• Tony Grant

Marginal Gain - Crucial for Conversion Rate Optimization

‘I tried A/B testing once and it didn't work’.


One of the more common phrases I’ve heard over the years. This is highly likely because you’ve read dozens of case studies, articles and posts on how one A/B test increased conversions/revenue by 400%, then when you try it, nothing happens. If it was that easy to improve by that margin, surely, we’d all do it. Here’s what it really takes.

A/B testing is one aspect of many disciplines within CRO, other skills include neuromarketing, data analysis, data gathering, design etc. Essentially, CRO is evidenced-based marketing. Of which should be part of a wider marketing and business mix. Enabling you to systematically collate, analyse data, and understand better understand your customer.

The benefits of CRO as a methodology will impact wider marketing campaigns and your businesses bottom line. Key benefits include; increased speed to market, by getting your ideas live quicker, you can collate data, start learning and identify what worked, what didn’t and understand the impact on your conversions/revenue or improved customer experience.

Quite often people read about massive companies like Amazon, Google and Apple who have massive resources and how experimentation is rooted in their DNA. I want to give you another example.


A pioneer of ‘marginal gain’ Sir David Brailsford the mastermind behind British Cycling and Team Sky. The principle of ‘marginal gain’ or ‘incremental gains’ is simple. Think of everything that goes into your organisation (in this case – riding a bike) and if you improve each aspect by 1%, combining these marginal gains made you will have gained significant increase and impact overall.

Before training cyclists on a bike, Brailsford taught his team how to wash their hands properly. The philosophy behind this was simple, if cyclists were ill, or didn’t feel 100%, then how can they be the best cyclist they can be. Building on such a detail enabled the team to train harder, longer and more often. When you then add a team of technicians, engineers, trainers, psychologists and nutritionists all working towards a common goal meant the team went on to achieve immense success, and there is no reason an organisation can’t do this too.

Of course, when asked, no one put the success down to ‘washing hands correctly’, however, this attention to detail, testing/experimenting and analysis coupled with years of dedication from the athletes, led to significant results.

The point is if you have tried one test, it failed and think A/B testing doesn’t work, well doing it that way then, of course, it will fail.

What those case studies don’t tell you, is the amount of research, analysis, tests, design, development and post-test analysis over and over for a sustained period, then eventually it may lead a 300% increase from a single A/B Test. It’s far more likely that you’ll achieve small 5% marginal gains, over a period of time.

This doesn’t mean to say it has to be resource-intensive, in fact, it will save a lot of time, money and heartache All you need to do is look and listen.


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