Why Aren't We Optimizing More?

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It’s 2013. Since conversion rate optimization became important for web sites, we’ve had a social media revolution led by Facebook, a mobile revolution led by Apple and more recently by Google, and search has been overhauled to provide answers directly where it can. In a way, since the beginning of CRO for web sites, the web has been turned on its head - consumption has changed, devices have changed, and as for behavior, well, changed may be an understatement.

And yet here we are in 2013 with tons of web site owners and managers still not paying enough attention to usability and CRO. Swayhub has a blog that touches on the declared reasons and underlying reasons CRO programs are not more widespread. Adobe’s survey sheds light on the declared ones:

Lack of technical and creative resources (87% of marketers)
Lack of budget (86% of marketers)
Lack of appropriate CRO knowledge or training (82% of marketers)

As far as underlying reasons, the main one is that it as creates an extra layer of expertise, it creates a twin layer of accountability. Conversion optimization is a disruptive craft, and those who are used to giving opinions to run projects may have a reason to believe this will make things tougher for them.

Still, all the old barriers to conversion rate optimization seem to be giving way.

Tools

Tools for conversion optimization used to be very complicated, very expensive, or both. Since, there’s been a democratization of these tools – not only are some of the tools free, some have now been integrated into systems marketers use anyway, like clickstream or traffic measurement software. Tools like Optimizely are now price-accessible to a wide range of companies, providing more marketers entry-level access. 

IT Ownership

To run test software, marketers used to rely heavily on IT. Since, tools have become more customizable and less reliant on backend systems, and now pretty much anyone who can edit header tags can start at least getting her feet wet on testing.

Data-Driven Cultures

Only minor inroads have been made here, but more people now rely on data to make decisions. I like to think books like AvinashKaushik’s “Web Analytics an Hour a Day,” “Web Analytics 2.0” and my own “Landing Page Optimization” (2nd edition) have a little something to do with that, but even if it takes markets a while to adjust, market forces and attention to the bottom line typically take care of making companies care more about analytics data. 

Training

Entry level knowledge required to get started with data processing for tests, lead nurturing, condition-based serving of content used to be high. Now, with the proliferation of HubSpot, Eloqua and other marketing automation tools, the level of training and expertise required have gone down considerably - allowing  more players to get started.

So if the tools, expenses, expertise, and training are all leaning towards more mature CRO practices, that just leaves us, the marketers, and of course, our attitudes. Thankfully, attitudes don’t take technology revolutions to shift or major market movements to alter. So if you’re reading this, tell a friend - let’s all push conversion to the next level, where it should be.

P.S. You can join us at Conversion Conference Chicago 2013 on June 11-13 to learn more about the latest trends and techniques and master skills in conversion rate optimization. My keynote will focus on the Conversion Optimization Maturity Model and will help you to prepare your organization for CRO (once all of the excuses have been retired). I hope to see you there!

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