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Conversion Rate Optimization

20 Must-Read Books To Become A Better Optimizer

There’s something strange about the information you find online. You’re tempted to believe that everyone’s advice could drive up your results within a month but most of the time it doesn’t happen.

It happens to us every day to find an article that blows up our mind, but then we just bookmark the link and move on to our tasks. Let’s admit it: you’re busy and you don’t want to change your plans from day to day. In the end, you just need something to inspire you and help you become better at what you do.

That is the reason why I love books: they keep you captivated in a micro-universe for a few days and then you get a (more) clear macro-view of your life or work. In this article, I’ll share with you a selection of books meant to help you improve your conversion rates.

PSYCHOLOGY

1. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking fast and slow

Kahneman’s book is an excellent introduction to behavioural economics, the science that explains the economic decisions of individuals. Understanding the factors that determine the buying decision is a matter of great interest for any optimizer because it helps with making only the changes that matter on a website.

2. Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Influence Cialdini

Cialdini’s book is a classic book on persuasion. The 6 principles presented by Cialdini stay at the basis of convincing visitors to convert on a website. Social proof, scarcity, sympathy, authority, consistency and reciprocity are the six elements that will help you overcome the anxieties and fears of people who want to take an action on your website.

3. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Win Friends and Influence People

 

This book is orientated on transforming yourself to become more persuasive. It is also more like a book for sales persons, but it can give you confidence into getting out of the shell and actually start communicating with the people around.

4. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Predictably Irrational

Ariely’s book helps you understand choices. Another great read on behaviorual economics, “Predictably Irrational” takes into the everyday life the work of the classics Kahneman & Tversky. For instance, you can see how an opt-in form determines the amount of organ donnors in two countries with similar cultures: Denmark and Sweden.

5. The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhig

The Power of Habit

Charles Duhig explains in this book how habits shape our decisions. Moreover, the author also explains how to change the old habits that harm you into healthy habits that will make you happy. 

MARKETING & BRANDING

6. Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout

Positioning

This book’s main takeaway is that changes in name, price and package are not changes in the product itself, but only cosmetic changes. These cosmetic changes position your brand in the prospect’s mind and help you establish as a leader. Ries and Trout books are a great matter of study if you haven’t finished a marketing school, but want to understand how your company attracts people to the website through branding efforts.

7. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk by Al Ries and Jack Trout

Laws Of Marketing

This book discusses similar issues to the previous mentioned book “Positioning” by Ries & Trout. Though, what’s interesting about this one is that some of the laws of marketing presented within follow rules that you encounter in life as an individual. A great example that I love is the one that “states” that failure is to be expected and accepted if you want to learn and grow.

8. What To Do When It’s Your Turn (and it’s always your turn) by Seth Godin

Seth Godin Your Turn

It’s your turn to take the visitors of your website on the journey of your choosing. Your turn to let go of fears and try something new. Seth Godin reminds you that trying new things is OK. You are allowed to try something new and fail. Nevertheless, conversion rate optimization is about testing and experimenting. You don’t need to hold yourself back just because you are afraid to broke something. Read this book if you need to give a boost to your self-confidence and conversion rates too.

9. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcom Gladwell

Tipping Point

Malcolm Gladwell’s debut book is great to understand the sociological changes that affect the buying behavior. The author emphasizes the argument that ideas, products and services spread like the viruses do. You need to reach a critical mass of people who believe in something so they start spreading the word about it. In conversion optimization, Gladwell’s book is useful to understand the economic rule of 80/20 in the segmentation and targeting processes on your website.

ANALYTICS

10. Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kausik

Web Analytics Kausik

A must read for anyone interested in web analytics, this book provides easy instructions and actionable insights to use data efficiently. Even though is more e-commerce orientated, this introductory book to web analytics offers guidelines for all the industries. An alternative to this book is Web Analytics: An Hour A Day by Avinash Kaushik.

11. Google Analytics by Justin Cutroni

J. Cutroni Analytics

In his book, Justin Cutroni offers a guide to understanding Google Analytics, the most popular web analytics solution among top 10K websites across the world (according to BuiiltWith Trends). The book also includes technical advice for implementation, tracking and tagging. So, before grabbing it, have a look at its table of contents.

12. Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz

Lean Analytics

The two authors wrote an amazing book for startups. They emphasize the idea that you have to concentrate on the right metrics if you want to grow your business. Depending on the business model (e-commerce, SaaS, mobile app, etc.) you have to align to some principles that will help you boost your business. They are empathy, stickiness, virality, revenue, and scale.

USABILITY & DATA VISUALIZATON

13.Don’t make me think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug

Dont make me think

People take and love mindless decisions. Kahneman and Ariely help you understand the buying behavior, and Krug offers specific solutions into designing a website for people who want to buy. He shows you how people use the web and also how to build or optimize your site to get customers.

14. The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web by Jesse James Garrett

The elements of user experience

A book that cuts through the clutter, “The Elements of User Experience” gives clear explanations about why and how you should approach user experience. You’ll get principles and ideas about information architecture and visual design, rather than techniques and tools.

15. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward E. Tufte

Tufte Visual Display

This book is helpful if you manage data at an advanced level. If you work with big data, it’s important to understand the theory and practice in the design of data graphics based on statistics. If you’re interested into multi-variate testing, time-series, and data maps, this is the go-to book for you.

16. Visualize This: The Flowing Data Guide To Design, Visualization, and Statistics by Nathan Yau

Visualize this

This book shows you why telling stories with data is important and how to do it with success. When you manage to strengthen your arguments with data presented in an entertaining or compelling way, you’ll get the audience on your side. Read this book if you’re optimizing websites from the publishing/ entertainment industry.

COPYWRITING

17. The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells by Robert W. Bly

Copywriter's Handbook

This classic book about copywriting provides principles of writing readable copy, sales letters, emails and practical advice about mastering copywriting in the Internet era.

18. Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz

Breakthrough Advertising

Another recommendation is “Breakthrough Advertising” by Eugene M. Schwartz. This book shows you what drive masses to take action and teaches you how to write an ad from the headline to the call to action. Be warned though: this book is more orientated on advertising techniques. It might be enough to read the first three chapter to write better headlines and improve your copywriting skills.

CONVERSION & TESTING

19. You Should Test That by Chris Goward

Chris Goward

Chris Goward’s book is an introduction to conversion rate optimization and it focuses on A/B testing. It also provides a model for optimizing websites and principles that guide you towards the testing process.

20. Your Customer Creation Equation by Brian Massey

Customer Creation Equation

This book provides a formula, the customer creation equation as Brian calls it, meant to increase your profits. Brian explains how to build your own lab to convert traffic into leads or sales.

Final thoughts

I’d like to thank to Alex Birkett, Content Strategist at ConversionXL, and Mary Green, Content & Community Manager at Inbound.org for helping me with selecting the books. Also, many thanks to Valentin Radu, Omniconvert’s CEO, for recommending almost all the books from the “Psychology” section within this article.

These are just a few of the marketing, advertising, and psychology books that makes you more aware and knowledgeable in conversion optimization. Do you have any additional recommendations? Please let us know in the comments.

 

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