Why Aren't More Businesses Using CRO?

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Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) should have great appeal across different types of businesses.

Transactional ecommerce businesses can increase sales to improve their conversion rates to add to basket or sale by applying AB Testing across different pages in the customer journey, while businesses involved in lead generation can increase lead volume by improving profile capture forms and the calls-to-action linking to them.

Yet, it seems that many businesses are missing out on the full potential of CRO.

This research by Smart Insights into the popularity of conversion optimisation techniques shows that only around 50% are using AB testing. This represents a good increase in adoption from when it was relatively new, but there are still many businesses who aren't using it and other techniques like personas and customer journey mapping.

I should also mention at this point that although CRO is a convenient label, it is a little misleading since structured testing can also involve many other activities to improve loyalty, retention and satisfaction and there are other ways to measure improvements since e-Commerce consultant Dan Barker pointed out in this post; "Conversion rate is a horrible metric to focus on".

This chart from the same research gives more detail on the rigour with which CRO is worked on in different businesses. Landing page optimisation, desktop and mobile optimisation are the most relevant to this discussion.


You can see that relatively few are not doing any optimisation at all, which is positive, but in many cases (around half), optimisation projects are ad hoc or intermittent.

The companies who have really bought into CRO are those who have a constant programme of tests and are constantly testing. For desktop and landing pages, this is around one quarter of respondents, but with fewer for mobile.

So, what are the reasons behind the lack of wider adoption of CRO? In my experience these are some of the possible reasons:

Lack of ideas to test

This isn't going to be a common reason, we all have ideas for improvements and know what our weaknesses are. Perhaps prioritising what to test from so many ideas is more of an issue. More common reasons are...

Lack of time

Most businesses are actively working on BAU (business-as-usual) activities and campaigns launching new products or promotions. Planning tends to focus traditionally on these campaign activities and it needs a change of mindset from management to focus on these 'always-on lifecycle activities' such as CRO.

Lack of tools

There is no shortage of online services to run AB testing and many work independently from an existing content management system, but they do have a fee attached apart from Google's new free Optimize service. So lack of budget may be the real reason here, but you can start small and make the case for further investment since many of these services are available on a monthly basis.

Lack of skills

Most people in marketing teams won't have a grounding in CRO, so this is a solid reason. Knowing the rules of statistical validity and how long you should run tests for does require experience. Involving an agency experienced in CRO can help here and some skills transfer can occur. Skills in persuasive copywriting or creating visuals for different test variants may be lacking; another argument for using an agency.

So, you can see there a range of reasons to explain why use of structured tests for CRO aren't more widespread. But these reasons aren't insurmountable if budget-holders buy into the process, so I recommend creating conversion spreadsheet models to demonstrate the potential uplift in leads or sales as part of the business case.


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