Companies with a structured and process-driven approach to conversion rate optimization (CRO) are significantly more likely than other organisations to improve their conversion rates and increase online sales, according to research published this week by Econsultancy. 

The Conversion Rate Optimization Report, produced in association with RedEye, also found that it is becoming harder to improve conversion rates, with 65% of companies seeing improvements in conversions in the last year, compared to 70% in 2009 and 2010.

The research, based on a survey of more than 700 client-side and agency digital marketers, found that the four variables most strongly correlated with improved overall conversion in the last year are perceived control over conversion rates, a structured approach to CRO, having someone directly responsible for conversion and incentivising staff based on conversion rates. 

The study found that these variables were more strongly correlated with CRO success than use of specific types of technology or methods used for conversion rate optimization. 

Techniques for improving conversion rates

A/B testing was the most popular method among respondents, with 53% using it compared with 44% last year.

The use of usability testing by companies has increased significantly, from 27% last year to 38% in this year's survey. 

Further analysis of data showed that companies whose conversion had improved over the previous 12 months used on average 26% more methods to improve their conversion than those whose conversion had not improved. 

Which of the following methods do you currently use to improve conversion rates?

Elements of websites tested

Across the board, a higher proportion of companies are testing website elements than was the case last year. Call to action buttons (72%) and page layout (71%), are the most tested elements, closely followed by navigation (65%) and copy (63%).

Specifically for your website, what do you test?

Of those who carry out website testing, 75% say they do between one and five tests each month, while 11% carry out more than 10 tests per month, a significantly lower proportion than last year (19%). Companies who were happy with their conversion rates did on average 40% more tests than those companies who were dissatisfied.  


As the online environment becomes more competitive, it is becoming increasingly difficult to improve conversion rates. Most companies are not happy with their online conversion rate. Just 25% say they are 'satisfied' and we believe this figure is dropping because marketers are more aware of holes in their approach to CRO as they become more educated about best practices and the technology and tools available.

However, this research provides firm evidence that it is worth focusing on a structured approach to conversion rate optimization, with investment in people and incentives to help facilitate this. 

Commenting on the research, Econsultancy Research Director Linus Gregoriadis said: "The tools for gathering insight and for carrying out tests are becoming more user-friendly and accessible, but organisations must have the right knowledge and expertise around CRO to complement this, both in-house and within their agencies."

RedEye CEO Mark Patron added: “What we have learnt is people and processes are key. This report highlights just how important employing a structured process is. Companies that had a structured approach to conversion were twice as likely to have seen a large increase in sales. Yet only 31% had a structured process – a major reason satisfaction is so low.”

Graham Charlton

Published 26 October, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (4)


Nick Stamoulis

"it is worth focusing on a structured approach to conversion rate optimization"

You can't go changing elements of your site on a whim and expect to know what is and isn't working. You have to take some kind of process if you want to understand what is helping your site and what isn't.

almost 7 years ago


Craig Sullivan, Customer Experience Manager at Belron International

@nick Agree - but you need specific expertise to 'tip the deck' in favour of the house, like a casino. The odds are on your side, if you have direction, process, methodology and intelligent decision making around what you learn and apply from testing.

Without people, our testing would be nothing more than a chaotic and random assembly.

An orchestra may be the best in the world, but without a conductor, it will be a terrible performance.

18 months ago at the E-C round tables we did, I was hearing 'We need tools' and this year was 'We need to hire good talent'

If there are any fellow optimisers out there who haven't yet joined, please come to our group 'The League of Optimisers' on Linkedin.

almost 7 years ago



It's good to see A/B testing is increasing year by year, but I find still really poor the "market share", only 53% of companies want to increase their turnover?

Also I founded really strange only 48% of the people test their check out process. Whenever I'm thinking in a new project, I think the main winners are:

- Number of fields in the forms
- Call to actions/ buttons
- Check out process

What are your opinions?
Great study

almost 7 years ago


Depesh Mandalia, CEO & Founder at SM Commerce

Completely agree with Craig - from experience historically the need for tools is where companies begin the quest and quickly learn that people is where the benefits lay

Its the 80:20 of spending 80% of your optimisation budget on people and 20% on tools. The process binds this all together.

I would also add the testing is an epidemic that needs to be unleashed within the organisation, not just the conversion team (if you have one) - in a highly complex environment with many stakeholders, starting small and demonstrating the benefits of conversion rate optimisation help grow enthusiasm and support

Finally with so many tools and suppliers out there specialising in aspects of CRO, where Craig mentions the conductor leading the orchestra, you certainly need a good conductor to harmonise your efforts

almost 7 years ago

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