One way to increase marketing ROI in a “do more with less” economy is to integrate Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) into demand gen strategy and planning. CRO isn’t a new concept, but traditionally has been more often the province of Web teams and SEO specialists. Increasingly, however, it’s being leveraged as an effective, affordable way to maximize campaign performance across a range of different demand generation channels.
CRO is a systematic, very deliberate process of modifying a Web page or Website with the specific purpose of improving the percentage of visitors who take a desired action, such as making a purchase or filling out a form.
CRO can be implemented at any point in the customer journey, from awareness to purchase, and can be used to improve the effectiveness of landing pages, emails, campaigns, even sales calls. Whereas simple A/B testing, by comparison, is more often a “one-off” exercise of finite scope (Headline A vs. Headline B), CRO involves a series of modifications that are rolled out and tested in sequence.
That cumulative approach can pay big dividends. Diligently applied, CRO can increase conversion rates over time by up to 2-10x and dramatically impact the ROI from campaigns and media spend.
In the ideal, CRO is an ongoing process of constantly testing new ideas and improvements. Implemented consistently, CRO not only improves demand gen performance, but ensures that landing pages and other Web assets stay current with design trends and best practices, improving the overall user experience. That makes it an ideal discipline for “always on” channels like SEO, SEM, Display, or Paid Social.
A well-planned CRO process involves these basic steps:
1. Set up program, possibly utilizing a dedicated testing platform like Google Optimize (due to sunset after September 2023) or VWO.
2. Define and assign values to desired user actions.
3. Define user personas.
4. Define supporting pages for each user action.
5. Establish conversion rate baseline.
6. Create, prioritize, and approve ideas list (list of potential modifications to test)
7. Set up and implement tests
8. Review test data and implement successful tests as permanent changes.
9. Introduce new ideas.
The length of a test period depends on the traffic to the relevant page. A highly trafficked page can generate test results very quickly. Low traffic may mean that meaningful results could take weeks.
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Key to a successful CRO process is deciding what to test. CRO ideas fall into 4 basic categories:
1. Offer Appeal
2. Building Trust
3. Resolving Concerns
Selecting and prioritizing ideas (defining the sequence in which ideas are tested) benefits from a solid knowledge of best practices and what’s working in the marketplace, but also requires honest assessment and a willingness to test ideas that may run contrary to long-held assumptions. If there are differences of opinion, test the idea anyway. Common tests can include:
* Streamlining and adjusting placement of lead forms
* Adding social proof (quotes, reviews, award badges)
* Adding video (explainer videos, customer testimonials)
* Modifying CTA button text and design
* Modifying offer description (e.g. guided tour vs. demo, live stream vs. Webinar)
By challenging assumptions and testing new ideas, CRO helps keep demand generation efforts fresh and current. If adopted and executed consistently, it can also provide insights into audience behavior and preferences that can inform other marketing channels, campaigns, content, and strategies.
A big thank you to Danny Rolley, Spear’s CRO guru, for his help with this article.
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