By Dan Glazer, Head of Partnerships at website optimisation software company Optimizely
The marketing game is changing. Today’s marketers are more data-driven. They’re obsessed with results and ROI. And they’re laser-focused on the one thing that helps them deliver both – technology. By 2017, it’s predicted that CMOs will spend more on IT than their CIO counterparts.
For digital agencies, this burgeoning landscape of data-driven marketers presents an exciting challenge. New technologies and best practices are emerging every day. How does a digital agency looking to be best in class in its industry manage a finite budget and deliver impactful results?
Answer: Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO).
Whether you specialise in designing creative, building websites, or managing ad spend, investing in a CRO skill set will help you grow your agency… and your clients’ business. Here’s how.
1. Lead the charge.
Ten years ago, most marketers didn’t know what SEM was. These days, SEM is not only part of the everyday marketing vernacular; it’s an integral component to any online marketing strategy. That didn’t happen overnight. Recognised leaders in the space started optimising for search in the mid-nineties, establishing best practices and a framework for others to follow. By the time the rest of the world hopped aboard the SEM train, these companies had already established themselves as thought leaders and trusted advisors. CRO adoption is happening even faster than SEM, but it’s still early in the game. Who will be there to build out an optimisation strategy and coach brands through their new testing playbook?
Enter you (and your agency). Don’t stand on the sidelines as your competitor transforms the way your clients do business. Be the agency that introduces your client to their next home run.
2. Turn one-off client projects into long-term engagements.
Unlike building a website or creating a new ad spot, CRO isn’t a finite deliverable. Continuous testing leads to incremental growth, test after test, and can strengthen each one of your clients’ digital marketing efforts.
Building them a new website? Don’t just “set it and forget it.” Lengthen the engagement by monitoring and improving the site over time. Setting up a new media buy? Don’t let it run wild. Deliver long-term results by testing various landing pages and reallocating traffic to the winning page as results come in. Unless you’re converting 100% of visitors today (and if so, please let me hire you!), there’s always room for improvement and an opportunity to deliver better results.
3. Settle debates with hard numbers.
Testing is one of the first steps toward becoming a more data-driven organisation, which is especially vital to a successful client-agency relationship. Have you ever disagreed with a client as to what that headline should say or what image to use? A/B testing allows you to objectively–and quickly–solve that argument and move on. No time wasted with back-and-forth creative treatments, no tiptoeing around big egos, just empirical evidence. In the end, the best experience wins.
4. Use data as preventative care.
With CRO, you can easily monitor site performance and prevent problems for your clients before they arise. Imagine you hire an agency to redesign your website. You spend months wireframing with the agency, discussing the brand, rethinking the vision, and developing the designs. Then, on the day the site goes live, the unthinkable happens – revenue drops. Traffic is constant, but the conversion rate is lower. That’s not exactly the start of a beautiful friendship.
Testing helps ensure the new redesign goes well–an outcome just as important to your agency as the CMO that hired you.
5. Use data as insurance.
Testing not only increases your chances of success, it also keeps you in the game, even when results from tests don’t turn out as expected. Back to the failed website redesign example… Investing so much time money and other valuable resources on a project that turns out to be a complete flop is a scenario avoidable with testing. Had you been running A/B tests on the new design, you would have been able to look back and gain a much deeper understanding of what went wrong. Where did visitors drop off in the funnel? What types of users were more or less likely to convert? What parts of the site did they engage with or not engage with?
Data and analysis gained from testing provides a 360-degree view of website performance. It helps you explain why you did what you did and make the case for continued, more informed iterations. The more data behind your decisions, the more you and your client win.
6. Improve efficiency.
Testing saves you and your client time. Using data to back up decisions prevents unnecessary back-and-forths and helps you execute more quickly, ensuring you’re always delivering the most value per billable hour. Testing also saves money, ensuring efficient use of capital by preventing significant investment into projects (like that website redesign) destined to fail. Speaking of saving money, testing also helps you make more of it.
7. Turn more ad clicks into conversions.
If your clients are spending on ads, you should be doing everything in your power to maximise the chance of conversion – that’s where CRO comes in. Testing pages you send paid traffic to is a proven way to improve conversions and increase your ROI from SEM. Liftopia, for example, increased revenue from SEM traffic by 23%, simply by optimising its landing pages. Focus solely on the top of the funnel is inefficient if you don’t improve the bottom as well.
8. Open a brand new revenue source for your agency and your clients.
Adding CRO to your services offering creates a brand new revenue source for your agency that will allow you to increase conversions for your clients. Increased conversions lead to more revenue for your clients. More revenue for your clients makes your service more valuable. The more value you can create, the more likely it is that you’ll continue to win deep follow-up engagements with existing and new clients. Win for you and your client.
9. Increase recurring revenue for you and your clients.
We’ve said that increasing website conversion rates is a practice that increases revenue. The noteworthy part about this type of revenue is that it’s recurring. Unlike online advertising, where each pound spent only brings as many visitors as you pay for, increasing conversion rates brings in recurring revenue gains that last even after the test stops.
Let’s say your team increases average revenue per visitor (ARPV) for your client by 17%. The new ARPV becomes the new status quo. Since CRO is an ongoing practice, you can constantly uncover conversion increases that increase the stream of recurring revenue for your clients. Do you job well, and you might guarantee yourself a contract to run CRO for your clients year after year.
10. Deliver massive ROI.
Pound for pound, website optimisation offers the highest ROI of any marketing activity. By optimising visitors’ experience of your clients’ brands, you can dramatically improve ROI for your client and enhance the credibility of your agency.