Is Your Business Anti-CRO?

By Todd Chambers July 30, 2018

‘Why aren’t we getting more conversions?’

Numerous stock answers will shed light on the above. Here’s a few you might have come across on your travels:

“Our copy and design isn’t suitable for the situation”

“The checkout process is too cumbersome”

“We are not chasing up our visitors”

While the internet has no shortage of advice on addressing people’s conversion conundrums, there are certain barriers which won’t find themselves being addressed in a blog detailing ‘5 Ways to Gain More Sales’ or similar.

According to 22% of marketers answering to a 2016 study from Econsultancy, it’s company culture that’s preventing them from converting more business. Those failing to forge the link between c-level attitudes and conversions should take note of the study group suggesting ‘more budget, resources and better strategies’ to combat their issues, all of which require some level of sign-off, as well as the catchall remedy of “rigorous, ongoing research and testing”.

For many that either work in conversion rate optimisation (CRO) or at least recognise the work it does in driving more business, this might seem baffling; why would someone be against optimising how often they generate sales or leads?

The explanation can come in lots of different forms and warrant plenty of different solutions. As always, the best course of action is to determine if and where the problem exists before taking the measures necessary to stamp it out.

Is our culture CRO negative?

Data and analytics are transforming whole businesses as we know them – aiding an increasing amount of their decisions, forcing them to think differently about how they work and exacting change where necessary.

They’re also creating divides within and between departments. In exhibit A, the CMOs that cut their teeth on a PR-heavy syllabus may be working alongside millennials, whose digital-first approach lends itself to the kind of in-depth analysis that CRO requires.

‘Again, surely CRO carries enough advantages for anyone to accept its importance?’, you may ask. Well, let’s take things back another step.

We may think that our businesses are equipped for an online world, but the stats tell a different story. Research from Forbes Insights and Hitachi outlines that just one third of companies would consider themselves “leaders” in customer experience, according to their progress in digital transformation. Adding to this is our use of some of the data we collect – for practices like CRO – which most businesses tend to leave untouched.

Without having the basics in place, how can a company venture into some of the fine-tuning that comes with exercises like CRO?

Similar to those for digital transformation on the whole, the signs of a culture ill-equipped for CRO are:

  • Clashes between generations of workers
  • A lack of good leadership – going with a gut instinct rather than hard data
  • Poor use of customer insights
  • A lack of an optimisation strategy
  • Fragmented departments, leading to data being housed in different places and zero delegation for CRO efforts

This in turn may lead to:

  • Disagreements over appropriate actions, like CRO, for boosting sales
  • Data carrying very minor influence
  • A lack of investment/resource dedicated to CRO
  • Insights without actions
  • One-off tests, rather than regular assessments of effectiveness

How can I address it?

Some of the tell-tale signs of an anti-CRO culture are very hard to solve; things like having c-level staff that disregard the role of data, given what they know from being in the business for X amount of years. However, it’s intriguing to see how some of these issues feed into one.

Let’s take the lack of a CRO strategy. If a marketing team that was previously restricted by an anti-CRO culture was allowed to develop a plan for boosting conversions, it may include advice on delegation, metrics, technology and KPIs, as well as itself being a routine for others to follow.

That might not make for the full house, but we have solutions chased down by ideas on what would make the strategy even better.

The key in any of these cases is to demonstrate the impact that CRO can have on the business.

Today’s workforces should be empowering its staff to come forward with their suggestions on how to boost critical aspects like conversions. In the absence of this, advocates of data-driven improvement should be making the case themselves.

Quantifying the effect of poor CRO is a good way of proving why it’s needed. If only 1-3% of people are converting after being referred by a paid search ad – itself returning a good click-through rate – it shouldn’t be too hard to ascertain the money being lost with every 100 clicks.

Once the business or its decision maker knows how much money is being lost, you can bet their next question will be along the lines of ‘how can we get this back?’.

Resource comes before investment in this case, as every strategy needs a leader. CRO delegation isn’t made easy by the fact it skims over departments like sales, marketing and design, with each of these containing an array of disciplines. CRO requires input from lots of angles, but only the company can decide where it’s best based (if within the company at all).

Then comes the investment, which doesn’t have to break the bank. It might be a case of utilising free tools like Google Optimize to trial or step up efforts in CRO before going with something a little more advanced.

Even so, it’s all about building a solid case for the investment, and there are lots of good resources on securing c-level buy-in. CRO is inherently risk-averse given that its sole purpose is to drive more business. If a company is properly looking into why they aren’t converting as often as they like, and using data to determine what they can do to address it, any outlay is going to pale in significance to the return.

Everything then feeds into the CRO strategy, which in its most basic form should include rules on what to test, when to test it and how to measure the impact of change. When followed, a purpose-built strategy will force businesses to be less reactive to the problems they face, as proactive optimisation can improve things before the alarm bells start ringing.

Each of the 22% that responded to Econsultancy will have their own reasons why their culture does not play into the hands of CRO. In any case, education is the key to better processes and decisions.

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