Plenty of users visit your site. But few convert. You’re considering investing in a conversion rate optimization agency because you know CRO is a great way to support your ongoing marketing efforts like paid search, SEO, and social media. And after all, it’s easier to convert traffic you already have than brand new traffic. There’s no doubt that investing in CRO can lead to huge payoffs.
Do I need an agency?
So where do you start? You’re managing a budget and want to allocate resources to get the most for your money. A few options for running your CRO initiatives are to hire an in-house specialist, bring on an external consultant or engage with an agency. Obviously, there are pros and cons to each of these options. With an in-house specialist, you’ll have someone to look after your CRO efforts around the clock, but it’s likely the most expensive option. An external consultant will likely be more cost effective, but you only get the expertise of one professional. The benefit of hiring an agency is that you’ll have access to a team of experts without having to hire someone full-time.
What to look for
This article focuses on the third option: hiring an agency. A partnership with a good CRO agency can boost sales or leads tremendously. Recently at Brain Bytes Creative, we partnered with an orthodontics supplier to boost leads by 63.83% in less than a year.
But picking the right agency is key. We’ve all heard horror stories or had the unfortunate experience of working with bad agencies. You can set yourself up for success by asking the right questions. When choosing a CRO agency, you’ll want to look for a few key traits outlined below.
Is this agency credible?
You’ll want to request a CRO case study to see proof of ROI. Make sure that they’ve been around the block for increasing conversions. Request that the agency walks you through their case studies so you’ll be able to explain the benefits and potential activities associated with the program to your key stakeholders. Ask about the types of clients that they’ve worked with to ensure they’ve covered industries like yours.
Are they data fanatics?
If you’re approached by an agency that swears they’ll uplift conversions on your site but doesn’t have any data to back it up… RUN! You need an analyst on your case to take a fine tooth comb through every piece of website data you have from google analytics, heatmaps, session replays, A/B tests, etc. Every optimization or recommendation you see should be backed up with a data point. TL;DR: Don’t go with the crew that only talks about best practices.
Will this agency be an honest partner?
Because CRO relies heavily on testing and monitoring results, you want to work with an agency you can trust. You’ll want to find an agency that shares the good and the bad. Your CRO agency should be upfront about the red down arrows and present solutions to affect positive change. Be wary of agencies that are only showing you green arrows and picks and chooses what they show you. For example, sometimes tests don’t return the conversion uplifts we’re hypothesizing to see. It’s better to take away marketing insights and analyze why a test may have “failed” rather than push forward with a failed test that you think will create an uplift just because you’ve invested resources into it.
Are they responsive?
You need a CRO team behind your brand that is quick to respond. Because marketing initiatives can change at the drop of a hat, you need an agency that readily available to meet multiple times a month and send update emails in between. Its crucial the agency is there to listen to new marketing developments and to share their progress. For example. If an A/B test is launched that has been previously approved but a new stakeholder steps in and says that it misaligned with their brand, a CRO specialist needs to be able to take the test down on the fly! Your website is a huge revenue stream that can’t be any less than perfect.
Key questions to ask potential CRO agencies
Here’s a list of questions to ask as you vet potential agencies. They’re designed to help you uncover potential problems and make sure they’re legitimate. Hope this serves as a good jumping-off point as you begin your vetting process.
1. How do you determine what pages to prioritize?
Understanding how a prospective CRO agency identifies and prioritizes problems to solve is key to evaluating how they think and approach the job. While there is no one right answer, the wrong answers will surface pretty quickly. A good agency’s conversion optimization approach will be grounded in data and focused on investigating and solving the biggest problems or opportunities hiding within the data. To this end, consider sharing temporary analytics access and asking the agency to walk you through what they are seeing before signing a contract. You are looking for logic, curiosity and a drive to find the biggest win possible. Bad answers are those that are overly vague, hiding in jargon, or seem over-reliant on gut assumptions or feelings versus data.
2. Can you share some case studies highlighting your work that include ROI you’ve brought to your clients?
Website flow mapping is all about thinking of how users will navigate through your site. You add on layers of complexity as you think through how a user will navigate through every page of your website. Many website companies and their clients believe that people go to your homepage first. That could not be more wrong. People arrive on your site by searching Google for a specific keyword and land on a related page. This is why at our agency we see every page as its own “homepage.” By looking at your website holistically, we can control what happens when someone lands on any page and push them into a sales funnel where appropriate so they convert. The next time you are doing a web search, think about where you are landing. Take note. You’ll see that understanding how users navigate though the site is critical to conversions, goal completions, and revenue.
3. What kind of research will you conduct to gain insights on my website?
You’ll want to hear answers like A/B testing, session replay tracking, google analytics review, and mobile and desktop site analysis. Form analysis and cart abandonment analysis are also important, especially if you are in the ecommerce space. Customer journey analysis, including landing pages, referral traffic, session duration and bounce rate analysis are also key techniques in any CRO strategy.
4. To what extent do you rely on data versus hunches or gut assumptions?
You want to work with a data obsessed agency. You want to know that data leads the approach to determining key challenges and opportunities, as well as measuring and reporting results. But there is some room for instincts in this game. Instincts and experience are key for determining the hypothesis once the data has revealed a problem. The data may lead you to the problem page and area, but it takes a combination of experience, logic, and user empathy to develop a meaningful hypothesis for why the issue is occuring. So yes, data will take you to the promise land, but an experienced and intuitive CRO consultant will get you there much faster.
5. What is your CRO process?
Strong answers will include some variation of the following process: research, analysis, experimentation and reporting. Conversion rate optimization is about finding meaningful challenges to conversion and overcoming them. Research and analysis is key to figuring out what the opportunity is and hypothesize on how to fix it. Experimentation refers to designing and implementing an experiment that will test the hypothesis in a meaningful and conclusive way. Reporting is about sharing the results of the experiment, articulating the resulting recommendations, and pointing out any additional insights uncovered on the journey.
6. What kinds of tools do you use?
Your agency should use a mix of conversion tools or a conversion suite and definitely Google Analytics. Using heatmaps, clickmaps, session replays and goal tracking in google analytics are a non-negotiable.In addition to goal tracking, a reputable agency should be analyzing bounce rates, exit rates, landing pages, referrals, and forms in Google Analytics. Aside from quantitative data, be sure to ask about qualitative data like surveys and user testing. Check out a few of the CRO tools and softwares we’ve played with and reviewed here.
7. What is included and NOT included in the CRO program? What expectations do you have of the client and/or what resources will need to be purchased separately.
CRO often requires A/B testing, copywriting, design, and some development support. A full service agency should be able to provide these services but you’ll want to ensure you know what is included in the program costs. Some agencies provide recommendations for your development team after A/B testing with light copywriting and design. As development costs can range in technicality you’ll find most of the time the agency will not include that in their program costs or will offer it as a separate project once uncovering key insights for change from A/B testing. Knowing how much involvement and extra costs associated with the program is important before you begin your engagement.