According to the state of PPC, conversion rate optimization (CRO) has continuously been a top priority since 2013 for agencies and brands year after year. In the 2018 survey, only 1% separated AI and CRO for the most important aspect of the digital marketing industry, with AI coming out on top. You can read the entire State of PPC Report here.


You read that correctly – CRO and machine learning are only separated by just one percent. As a Sr. CRO manager at Hanapin, THIS IS EXCITING!

What makes this so exciting? CRO has been a priority of ours for years, but this past year I believe we’ve really focused on making it a top priority. Because of the importance we see in CRO, we’ve made some changes in the last year to show just how important it is to our agency, but more importantly, how important CRO is to a pay-per-click strategy. We made changes in order to showcase that CRO is a top priority. It makes my heart smile to see that other marketers feel the same way.

Why is CRO so important?

To quote the State of PPC report, “Spending more money on traffic in order to get more conversions is one solution. Investing in CRO in order to convert your existing traffic at a higher rate is a smarter solution. Optimizing the user experience to result in higher conversion rates is the most effective way to increase ROI…If you had 100 people visit your site, would you rather have 1 convert or 10? Of course, it’s 10. That’s why CRO matters.”

Our CRO Program: Before

In years past, our CRO strategies typically ran perpendicular to PPC strategies. What do I mean by this? Our client relationships were, in a sense, siloed. This segregation made it extremely difficult for the clients to understand how these two strategies fit together. Let’s put it this way – we were preaching how important CRO was to PPC but we didn’t manage it in the same way.

We set up a schedule. We were in a routine.

Our monthly calls were separate from the regularly scheduled PPC calls. We discussed the month’s analysis, current test results, and new test ideas.

We had our set rotation of user behavior analyses. We’d deliver a heuristic analysis one month. Analytics the next month. Behavior map analysis followed. Now it’s UserTesting. Congruency. Competitor. Rinse and Repeat.

We needed internal meetings with the PPC account managers to discuss current initiatives from the two teams. PPC and CRO. We were acting as two. different. teams. Are you kidding me? We didn’t prioritize these meetings so if we didn’t have time to fit it in at the end of the month, no big deal.

Our process had its flaws. We recognized we needed to improve efficiency and reduce friction and hurdles for our clients. Once we recognized that, we sat down as a team to determine what was wrong with our process, what the results were of these problems, and what changes we needed to make.

I’ll say it again: CRO is extremely important to our agency and even more important to a PPC strategy. Therefore, we knew we had to make some changes. We needed to make this importance evident to those we were providing services to and to all of us providing those services. More specifically, our PPC account managers needed clear view-through to what we were doing from a CRO standpoint and, if we were going to maximize our CRO efforts, we needed to understand current and ongoing PPC initiatives.

Our CRO Program: After

Our CRO program was, and is still, solid. What we were doing and what we were offering didn’t change. It was how we did it that changed.

Let me be more specific: All of those analyses that I mentioned before? We’re still doing them. They’re a necessity to understanding where optimizations should be made. The testing we do on a regular basis. We’re still doing that too. That’s how we make our optimizations and understand what will perform better. It’s our approach that changed.

Our monthly calls turned into joint weekly or biweekly calls. In most cases, we aren’t adding another, separate, call onto the client’s already-busy schedule. We discuss current initiatives, results or key insights, and next steps. One call. Because we’re one team. These calls have created constant communication between CRO and PPC managers and give us more view-through on how to maximize PPC and CRO initiatives. In addition, we’ve seen more collaboration with the client, specifically around CRO, that we weren’t seeing before.

We still have a rotation of UX analyses and we still have a general order we typically follow if there isn’t a need or want to stray from this. However, we realized we didn’t need a strict schedule and we needed to allow for more flexibility than we were. Every client and every situation are going to be different. We can allow more time between analyses in order to act on insights we discovered from a previous analysis. Before, we were letting all of the tests and insights pile up, without a chance to act before we moved onto the next analysis.

We no longer needed internal meetings with the PPC account managers. We’re now acting as one team. There’s constant dialog and collaboration.

Final Thoughts

Our CRO strategies now run parallel to our PPC strategies. Clients can clearly see how important CRO is to us and to their PPC efforts.  Our clients are excited about our CRO strategies.

For the last 5 years, CRO has been a top priority for marketers. This past year, it’s following AI/machine learning by only 1%. If you don’t currently have a CRO strategy in place, I highly encourage you to make it a priority and reap the benefits.