Why Your CRO Efforts Suck

About a year ago you started focusing on Conversion Rate Optimization. You hired an agency to help you get started. You started using a split testing software like Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer to run split tests on your website. AND you can see that some variations had a big (and statistically significant) impact…

But bottom line… Your company hasn’t really grown. Year-over-year you’re pretty much in the same spot.

What happened? Why are can’t you see these improvements on the bottom line?

Unfortunately, there are 2 really common issues that hamstring most CRO efforts. [And no one is talking about them.]

Issue #1 – Your analytics setup is incomplete.

You probably have Google Analytics, maybe Adobe Marketing Cloud (formerly Omniture), or possibly even IBM’s Marketing Management (formerly Coremetrics). Yet, you can’t connect conversions and revenue with your marketing efforts.

Whether you’re using email, physical advertising, SEO, or PPC to drive traffic to your website, you have 2 separate banks of data.

Your email system has Sends, Opens, and Clicks.

Your physical advertising has audience reach.

Your SEO has rankings for specific keywords, impressions, and clicks.

Your PPC efforts have impressions, clicks, and maybe even conversions.

BUT… none of these traffic sources tie the marketing to the website behavior and revenue.

Not to mention your split test data is in a completely separate third bank of data.

It’s like reading the first chapter and the last chapter of a good book. You got the plot and the end result, but you missed the why. [And it doesn’t always make a lot of sense.]

This leads to a lot of short cuts when testing. If you test the Subject of an email, you can only compare opens and clicks. If you test a new headline on the landing page, you can’t see how it affects average purchase value.

Issue #2 – Your Marketing Department is Responsible for CRO

In a perfect world, Conversion Rate Optimization would be it’s own department (or at least part of a Mar-Tech department).

In reality, most CRO efforts are lead by the Marketing Team.

This is probably the biggest issue by far.

Marketers, and most agencies, focus on testing the stuff that is easy to test. They have access to the CMS, so they can change titles, a few design elements, and add simple things like a pop-up or an extra header. Marketing teams generally include copy writers and designers, so their tests tend to be copy or design related.

If your marketing team is in charge of CRO, they aren’t going to test anything they wouldn’t have already done before CRO.

If there are 2 good ideas for a Call To Action, instead of picking the best one based on personal opinion, they run a split test. Before split tests, if the marketing team picked a poor converting CTA, they would notice within a couple of days and swap it out to see if the other option works better. If they chose a good CTA from the beginning, 100% of the traffic sees the best option.

Now, since they are running a split test, 1 of 2 things happens. Either the difference is negligable, so the test doesn’t matter. Or one CTA is actually better, but because the test needs to run for a week to be statistically significant, only 50% of the traffic sees the good CTA, having the same net effect of not testing and going with their gut.

The purpose of the test was to determine the better CTA. Maybe it applies to a future situation, maybe not. Ultimately, the goal of the test didn’t extend beyond the single test.

Conversion Rate Optimization is a methodology AND a strategy. CRO can and should be used to better understand your customers, which necessarily affects the website design, wesite development, marketing, and even product offering.

By limiting CRO to the scope of the Marketing Team, all you did is change their process. It’s no surprise then, your CRO efforts didn’t have much overall impact on the bottom line.

Your Conversion Rate Optimization efforts need to take into account your front-end development (look and feel of the website), back-end development (function of the website), analytics, marketing, and product offering.

CROs are digital store consultants, continuously optimizing to improve visitor experience and increase sales.  That’s when you get big results that stick.

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