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Monday, Feb. 28, 2011 at 8:48 am

How Many Kinds of CRO Companies Are There?

By Marijayne Bushey
February 28th, 2011

There’s no doubt about it: Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is here to stay, and it’s becoming a hotter Marketing niche with each passing day.  Many companies are throwing their hand into the mix, saying they can make your website better and improve your conversion rate, and it can be hard to differentiate one from the next.  But there are differentiators among CRO companies, to be sure.

What factors define a particular style of doing CRO?

There are a variety of factors that go into a particular style of practicing conversion rate optimization, and those can play out in the way the company packages their conversion optimization service and sells it to you.  Here are some of the factors that define one way of practicing CRO from the next:

  • Time frame for the work: short, long, continuous
  • Degree of Hand-holding: we do it for you, we tell you what to do to fix it, we tell you what’s wrong, we tell you where there are problems
  • Customer focus factor: technology only, people only, technology + people
  • What drives insight: Process, Knowledge, Process+Knowledge
  • Degree of Insight: best practices, customized, custom

Our OnTarget programs are an example of a continuous, customized, technology + people solution.  These programs are all rooted in a combination of solid data driven process and the knowledge of expert analysts, and results in recommendations about what to fix on your site, delivered through our online software on a rolling basis.

What kinds of CRO companies are out there?

One of the reasons it can be difficult to compare one CRO company to another is because the practice of conversion rate optimization crosses disciplines, and improving your website involves a wide array of skills.  A company’s history can belie their main focus when it comes to how they do CRO.  Many of today’s conversion rate optimization practitioners have digital or technology roots, while others crossed over into the online world from the traditional marketing world as the Internet evolved to facilitate the fast and easy distribution of information worldwide.  Still others arrived here through academic pursuits.  Many different types of companies and consultancies claim some expertise in conversion rate optimization. These are a few:

  • Analytics Companies
  • Testing Companies
  • Consultancies – typically come from more academic backgrounds that combine business psychology, sociology, and statistics
  • Design Companies
  • Technology/Service Companies – such as those who say that adding live chat, or video people, will increase conversion rates
  • General Marketing Companies
  • Specialty Marketing Companies – such as email, Direct, PPC or SEO
  • Landing Page Companies
  • Usability Companies
  • Interdisciplinary or Digital Marketing Optimization Companies

How do I evaluate CRO styles and companies?

Depending on your company’s current needs and goals, one style of analysis, or one kind of company might suit you better than another.  To ensure you find a good match for your company, check out our list of questions you should ask when evaluating an optimization company.

In just one week, a slew of companies in the conversion rate optimization space will be under one roof, and the top experts will be speaking on a range of topics affecting conversion.  Our very own Howard Kaplan will be there to talk about applying personas within your conversion rate optimization plan or approach!  Conversion Conference West happens in San Francisco on March 14-15, and we have a secret discount code we’re authorized to share with anyone interested in attending.  If you’re on the west coast, it’s a fantastic opportunity to get out to meet the people you could be working with, as well as pick up a few tips for things you may want to be doing on your own to make your website and marketing better.  Reach out to us, get the conference discount code, and find out how we can help.

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Comments (18)

  1. What is easier to do,SEO or CRO? I think CRO because your goal is to convert the visitors into customers unlike SEO where PR is all that matters. I hope I am right with my assumption. If not, please enlighten me. Thanks!

  2. We find that many of these CRO are somewhat interconnected vs discrete activities. A potent and right combination of CRO targeted at the customer can increase your conversion dramatically. Personally, we have successes with companies that offer a variety of CRO services. More importantly, they should be able to tie the discrete CRO programs like SEO, PPC and email campaigns to one coherent conversion strategy.

  3. The CRO may be worth trying for larger companies and multinationals but would it be too expensive for smaller, lower traffic sites?

    My guess is we’ll just have to watch the big boys and watch and learn.

  4. Good post – CRO is certainly an emerging niche and one that’s becoming more popular.
    That said, it’s one that’s best applied holistically I think – rather than in isolation. Looking at CRO, SEO, Social Media, PPC etc as one package is probably the best way to do things.

  5. Great info here. It seems that we small players in the niche market will have more difficulty to compete. But thank you for the heads up. Definitely a big factor to consider

  6. This has been my experience also. Everyone claiming to be experts. It is like giving someone a scalpel and then they claim, now I am a doctor. Amazing………

  7. @Danilo Boen – I certainly wouldn’t say that CRO is easy! If converting visitors to customers is so easy, why on earth do most sites only convert 2 or 3 out of every 100 visitors into a sale or lead?!

  8. It sounds like CRO may be a little time consuming, but also might be worth it! It just hard to tell.SEO may be the cheapest way in the beginning if you are on a budget!
    Nice article.

  9. CRO is the next important thing.Though Conversion is all about your Landing page Optimization but it is not as easy as it seems.
    A CRO company should suit your needs.It need not be a big name.

  10. Yes CRO is definitely better but SEO is must.

  11. I just found about a company clicktale that does a sort of user tracking, with heatmaps and stuff like that. I use now crazyegg and it’s pretty good, I’d say. but the other guys offer not only click maps, but also mouse moving maps, how far people scroll, etc.. but their pricing is huge. does it worth? I mean, knowing the clicks isn’t enough? I want to improve the site Conversion Rate and I analyzed the statistics in Google Analytics, to see the top exit pages, the pages with high bounce rate and little time on page… but I want to know more

  12. CRO is NOT the next thing. Me and my colleagues think that SEO is the easier, cheapest and faster way to go.

  13. CRO is harder, obviously. CRO has a goal other than just “optimization”, which a company might be able to pass by without actually gaining the websites visitor popularity or anything. CRO encompasses SEO too,meaning that if I were to sell myself as being able to CRO a website, I would have to use SEO, as well as many other strategies in order to make actual conversions (goals of the website for its visitors). Its ROI, it brings the site one step into success. SEO just brings the site closer to success, but not necessarily into it.

  14. Yyups thats right…SEO

  15. I think exactly like Maria.

  16. Yes, SEO is definitely a tier below CRO but the foundation needs to be set.

  17. Seo is better for starters so i will first go with seo and then would look for cro

  18. Useful information, CRO is not similar to SEO . In SEO we do On page and off page optimisation but in CRO we converts the visitors into customers, its similar to SEM process.

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Mj has been proselytizing the merits of customer-centric, data-driven, continuous Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) for FutureNow since 2007.

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