Testing Mind Map Series: How to Think Like a CRO Pro (Part 9)

Andra Baragan
January 5, 2022 ·
Interview with Andra Baragan of Ontrack Digital

Interview with Andra Baragan of Ontrack Digital

CRO is all about having the technical know-how to set up tests, right? Well, not really. What happens when the tests don’t go well? It can be easy to feel like CRO is a lot of work with little payoff, but that’s not true. Setup is only part of the story—a successful experimentation strategy also depends on your ability to correctly interpret the results and then take appropriate action.

One surefire sign that someone has mastered conversion rate optimization is when they can embrace failure and bounce back after every failed test. In fact, they’ll likely have a few iteration ideas in the bank at any given time for their next test—or even their next 10 tests. The only limit in experimentation is thinking there’s a one-size-fits-all solution to any problem.

Successful CROs have a distinct mentality that is essential for the process, which this series will help you adopt as well. The ultimate goal is to provide insight into what it takes for CROs, new and experienced, to succeed in this industry.

That is why we love talking with CRO experts like Andra Baragan from Ontrack Digital.

In this interview, Andra dives into how to develop a holistic approach around experimentation, how to think about data, and why you should never stop learning.

Here goes…

Andra, tell us about yourself. What inspired you to get into testing & optimization?

One thing that maybe not too many people know about me is that I have had very different career paths along the way. I started working quite young and I have worked as a real estate agent, a construction project manager, a process engineering sales representative and a few other jobs in between. I got introduced to the digital marketing world through a junior media buyer role at a direct response marketing company.

I will be forever grateful for everything I learned there and I think that starting out with display advertising and email marketing, then PPC and video advertising, has given me a really nice advantage and understanding of the online marketing world.

Long story short, I ended up managing these massive ad budgets and saw that I can bring in all the traffic in the world to our websites, if we fail to address the users’ motivations and objections, we won’t get the results we want. That’s when I discovered CRO and started doing the first A/B tests. Safe to say, I never looked back and got entirely hooked on it.

I learned a lot on my own. I think you really need to be eager to learn anything and everything related to marketing, neuroscience, psychology, statistics, it’s such a complex role and you need to understand many different disciplines.

How many years have you been optimizing for? What’s the one resource you recommend to aspiring testers & optimizers?

I founded Ontrack Digital in 2016, after a bit of freelancing as a CRO specialist for a few DTC brands. I have been doing CRO for 7 years now.

When I started out, I did a lot of learning on my own, through many different resources. I was a big fan of MarketingSherpa back then but also, I learned a lot from classic psychology and early advertising books. I think that we, as humans, are fundamentally unchanged and we still have the same desires and objectives, they just translate a little bit differently now than they did in the past but the same principles apply.

I would recommend for anyone starting out in conversion optimization now to get a good understanding of psychology and advertising principles, before the whole statistics, metrics, analytics, etc. We tend to forget the importance of that.

Once you have that covered, going through a thorough learning process and learning how to build a solid optimization program, is paramount. At the agency, we’re all CXL certified – I think they offer one of the most comprehensive learning programs out there and they’re definitely worth the investment.

Answer in 5 words or less: What is the discipline of optimization to you?

Understanding problems and developing solutions.

What are the top 3 things people MUST understand before they start optimizing?

  1. There is no silver/magic bullet. You need to be prepared for a lot of hard work and frustration to get those wins.
  2. You need a good developer to implement tests. If you’re thinking you can use a visual editor you’ll end up testing the same stuff over and over again and that can only get you so far.
  3. CRO is a long-term project and you can’t give up after the first failed test.

How do you treat qualitative & quantitative data so it can tell you an unbiased story?

I think it starts from the questions you want to answer with the data. If you’re just looking at piles of data, without a specific goal in mind, you might uncover something or not.

Put simply, quantitative data tells you “What” is converting or not converting, and qualitative data gives you “Why” something is happening. But, in the end, it depends on whether you want to find out the truth or you want to validate your opinion.

What kind of learning program have you set up for your optimization team? And why did you take this specific approach?

Continuous learning is one of the things that I care about the most when it comes to the people on my team. We have paid subscriptions to CXL, Baymard Premium, Good UI, and a number of other learning/research platforms. Keeping an open eye and mind to everything that’s going on in the industry really helps form your mindset as an optimizer and helps you come up with the best solution, in the fastest way possible.

What is the most annoying optimization myth you wish would go away?

Not sure if it qualifies as a myth but I wish more people would understand that just because the first iteration of a testing hypothesis failed, it doesn’t mean the hypothesis was a losing one. Execution also plays a big role here and you can be on the right track with a hypothesis but you simply need to go through a few iterations to find the best formula.

Oh, that and also, “whipping up something to increase the conversion rate until next week”.

Andra Baragan infographic

Download the infographic above to use when inspiration becomes hard to find!

Hopefully, our interview with Andra will help guide your conversion rate optimization strategy in the right direction! What advice resonated most with you?

Be sure to stay tuned for our next interview with a CRO expert who takes us through even more advanced strategies! And if you haven’t already, check out our interviews with Gursimran Gujral of OptiPhoenix, Haley Carpenter of Speero, Rishi Rawat of Frictionless Commerce, Sina Fak of ConversionAdvocates, Eden Bidani of Green Light Copy, Jakub Linowski of GoodUI, and Shiva Manjunath of Speero!

Convert Academy
Convert Academy
Originally published January 05, 2022 - Updated April 01, 2024
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Andra Baragan
Andra Baragan Andra Baragan is an experienced conversion optimization specialist and the founder of Ontrack Digital, a CRO agency focused on ecommerce businesses.
Carmen Apostu
Carmen Apostu In her role as Head of Content at Convert, Carmen is dedicated to delivering top-notch content that people can’t help but read through. Connect with Carmen on LinkedIn for any inquiries or requests.

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