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Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Diagnosis CRO: health insurance for your site

By Mariel Bacci
August 18th, 2011

I have the privilege of meeting a variety of business owners in a casual, unobtrusive environment I think of as my own personal research vault. I delve into their current and working knowledge of CRO (conversion rate optimization) by asking them unassuming questions. We discuss their jobs, favorite sports teams, experience with travel, and their pets. Eventually they ask me,“What is it you do?”

“CRO, or conversion rate optimization. I help websites get more conversions – let’s say sales, newsletter signups or white paper downloads – by analyzing the site’s data and figuring out how to best deliver to the website’s visitors in order to make the big bucks for the owner of the website.” (We know it is more complex than this, but my test subjects are not interested in complexity just yet.)

“Oh! So like SEO. I have a company that does that for me, named SEO Marketing Specialist, you heard of them?”

Tell me you haven’t heard that same response.

It’s horrifying. All of our work integrating design, psychology and data and we still haven’t made a name for ourselves in the hearts of people we are here to help! It is time CRO becomes a household name and this is our responsibility. We need to learn to set ourselves apart from SEO and make sure people understand exactly what we do.

I always feel a bit elated, in tandem with my disappointment, when I find out another website owner doesn’t even know that they have the option of optimizing their site. They are still blind to using data analysis tools and strategies like persuasion architecture to improve the value of their online marketing strategy. It is exciting because we are participating in a relatively new and dynamic industry with huge potential for growth, change and learning. When we introduce people to CRO, it really feels as though we are giving them a precious gem of information. We alone can help them make the bucks and have greater awareness of their online marketing!

Bryan Eisenberg writes that over 50% of people are not optimizing with analytics because they are too arrogant or because they do not know how.  I agree with his hypothesis and also have to argue for a third point: people don’t see conversion rate optimization as a standard online marketing practice. This could be for a variety of reasons:

  • the site owners have not been shown the compelling numbers that fuel the purpose of CRO
  • SEO and social media are trumping us with the hype of increased page views
    implementing
  • CRO efforts can appear complicated and expensive so they are often overlooked
  • many more reasons we have yet to realize!

These reasons are the sacred responsibility of all of us. I have personally started to tell people that conversion rate optimization is like health insurance for their website. It makes sure the site’s teeth are cleaned every six months. If any uncomfortable symptoms arise in the data, website optimization programs like FutureNow’s OnTarget subscriptions show them how they can relieve the symptoms. CRO experts will diagnose the site’s problems and offer a cure. If they are a very ill company, laying on their death bed, CRO might not be able to help them. Or, it might just breathe the life back into their marketing strategy. If companies pay a little every month, the health and happiness of their website can see unlimited potential.

How do you propose we get people talking about CRO? What are you doing to make it a household name? How do you respond when people who should be practicing web analytics (not just collecting it) and optimization are only focus on increasing gross traffic?

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Comments (15)

  1. I think the problem lies in the fact that people just don’t know what CRO is, I know I didn’t until I landed on this post.

    Everyone has heard of SEO and how if done properly it will increase a sites traffic but CRO, that is something completely foreign and if you don’t understand something you either knuckle down and learn what it is all about or you ignore it and move onto something you can come to grips with. I’m afraid most people would do the latter.

    As to CRO, I hope its importance increases and more people come to utilise it, especially the sites I am affiliated with. Perhaps then they will start converting more of the traffic I am sending their way ;)

  2. You’re right when you say that people don’t see conversion rate optimization as a standard online marketing practice, myself included. This post showed me how important CRO is.

  3. Very beneficial article. I do not concentrate much on CRO. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I have to admit that all you are often urged to do, even when working with a mentor online is to ensure that you drive traffic to your site by any means possible.

    This in itself is a time-consuming and often a very costly exercise.

    I must admit that I have not even considered CRO before but I do like the analogy of health insurance for one’s site. After all, ‘prevention is indeed better than cure’.

    Thanks to your post, I will definately be researching CRO further and will add it to my plan for better website optimisation.

    Thank-you for adding another dimension to the already complex online equation for consideration and implementation.

  5. The reality is, if your website does not convert then your bankrupt before you even started.

    Plus improving your conversions lowers your adverting cost by making it more profitable.

  6. THe concept of CRO is always underestimated, every one tends to look for optimizing the onpage and offpage, and forget the ultimate goal.. that is generating revenue.. we work in order to improve the conversion rate.. not to bring site on top..

  7. Bryan Eisenberg writes that over 50% of people are not optimizing with analytics because they are too arrogant or because they do not know how.

    You are perfectly rightbut many of them they don’t know how to use them and also to arrogant to learn. You know, they know everything.

  8. interesting points. i would imagine when someone sets up a new website the immediate focus usually is on page views and regular traffic as no traffic means no sales. after a while webmasters then start to look more towards the conversion rate.

    for an established website i agree that CRO has to be an ongoing practice as not only it will result in more profits but you also provide that unique quality that visitors are looking for and making them stick to your site

  9. As the internet continues to evolved, its hard to learn, and remember! The small time blogger or site builder trying to grow can’t always afford specialized services, so it then becomes imperative to find the most efficient service providers out there and stick with what works, at the same time successfully evolve with change.

  10. I didn’t know about CRO before. Just got some knowledge about it from here. Thanks for your nice description….

  11. Yes, when a buyer reaches your site, you may have done the correct SEO, but the CRO is the critical part. The site must be optimized for the buying experience. We will keep reading on this topic.

  12. Hi, very true… CRO is very important, truly speaking it is the ultimate of any digital marketing activity. It should be treated as a specialized field and utmost attention must be paid to “CRO”, thanks for the informative post.

  13. I think most webmasters have tunnel vision with getting as much traffic as possible and letting conversions take care of themselves. I use GA but I also use Statcounter which gives me real time results. The “recent keyword activity” and “keyword analysis” features are awesome. I guess more posts from authority sites about CRO are needed to increase awareness about its importance. Traffic without conversions is useless. Thanks for the post.

  14. Very interesting – I didn’t know this service had a name. I would imagine that CRO is a lot easier to do on sites that have large volumes of traffic to analyze, not to mention large numbers of pages. With a small, low-traffic niche site, it seems to me that there’s only so much you can do to optimize without a plugin that reads the user’s mind :-)

  15. Thanks for such a informative post telling about the useful CRO. I am looking forward to this technique now.

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Mariel is a GA certified analyst at FutureNow, Inc.

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