Since the common predictions over the last two months have been that Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is going to have a big year in 2010, some of our GrokDotCom readers have expressed interest in how to evaluate the different CRO service providers out there.
Despite an obvious bias, I still think I can offer some objective talking points, questions to ask, and things to think about if you’re going to pursue hiring help to optimize your conversion rate. But before we go there…
Full Disclosure: FutureNow, Inc., the publishers of this blog, are in the business of optimizing conversion rates. There, I said it. And now you know
When you start thinking about optimizing your website’s conversion rate, the first thing you should think about is: Can I do it myself? Do I want to do it myself? This is a pretty rare DIY attitude where someone has the time and inclination to take on all the extra work CRO entails, as well as having to learn quite a broad new skillset (psychology, design, testing methodology, etc.).
Next, you should think about whether this type of CRO effort should be handled in-house or with outside help. So ask yourself if you have the right skill sets in your company already. If so, do they have the bandwidth to add “optimization” to their job responsibilities? Do they want to work on optimization? If you decide to bring optimization into a larger, corporate culture, where in the organization will it live? Who will be stakeholders?
If you decide to handle things in-house, there are more and more resources out there to improve a human resource’s optimization skillset: training courses, seminars, books, blogs (like the one you’re reading), etc. Similar to how SEO started as a mostly “outside consultant” skill set, but has been moving more and more “in-house” over the past 5 years, I think CRO will follow a similar path. It’s still pretty early to have this specialized skillset in-house, but as more people become practitioners, more and more of them will go in-house at the larger companies that can offer big paychecks and stability.
Assuming you decide to hire outside help, here’s a list of 20 questions to ask about, or directly to, the companies you evaluate. Note that the actual answers may not be as important to how the questions are handled:
1. How fast can we be up and running, making optimizations?
2. What are your competitive advantages?
3. How long have you been in the Conversion Rate Optimization business? Do you also work in other areas?
4. What are your qualifications, training, and experience?
5. How can you add value to my existing team?
6. How customer-centric is your service? Do you really get to know my target prospects? How?
7. How do I know which offering is best for my business goals?
8. What’s it like working with you? Do you do 1-time major projects, or smaller incremental optimizations?
9. Who are some of your other clients?
10. Who will I be working with on a regular basis?
11. Do your clients have business models comparable to mine?
12. How do you work with other service providers like design agencies, SEOs, ad agencies, etc.?
13. What are your core business values?
14. How does technology play into your approach? Are you a “platform” I need to be on?
15. Can I see a sample contract?
16. What are your cancellation policies?
17. What process or methodology do you use? Is it documented?
18. What would the process look like after I signed with you?
19. How data-driven is your approach? What about so-called “best practices”?
20. Why should I go with you over your competitors, i.e. what’s your Unique Value Proposition?
Like this list? We’d love it if you’d share it with anyone who’d find it relevant!