In a Customer-Centric World, Set-It-And-Forget-It CRO Isn't Enough

In today's digital marketplace, the phrase "The customer is king" has never been more true. That's because today's consumers have almost limitless choices in where, how, and with whom they spend their money, thanks to the unprecedented reach of the internet. To thrive in this ultra-competitive marketplace, businesses now have to do everything in their power to maximize the revenue that comes from their customer base and can no longer afford to focus on a quantity-over-quality approach to feed their bottom line.

Traditionally, maximizing profits in the digital space has meant focusing on conversion rate optimization (CRO). Doing so helps to increase engagement and pushes more visitors to become paying customers, which is the ultimate goal of the process. The problem, however, is that many of the tried-and-true CRO methods have fallen out of favor in recent years, as personalization and a renewed emphasis on the customer experience (CX) has become a necessity to satisfy today's consumers.

Those new imperatives mean it's time for businesses to rethink their CRO methodologies, and look for ways to turn the new reality to their advantage. To illustrate the situation, here's a look at why old-school CRO tactics are no longer adequate and how businesses must now approach this business-critical task.

The Changing Face of CRO

Today's consumers expect to be the masters of their own destiny when it comes to how they interact with businesses. That means they want to choose which platforms to connect with (website, social media, etc.), chart their own path on websites, and do things at their own pace. From a traditional CRO perspective, that means it's no longer possible to rely on tactics like simple A/B testing to choose the highest-performing version of a web asset. Instead, it's now necessary to create and track multiple buyer personas and create multiple conversion paths that suit a variety of user types simultaneously.

It's also no longer possible to rely on one-time conversion optimizations because rapidly shifting consumer tastes mean that an approach that works this week may be irrelevant next week. To combat that, modern CRO techniques now have to rely on real-time data to assess every consumer touchpoint to inform strategic changes on a regular basis – and sometimes even on-the-fly. Taken together, the conditions in the current digital environment mean that cutting-edge CRO today looks almost nothing like it did even a few short years ago, and is also more important than ever before to ensure high performance for business web properties.

CRO and the Modern Sales Funnel

Unlike earlier methods, modern CRO is now about creating a sales funnel based on comprehensive research, and then monitoring ongoing performance to find room for improvements as users interact with it. An excellent example of this may be found in the process used by the CRO experts at Convincely.com. They base their CRO offerings on a thorough examination of all sides of the conversion equation, conducting interviews with users, analyzing current performance data, and matching it all up with business imperatives gleaned from their customers' sales and marketing staff.

The resulting sales funnel can then be implemented within or on top of existing web pages – minimizing disruption to current sales and marketing processes. Then, the performance of the initial sales funnel version is tracked, with the results used to create iterative changes to the included information, data, and other visual elements. The process continues until the conversion rate meets or exceeds the business's goals, with ongoing monitoring and continuing refinements to keep performance high.

The Data is the Key

To adopt a similar process to the above example, it's necessary for the business to compile the right data about its customers and how they're moving through the conversion funnel. That means investing in the technology needed to create data points like heat maps, develop accurate market segments, and even to record user sessions to gain the right insights into the customer conversion journey. Together, the information gathered must be used in an ongoing process of updates to the online sales funnel.

In place of the old standard of A/B testing that was a mainstay of previous CRO efforts, modern CRO calls for a heavier reliance on multivariate testing, which allows for more complex hypothesis testing consisting of more simultaneous changes to web assets. It's now a much more complex and intricate undertaking than the CRO best practices of yesteryear, requiring a greater ongoing commitment by the business and a deeper understanding of the underlying data driving the process.

The Bottom Line

The main takeaway here is that the size, scope, and complexity of modern CRO techniques has expanded to a point that it's now a process that demands specific expertise and plenty of effort. Long gone are the days when reasoned experimentation was the primary mode of optimizing a web property for conversion, and those that don't adapt will suffer in this new era of customer empowerment. The bottom line is, today's digital businesses now have two choices when it comes to CRO: build an in-house staff with the skills to effectuate a data-driven CRO strategy, or entrust the task to outside specialists. Anything else will likely result in plenty of wasted effort and results that won't be sufficient to meet expectations. In short, it's a brave new CRO world, and businesses ignore it at their own peril.

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