Aren’t you tired of watching your website visitors leave without taking action?
Do you find it challenging to boost your online business’s conversion rates?
Well, you’re not alone in this struggle. Many professionals struggle to implement effective strategies that drive conversions.
To that end, we’ve gathered a panel of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) experts who have shared their top tips and insider knowledge on how to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing CRO today.
In this article, we’ll look at:
- the main challenges in CRO
- what experts would do if they started from scratch
- and the future of CRO.
For Part Two, we’ll look at AI and practical tips for CRO, so make sure you’re around to check it out.
Thus being said, let’s start!
Overcoming Today’s Greatest CRO Challenges: Expert Tips and Strategies
When it comes to Conversion Rate Optimization, professionals will always face challenges – no matter their experience in the field or how prepared they are.
Fortunately, each time someone overcomes a challenge, a solution is created. So, here’s how experts survived their hardest battles in CRO:
- Bad data quality leading to irrelevant insights – Matthias Mandiau
The data collected by CRO professionals is often cookie-based. This means that other than a visit or interaction, there is little use to it.
At the same time, the users often get close to no benefits for sharing their data other than some improvements and weak personalization. There is a lack of privacy and transparency about what exactly happens to the behavioral data users share.
This separates users from those who work within the companies supposed to research them.
Your job is to bring them closer.
CRO would be a lot better if we could improve data quality, transparency, privacy, and control for users.
Make data cookie-less and of pristine quality.
Make it forever accessible and owned and controlled by the users. Make it ethically fairer. Create a win-win for value creation and distribution for both companies and their users.
Creating this bridge that brings both parties closer will improve CRO exponentially.
- Navigating the true purpose of experimentation – Juliana Jackson
According to Juliana, the biggest issue in Experimentation is navigating its true purpose – making better decisions.
This can be tackled by constantly working with your team and your clients and educating them about the value of data (both qualitative and quantitative) and how they can leverage it to assist their clients.
(You can find more on the subject here.)
- CRO isn’t getting the respect it deserves – Ton Wesseling
Even if people often talk about CRO, professionals often see it as a delaying factor to ship product changes.
How to solve the issue?
Set up an experimentation product team to make research and validation business as usual.
Get the KPI of chances to the product launched with CX validation up to 100%, without stopping teams from their agile production approach.
- Experimental velocity – Valentin Radu
According to Valentin Radu, the greatest challenges are around experimentation velocity, expanding the experimentation beyond just the website, and getting an internal alignment to generate customer-centric insights.
Turn Customer Lifetime Value into your North-Star metric, and rally your company around improving the value you get and provide to and from your customers.
It’s a journey in itself – but it’s worth it.
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- Lack of Research – Simon Girardin
As a CRO Manager for ConversionAdvcoates, Simon has seen a worrying narrative: that you don’t need research to test.
While factually this statement is true, Simon takes issue with it because every website is limited by its traffic levels. CRO teams and experts who choose to run tests with no research are therefore expending precious resources on tests that may or may not have an impact.
We often hear about these types of projects, where stakeholders lost interest, and the budget was eventually shifted from CRO to another channel or tactic.
A huge gap that I am seeing is the lack of research and the lack of competencies.
Some teams wish they could, but they feel like they lack the tools and methods to conduct research properly.
This is a perception that has been reinforced on the market for years by expensive research firms who don’t want their work to dissipate.
The reality is that research isn’t as hard, expensive, or time-consuming as people think.
- Shifting from short-term wins to long-term results – Eden Bidani
Eden noticed a growing need to work on brand awareness-related experiments.
They may not drive an immediate lift in conversions but will deliver drive compounded long-term lifts in conversions.
The short-term impact is easy to measure, but the long-term impact isn’t.
Eden noticed that sometimes we end up making changes for conversion in the short term that have a negative or negligible impact on long-term conversions.
Moving away from this trap means moving forward to playing the long game, seeing how what you do today will influence what you earn tomorrow.
- The ROI of CRO, lack of analytics, little post-experiment analysis – Khalid Saleh
Khalid highlighted several issues emerging in the CRO landscape.
First of all, it’s difficult to justify CRO expenses with a clear ROI.
While most CROs don’t pay close attention to this, executives do. Just like any other marketing activity, marketers must show ROI to justify the spending. A/B testing is sold with the promise of improving conversions and revenue.
So, most companies come to CRO expecting results.
Moreover, even if most CRO programs are data-driven, the data analysis of these programs remains too basic.
Serious CRO programs will need to invest most in business intelligence and machine learning tools to drive deeper analysis.
Finally, there’s not enough attention on deeper post-experiment analysis.
How does an experiment (winning or losing) inform the business of what to do next?
- Lack of top-level interest – Johan van Tonder
There’s a lack of top-level buy-in to CRO – this practice is seen as a marketing box to be ticked.
This introduces several challenges down the line: CRO function being under-resourced, being staffed by junior people who can’t communicate effectively at the board level, favoring tactics over strategy, etc.
Inevitably, the program runs out of steam.
We need a cultural shift and change in senior management’s mindset. More importantly, it needs a champion with sufficient influence at the senior level.
This doesn’t happen quickly.
In most cases, the CRO department simply doesn’t have the political weight to make any meaningful impact. An external agency or senior consultant can assist with this, but they must be briefed properly.
If CRO lacks senior support, you have to devise a plan to achieve this.
- Metric Rigidity – David Mannheim
David thinks the biggest challenge in CRO is the “conversion rate” metric in itself.
Being a KPI that is set in stone, all CRO actions become a direct reflection of that measure of success.
The conversion rate is an averaged, aggregated, retrospective, binary figure for customers. It’s to be heralded as that which defines performance.
Trying to understand and mold performance based on a single figure at the end of the yellow brick road isn’t going to change the behaviors that came before it.
Instead, it will result in mass changes in order to move an aggregate metric.
For Davin, this is better known as the antithesis of personalization. “Genericisation,” if you will.
A redefinition for the ages.
Starting from Scratch: what would be different?
Challenges are part of everyday life, and it’s no point dwelling on them. Instead, we need to seek help from people who are on the same road as us – but ahead of us.
But what about the past?
What would happen if CRO experts everywhere were to start from scratch?
Looking at what they’d do differently helps us understand where our priorities are in Conversion Rate Optimization.
- Research, learn, inspire – Matthias Mandiau
The founder of the Efficia Agency, Matthias Mandiau, told us that, having to start from scratch, he’ll first learn about customer journeys, friction, spotting problems via research, and coming up with solutions.
He’ll then carry on learning how to inspire the people working with him, so the whole team can take action to solve those insight-driven problems.
Matthias advises us to start from a user-empathic point of view with the team. Think as a marketer, get interested in behavioral science, and become a problem solver.
The more problems you solve, the more curious you might feel triggered to become. This will fuel your interest in learning more about digital analytics, stats, UX, product design, development, product marketing, etc.
- You always start from zero – Juliana Jackson
According to Juliana, no matter your experience in the field, and your years of working in the CRO Arena, you will always be starting from zero with your projects.
Her advice? Research, research, research.
Then work to build a robust data collection mechanism having privacy front and center.
- Ideation and prioritization – Ton Wesseling
Ton pinpointed two common issues: coming up with ideas and prioritizing them.
Most professionals face the exact same challenges. His solution?
Learning how to conduct customer research to improve ideation and prioritization.
Ton would also embed validation in the engineering pipeline.
- Different education – Valentin Radu
Valentin will do a single different thing: shift his learning focus.
He told us he would learn about the Jobs to be Done methodology and learn more about customer behavior.
At the same time, he would invest way more into understanding how to smooth things into getting the decision maker’s buy-in and attention to support the entire experimentation program.
And understand statistics better, earlier.
- Go through certain steps to launching a program – Simon Girardin
There are very specific steps Simon takes to launch a program – regardless of its scale:
1) Gaining business alignment
2) Verify tech stack
3) Create an initial testing backlog
4) Get started slowly
It’s an iterative process, but you have all the right pieces to get started sooner than you’d think.
- More weight to branding – Eden Bidani
Eden said she would give more weight to brand-related activities and experiments.
Initially, she believed that better copy could solve almost every conversion challenge.
In time she understood that prioritizing conversions too much leaves the copy dull and bland from a brand perspective.
So many companies are now saying “the right thing” to their audiences based on JTBD research, but “the right thing” has become “the same thing” as every other company.
How many home page headlines say “grow your business/revenue” or “win more customers?”
There’s no differentiation.
Nothing that delivers extra pulling power for audiences. But that’s exactly what good, customer-focused branding does.
And it should have greater weight when experiments are run to ensure that the brand is preserved, not decimated, in the name of conversions.
- Covering the basics – Khalid Saleh
Khalid would first cover the basics of multiple disciplines.
CRO combines several disciplines: analytics, customer research, usability, competitive analysis, and statistics.
Mastering CRO is a long-term process.
So Khalid will start by understanding these disciplines, then diving deeper into each.
- Understanding the C-Suite – Johan van Tonder
Johan will begin by interviewing the C-suite (CMO, CPO, CFO, and, if possible, the CEO) to understand their perspectives.
He would have a clear picture of the organization’s vision and goals:
What are they trying to achieve?
Then make a case for CRO and how it fits into that picture, contributing to the overall strategy.
What happens after all is done?
Then comes the fun stuff.
- Look beyond the funnel – David Mannheim
David wouldn’t look at things as a funnel. Instead, he’ll think about the experience.
He noticed how we look at pages when the Conversion Rate is what measures success.
But the vision should be more about user experience than page experience.
As such, it’s less so the location of the solution and more the solution itself.
Starting now, he’d place things back in the frame of the user – what are their anxieties? What are their motivations? Where can we make their life easier? And how does that differ between segments?
Then optimize for these ideas instead of the CR alone.
The Future of CRO: Predictions and Trends to Watch Out For
The now, the before – but what about what’s next?
Here’s how our experts see the future of CRO:
- Changing the mindset – Matthias Mandiau
According to Matthias, CRO must become smarter and less error-prone (AI will help here).
It also needs to be less centralized (Blockchain).
As a matter of fact, people should stop referring to it as Conversion Rate Optimization.
It should be called continuous improvements or experimentation.
- Focus on the user: behavior, privacy, simplicity – Juliana Jackson
Juliana makes a case for understanding user behavior, expectations, and struggles. This knowledge should be at the core of your efforts.
This information fuels all your experiments and gives you the right tools to create a healthy experimentation culture within the team.
At the same time, she advises we consider privacy and ethics for all experiments, especially for data collection.
In her view, less is more. Complexity is secondary to a good experiment. Work on defining robust hypotheses fueled by qualitative and quantitative data and support your team at all steps.
Juliana ends with this idea: you are experimenting because you want to learn and make better decisions.
- Omnipresence – Ton Wesseling
For Ton, CRO should be omnipresent in organizations that will outperform others.
At the same time, he hopes for improved decision-making within a culture of experimentation.
- CRO will be obsolete – Valentin Radu
Valentin predicts that CRO will become obsolete as a term and activity.
However, CRO’s heritage will develop an entire experimentation mindset in the organizations.
Companies will shift their attention from tactical KPIs such as the conversion rate to a more comprehensive and strategic KPI: Customer Lifetime Value.
Customer Value Optimization will be a company-wide activity that will involve a cross-functional team with experimentation and data analytics acumen built in.
- Data and market research – Simon Girardin
Simon sees an uptick in voices who are proponents of customer and market research and invest in a thought-out process involving clear and rigorous documentation.
More teams are going to think and invest in their ability to collect and manage data.
As Google Analytics and Optimize shifts, CMOs will start pruning their vendors and making formal assessments of the ROI of their entire tech stack.
The biggest drawback will still be data activation.
This unique skillset will continue to grow into value as channels and teams still face a real silos issue.
Teams who have the ability to activate insights across their channels, including but not limited to the website, will experience accelerated growth.
While this role increases the value captured from customers, it will also help break down silos by favoring an open conversation about the learnings and about how a single insight results in different outcomes based on the testing it’s tested on.
- More people involved in CRO- Eden Bidani
Eden sees many more CRO experiments being carried out by marketing, product, and even revenue teams.
She predicts that CRO will work with all 3 functions as a layer that sits on top and unites them all.
- Sophistication – Khalid Saleh
For Khalid, CRO is evolving every day.
Where we are at today is night and day compared to where we were 5 or 10 years ago. As more people get involved, the more sophisticated our approach to CRO becomes.
He would love to see more of the new CROs participate in shaping and innovating the industry.
- Data Scarcity – Johann Van Tonder
Two somewhat related forces Johann expects to shape the evolution of CRO are heightened concerns around data privacy and increased awareness of dark patterns.
Some of the data we take for granted today might not be available to the same degree, if at all. Given our reliance on data, there are implications for CRO.
Tools will evolve, as will our practices.
- From generic usability to segmented psychology – David Mannheim
Davis sees CRO evolving away from generic usability and more towards segmented psychology.
The current status quo is that immature CRO is moving sh*t around on a page: changing layout, positioning, and tweaking to make an action easier for everyone.
He sees CROs evolving more towards caring for the customer, putting control back in their hands, and addressing their needs at, at the very least, a segmented level.
These are the building blocks towards a personalized experience. I think we’ll get there because we’ll reach local maxima, a state where moving sh*t around on a page doesn’t work.
Or being educated enough with statistics to realize that it doesn’t work at least.
And it’s a wrap on part one!
What our experts shared represents an excellent starting point for you to assess your priorities, take your resources into account, and set up a new action plan.
In part two, we’ll go into the strategies and approaches you can use to grow your conversion rates and turn traffic into paying customers.
See you soon!