAR model:

  • You always start with zero conversions per month. It should continuously move up and to the right.
  • Risk. The first part. You have to take lots and lots of risks. If you have 0-10 conversions, etc. you don’t have enough data and you can’t run A/B tests.
  • Optimization. Can begin running tests. If you are below 1,000 conversions per month, you don’t have the power to run tests (w/ power of 80, you need 15%).
  • Automation. You build processes. To automate, you need 10,000 conversions per month ( w/ power of 80, you need 5%).
  • Rethink when growth is declining or slowing.

Rony Kohavi described how they run tests in Microsoft. He finishes about 300 experiment treatments a week mostly on Bing, MSN, but also on Office, OneNote, etc.

He also explained 6 A/B testing pitfalls:

  1. Misinterpreting P-values.
  2. Expecting breakthroughs.
  3. Not checking for sample ratio mismatch (SRM).
  4. Wrong Success Metric (OEC).
  5. Combining data when treatment percent varies with time.
  6. Get the stats right (run A/A tests to avoid this)

Pauline Marol & Josephine Foucher clarified how to prioritize your tests.

Prioritization makes your tests impactful and meaningful. There are many frameworks, including:

  • PIE Framework
  • Bryan Eisenburg rules
  • Monetate model
  • Points model

You should use KPIs to communicate testing performance. They recommend:

  • Testing velocity
  • Win rate
  • Conversion lift

Alex Harris taught about the three things not to do in moderate user tests, which are:

  • Lead the participant.
  • Interrupt or intervene at the wrong time.
  • Teach or train rather than observe.

Marie Poli gave a very actionable speech on innovative testing. According to her, innovative testing is risky but can bring great results. Some examples of innovative testing:

  • Navigation changes
  • Radical redesign
  • New functionalities, features.
  • Combination of multiple elements. You’re adding, changing or removing multiple elements.

Justin Rondeau was one of the most energetic speakers making the audience roar with laughter with his witty jokes. He explained the difference between best practice and common practice and when it’s best to stick to the common practice.

Vijo Vabrit explained how to use urgency to boost e-commerce conversions. According to him urgency can both increase and decrease conversions. The most important thing is to create an offer that answers user’s needs and establishing a unique sales position.

Jen Havice talked about persuasive copy. She stressed that the most important element of copy is the value.

How can you convey value with your copy?

  • Researching: Do the qualitative kind that answers “why”.
  • Online review mining.
  • Interviews.
  • Surveys by email or on-site popup.

Morgan Brown explained the truths and myths about growth hacking. He said that growth hacking derives from the common presumption in Silicon Valley that “Entrepreneurs thought marketers were going to buy them Super Bowl ads.”

Growth Hacking in reality:

  • It extends across the entire company.
  • It’s really just product engineering + optimization.
  • High tempo experimentation isn’t about one team in a silo. It’s about creating an entire organization designed to facilitate rapid experimentation and growth.

Joel Harvey gave examples of mobile tests. He says that there is no best practice for mobile tests as the behavior of the users differ. He advised to test on 3D and 4D as users are not always connected to WiFi. According to Joel you should first test: headlines and calls to action, footers, and the welcome mat.

Stephen Pavlovich talked about SaaS optimization. He explained the model: Goal > KPIs > Data > Insight > Strategy > Testing, and how most people jump right into Testing and skip everything before that. Stephen presented an interesting example of how to increase profits through the psychology of pricing – if there are two bottles of wine (one $5 and one $10), you can increase profit by offering a bottle much higher in price (say $25) to anchor the price point, making the middle one seem cheaper.

John Ekman gave a closing speech on day 2 about the grand theory of conversion optimization.

“Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.” – George E.P. Box

He stressed that a hypothesis is not enough in planning your tests. You need data first, and then you need experiments. Those three create a wheel and it’s a constant loop.

Day 3 – Analytics, Personalization, and Retention

After a great networking after the speeches on Day 2, everyone was excited about the opening speech by Rand Fishkin, MOZ founder.

“Fight Back Against Back” – Rand Fishkin explained the machine learning process and how Google moved away from basic algorythms. He said that algorythms are building algorythms and that the machines determine the ranking themselves. Engagement reputation is the secret ingredient to rank high in SERP.

  • Quantity of Posts, etc. / Quantity of Likes, etc. = Engagement Reputation
  • Better content > more content.
  • Better social shares > more social shares.

Rand left us with a thought: “Welcome to 2016 – A World of engagement-based reputation. The machines are judging us… Let’s show’em what we’ve got.”

Here’re the slides from Rand Fishkin’s slides:



Annie Cushing warned that your testing is only as good as your data. She explained two common mistakes: #1 mistagged medium and #2 fractured views.

Karl Wirth spoke about personalization and how it can boost conversions. “If you’re talking to everybody, you’re talking to anybody.” Karl focused on creating a relevant email capture and making every page of the site a landing page. He also mentioned targeted upselling.

Brian Balfour brought a very important topic – retention. He said that if your retention is poor, acquisition does not matter and you need to fix that first in order to move on. His recipe for improving retention was: cohorts. He encouraged marketers to segment the curve as much as you can with tools like Mixpanel or Amplitude. Brian explained 4 parts of retention you should optimize that are:

  • New user experience
  • mid-term retention
  • long-term retention
  • resurrection

Lea Pica explained how to present your testing results to actually get results. Lea gave some great tips on data presentation that you could implement when presenting your findings to your supervisor. Some of the key findings:

  • You have 8 seconds to capture their attention
  • Repetition can work because it commits information to their long-term memory.
  • They want to know how you can grow the business, NOT what you do all day long.
  • Reduce visual noise.
  • Pie charts can be attention killers as they make your audience do more work to understand them. Bar charts are better.
  • Color unification.


After the conference everyone had their heads full of ideas to grow conversions. The event was a great success and I can’t wait to see how Conversion XL surprises us next year. Great job guys! We had a great time (some proof below)!

Hungry for more insights from the conference? They’re all here for you if you click on this link.

If you happened to attend CXL Live or want to share your ideas on conversion optimization, PLEASE DO in the comments below.

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