I’ve been in the CRO industry for many years now, and each year I ask the same questions.

Is 2016 finally going to be the year of conversion rate optimisation? 

What will be the latest new trends shaping the success of CRO? What new tools or services will appear? Will CRO start to approach the popularity of web analytics or SEO?

While it still may not be this year that CRO finally hits mainstream, the signs are looking more positive – indeed, the findings of the 2015 CRO Report by Econsultancy and RedEye suggest a rising maturity of CRO.

But what will be the major CRO trends that online businesses adopt and take advantage of in 2016? 

Here are the top CRO trends that I foresee happening this year:

1. Growing in-house CRO resources

2016 will see a very positive continual shift in online businesses building and improving in-house CRO capabilities.

In particular, the continuation of hiring dedicated CRO roles – echoed by the 2015 CRO report, that found over two-thirds (69%) of respondents now have a dedicated internal CRO resource, the highest percentage since the report started seven years ago.

However, many online businesses will continue to find it hard to hire CRO talent due to a low number of suitable candidates, a resource that hasn’t caught up with the rapidly growing demand yet.

The 2015 CRO report also supported this by revealing that the biggest barrier to CRO success is a lack of resources.

Using a full-service CRO agency to bridge the internal gap or converting internal web analysts are great options to consider.

What are the biggest barriers preventing your organization from improving conversion rates?

CRO barriers responses

2. An increase in sticky website elements

This year will see increasing usage of sticky website page elements to improve user navigation experience and to better highlight key conversion-related items.

These sticky elements often have a strong impact on CRO because they help cut out the clutter and focus navigation on content that maximises conversions. 

Good examples of these page elements include sticky header navigation menus, sticky sidebars and sticky CTA buttons, which you can now find on smart websites like B&Q and PC World.

It’s definitely worth A/B testing these sticky page elements on your site soon.

sticky element example

3. The commoditisation of A/B testing tools

The growth of lower cost A/B testing tools will continue in 2016 with newer contenders like AB Tasty growing its presence in the UK and filling the small business needs that Optimizely seems to be vacating.

Helping to fuel this further, each year we seem to see a new entrant into the market, and this year there is the exciting rumour of Google planning a much improved A/B testing tool to replace Content Experiments. 

Another driver of this commoditisation of A/B testing tools will be the increasing appearance of an A/B testing functionality in other offerings like CMS systems, much like Sitecore has recently successfully implemented.  

4. Increasing usage of video to influence and persuade

Over the last few years there has been much greater use of homepage videos to convert visitors. This includes things like explainer videos, product demos and customer testimonials.

The recent increase in lower-cost website video creation services like Demoduck will certainly help this trend continue in 2016.

High quality, benefit-driven videos on key pages can have a huge impact on increasing engagement and conversions.

An excellent example of this is the explainer video on the Visual Web Optimizer homepage, which is high quality, focusing on key benefits with a strong CTA at the end.

I would suggest taking advantage of this trend by creating explainer or demo videos for your key products and A/B testing the impact of them.

explainer video

5. A demand for higher quality A/B test ideas

We’re starting to see a trend for higher quality testing, an encouraging sign of CRO maturity, as online businesses strive for even better results from their A/B testing efforts.

In other words, it is becoming less about running a high quantity of tests and the myth that this will equal better results, and more of a focus on lower quantity but higher quality ideas to gain better results. 

Gaining much greater visitor feedback from usability testing and surveys will play a key role in forming stronger impact ideas, as will online businesses that are starting to benefit more from external CRO expertise for test ideas – the increase in CRO agencies offering expert reviews and heuristic analytics is helping to fuel this. 

Relying on test ideas from HiPPOs and best guesses will hopefully soon become a thing of the past.

6. Greater capabilities of website personalisation tools

Personalisation remains a very hot topic in the world of CRO, with an increasing demand for personalisation tools – according to the 2015 CRO Report only 22% of respondents were using it, but 56% were planning on using it soon. 

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

personalisation responses

With this greater demand for personalisation tools in 2016, the capabilities within them will increase, including growing sophistication (and lower cost) of 1:1 personalisation and cross-channel personalisation across web, email and apps (and even the emergence of in-store).

Good examples of recent newer personalisation tool offerings are Contour from RedEye and Optimizely Personalisation. 

7. More big name website redesign failures

Website redesign failures usually occur due to changing too much at once without using enough CRO redesign best practices.

The most spectacular recent failure happened to Marks & Spencer in 2014, when a major redesign costing £150m resulted in an 8% decrease in online revenue, thousands of annoyed customers and probably several people losing their jobs.

Which big brand will be next in 2016 to publically reveal a major website redesign failure? One will be coming soon, I’m sure of it. 

It can easily be avoided though. Incremental CRO-driven changes lessen the risk of failure and ensure higher conversion rates and revenue, instead of step-change redesign without adequate involvement of A/B testing, experts, visitors and their feedback.

This new and improved approach to redesign is starting to finally appear, and is being adopted by many CRO agencies including RedEye. 

Which CRO trends do you think will be biggest in 2016?

Now over to you – what are your thoughts on these CRO trends for 2016? What other trends do you think will be big in 2016?

Please comment below so we can discuss and get some great conversations going.