Pleading the Case for Conversion Rate Optimization
February 17, 2014
PPC Hero’s February series will be focused on arming you, the PPC account manager, with all the necessary ammunition to make a strong argument for adding new focus areas in your paid search campaigns to your client. That client can be your direct supervisor or executives if you’re managing in-house, or a client in the traditional sense if you’re working in an agency on several accounts. We’ll cover a range of topics from current focus expansions (CRO, Brand bidding, Video ads) to adding engines (Bing, Twitter, Facebook), so if you’re preparing for an account expansion pitch – this series is for you!
“Conversion rates are up, so I think we’re ok for now.” Famous last words. Ok, perhaps that’s a bit dramatic. These are, however, the words of an account manager that isn’t thinking long-term when it comes to conversion rate potential. You may be ok today, but the market will not be the same tomorrow, next month, next quarter, or next year. To get ahead of that while still maintaining control over the consistent engine changes, you need a solid CRO strategy.
It may also be surprising to hear that we see a large number of potential client accounts that have never done anything CRO-specific with their landing pages outside of interface level optimization – so you’re not alone! Many of those advertisers have done well up to a certain point in terms of staying profitable with paid search. The trick has come in maintaining that performance against the current of such a dynamic marketing channel. Conversion rate optimization is necessary, so how can you best plead the case for adding a direct CRO testing program to your or your client’s account? I’ve got a few ideas:
- Plot conversion rates for last 3, 6 and 12 months, for PPC and other marketing channels.
One of the most exciting things about paid search is the infinite amount of data available, and that’s before you even go in to the ways to analyze and interpret that data. It’s hard to argue data, so an integral piece of pitching CRO is showing that you need it. I recommend plotting conversion rates for your account(s) over the last 3, 6 and 12 months to look at where you see peaks and valleys and what you were doing with the account at the time. Looking at the numbers at those three different times, you can also begin making the argument for why you need CRO. If conversion rates are dropping or staying the same – that’s a problem. If they’ve begun to increase somewhat organically – what could they do with direct focus, post click?
Another key data pool to tap is the other marketing channels you’re competing with, and similar logic applies here no matter what the stats show. Generally, CRO tests and learnings are rolled out website wide (unless previous testing shows otherwise) so focusing on this area can be beneficial for all website visitors from all channels. Show those channels that have made progress and those still lagging behind, and explain how all could benefit. If I’ve said this once, I’ve probably said it approximately twenty-five times – if you don’t have a 100% conversion rate, there’s still work to be done (and a 100% conversion rate could be a bad sign, so I wouldn’t shoot for that either).
- Check out the competitive market – more competitors makes it even more crucial to convert that click if you can get it.
This is pretty straight forward, but paid search is getting more competitive every day all on it’s own. Assume no more actual advertisers enter the market place this year; you’ll still see an increase in your average CPCs as the landscape and it’s capabilities change. If you can win the click battle, don’t lose the conversion war! Show your client the work you’ve done to improve CTR and the increase competition; even better if you’ve got sales cycle length information to share that shows the conversion may not happen on that first visit (more opportunity for research or selecting a competitor). If you’re losing a percentage of potential conversions due to landing page inefficiencies, you’re much better off investing in an offensive CRO program than a defensive remarketing one. No hating on remarketing, by the way, except that the recent changes on guidelines for lists seem to be a real pain for our team. /endrant.
- Explore the best testing software or method for the account – for usability & pace.
Take your time doing your research outside of account performance before you begin discussing a CRO program with your client. You’re more than likely going to want to use a software like Optimizely, Unbounce, etc. and those don’t all function the same for all website hosts/languages. Be sure to check out the nooks and crannies of how your options function and what you are required to do with your site to use them optimally before you jump in. In addition, also consider how you’ll go about testing your pages. This is predominantly based on your website traffic and volume and will determine if you’ll be able to run multi-variate testing in the future or will need to focus on an A/B style.
- Outline costs up front, and keep it as price-conscious as possible.
This isn’t a perfect world, so there can be added costs associated with implementing a CRO program. See what you can learn with free trials, that way you can hopefully start to build value and need without asking for more budget. It is always best to know from the beginning what the long-term costs could be, and then do your best to also…
- Provide estimations of lift – it’s an estimation, but show a possible end game.
Don’t make any promises and provide no guarantees, but using whatever abilities and data you have – try to determine potential revenue or success to be had from your proposed CRO program (more on how to show what that is exactly in a second). If you can match up costs to gains and the gains come out on top, who wouldn’t be willing to get on board? Our team (and most other agencies) will have the ability to show average percentages of improvement in CRO for previous tests, but you can still do this for brand new, in-house implementations as well.
- Complete landing page analysis/present possible tests at the pitch – show that there is a plan and actionable items right now.
Again, show that you’ve put some time and research in to the best ways to tackle this new endeavor and that you’re not just shooting in to the dark. Which conversion types or pages have the lowest conversion rates? Look the individual stages of those lowest performing conversion funnels – where is bounce or exit rate highest? Once you’ve nailed down the worst offending pages, look at the elements of that page that could be pulling down conversion rates and outline a testing strategy (both method and pace) that make the most sense for your account and this conversion type.
Certainly not an exhaustive plan – how do or would you go about making a case for adding CRO/landing page focus to your paid search strategy? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments section below!
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