Become a Conversion Optimization Champion


Conversion optimization is the secret to transforming website traffic into sales, leads and much more. Discover if it’s the right solution for your organization.

Website traffic is an important business vital sign. However, it’s a mistake to assume high traffic always yields increased sales or leads. That’s because people don’t always perform the desired action on a website, including purchasing a product, signing up for a service, clicking on a link or completing a form. Increasing the percentage of users who perform a desired action on a website takes conversion optimization.

A client recently approached us with a challenge. While their website traffic increased consistently, most visitors were leaving without requesting a quote (their target KPI). Frustrating, indeed! But it’s not an uncommon occurrence. Some companies spend hundreds, if not millions of dollars creating and driving traffic to websites, but they invest very little in ongoing conversion optimization to ensure the websites are meeting customer needs. In fact, Econsultancy estimates for every $92 spent on acquiring a customer, just $1 is spent on trying to convert them. 

In our experience, conversion optimization is one of the most underused yet powerful marketing disciplines that companies and organizations can implement to drive growth and profit.

What is Conversion Optimization?

We define conversion optimization as the systematic process of using data + insights to inform optimization and testing to iteratively improve a website’s performance and capitalize on traffic being driven by all channels. But really, it’s about continually learning and updating a website experience to provide an exceptional digital product for the visitor. 

These optimizations are typically aimed at improving a conversion rate or another desired action on a website. For example, our client wanted visitors to request a quote, but other goals could include:

  • Making a purchase
  • Submitting a form
  • Subscribing to a newsletter
  • Engaging with a specific piece of content

The practice of conversion optimization is the mixture of art and science involved in improving the rate at which visitors take those conversion actions. Because sometimes, even a single percentage point improvement can yield meaningful downstream impacts for an organization. 

Conversion Optimization Satisfaction Gap

Conversion optimization is essential, and it can be meaningful, but many organizations experience what we call the Conversion Optimization Satisfaction Gap. The Econsultancy CRO report found that 50% of companies say conversion optimization is crucial for their digital marketing strategy. Yet, only 1% of companies say they are “very satisfied” with their conversion rates. And most notably, 37% say they are “quite dissatisfied” with their conversion rates. That means that while many organizations express a desire to champion conversion optimization, it appears that few feel they are achieving that goal today. 

So what explains this gap? We’ve found several obstacles that companies face and a wide range of behaviors that companies demonstrate to improve their conversion rate and site experience. We can think of this along a continuum. At one end are companies whose behavior demonstrates that conversion is not a priority. They do little to no optimization or experimentation, and they likely do not have resources dedicated to the function. On the other end of the continuum are companies committed to continual improvement. It’s a priority for them to provide outstanding and optimized digital experiences. They have a robust schedule of ongoing experimentation and resources engaged, either internally or with an external partner (or both). Amazon, Google and P&G are good examples of companies on the leading edge of approaching digital marketing with a results-oriented mindset.

Conversion Optimization Obstacles

We know that moving from left to right on the continuum is no easy feat because companies tend to encounter at least one of four common obstacles. Here they are in no particular order.

Conversion Optimization is Hard Work 

It can be a resource-intensive activity that takes time and people to get right. But, conversion optimization isn’t expensive compared to other marketing initiatives because there’s no specific media spend. And when done correctly, every resource dollar spent to improve conversion rates boosts the performance of all other marketing initiatives. For example, paid channels will drive more business or profit if a website converts better, and organic initiatives will be more effective. In addition, every visitor who lands on a site will be more likely to convert or take the desired action, which improves profitability across the board.

Specialized Skills Are Required

Conversion optimization often requires a variety of specialists, including data analysts or statisticians, UX researchers, designers, developers, content writers, and more. Unfortunately, some companies don’t have people with these specialties on staff or have limited resources in some areas. But conversion optimization doesn’t have to be all or nothing! If you don’t have a data analyst, for example, you can find a tool or online calculator to help analyze test results. The point is, don’t let a lack of resources keep you from getting off the ground. Often we recommend starting with a pilot program that focuses on one or two high potential opportunities to demonstrate the value of the discipline and justify investment in an expanded program. With proven results, excitement builds, and the case for deploying resources becomes much more doable.

Conversion Optimization Is Complex

Conversion optimization can be tricky. Where’s the opportunity? What pages or site sections need improvement? What exactly would improve an experience? You can optimize or update almost anything on a website, but the trick to success is figuring out where you will have the most impact or where the biggest opportunities lie. To answer those questions, you start by learning. The initial research phase of a conversion optimization program is arguably the most important. In this phase, we use tools like User Testing, competitive analysis, heat mapping, and session recordings to uncover pain points and opportunities backed by actual data and insights, not personal opinions. Then, a prioritized conversion optimization roadmap can be built using those inputs that are then tested, optimized and analyzed in an ongoing cyclical process. 

It Takes Management Support

When making a case for conversion optimization, do so in terms that leaders will appreciate—through data. Give them information like profit and revenue and how conversion optimization can make an impact. We utilize a modeling calculator that helps size the conversion optimization prize for any organization, which ultimately helps with that initial executive buy-in. 

Conversion Optimization In Action

At the beginning of this piece, I mentioned a client whose website traffic increased consistently, but most visitors were leaving without requesting a quote. So, instead of moving forward with preconceived ideas based on assumptions, we took a systematic approach to launch a testing program. Through several months of research, we learned that visitors had a range of expectations when visiting the website and that our existing experience was not doing enough to meet those expectations. We then used that insight and others like it to build a prioritized optimization roadmap that served as our marching orders for updating the website experience

By using data-supported insights to drive our strategy, within the first 18 months, we produced meaningful results for our client, increasing conversion rate by 23% for the core segment and driving over $8M in incremental long-term revenue based on those improvements.

So is conversion optimization worth the investment in your organization? The next move is yours.