Still Obsessed with Conversion Optimization? Here's Why You're Not Getting the Full Picture

Lauren Burgess  |  May 17, 2018

Lauren Burgess  |  May 17, 2018


The popularity of conversion rate optimization (CRO) cannot be denied. It’s the primary optimization philosophy for businesses of all sizes around the globe and, in many instances, it works very well in delivering the kind of conversions a company needs to thrive.

Here are a few of the pluses of conversion rate optimization:

  • It’s Simple

Initially, it can feel like any kind of optimization is a complicated process. There’s a lot of research to be done, terminology to learn and testing to set up. But actually, the ideas behind it are very simple.

With CRO all you need to do is decide on a specific metric you want to improve, identify the aspect of your website that most directly affects the metric, then keep testing variations of it until you come across the version that gets the most uplift. As you move through the customer journey, you continue to optimize each section until you have created an “idealized” journey with minimal friction.

  • It’s Scientific

CRO is a scientific process. It involves focused research, the development of hypotheses, multivariate or A/B testing to assess options and final evaluations. The “winning” variation is rolled out and the process can start all over again.

The continuous cycle of optimization ensures that changing audiences and expectations are catered to as quickly as possible (though the correct analytics technology would need to be in place to monitor performance changes.)

  • It’s Easy to Evaluate the Outcome

Judging the success of your CRO initiative is easy. As you’re only optimizing for a single metric, success is predicated on that one metric improving. If it doesn’t, you can go back to the drawing board and develop a new hypothesis.

So far, so good. CRO is a solid optimization model that has worked well for years now. But what if there was an even better way?

Why isn’t CRO Enough to Deliver Remarkable Customer Experiences?

  • It’s Hyper-Focused on Single Objectives

Raising the clicks on a CTA on a single landing page, for example, is a great use-case for CRO. But applying it to an entire website that has many purposes and will go through a litany of designs is inefficient and hugely time-consuming. It’s much better to focus on an optimization strategy that can look at the customer journey as a whole.

  • It’s Far too Idealistic

There is no perfect version of a website. What’s ideal for one person’s needs is overly complex and confusing for another. The idea that with enough testing you can create a design that appeals to all website visitors equally is outdated and doesn’t make sense for the digital customers of today.

The idea that with enough testing you can create a design that appeals to all website visitors equally is outdated and doesn’t make sense for the digital customers of today.

  • Its Effects are Often Short-Lived

Changes that drive high levels of conversions are not necessarily long-term predictors of success. If an ecommerce site has a 50% off sale, for example, they’re likely to have a big jump in conversions, but once the sale is over they will return to normal.

Effects like this have no impact on longer-term revenue drivers like customer lifetime value. It’s a quick win for the company, but a forgettable experience for the customer.

  • It Doesn’t Address the Needs of the Customer

CRO is all about optimizing for specific actions, not intentions, experiences or emotions. This focus on driving immediate instances of desired user behavior rather than optimizing for a positive experience regardless of how the customer interacts with your site means that all your efforts are persuasion-centric rather than customer-centric.

  • It Doesn’t Work Well for Personalization

Customers are used to experiencing a level of personalization in their “offline” interactions. Whether it’s a barista remembering they always order a large hazelnut cappuccino or a retail sales assistant making recommendations based on their personal style, personalization is happening on many levels all around us. Whether consciously or not, we’ve come to expect this online as well. When digital experiences are individual, CRO becomes an unmanageable optimization strategy.

When digital experiences are individual, CRO becomes an unmanageable optimization strategy. 

Where Do We Go from Here?

By moving beyond the focus on conversion, we can begin an optimization process that considers the entirety of the digital experience. Using a digital experience intelligence platform like Decibel, performance can be measured automatically and digital teams receive instant alerts whenever any UX or technical issues are detected. Using forensic analysis tools, patterns and trends can be investigated thoroughly.

Once the issue has been examined with both quantitative and qualitative analysis, you can decide on one of three courses of action: perform a straight fix, develop a hypothesis for a test, or use it as an opportunity for personalization. This model puts the customer at heart of your business. When experiences improve, conversions go up as a natural consequence.

Enterprises using a digital experience optimization model demonstrate a greater level of digital maturity and are far more prepared for the future. In coming years, customers will expect real-time optimization, meaning your team will have to intervene in negative experiences as soon as your digital experience intelligence platform detects them. CRO simply won’t be able to keep up.

Discover more about undergoing a digital transformation and adopting mature optimization strategies by clicking on the image below and reading our ebook.

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Lauren Burgess

Written on May 17, 2018 by:

Lauren Burgess

Lauren is a Digital Marketing Executive at Decibel.


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