“Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.” – David Ogilvy
If increasing sales is the holy grail for marketers, why don’t more pay attention to CRO — Conversion Rate Optimization? Let’s say your typical B2B sales campaign looks something like this when it comes to Online Marketing: Set up a landing page; run a PPC campaign; send out a promotional email to your list, drive warm prospects back to your landing page; look for visitors to convert via a form on the page which puts them into your CRM? Done? Not by a long shot. You need to find ways to improve results.
There’s a chain of “C” focus points on the way to a sale which all may be optimized: Content; Conversion; Connection; Close. You need to test each step of that process for better performance. That’s when you start CROing. Only then can you maximize ROI — Return on Investment. Only then will your boss understand how valuable you are to the organization.
Learn more in BLIP Magazine — this week’s edition is dedicated to CRO
If you are not writing at least three versions of ads at the beginning of each PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign to find the best converting ad, then you’re leaving money at the table. And if you fail to test your landing pages, pop-up CTAs (Calls To Action), sign-up forms, e-mail subject lines, and sales follow-up letters — who can say just how much you are losing? It’s not uncommon for any one of those tests to yield a 30% – 40% conversion gain. CRO is a cycle involving testing at every point in the marketing process.
This week, Thursday, April 9th is “International CRO Day” (#CROday). A number of companies are hosting webinars that day to celebrate and study “data informed marketing”. I prefer to think of CRO as mining for measurable results to meet or beat desired business outcome goals. That’s the science part involving testing and review for actionable analytics. But let’s not forget the art part of the formula — smart, pithy writing; compelling images that create an emotional handshake; graphic design that explodes into your attention with intention; and the high advertising concepts that drive all of these.
None of this is new. Over fifty years ago, legendary ad-man (think Mad Men) David Oglivy who gave us the refined and definitive formula for print advertisements still prevailing today (Headline, Graphic, Body Copy, Logo), drew upon his years of experience in consumer research at the George Gallop Audience Research Institute to create one of the most successful advertising agencies of all time — Ogilvy and Mather. Wrote Ogilvy:
“The most important word in the vocabulary of advertising is TEST. Test your promise. Test your media. Test your headlines and your illustrations. Test the size of your advertisements. Test your frequency. Test your level of expenditure.”
Most would agree that the bottom line for all testing is an increase in sales. Two questions: why then, do so many marketing communications professionals blow past testing; and why is there a disconnect with testing at the sales end of the cycle? I think one reason is because too many of today’s marketers are in love with content. Content is not king. For the online marketer, Connection is King, because connecting with your prospects in meaningful ways is the only thing that wins a sale. People buy on emotion, and they buy from those they feel they know. Content supports selling. Connection wins the sale, via an emotional handshake. But sadly, most marketers are failing to test for ways to improve these efforts.
“Companies typically spend $92 to bring customers to their site, But only $1 to convert them.” (Source: Eisenberg Holdings)
Weird, right? Testing is the holy grail for marketers, and a boon for the sales person… but too many professionals can’t be bothered. Years ago, I held a sales position at a large business and computer retailer and one of our priorities was selling special order office chairs. The chairs were available in over 60 different colorful fabrics and leathers — via special order from the factory. My initial pitch was to stress colors as a feature and matching corporate color schemes as a benefit. “Choose from 60 different colors to match your corporate interior designs,” I would say. Results? Nada. Later, I called around the country to stores that led in sales for these chairs — my consumer research — and learned that one thing prevailed in their pitch. Durability. I changed my pitch to, “for $20 additional per chair, you can order from 60 different fabrics which will last up to 20 times longer.” This is a longer form of an A/B test used frequently in CRO work — you test one pitch against another. My results? I became top salesman in special order chairs in my district.
Today, we marketers can choose from a variety of instantaneous tools for A/B pitches and other forms of testing. In our experience at Webdirexion, these almost always lead to a significant “lift” in results. More clicks. More email opens. More lead forms. And, in the end — more sales. Here’s to CRO. When will you start CROing?
Scott serves as Chief Optimizer on the Webdirexion team for both development and content marketing strategy, and is the author of the new book, “The Marketer’s Concise Guide to CRO” (Oct. 2015). He is a career marketing communications professional with niche industry specialties in healthcare, law firms, and hotel marketing and holds recent certifications in Google Analytics Mastery (Udemy), and RACE Digital Marketing (Smart Insights).
Scott has also taught business, web programming and eCommerce courses at colleges in the Portland, Oregon area. He currently teaches WordPress Content Marketing Power, an online course through Udemy, and has spoken at several Content Marketing conferences. When he is not geeking out on a Mac, Nexus 7, or Google Chromebook, he enjoys Tai Chi, walking with his two dogs, and survives on Coffee and Pizza.