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21 June 2018 / Opinion

CRO: More than just button colours

Emma Travis / Head of UX & CRO

There’s no denying that CRO works; making small tweaks to websites can and does have a positive impact on key metrics and ultimately, a businesses’ bottom line.

But CRO isn’t just about testing button colours or tweaking labels, at the Figaro Digital Marketing Summit this week, I talked about how businesses’ can integrate a CRO strategy with their wider digital marketing plans, and how it can increase the effectiveness of SEO and PPC strategies.

Here’s an overview of my key takeaways:

Is CRO being taken seriously?

The most recent CRO report from Econsultancy highlighted that although 50% of companies see CRO as crucial to their digital marketing strategy; only 17% have a structured approach to CRO.

However, compare this to 52% of the top performing companies who do have a structured approach to CRO, and it’s obvious that this strategy is providing them the opportunity to get ahead of their competitors.

So where do you start with your CRO approach?

Let’s have a look at the three key areas businesses need to get right to create this structured approach:

1. Culture

2. Process

3. Skills


In some ways, culture is the easiest and at the same time, hardest thing for businesses to get right when it comes to CRO. When we talk about culture, we essentially mean that there needs to be an appetite for, and appreciation of CRO from a senior level.

If CEOs and boards alike are demanding AB tests with no rationale other than their own opinion, chances are those responsible for CRO will soon lose hope.

The best way to ensure buy-in from a senior level is to ensure CRO efforts are clearly aligned with overarching business goals and objectives.

For example, we may run an AB test on the way suggested products are displayed on the basket page, ensuring the potential impact on AOV and therefore revenue is communicated in all test documentation, which helps to create confidence that it is supporting business goals.

It’s also important to start small in the early days to showcase the impact small changes can have, getting people across the business excited about the results CRO can drive. This helps to get sign-off on bigger and more innovative tests further down the line.

Finally, transparency is key in creating a culture of optimisation. Ensuring everyone is kept informed about what is being tested and when, as well as the test results, prevents stakeholders feeling like control is being taken away.


Yep, we might not want to talk about it, but process is so important. So often, businesses are ‘doing CRO’ as a box-ticking exercise, but if you ask for a reason why they’re running a particular test or to see test documentation, they scratch their heads.

You need to implement a process and stick to it, otherwise you lose sight of what’s working and what isn’t.

Let’s cover some of the key steps in a successful CRO process:

CRO process

Hypothesis development challenges you to think about the reason you’re running each test and ensures you agree what success looks like upfront.

Prioritisation - knowing what to test in what order is arguably one of the most difficult aspects of successful CRO. At Epiphany we use an eight-point prioritisation methodology which includes scoring based on traffic levels, devices, potential revenue uplift and the level of supporting insight.

Test result analysis - it’s very rare the results of an AB test are black and white and if you think they are, you’re probably missing a trick. Ensure adequate time is dedicated to finding out not just what happened, but why. Really understanding the impact your tests have provides insight for follow-up tests or iterations.


Whether in-house or through agency support, you need access to a specific set of skills to make CRO really work within a business. Here’s the minimum you need:

Analytics experts: Not just people who can log into GA and identify that mobile traffic converts worse than desktop traffic, or that the basket page has a high exit rate; but those who can ensure GA is configured correctly and is optimised to provide you with the most accurate and complete picture of how your users are interacting with your website.

Research specialists: Conducting high-quality user research can provide invaluable insight into why users are behaving as they are on your website, allowing the solution to be better tailored to the issue.

UX design resource: People who understand how to create user-centric solutions to UX issues, while also considering business objectives.

Front end development: You need this in order to build and QA the AB tests. Development skills for CRO is also slightly different to traditional FED, often there is a requirement to think outside the box regarding how to effectively build the solution.

Data scientist: The results of AB tests are almost never simple, often there is more to it than just ‘doing x, caused y’ and as such it’s necessary to have access to someone who is capable of delving deeper into the data in order to tell a story about the outcome and the recommended actions.

The necessity of collaboration

Taking a tactical approach to CRO can return positive results when you’re getting started with CRO. However, it’s likely you’ll start hitting roadblocks quickly if you don’t consider how it fits into other channel activity.

CRO conducted in silo has a very short shelf life. There needs to be collaboration and communication with other channels and teams to ensure all parties are benefiting from each other.

Why CRO needs to integrate with SEO

Content is king

We all know the saying content is king when it comes to SEO, it’s how Google determines the quality and relevance of your website. However, from a UX and CRO perspective, content can sometimes be a barrier to conversion, so it’s important to ensure CRO recommendations don’t have a negative impact on rankings.

For example, we may recommend removing a block of content on a page due to it pushing a key call to action below the fold, but the implications on visibility need to be considered.


We are truly now living in the ‘age of mobile’. We’ve seeing mobile traffic taking over desktop traffic as a given across the large majority of our clients. In-line with this, Google has recently moved to a mobile-first indexing, which means they are using the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help mobile users find what they're looking for.

This shift towards mobile first indexing also puts added significance on site speed, given that users are more likely to be accessing sites on poorer internet connections. We know from Google research that the longer a page takes to load, the higher the likelihood the user will bounce. A bounce signals to Google that the page did not meet with the user need, which will have a negative impact on rankings.

All of this means that SEO and CRO efforts need to be more integrated than ever to ensure they support, rather than harm one another.

Collaboration between PPC and CRO

Moving on to paid search. With PPC it’s all about relevancy. There is no point sending traffic to pages which are irrelevant to what the user has searched for and clicked on.

Even something as simple as replicating the ad copy into the landing page can have huge impact. It’s also important that landing pages are optimised from a UX perspective to ensure the highest possible chance of conversion.

Even if the copy is relevant, if there’s no obvious CTA or next step on the page to encourage users to get started, it’s wasted traffic. Improving landing pages and thus CR for paid traffic will lead to reduced CPA, improving your return on investment and meaning you have more budget to invest back into your digital marketing strategy.

How CRO fuels innovation within your business

So let’s take a step away from digital marketing for a moment and have a think about how CRO can help business’ grow through innovation.

CRO allows businesses to validate ideas by measuring interest and demand. This method is often called ‘fake door’ testing and involves presenting an option to users that doesn’t actually exist in order to create a business case.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of this in practice:


In the 1980s, worldwide fast-food franchise McDonald’s wanted to introduce pizza to its menu – but instead of buying all of the ingredients, training up their staff, paying to advertise it, instead, the company added it to their menu to see how many people ordered it. This way, they could gauge the demand and interest before going ahead with this business decision.

Needless to say, the McPizza doesn’t exist, so we can guess the results of that test!

Gender specific gift wrap

Last year, a publishing business tested a gift wrap option online for a personalised book, adding the choice at checkout for girl, boy or gender-neutral specific gift wrap, to assess the demand for this level of personalisation.

The business gave a small percentage of customers this option, without actually being able to fulfill it, which can be a risk - but it has meant that they could then make a business choice on whether to add this gift wrap option to their customers.

Fake door testing can be a really powerful tool for businesses but should be used with caution.

So there you go, hopefully this gives you a starter for 10 for implementing an approach to CRO within your business, and demonstrates just how important it is for business growth.

Any questions?

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