For what feels like the last five years it has been predicted that “next year will be the year of mobile.”

Well perhaps 2012 was finally that year in many aspects, and long live the multichannel shopper I say. So before I start seeing “2013 will be the year of the tablet”, I’m hoping that 2013 will finally be the year of conversion optimisation.

To be more precise this is actually profit optimisation, but let’s not muddy the waters too much and just focus on the big C for now.

Here are the predictions from me and my team at PRWD for what 2013 has in store for the testing and optimisation industry. What do you think?

2013 Predictions

  • The growth of low cost and DIY testing solutions (e.g. Visual Website Optimiser and Optimizely) will accelerate as more brands take the plunge and start testing.
  • Retail brands will start to move towards greater cross-channel integration across platforms including tablet, mobile and Smart TV, putting the voice of the customer and conversion at the heart of service design.
  • More brands will start to talk about the concept of ‘putting it to the test’ as a way of challenging assumptions, perceptions and perceived best practice.
  • More brands embarking on full redesign processes will truly adopt an agile, iterative, user-centered design approach and bring the voice of the customer in at the very start of the process. User research will be less of an afterthought when redesigning.
  • Companies will look to plug their analytics, UX, user research and testing gaps, and have a holistic view of cross platform and channel customer conversion.
  • More brands will realise that on-site conversion improvement is the way to build on a saturated acquisition strategy. If you haven’t read this before then here goes… “For every $92 spent acquiring customers, only $1 is spent converting them.” – Bryan Eisenberg, Conversion Conference London 2011.
  • Technology will continue to evolve to reduce the barrier to entry allowing more SMEs access to behavioural information, and connect this to on-site experiences and split-testing.
  • Companies that invest in a multichannel approach to their service, regardless of customer platform choice, will increase basket size, lifetime value, conversion and deliver a direct advantage over competitors
  • Brands will invest in more expertise to drive their testing programmes. Although many companies have invested in conversion rate optimisation (CRO), few realise the full benefits due to low testing throughput or a lack of skills or insight on where to test.
  • 2013 will be the year that CRO becomes a competitive advantage for companies.

You’ve gotta love a good quote or three…

Who better to provide some quotes than two of the PRWD team who have certainly been there and done it at Shop Direct and Belron in the last few years. If these two aren’t enough, I’ve provided one as well – and you can quote me on it!

Paul Postance:

Organisational understanding and maturity will start to bring optimisation out of the shadows. It will be increasingly seen as a highly cost-effective way to increase performance while reducing acquisition spend – so it becomes a requirement not a ‘nice to have’.

Craig Sullivan:

2013 is when more companies will start to deliver on the promise of conversion rate optimisation, by investing in the tools, techniques and staff to execute a conversion optimization strategy. Whether you are a startup or an established business, the maths is pretty simple; if you convert 10% of your site visitors and your nearest competitor only converts 5%, you’re going to grow faster, spend less and kill their ability to compete with you.

A lot of companies are finding that it’s really tough to push more traffic to your site and get a return on that investment.  Whether this is through SEO, social or advertising, to turn the dial on traffic means spending more money! And that’s why CRO is so important – because you can spend the same or less money, whilst getting more revenue, engagement and retention from the existing traffic you already have.

If John Lewis spent all its money on advertising but the retail experience was terrible, it would be wasting its marketing budget.  Yet this is precisely what happens with many online products – too much money is spent on acquiring customers, only to lose them when they arrive at a site that doesn’t work for them.

In real life you’d be able to see this – queues at the tills, narrow entry doors, messy floors, unhelpful staff, bad signposting – and you’d want to do something about it. Conversion rate optimisation lets you see these problems and fix them – so that you maximise the return from any footfall you’ve driven to your site.

Paul Rouke

CRO will become the new SEO. Businesses will eventually understand that the likes of ‘voice of the customer’ and ‘testing and optimisation’ aren’t just name checked or for the select few.

On-site optimisation will become an on-going, integrated strategy for brands alongside their acquisition and retention strategy.  2013 will certainly see a continued progression towards this promised land, although there may still be years to go.

Useful links & resources

What do you think then?

  • Which of these do you agree or disagree with?
  • Do you feel that we have missed something off the list?
  • If not conversion optimisation, then what do you think 2013 be the year of? (please don’t say the tablet!)