Next steps: Insights from industry experts
Now you know where you are, it’s time to look at some practical steps you can take on the path to becoming a strategic CRO mastermind. We reached out to leading CRO experts to get their insights. Here’s what they told us.
Step 1: Align your optimization goals with the wider goals of your business
“You need to have a clear direction on where the company is heading, understand how this fits in with your customers and what your value proposition is, and then ensure that you choose strong metrics that help you to move in this direction across the whole company.”
Evie Brockwell, a CRO consultant with years of experience at TUI and Booking.com.
“The most transformational thing we've employed with our clients is the use of OKRs—objectives and key results. They help provide focus, alignment and direction by their very nature. I'm a huge advocate for them and if you can align your optimization goals to what the wider business is trying to achieve, I think you're on to a winning path.”
David Mannheim, Global VP Conversion Rate Optimization at Brainlabs.
Step 2: Focus on generating long-term insights rather than short-term metrics
“In reality, conversion rate optimization is the notion of continually improving something with validated insight; ironically, that's not always or often a conversion rate.”
David Mannheim , Global VP Conversion Rate Optimization at Brainlabs.
“Focusing on insights means prioritizing a test that might not drive a lot of impact in the short term but can help you learn a lot about your customers and drive new and future product or testing ideas.”
Thorsten Tekieli, Product Experience Manager at Contentsquare and previously Principal Consultant of Strategy & Analytics at Oracle.
“Understand what you're trying to improve and why, as well as fundamentally how you'll measure its success.”
Sam Counterman, Senior Director of Performance & Growth Marketing at Contentsquare.
Step 3: Create a CRO roadmap and focus on testing one thing at a time
For Sam Counterman, “you’ll never achieve everything in one go, so you have to create a roadmap and test one thing at a time”.
According to Thorsten Tekieli, running small tests in series is the best way to prove a hypothesis and create support in your organization for larger budgets:
“Think about the smallest possible test you can run to prove a hypothesis. Quick and small experiments like this can help you drive excitement and unlock budget for a bigger test - or to pivot before sinking a lot of money.”
For David Mannheim, speed and focus are the keys to success. He employs an Agile methodology based on sprints, because “sprints give us the pace we need to rapidly identify, understand and execute solutions”.
Step 4: Build a culture of continuous experimentation and improvement
Thorsten Tekieli suggests sharing results across your organization. This helps the company to see the value of CRO. It also encourages them to suggest new hypotheses to test.
“Share your tests via email newsletters, in your Slack channels. Create small videos or executive summaries. People will start sharing ideas or challenging your hypothesis. Whatever the response, it will drive your program and the focus on your customers,” he says.
Step 5: Use a combination of software tools
Successful strategic CRO calls for a mix of different tools that supply different data points. When combined these can give you a full picture of the activity on your site.
David Mannheim breaks the tools he uses down into three categories:
- “Experimentation tools – for example, software that allows you to run A/B tests and other technical UX optimizations.”
- “Behavioral tools – for example, heat mapping software that measures in-page behaviors and visitor interaction, segmentation analytics software, and others.”
- “Voice of customer tools – this is qualitative analysis, for example user testing, surveys, and feedback polls.”
Step 6: Build a multi-disciplinary CRO team
An effective strategic CRO team needs a range of skills. For Evie Brockwell, every team needs to be able to:
- Use data and insight to understand where you need to focus your efforts
- Be able to prioritize problems based on those insights—as well as your time or resource constraints
- Generate ideas and design concepts to test
- Be able to execute on those tests
According to David Mannheim: “Specialists working together to achieve an outcome is optimization. When you have a UX analyst, a UX designer, a UX researcher, an engineer all working on problems, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Sam Counterman notes a rising trend of “cross-functional CRO teams involving data scientists, web managers, paid media managers, etc.”
For Thorsten Tekieli, the key skillsets include:
- Someone to represent your users’ needs
- Someone who understands the business vision
- A web developer
- A UX designer
- A quality assurance (QA) analyst “who can test your solution for every possible use case and uncover things about your site you never knew about.”
Step 7: Use multiple data points to gain a deeper understanding of your customers
The exact mix of data points will vary according to your strategic priorities, your industry, and your target customers. But the recommendations of our experts provide a good starting point for thinking about which data would be most effective for your CRO strategy.
David Mannheim believes in using funnels and segmentation to identify and resolve any discrepancies. He recommends segmenting your funnel using the following order of priority:
- Mobile vs desktop
- Country or region
- Traffic source
“Continually diving deeper into segmented funnels and comparing them on attributes will help you understand your areas of concern,” he says.
For Evie Brockwell, the simple answer is to combine as many relevant qualitative and quantitative data sources as possible, including:
- Analytical in-page data
- Customer research
- Usability testing across the site
- A digital experience analytics tool such as Contentsquare
Sam Counterman agrees on the effectiveness of combining multiple data sources:
“The Contentsquare platform (zoning specifically) gives us a real-time view of what is happening on the front end with CTRs and exposure times, whereas Salesforce will give us the performance-based view informing us of pipeline and ROI. Bringing these data sets together in a single dashboard view lets us quickly understand the what, why, and how of what’s going on,” he says.
Thorsten Tekieli specifically recommends the click recurrence metric in Contentsquare because “it’s such an easy way to identify friction points in a specific zone”.
“In combination with Quantify I can easily tell if that issue has an actual impact on conversion or how many visitors were impacted,” he adds.