Faces of Optiverse: Chris Goward, author of "You Should Test That" and founder of WiderFunnel

by Optimizely ‎09-17-2014 September 17, 2014 - edited ‎10-16-2014 October 16, 2014

Chris Goward will be participating in an "Ask the Expert" feature beginning 9/22. Be sure to mark your calendars!


Name Chris Goward

Title/Organization WiderFunnel

Twitter Handle:  https://twitter.com/chrisgoward


Chris Goward_Headshot.jpg


1) Tell us a little about your journey to become a CRO industry expert, the book author of "You Should Test That" and the founder of WiderFunnel.


I started creating websites for clients in 1994, just as the internet was becoming a thing. After a few years, I decided I needed to specialize in either coding or marketing.  I knew I wasn’t going to get heavy-duty into coding, so I opted for marketing and haven’t looked back.


WiderFunnel was formed from my experiences working in ad agencies, creating direct response marketing, and realizing what a terrible job agencies were doing in their digital groups—trying to re-create the TV experience online with Flash websites.


I believed it would be better to combine direct response principles I’d already been testing with the immediacy possible online. WiderFunnel was created to prove the value we bring to clients, and never to sell smoke & mirrors like a lot of agencies do.


The book, You Should Test That!, came out of learning from the thousands of tests and hundreds of clients we’ve worked with since 2007. We’ve focused our efforts on developing strategic frameworks and processes that consistently deliver results. The book shares a whole lot of the concepts, frameworks and case studies.


2) What's been your favorite or most inspiring moment in your CRO career so far?


I’ve loved experiencing so many exciting things as this industry has grown, such as: launching WiderFunnel!, landing Google as an early client (among many other awesome companies), publishing 30+ case studies with amazing results, publishing the book, being invited to keynote at large marketing conferences, meeting other talented CRO pros around the globe, and most recently attracting what I believe is the world’s most talented CRO team. It’s been a very fun 7 years.


3) What mistakes do you see marketers making most often in conversion rate optimization? Are there any common threads that you tend to see across these mistakes?


There are many, but here are a few that come to mind:

  • One of the biggest problems with "conversion rate optimization" is its name. The term is really a misnomer. "Conversion rate" means different things to different businesses. More importantly, focusing on the metric instead of the outcome pigeonholes marketers’ thinking. What you should be optimizing is your marketing, not your conversion rate.
  • Chasing after shiny objects. There’s a new fancy idea, tool, or tactic in marketing every week. But, that doesn’t mean it should be added to your plans. Starting with a rigorous process of testing every idea will give better results.
  • Not testing. Conversion optimization cannot be done without testing. Period.
  • Testing only small UX changes, buttons, headlines and minutia. Testing can also be dramatic: offers, product, value proposition, entire website redesign.
  • Doing CRO “projects” as opposed to an ongoing strategy. It should be a continuous, iterative approach to marketing, not just a short-term optimization project.
  • Underestimating the organizational change component. If testing doesn’t have senior-level buy-in, it’ll eventually fail. The discipline of testing your gut instinct is incompatible with many traditional companies 


4) For the members out there who haven't had the chance to read your book "You Should Test That," what would you say are the main takeaways?


It covers two main topics: why conversion optimization is important, and how to do it. It’s not just a “one idea” book like so many business books, but it’s also not a totally technical point & click manual. It shares inspiration and how-to’s for building out a strategy of continuous A/B testing within organizations.


It gets into details of:

  • What Conversion Optimization is and what a lot of people confuse it for
  • Why websites need A/B testing to do CRO right
  • How to create a CRO strategy and prioritization (including the PIE Framework)      
  • How to develop powerful test hypotheses using the LIFT Model     
  • How to improve all 27 website barrier sub-factors within Value Proposition, Clarity, Relevance, Anxiety, Distraction and Urgency      
  • How to test and analyze results      
  • How to become a Marketing Optimization Champion       


5) If you were to write "You Should Test That" again today, what would you update or change? Are there any trends in CRO that would lead you to give different recommendations?


My goal was to take a strategic approach so that the book has staying power. The fundamentals have not changed at all in the past year, nor will they any time soon. The strategies work for all customer touchpoints: website, mobile, app, game interface, email.. anywhere you need to communicate with prospects.


When will Clarity and Urgency go out of style, for example? Never, and the learning from the case studies will go on as well.


What I could add are more specific developments that are distracting marketers today. But, those are better discussed on our blog at WiderFunnel.com.



6) What's your favorite place you've even travelled to? Why?


I’ve been fortunate to visit so many cool places to speak. Each one has something unique to offer and I’m a travel nut. I can’t choose!


Italy, UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, France, Finland, Romania; and, of course, throughout so many great cities in the US and Canada. They’ve each had really great people and experiences.


I have to say that the best food prize still goes to Italy, and Germany wins for beer with their delicious Hefeweizen.



Don't forget to join us next week for the "Ask the Expert" Discussion right here in Optiverse. Ask Chris Goward your A/B testing questions, bounce ideas around and get to know him. Mark your calendars!




by keith_lovgren Level 2
‎09-19-2014 September 19, 2014

"My goal was to take a strategic approach so that the book has staying power. The fundamentals have not changed at all in the past year, nor will they any time soon." 


We've been using Chris's book as a training tool since it came out and I couldn't agree more with the above statement. I'm really excited for his upcoming "Ask the Expert" feature next week.