Amid the dot-com crash, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) originated in the early 2000s and has undergone drastic changes over the past decade. Marketers are now more concentrated than ever on CRO to help clients, executives, and consumers progress along the marketing funnel–and optimize their return on digital investment.
CRO is still evolving. Not only do agencies and clients need to know what’s going on.
1. To improve Conversion Rate Optimization, marketers will be even more focused on quantitative as well as collaborative approaches
Hard data have driven business intelligence and marketing for decades. When it comes to web design and other digital markets, many of its intricacies have been tricky to implement.
We’ve seen that A / B testing has become increasingly popular over the last few years, and we expect it to become even more prevalent. The same applies to surveys that were ineffective because of their “intrusive” nature— leading the viewer to low response rates and dissatisfaction. Fortunately, A / B tests and surveys become even more customizable, easier to implement, responsive, and adaptive regardless of the devices the audience uses.
More specifically, they expect that there will be significant momentum arising from standardized testing and research methods, as well as best practices in Conversion Rate Optimization. As more conversion reports surface and the industry becomes more informed about itself, experts start to agree on what works and what doesn’t — and how to proceed from there.
CRO experts must work to make their data both more understandable and more actionable. Better tools for discovering and visualizing data will be crucial here. Yet we agree that data quality control will also come into play (giving priority to specific processes instead of seeing all information as equally relevant).
Also, CRO information will be gradually exchanged across the enterprise, allowing more and more communication between participants in sales/marketing and CRO practitioners in exchange.
2. More interactivity with users and personalized experiences will help improve CRO
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Tumblr are parts of the digital landscape that are inevitable. They have recently shown signs that they may lose steam. As a result, marketers realized that businesses also need to engage with their users directly rather than through third-party platforms primarily.
User feedback will shape brand identity and content more and more. We believe it will be about engaging as individuals with users and doing so in a one-on-one way. Look for new ways to create conversations, forge brand-consumer bonds, understand the customer-life cycle, and provide compelling reasons for customers to return regularly to specific platforms.
Big data is, of course, still necessary when it comes to crunching numbers and setting patterns, but individualized approaches supplement it. “Value” can no longer be regarded as monolithic from a user perspective. We expect to see more custom newsletters, loyalty programs, tailor-made layouts, unique travels, and recommendations for adaptation.
Look for more extensive experiences with promotions as for content. We expect online ethnographers to see insight-driven solutions that consider not only areas of stress, but also areas of satisfaction. It’s not about you, mind; it’s all about your audience. We will see more and better ways not only of learning from them but also of recognizing that they benefit from personalization as much as it helps us.
3. AI and automation are here to stay – even in CRO
There’s a lot of talks, and for a good reason, about AI and machine learning. When we think about AI, we tend to focus on its aspects of science fiction rather than what it will look like in the near future. We imagine background processes that will be exponentially smarter and better for us to solve practical problems.
More and more major websites are deploying chatbots for customer service. These bots will become smarter, more responsive, and more helpful. But we will also see a growing dependency on predictive analysis and predictive targeting and modeling.
What’s all this going to mean in practice? For both layout and content, websites can start to tweak user experiences in real-time. Static content should make room for tailored, “winning” lessons based on machine learning rather than conventional analytics and cookies.
With more machine learning processes running background checks, important metrics should increase. Predictive targeting would pursue conversion opportunities to implement new strategies without the need for any marketer feedback other than a simple click.
4. CRO will begin to deal with the new ways users are searching and engaging with web sites
With the arrival of smartphones, the first significant innovation (and challenge) in digital marketing and CRO emerged. Marketers and UX designers had to adapt and answer crucial questions drastically in a matter of months: how can we account for touch screens? What about interfaces to mobile devices? What does limited image and bandwidth mean? Do people browse different from desktop users on smartphones? Are they the same users at all?
Tablets, using touch-based interfaces, were a reasonably painless transition—but another revolution is awaiting us. While VR and IoT devices are expected on the horizon. We are already see existing voice assistants (including Alexa, Siri, Google Home, and Cortana) getting even more popular. 50% of all searches are likely to be voice-based by 2020.
It was difficult for two reasons to establish successful CRO methods for voice Assistant-powered searches. First, users now interact through voice and “conversational searches” instead of textual inputs, taps, clicks, or scrolls. Not only can it invalidate the tools at our disposal at the moment, it also affects the very essence of searches, interactions, and web design.
Second, these voice assistants are closely linked to the company that sells them—and their search engines or promotional algorithms. While we’ve had a decade to wrestle with issues such as attribution and touchpoints, voice searches via third parties will—for the short term—magnify those problems.
There are no easy solutions to this challenge so far. We know the way forward involves natural language, long-tail keywords, topical optimizations, and a renewed focus on search intent. We need to focus on the core reason why people conduct searches rather than the specific words they use.
5. GDPR, PECR, ePrivacy Regulation, and other digital ethics/privacy legislation will impact CRO
Finally, CRO will have to adapt to more privacy regulations. Such regulations sometimes make our lives harder. But instead, they should be seen as positives. Especially in an age where data privacy, digital ethics, and trust between corporations and consumers matter more than ever.
The juggling act that started with the GDRP and PECR will become trickier once the late European ePrivacy Regulation really comes into play. Among the list of changes, two major points stand out:
- Cookie consent will be handled by the browser, which should allow websites to move away from the dreaded-yet-needed cookie banner. However, there remains some question as to how this will affect analytics. For example, how do companies customize a user’s experience when the latter has chosen, through the browser, to block all cookies? Thankfully, first-party consent should not be an issue. But third-party analytics (such as Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, or Leadfeeder) will definitely be affected.
- Soft opt-in (rather than opt-out) measures will be set in place. Especially when it comes to selling or recommending products and services. Opt-ins will have a direct impact on marketing emails and newsletters, and what data marketers will use to gauge their audience’s response.
These legislations may go through more drafts, of course.
The final product could be radically different from what is being presented so far. Especially because numerous EU bodies need to reach a consensus. However, regardless of the specific outcome and legislation set in place, digital privacy is not going anywhere. It should remain at the forefront of every Conversion Rate Optimization practitioner’s mind.