Managing Director at Blueclaw Media Ltd
30 July 2009 15:06pm
Blueclaw do not offer these services exclusively but we have long considered conversion rate optimization a vital part of both our SEO and PPC campaign strategies.
With some US websites such as ProFlowers and Office Depot regulalry posting conversion rates of 30-35%, it goes to show that most sites can benefit handsomely from conversion optimization. Google provides a very powerful and free tool in Website Optimizer for A/B and multivariate testing which can provide significant improvements for most sites.
Managing Director, Blueclaw Media Ltd
30 July 2009 15:45pm
thank you for raising awareness of this fantastic field.
I have been advocating my clients to look at optimisation before they proceed with any massive marketing drives whether SEO, PPC or social media marketing campaigns.
And just to confuse your list, I've gone with the correct spelling of "Conversion Rate Optimisation" :)
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Managing Director at Clickstream Technologies PLC
30 July 2009 16:14pm
You have certainly hit the spot. We have also been seeing many more consulting companies focusing on conversion as a better ROI than just driving more visitors to a client's site.
As Matthew Tod analysed, we are one of the technology companies! However, our Datasherpa Platform will accelerate and simplify the deployment of any optimisation tool. Have a look at these on-line videos from our site on how we work with GWO:
As well as being vendor agnostic, we are happy to work with optimisation consultants, conversion consultants etc. as they are our best partners for working with the website owners.
All the best,
Managing Director, Clickstream Technologies
Customer Engagement Director at The Yolk
31 July 2009 00:01am
This is a great post and is still something that is highly overlooked by a lot of organisations. The key is educating them to execute optimisation (on the up and downstream of projects) in an effective and purposeful way.
You are also right on the money with how companies are specialising instead of becoming one-stop-shops, and this exposure to the specialist approach will hopefully start to outline the benefit to clients of each of the different, individual aspects of the digital arena.
Our company Sticky Panda is a Digital Strategy and User Experience agency that specialises in online performance and customer behaviour to try and make a successful mix of business and customer objectives. We provide the service to clients direct as well as other digital agencies, so please get in touch!
Digital Director, Sticky Panda
Sticky Panda website : www.stickypanda.com
Digital blog : www.phailanx.co.uk
Managing Director at Lynchpin Analytics
31 July 2009 00:29am
Me Too! In the old days there would have been an <AOL></AOL> tag around this post...
We (Lynchpin - end plug) do analytics. Analytics should always be about performance optimisation. Sometimes, but not always, conversion rate is a focal point.
Ashley - I think you hit the nail on the head with "sweat the assets". The driver here is (and I hate to use a dirty word that hasn't been mentioned so far): profit.
Personally, I don't like the focus on a specific metric or the divide between on-site (content performance) and off-site (marketing performance) analytics - and I suspect a lot gets lost in the middle.
Devil's advocate: two quick steps to double your site conversion rate:
1. Stop marketing: existing customers are _so_ much easier to convert than new ones.
2. Half all your prices: people apparently tend to buy more when it's cheap.
(And remember publishers need completely different metrics here, and they need analytics and optimisation too...)
This is a (big) bit of a crass simplification. Matthew has a deserved first
post in this topic because Logan Tod have consistently put genuine
pounds and pence against online retail performance for years.
Conversion rates are intrinsincally linked to customer value, traffic quality and audience growth. You can't necessarily decipher everything from the metric itself.
Every digital agency on the planet will do "optimisation" (i.e. apparently getting more out of spending the same money... with that digital agency).
The analytics play is actually about a neutral, holistic view of what does and doesn't work, Conversion rate is only a metric.
We all talk about ROI... the real challenge in "these climes" is figuring out what practical changes are going to increase the bottom line.
I'm only really satisified when Lynchpin does that.
My £0.02 - but obviously highly optimised!
CEO at Logan Tod & Co.
31 July 2009 09:49am
I thought it worthwhile to summarise the Logan Tod &
Co view of the Independent Optimisation Consultant market and how we see it
evolving. In particular I will try to explain what we see as the drivers for
the development of this niche and why external consultants are now hired by
many companies to tackle three distinct areas.
1. Marketing optimisation
The optimisation of online marketing campaigns is done by
all agencies of note and internally by many client organisations. Given the
predicted growth in online marketing and the dramatic changes in budget
allocation this area is set to become very much more important. Currently this
area is tough because of all the different tracking tools (usually poorly
configured) being used, the issue of attribution and the dramatic under
investment in understanding campaign performance. We still find it extraordinary that clients
use their agencies to report on the effectiveness of their own campaigns - this
simply does not happen in the offline world and we don't believe it will be the
norm in a mature online world.
So why hire an independent optimisation consultant?
- We work across all online marketing channels
- We include offline marketing within our analysis, and
are starting to bring. econometric modelling techniques to bear to explain
- We are analytics ninjas who know how to analyse cross
session / channel conversion using almost any of the available tools (not just
GA, but all the enterprise class tools, the channel specific reporting tools
and customer data)
- Most importantly of all we take a channel agnostic
view. We are independent, our analysis is free from channel bias as it does not
matter to an independent consultant which marketing techniques are used, what
matters are the results achieved.
2. Site optimisation
Typically this is more of an internal program run by the
client company, though some build agencies do offer it as an additional
service. Almost always it is an under
resourced area, though usually the organisation has plenty of inaccurate and
confusing data and does not know what to do with it. It is also worth noting
that the days of making simple user interface changes to make a big difference
in conversion rate are mainly gone for larger clients since most sites now
offer adequate usability. The issues now are loyalty and persuasion, creating
the desire and momentum to buy repeatedly, rather than removing usability
- Typically independent consultants are technology and
solution neutral, so advice is free from bias and simply focussed on achieving
- We have experience at dealing with the issues and
exploiting opportunities. We collate and create best practice from across our
client portfolio which we then bring to bear on each engagement
- We provide additional expert resource and skills that
can be bought in to fill gaps and work alongside the existing team.
- Consultants are more able to affect change across
departments or teams or at a senior management level
3. eBusiness optimisation
As Andrew points out above improving conversion rates is
easy - halve prices and stop marketing - and this shows the fallacy of pursuing
a conversion rate optimisation program alone. Profit is what independent
consultants are all seeking to deliver, and as Dr Dave Chaffey writes
optimising marketing and the site experience are but two elements of improving
online business performance. To really make a difference an independent
optimisation consultant must also look at the wider issues such as:
- Strategy & proposition
- Business processes
- Staff & skills
- Systems and fulfilment
- Technology platform
The goal of this work is to identify from a business
perspective the real constraints to building an effective profitable online
presence. The assumption that the constraint is marketing or even the site
conversion rate is frequently wrong and the real issues actually lie much
This area is much closer to the work management
consultants do, but needs experience and detailed understanding of the online
space, coupled with deep analytical skills and the ability to create and
deliver much larger change programs. This is classic consulting territory and
all the usual reasons to hire a consultant apply.
How does this view of the world compare to your experience? I would love to know!
Logan Tod & Co
Founder and President at Maxymiser
31 July 2009 15:35pm
It is great that you, and the market are finally recognizing this important area.
Here at Maxymiser all we do is manage and increase our clients conversion rates. Our conversion managers have been doing this and nothing else for the last 3 years with great results for clients across all industry sectors.
I'm happy to be contacted through www.maxymiser.com.
Founder & Director of Optimisation at PRWD
01 August 2009 07:22am
Ashley how could you overlook one of your own! Only joking, but as one of the Econsultancy industry expert training team I would certainly throw my (PRWD) hat in to the 'conversion optimisation and site performance consultants' ring.
Alongside ourselves featuring in the Econsultancy 2009 User Experience Buyers Guide, I'm so far surprised not to see more of the other 25 usability specialists that are profiled putting themselves forward. In this buyers guide I was also pleasantly surprised that almost all of my industry insights that I provided as part of our profile submission are featured.
Echoing comments you made in your post and what others have shared in their responses, my insights are very much centered around the definite shift in client focus, investment and expectations.
The shift in investment is from:
Or to put all this in a much more creative way, I think I'll use your 'sweating their assets' term in future if thats OK?!
Matthew Tod and others have certainly done a fine job of showcasing the benefits of hiring consultants such as myself, and the wide variety of business areas that what we do impacts on, so I won't now move on to listing out what we do and why its important.
Our homepage statement 'We will improve your online conversion rate' is our client pledge and especially in a recession it could be alot worse. On reflection I'm really tempted to do a split test to see whether 'We will sweat your assets' will improve our own conversion rate, if you don't mind me using it?
So Ashley, any chance you could add us to your original 'hit list'?! I have done a bit of cross linking for you as well if that gives us extra brownie points..
CEO at SciVisum.co.uk
04 August 2009 00:45am
I guess what we do here at SciVisum with clients from Tesco to Boden, is not at the SEO/PPC/we abalyticsend of optimisation - but our user journey measuring approach does directly help reduce drop out in the 'last mile' ; hard to spot technical issues and sporadic errors on the site.
Matthew - Hi - I guess in terms of your 4 categories, we're a technology vendor - but optimisation for us is not bolted on, but integral to our services.
Head of eCommerce Partnerships at Google
07 August 2009 16:28pm
Thanks Ashley and everyone else who's posted - great to see so much interest in this space. At Google we're really keen for our clients to benefit from the kind of expertise many conversion consultants have. The potential impact on AdWords ROI is huge. To help do that, on 1 July we launched an accreditation programme for companies in this area: Google Conversion Professionals (www.google.co.uk/gcp). We're hoping this will help our clients find expert help more easily, and not be distracted by some of the cowboys out there. I encourage all the experts who've posted to this thread to take a look at the criteria and apply - or let me know directly if you have any feedback on the programme.
Head of eCommerce Partnerships
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