This post is dedicated to online marketers and small business owners out there who make money from their website, but have not yet kicked off a formal online marketing and website optimization program. For those who have, good job, and there may be other Grok posts more useful to you than this one.
I also want to note that this post was inspired by a recent post by Mark Bronlow over at Email Marketing Reports. In particular, his infographic was extremely interesting, and I thought it needed to be tweaked and applied to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). If you’re specifically an email marketer, I’m sure you’ll enjoy his post…but read mine first!
Begin by clicking to enlarge my infographic, then I’ll explain what I’m trying to illustrate about why CRO is so crucial and why the time to begin a formal effort to increase your conversion rate(s) was yesterday.
The X-Axis represents time.
The blue trend line represents the steadily increasing level of persuasiveness needed to stay competitive in the online marketing and selling world. This means how well your whole online system works to map your selling process to your prospects’ buying processes. It includes visual design, copy writing, usability, how you invest marketing budget, the data you use to make decisions…everything!
Why does the blue line keep rising steadily? Because our prospects are getting savvier, more experienced, and more demanding when they go online to research, make decisions, and ultimately buy something. Plus, the number of businesses with an online presence is growing, so it gets harder and harder to grab your prospects’ attention in the first place. Ever changing technology and standards (eg. increasing availability of ways to connect and interact; Google’s search algorithm) also up the ante. This trend line will always be on a pretty steady climb because the Web has essentially made it a “buyer’s market,” not a seller’s.
The purple trend line represents what the average site owner or online marketing team is doing today. Most web organizations continue to invest in their website, but the efforts aren’t always focused in the right place. For example, maybe you “re-skin” your site every two years to give it a fresh look. Or, maybe you upgraded your shopping cart last year to a more expensive version. Or maybe you continue to fight for more marketing budget so you can spend more on paid search advertising.
Your online system is improving due to your efforts, but is it improving fast enough? I’m arguing that for most of you (those who are still profitable) it is enough…for now. I also argue that a lack of a formal CRO effort causes the purple trend line to not be steep enough. Without a plan and process to keep up (ie. continuously improve), you’ll slowly fall behind the technology and increasing expectations of your audience.
The dotted line represents the point at which what you’re doing to improve is no longer good enough to persuade your prospects to buy. That is obviously a bad thing. If you aren’t staying ahead of your prospects in terms of persuasiveness, sooner or later, you will cross that dotted line and your prospects will go somewhere else. To your competitors, in most cases.
Mark Bronlow supposes, as do I, that most marketers are currently to the left of the dotted line. But we both agree that the dotted line is inevitable if you don’t ramp up your efforts at continuous improvement. I believe CRO is the absolute best way to make sure your purple line NEVER crosses below your prospects’ blue line, and that’s why I’m in this business
What do you think of these theories? Is CRO the only way to “stay ahead of the curve”? How close to the dotted line do you think your business is today? If you’re not sure, drop us a line and we’d be happy to give you an outside opinion.