The conversion rate optimization (CRO) world is jam-packed with quick wins, tips, and tricks. It’s almost like a sport—we’re obsessed with testing button colors, experimenting with homepage images and trying new copy concepts.

It’s easy to fixate on others’ successes and trends that seem like coincidences. What’s more difficult is the process of uncovering the underlying story—the fact that conversion rates are an extension of human psychology.

The ultimate strategy for improving conversion rates is to stop thinking about conversion rates. Instead, you need dig deep into the underlying value proposition that resonates with your audience.

If your conversion rates are stagnant—or if they’ve plateaued—you need to step back and think holistically about the results that you’re looking to drive. Here’s a simple guide to help you get started.

1. Start with Qualitative Research

Conversion optimization needs to be methodical. The best way to get started is to talk to your customers and prospects—learn the challenges they’re facing, the words they’re using, and the solutions that they’re seeking out.

This process of qualitative research will help you identify website elements to A/B test, which groups of visitors to test them with, and areas of opportunity for your positioning to evolve. Your testing blueprint will come directly from your customers—not your assumptions.

You don’t have time to test anything and everything. Your qualitative research process will help you determine where to focus.

2. Identify Points of Friction

From a quantitative perspective, conversion optimization is often a black and white process. Looking at Google Analytics or Evergage reporting, it’s impossible to understand why someone decided not to convert.

Qualitative research can help develop the story—and help you figure out what you need to adjust. You may realize that you need to change some of your messaging and visuals or alter the user experience more significantly to improve results.

Drop-off points are low-hanging areas of opportunity. By understanding what isn’t working, you’ll be one step closer to finding the right remedy.

3. Create a Personalization Strategy

Today’s consumers want more than one-size-fits-all marketing messages. They want information that’s tailored to their specific needs and interests.

In your qualitative research process, you’ll begin to identify trends that you can segment by customer group. The more granular you are, the more precise you can be with your personalized messaging.

By speaking to your audience’s exact interests, you’ll be well-positioned to increase conversions. Create a listening and learning process that you can translate into action.

4. Target Audiences in Real-Time

One of the biggest challenges that marketers face is the ability to reach audiences with the right messages at the right time in their buying journeys. Getting it right can help to dramatically increase conversion rates.

Real-time personalization technology empowers marketers to reach customers faster. The process is about listening as much as it is about taking action. By paying attention to subtle signals related to the customer relationship, intent, churn risk, etc. you’ll be able to respond much faster with a more relevant experience than you otherwise could with a static webpage.

5. Test and Optimize Everything

A/B testing is the heart of conversion rate optimization—the more experiments you run, the more you can learn and iterate. A ‘strong’ conversion rate should never be ‘good enough.’  You should always look for opportunities to learn and grow.

As important as it is to have a structured approach, you need to give yourself flexibility to explore new directions and test different user experiences with your different audience segments. Start by segmenting and analyzing your site traffic, and then evaluate your messaging, visuals, and calls-to-action. Try different personalization techniques, so  you can reach audiences faster, in real time and optimize those conversion rates!

Experimentation will be your engine for success.