Nobody is born a conversion rate optimization (CRO) expert. In fact, most people come out of their formal educational years without a full grasp of the idea. So, where are people learning about CRO? What does it actually mean to be an expert in the field?
Generally speaking, people discover this type of knowledge out of curiosity or necessity. They’re tasked with improving the company website or learning more about their customers only to find that conversion optimization is the most effective path forward.
But what does it take to become a true CRO expert?
The answer is a solid mix of hard and soft skills. Let’s start by talking about which companies actually need someone to focus on conversion rate optimization.
What types of companies need a conversion rate expert?
The short answer is that any company with a website and a conversion funnel can benefit from someone who understands CRO.
The main difference from one company to another will be if this person solely does CRO work or if it’s a small part of their job. In some cases (like a large e-commerce store), a full optimization team may become necessary.
What happens if a company doesn’t have a CRO expert?
A business that doesn’t prioritize website optimization either has too many balls in the air and not enough employee bandwidth, or they simply don’t feel like their website is a key part of their customer experience. While this sounds negative, there are some businesses that don’t rely on their website for leads or conversions as much as other channels.
For those that do require an excellent customer experience on the website, building a culture of optimization is a great way to get ahead. And sometimes CRO is a great way to approach business problems like sales promotions that aren’t working, a sudden drop in overall sales or a new traffic segment that’s not converting.
When does it make sense to outsource CRO?
The concept of a hybrid team (in-house, freelance and outsource) is becoming more and more common.
When it comes to CRO, you may want to outsource if nobody on your team has a basic understanding of (or time to study) core conversion rate topics. Outsourcing could be viewed as a step before eventually bringing the effort in-house, or it could be a more permanent solution.
Because your website is such a focal point for a lot of branded efforts, it must be clear what your relationship terms are with your outsourced resources. You’ll need to decide where their decision-making powers begin and end and when you as the brand can/should veto them.
Are you outsourcing any piece of your CRO efforts? Let us know on Twitter.
Should you choose to outsource, it’s still highly recommended that a few people internally work to understand the needs and struggles of your website visitors. This knowledge informs a wide range of activities including content strategy and customer service best practices.
Resources for conversion optimization experts
This section includes resources in three categories that represent different competency areas for a conversion optimization expert. If time is limited or if you’re a team of one, becoming well-versed in the technical side may be enough to get things started
Lucky Orange user strategies: This collection of how-tos specifically references Lucky Orange tools. Each of these articles will show you a real-world use case for a tool with a framework for success in each.
3 steps to web form optimization: Learn about different ways you can analyze your form’s performance like field order and abandonment rates. This post talks you through a basic audit of best practices before laying a framework for form optimization.
Content optimization: 4 methods to refresh content: Understanding how to work with content from a variety of sources written over the course of several years will serve you well in CRO. Lessons in this article can be carried into optimization best practices for new writing, even short-form things like page titles and navigation item naming.
A beginner’s guide to mobile website optimization: Depending on your website traffic breakdown, mobile may be more important for you than other businesses. No matter your mobile traffic level, understanding how to optimize pages for mobile will serve you well in the long run.
How to build and structure a conversion optimization team: Even in a situation where people aren’t fully spending their time on CRO work, knowing the responsibilities that must be covered is very helpful. This article helps frame which roles could be necessary and their main areas of expertise.
How to sell a CRO budget to your c-suite: From CRO tool subscriptions and new hire salaries to customer survey participation gifts, there’s usually some amount of money spent when adding CRO work to your company.
Tell stories with data: Communication in data science: A large portion of success with CRO is in sharing your findings with other team members. While this article focuses on data science as a complete field, many of the pieces of advice translate well for our topic specifically.
How to drive major growth by becoming your team’s CRO expert: Anyone in an organization can become a CRO expert. This piece describes how everyone from marketing and technology to customer service and sales could go about taking that role.
How to analyze (and optimize) conversion funnels like a pro: Understanding how traffic flows into and around your website is a must for CRO success.
How to never run out of CRO ideas: Lucky Orange can consistently surface potential areas for optimization. But what if you’re just flat out of ideas. Start with this article to build a sustainable pipeline of optimization concepts.
Other (equally important) topics to understand
As is with many modern job roles, someone who works in CRO should also understand a lot of the surrounding concepts. Pushing to learn about a wide range of topics will help when it comes time to make an optimization decision.
For example, the more you know about search engine optimization, the less likely you are to make an SEO mistake during A/B testing. It also helps to understand key messaging and core marketing topics like personas–even if you’re in a technical role.
Here’s a group of resources to help you better understand a few related topics:
The Moz Guide to SEO: One of the most widely-referenced SEO guides online, and for good reason. If you’re brand new to the concept of SEO or need a refresher on basic elements, start here.
What’s the ideal A/B testing strategy? This is a deep dive into the technical side of running a successful testing strategy. You can, of course, run tests on something like a landing page based on a hunch and hope for the best–but this long-form article will help you refine your approach to be a bit more scientific.
30 minutes to optimized brand messaging: A quick exercise to help you work through brand messaging–even if you already have it documented. This article discusses the purpose of different types of messaging and things to consider when putting together a strategy.
How to deal with redundant, out-of-date and trivial content ROT: Redundant, outdated and trivial content is a burden on your website experience. Running a regular audit of older content pieces will help keep things clean and can benefit your conversion rate from content pages.
Google Analytics Academy: The typical organization will have more than one tool in place for analytics. Most have some sort of Google Analytics account–and their Academy will teach you everything you need to know to get started.
Action items for a new CRO program
If you’re ready to start using conversion rate optimization for your business, you’ll want to lay the groundwork for a repeatable and scalable process. Even if you’re the only one taking on responsibilities at this point, following these steps will help you track results and implement better changes as days go by.
First, come up with a set of website OKRs related to business goals.
If you’re not familiar with OKRs, they’re simply Objectives paired with Key Results. Objectives are what you’re trying to achieve and Key Results are how you’ll benchmark and monitor your progress toward the Objective.
Here are a couple of examples:
Objective 1 = Improve our blog content
Key Results = Increase the number of visitors who read more than one post per month; Increase blog subscribers by 25%; Publish five new blog posts per month
Objective 2 = Better understand our website visitors and their behavior
Key Results = Launch one site survey per month; Conduct five face-to-face customer interviews per month; Run two A/B tests per month
Next, you’ll need to figure out who is involved in conversion optimization.
This includes the people who are impacted by the results of CRO work in addition to those who will carry out the exercises and research themselves. Consider using a RACI chart to show who is responsible, accountable, consulted and informed for each step of your CRO process.
After that, choose which tools you’ll use — starting with Lucky Orange.
No, seriously. Lucky Orange is an amazing option to be the cornerstone of your CRO efforts. As is with any part of your tech stack, be sure to ease your way into acquiring new tools. The worst thing you can do is waste time and money with something you’ll ultimately abandon shortly after signing up.
Finally, consider putting together a prioritization rubric.
Here is our testing prioritization rubric if you’d like to repurpose it for yourself. Essentially, you’re looking for a way to judge whether or not an idea should receive attention over something else. This can be very beneficial for larger teams or businesses where more than one department will have a say in optimization ideas.
Doing things the right way
Website optimization is a pursuit that requires planning, trust in the process and an organized approach over the course of months if not years. It isn’t enough to throw A/B tests and customer profiles together based on your gut feeling anymore.
To create a website experience that’s world-class, and not just good enough, it’s necessary to dig into the needs and behaviors of people visiting your website. Becoming a CRO expert is a great place to start.