Online sales officially topped the brick and mortar sales earlier in 2019, and the never ending disruption of existing markets with the direct-to-consumer companies means that digital marketing budgets are a top priority, often backed by hefty marketing budgets. This makes capturing the ever-wandering eye of today’s consumers more competitive than ever. CRO means leaving no stone (or channel) unturned, and if you’re an online retailer, chances are, you’re much overdue for a Conversion Rate Optimization strategy.
At the same time, there's a lot of hand-wringing over the rising cost of customer acquisition via paid advertising in e-commerce. Brands are down on Facebook, or looking for alternatives. One of the strongest counters to rising CAC is CRO, yet it tends to be ignored or de-prioritized by many early, growth and enterprise stage e-commerce companies. CRO affects every dollar spent on marketing and it is never too early to focus on it.
What is CRO? What separates it from the other “O’s” in marketing?
In a nutshell, Conversion Rate Optimization is the idea of maximizing any part of your funnel that opens the opportunity for converting. Whether you’re converting clicks on an email campaign into sales, website visits into email signups, CRO can be implemented in essentially all of your channels. The process of CRO is simple- beginning with collecting and analyzing sales data (fall-off points, abandonment rate, etc), to implementing a process change, and repeat.
There’s been a huge focus in the e-commerce and marketing space in ad purchasing - so much that marketers have somewhat neglected the actual experience for their audience. Take this hypothetical ad campaign that Company X is running with a promotion for first time purchases. From the time the customer sees the ad, to the moment they hit “check out”, the experience needs to be as frictionless as possible. By observing where most customers drop off after they click on the ad from Company X, marketers can work with designers and developers to implement changes that often show results overnight. Things as simple as making a button larger, making sure the promo is automatically applied to the cart, having ratings for items without having to go to a different page, all make or break the buying experience.
There are dozens, potentially hundreds, of variable touch points for each customer from first site visit to eventual purchase. CRO are the small tweaks in the entire customer journey that lead to growth in on-site conversion that affects every single visitor.
Why every E-Comm company needs a CRO strategy:
A good CRO strategy is the equivalent of a helpful (but never overbearing) sales associate in a brick-and-mortar store: subtly, but helpfully guiding the customer buy more, and to complete the purchase at check out. Depending on the quality of your ads versus the on-site experience - your CRO may also be your entire store, optimized for browsing and purchase.
The reason that some e-commerce companies see greater conversion rates is because they take advantage of the facetime that they’re getting from anyone who stumbles upon their company either by way of social media, paid ads, or the website itself-- turning the experience into the friendly and personal interaction that one would expect in a store front. Websites that experience high levels of traffic can often see upticks in conversion with the right CRO changes almost immediately- but even those with a smaller following will benefit from CRO. To test the potential benefit simply bump your conversion rate by even 0.25% in your financials and see the resulting effects across the board. Suddenly "too expensive" channels might be affordable and even scalable, while you may view your blended ROAS or certain customer cohorts in a different light.
With almost $10 billion invested worldwide in pay-per-click ads, the ever growing social media advertising market, and keeping on top of new sales channels, it can quickly become costly to neglect CRO. If you’re not pursuing your customers after they click, someone else will.