Do you know any conversion rate optimisation nuts? It’s likely you do, and that in itself is strange.

Why should improving the efficiency of your marketing online be an acquired taste, like rugby league or larping?

One of the alarming findings of Econsultancy’s Conversion Rate Optimisation Report (in association with RedEye) is a continued strategy vacuum.

Let’s take a look.

Is CRO stagnant?

The report surveyed 900 people, around two thirds from client-side marketing teams.

Of these client-side respondents, 69% had someone within their company directly responsible for improving conversion rates. In 2014 this figure was 72%.

While there has been an increase in those with more than one person responsible for CRO, the overall picture for staffing is fairly flat.

This shouldn’t necessarily be cause for alarm; tech and data improvement, as well as greater collaboration, should also be driving improvement.

However, when we look at strategy, clients seem a little stuck in the mud.

A lack of a structured approach

The chart below is fairly explanatory, showing only about a third of client-side respondents admitted to having a structured approach to improving conversion rates.

structured approach to cro

Dan Barker, a respected ecommerce consultant, sums it up nicely:

[This] is a big surprise, particularly as the vast majority of respondents told us they are personally involved in CRO within their companies.

This may indicate frustration from respondents at their wider organizations, or may indicate that the immaturity of the techniques, and the need to constantly push and introduce new technologies, mean that it has not yet been possible to embed formal processes.

Both technological and cultural gripes do appear elsewhere in the survey data.

Tech and culture, what else?

The chart below shows that companies see lack of resources as the biggest barrier to improving conversion rates, though this has decreased from 57% in 2014 to 45% in 2015.

As Matt Curry (head of ecommerce at Lovehoney) suggests in this post on ecommerce trends, 2016 may be the year when companies seek to rationalise third-party solutions, losing anything that doesn’t add significant value.

Perhaps this streamlining, alongside platform improvement, will reduce tech worries in 2016.

biggest barriers to cro

There are a number of barriers (in the chart above) that I see as falling within the broader category of leadership.

Conflicts of interest, lack of strategy, poor company culture and a siloed organization all represent challenges for around a quarter of respondents.

As these are not necessarily the same quarter, it may be that a majority of respondents have some form of organisational strife.

A definitive lack of strategy

Strategy doesn’t feature as highly in the list of challenges to CRO (in figure 71 above), but it’s likely that gripes about company culture also include dissatisfaction with company focus.

An open-ended question about improving CRO seemed to tease out strategy as a more definitive pain point.

Respondents were asked ‘What would make the biggest difference to your (or your clients’) company in improving conversion rates?’ 

Answers included dedicated staff, more collaboration, focused strategy, increase understanding through testing, and more.

Strategy, though, is what comes through loud and clear when we put all of the open-ended answers into a word cloud, shown below.

wordcloud - biggest challenges to CRO

Depesh Mandalia, head of digital marketing at Lost My Name, has the last word:

It is interesting to observe that ‘strategy’ was the most mentioned word from respondents; it goes without saying that the initial rush into CRO is followed by a period of chaos from which strategy is the missing component.

CRO is a multi-faceted discipline with no single blueprint for every business and so strategy becomes the overarching guide to bigger CRO wins.