1 powerful reason: it has the biggest ROI on a single activity I've ever seen in a business. Period. Or perhaps we should all go to twitter and tweet all day?
A new way to think about conversion rate. And I didn't know it was called "CRO". And I had forgotten, temporarily, my old training that: "The two metrics that actually drive revenue are: ‘average order value’ and ‘number of transactions’."Nice reminder.
The article is missing a few things in my opinion:
1. CRO is AWESOME...to a point. After you make the sweeping improvements, you have only incremental changes left and should switch to a different tactic
2. CRO is 1 part of a grander strategy to get more revenue. Marketing campaigns to increase order value and number of transactions obviously have a huge effect, but it's probably a bad idea to shove people into poorly optimized funnels.
3. CRO is something you do A. after you have good traffic and B. before you make top-of-the-funnel improvements. Then you can go back and fix the top of the funnel, or open up some marketing campaigns to increase order value or # of transactions.
Goran - it CAN have the biggest ROI. Also depends on your timeframe for ROI. I've seen a lot of CRO activities that work for a short time but actually end up damaging the brand long term. Exit pops, landing pops, buttons everywhere, all content behind forms, etc. are examples of short term CRO that can create long-term harm to a brand.
Watching conversion rates and considering what might increase them is useful - overoptimizing for conversion rates often ends up hurting the overall business on a longer time horizon.
Cody: Than this is not CRO but short-term tweaks. CRO is meaningful, long-term investment into not improving just the conversion rates but overall user experience and brand experience. On the other hand, most conversion optimization techniques bring in a lot more than other activities - the real conversion happens in the brain of the user. I would like to see these techniques (the overoptimization) in a case study to determine what have they done wrong. Because, they surely did something wrong :)Otherwise, this post is just pointing one side of the story and really isn't something that should be endorsed, right?
Goran - I think we disagree on the definition of CRO. If you define it as 'meaningful, long-term investment into improving user experience and brand experience' then I agree that it can be very meaningful activity. I define that as "marketing". I define CRO as a more narrow focus on making changes to your website to increase the number of form fill outs or sales per visitor. Take the rest of what I say with that definition in mind.
I'll give you a quick case study from our own company: About a year and a half ago we were really focused on CRO. It was built into our quarterly goals so we did everything we could think of to increase our conversion rates. We ran tests continuously, found a few small tweaks, and put all kinds of content behind forms (our business requires potential clients speak to our sales team to see if they qualify). We looked at which types of articles resulted in the highest conversion rates, which traffic sources produced the most conversions, and figured out how the best traffic flowed through the site.
All of our work resulted in harder sales cycles for our sales people. Our average time per sale increased. Our average revenue per salesperson declined. We were generating more leads and had a higher conversion rate, but our company was worse off. When a few people on the marketing team left, I threw out CRO. We stopped thinking about increasing conversion rates at all. Seriously - we didn't even look at the metric any more. We focused instead on building a really well regarded brand, redesigning the site to be simple for our prospects to use, and writing content that converted at half the rate but gave us a much better reputation.
Over the last year our on-site conversion rate is about 30% lower than it was before. But we have more total conversions, much faster sales cycles and have a brand that is regarded quite highly in the industry. At a conference recently one of our salespeople was talking to a prospect who said "I delete everyone else's emails, but I always read yours. I love your blog and content." That never used to happen before. We're building a moat that is getting increasingly difficult for our competitors to get around. Ignoring on-site CRO got us here.
Does that mean that I think CRO is evil? Not at all. We're redesigning our site again in a way that should help increase the conversion rate quite a bit. We'll continue testing and optimizing towards a better overall conversion rate, but we're not singularly focused on CRO. It's part of what we do, but we care a lot more about doing the right thing for the brand than the thing that will create a higher conversion rate.
I think we agree that optimizing a brand long-term for company-wide conversions is critical. I just think we disagree on the definition of "conversion rate optimization". I seem to define it quite a bit more narrowly than you do, that's all.
Cody - thanks for the excellent explanation. I will give one example where CRO (in terms of pure metric) has been very beneficial for one case I was working on:The landing page (only one hard sales page) had signup rate of some 4%. In less then a month, I was able to put it up to some 7% with on-site optimization, copywriting and CRO (tested with ClickTale, feedback from users and split-testing), but at the same time I analyzed the competitors in the niche. When I realized that we're selling at some 30% less than any competitor, I raised the price, resulting in decline of 1-1.5% in conversion rate, but the bottom line was huge (in revenue and profits). Doing CRO as a metric improvement is always bad, and, in your case, the consultant or the team never looked at broader picture. Please refer at this wonderful presentation from Rand what CRO really is - then maybe we can discuss it having in mind all the activities, not just looking at one metric: http://www.slideshare.net/randfish/big-picture-croAlso, did your team chase micro-conversions or just macro-conversions (Avinash Kaushik has some great posts on this subject)?Thanks for the comment!
We improve overall user experience and brand experience in the name of SEO, landing page optimization and inbound marketing too. So that doesn't make CRO any more meaningful. There is no other side of the story.And if there is another side than that is the unwillingness to change ones mindset. However you can agree to disagree without any reasonable explanation.
You missed the spot: SEO? Just for SEO sake? CRO as a practice is something different (take a look at www.conversion-rate-experts.com), and saying: you should stop doing CRO because A and B is the same thing as saying: you should be stop doing SEO because there is A (spammers) and B (it's not working or has a low value). Very shallow.
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