What to Consider When Hiring a CRO Expert
Conversion rate optimisation is a specialist area of expertise, and it’s not for the faint-hearted. The world of CRO is one of relentless testing, in-depth data analysis, and creative thinking. A good CRO must have certain qualities and skills.
In this article, I’ll look at some of the most valuable and address the most common misconceptions about CRO.
The qualities of a good CRO
Each career has its ideal qualities and characteristics from practitioners in the field. But what are the qualities associated with a good CRO?
Patience. This doesn’t just refer to patience in the sense of not giving up when things get hard. It also pertains to patience in the decision-making process. A good CRO expert won’t jump to conclusions or make rash decisions. Instead, they will patiently monitor results, question whether a test could have been more accurately done, and only take action when there’s enough evidence to suggest a conclusion.
Analytical brains. Conversion rate optimisation requires analytical brainpower, and the ability to work with numbers. It’s not necessary to be a mathematical genius, but a natural appreciation for quantitative research will serve a CRO well. Indeed, it’s unlikely that anybody would enter the fray without this ability.
A creative mindset. The sheer number of variables in CRO means that a creative mindset will reap huge rewards. It must be backed up by the data, of course, but the ability to test creative ideas and spot the opportunities from data analysis is invaluable. A mutual appreciation will help to seamlessly integrate the CRO team with the creative team, thereby optimising efficiency and quality of output.
A methodological approach. Iterative testing requires a methodological approach, and this is particularly important for those who specialize in CRO. Scattergun tactics lead to confusion and can blur the clarity of results. Effective CRO must involve processes, methods, and clear pathways.
The skills and knowledge of a good CRO
In addition to certain qualities, you should be looking for CRO experts with particular skills, mixed with tangible experience in the field. Which skills should you look out for when hiring a CRO specialist?
The essential skills were neatly summed up by Jason Clowes in his LinkedIn Pulse article, which makes for very useful reading on the subject. I will summarise his thoughts in the next five points.
Know the basics. A good CRO must understand the psychological fundamentals when conducting tests and understand the concepts of perceived value and cost. They must know about eye-paths and know tactics for improving a website’s visual sequence. These are the foundational skills.
Comprehend value proposition. A good CRO understands an effective value proposition, and how to use CRO to enhance this. It’s essential to know how to validate a value proposition and how to apply different ones for different circumstances.
Minimise customer effort: A CRO must understand customer needs and pains. They must be able to provide solutions that minimise friction and ease the journey flow. They must understand characteristics of the funnel and identify the most critical issues to fix.
Optimise the first five seconds. The five-second test is outlined here by UsabilityHub, and CROs should be able to understand and optimise the critical first five seconds. They should also understand the importance of a strong “scent” (see this video) in maximising conversions.
Undertake A/B testing. CRO is often reduced in common language to the practice of A/B testing. In fact, conversion optimisation is far more complex and consists of much more. That said, A/B testing is a key element of CRO and any expert should be comfortable with this.
Misconceptions about CRO
I recently published a comprehensive article about the role of CRO in business growth and spoke to a number of CRO experts about the common misconceptions abound in their field. Indeed, there are quite a few misconceptions that need to be uncovered.
“CRO is just best practice”. There are no catch-all best practice methods for improving conversions for your website. Yes, there is inspiration, and there are guidelines. But each situation is different. Each business is different, and each audience is different. Good CRO invests skills into a bespoke strategy.
“CRO is just small design changes”. This is about more than just aesthetics. It requires a deep knowledge of the audience and data, and all the variables that could be affecting conversion rates.
“Shorter copy is always better”. Not always. Sometimes, in-depth copy will reassure the audience and increase the likelihood of conversions. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.
“We don’t need to research”. On the contrary, a data-driven approach is critical to effective CRO, and detailed audience research will set solid foundations for ongoing tests.
“CRO will solve everything!” CRO must be part of a broader digital marketing strategy. Without traffic, there’s nothing to test. SEO, content, social, and paid media must integrate with conversion optimisation.
CRO is a specialist field, and whilst most digital marketers have a decent overview of the practice of conversion rate optimisation, you should really be looking for dedicated expertise. Above all, it’s essential to have a considered CRO strategy in place, consisting of verified methodological testing processes. It’s a scientific approach that should be geared towards meeting specific business goals and used in tandem with other strategic digital marketing practices.
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