CRO kill switch to quickly adapt to rapidly changing environments

During the time the pandemic COVID-19 hit us, we came to realize that changing our websites with all these scarcity techniques etc. put us in an awkward position. The pandemic that hit multiple industries like the travel sector for example, no longer there was any scarcity. But why was the website still showing these triggers? Let’s quickly dive into this idea of a CRO kill switch.

What is conversion rate optimization?

To understand what I’m going to tell further on, we’ve got to start with the basics. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is about increasing conversion, meaning increasing sales or newsletter subscriptions, for example. This is done by collecting data to check where users/visitors find any hiccups.

After finding the hiccups and thinking of a solution it’s often tested, the most known way of testing is called A/B testing. Would you like to know more about CRO since you’re new to it? I wrote this blog ‘What is CRO‘ where you can find more information.

Pandemic hit us, and then?

So it was February 2020 and the pandemic COVID-19 made its way into this globalized world. Hitting us quicker and worse than expected. This also had an impact on our digital world.

Websites including delivery became important for a restaurant as a source of income, some webshops couldn’t handle all the orders since nobody went into town any more because of lockdowns and some online companies went/or almost went bankrupt.

Realizing CRO problems

Those specializing in CRO had a moment of realization. If you were working for one of these companies with all these triggers, which normally increase conversions … a lot, you came to an understanding that it wasn’t easy to get them to. To go back to a version of the website that’s normal, without any triggers.

I’m not here to talk about the ethical line of CRO … so I won’t do that. What I do want to talk about is how we can handle such situations in the future with all these skills we have right now.

CRO Kill switch

Often spoken about is the idea of a CRO kill switch, and I love it! The CRO kill switch would be literally a switch in the code that if changed it would remove all the changes related to a subject. There is only one problem, which parts of CRO implementation should be within the CRO kill switch?

The first thing that needs to be decided is how to categorize all changes. I made it sound like all CRO improvements have to do with scarcity, but that’s not the case. CRO can also improve the user experience (UX) and increase conversions that way, or changing the layout of something which makes is to read. There are many ways where CRO contributes to an increase in conversion.

Categories for the CRO kill switch

Let’s split the CRO kill switch into two categories. On one side, you have scarcity principles. is known for this … only 3 rooms left to book now … or two other people are looking at this same hotel room as you. These are the things that pressure our minds into believing if we don’t take action now, we’ll miss this great deal.

On the other side, we’ve got semi pressure triggers. For example, ‘You have 5 minutes to complete this reservation’ or ‘order before 16:00 and get the product tomorrow’. These also pressure our minds but are less aggressive (in my opinion at least, but it’s debatable).

How would it work?

It’s a development thing, this is something that should be implemented with every change that falls into one of the two categories by the development team. If implement from the start, this is easy. Implementing this backwards, that’s no joke. Anyhow, they would be able to say in their code ‘disable all triggers from category 1, 2 or both’. That’s it, just a few lines of code probably (only if it’s implemented around all the triggers, which again should be done at the implementation stage of changes).

Emergency switch

I’ve talked about the CRO kill switch, but evenly important or maybe even more important might be an emergency protocol for your website. One of the most important things is the ability to communicate with your visitors. Pop-up or messages on your website might be the key to stay in business or go bankrupt, so why no prepare for occasions like these?

Again this can be something that can be prepared, maybe not the message that should be shown there but at least the code can be ready so that putting the code live is a matter of hours instead of days/weeks.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. I’m writing down all my thoughts, would you like to talk to me about this idea or any other things related to CRO/UX feel free to contact me by one of my social channels! Feel free to share this article within your professional network.

Logo Freelance CRO specialist Sander Volbeda

Working remotely from Groningen, the Netherlands. Get in touch and let’s schedule a meeting, no strings attached.

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