“What is conversion rate optimisation?” This topic isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but I wanted to take the opportunity to give my thoughts on it.
People will tell you that conversion optimisation or conversion rate optimisation (CRO), within the context of a website, is the process or method of improving the performance of your site, increasing the percentage of visitors into converters or just generally taking some action you want them to take.
Those people are correct, however I don’t think that the given definition encapsulates the heart and soul of CRO.
Conversion optimization isn’t just a process, it’s a mindset. It’s an outside of the box approach that separates us from analysts, product owners and marketing managers.
The main job of a marketing manager, is to ensure that your brand and site get out there and people are visiting. Sure this person will have KPI’s around CPA’s and ROI’s and will optimise ad-spend and ads to ensure the right customers see the right message but they’ll have very little influence (outside of perhaps a landing page) on that customer once they go past a certain point.
Optimisation managers are half product owners, but due to the nature of the way PO’s work they’ll fall short. A PO’s focus is usually around a single product for a long stretch of time. A product vision is what will lead them and their teams to deliver said product and whilst they’ll work in an agile way to build quickly, fail fast and reiterate, it’s unlikely they’ll call it a day on a product they’ve poured their heart and soul into. A final word on PO’s, I have yet to meet a data led product owner in my experience. I’m sure they exist but I’ve only ever been called in at the point when the product needs to be quantified or an ROI needs to be presented to a senior director.
I love analysts they are, or at least should be, at the heart of any organisation. Here comes the but… but like most analysts I’ve worked with they are on the opposite end of the spectrum to product owners. I have a romanticised view of analytics but most of the talent it attracts is far from romantic. Analysts usually work on a task they’ve been given, heroically going head first into the data with clear directions on what the stake holder wants but without the tactical mindset of the interpretation of the task. Being so far removed from the source of the request, no thought is given to the how or the why, so they can’t even be blamed.
Conversion Optimisation Managers
At this point, I’m supposed to come in and start talking about CRO in all it’s glory. Truth is, CRO only works when the others work. Without them, we cease to function. The intricacies of marketing, the passion of product and the attention to detail of analytics; these are the skill sets an optimisation manager should possess.
But, there is a fourth. An often forgotten one.
Creativity is the thread that binds everything together. It is the mindset that will allow the person to take a step back and look for the optimisation opportunities in any given site. From landing page to checkout page, the sections that make up the registration form to the way a customer seeks help. An optimisation manager is expected to seek out the needles in these haystacks if (s)he stands a chance to improve the site.
This is what “conversion rate optimisation” is!
Update December 2019
It’s been 3 years since I wrote this post, so I’ve taken the liberty of updating it on a new blog that I’m contributing to about Conversion Rate Optimisation.