Selecting the best Conversion Optimization agency for your specific business situation and needs can sometimes have more of an impact on the results you’ll achieve than the actual CRO tactics that will be implemented. The industry has come a long way since the days of solely testing button color. There are a lot of factors to consider when researching agencies.
How to Choose A CRO Agency: 9-Point Checklist
We’ve made that critical task simpler by distilling those factors into 9 skills CRO agencies should possess:
- Deep understanding of neuropsychology and persuasion
Human decision making is anything but logical. To help guide a web visitor down a path requires an understanding of the irrational biases in our brains that dictate our motivations and drive our actions. These motivations can be impacted at all 3 levels of web interaction: cognitive, visual and physical.
On the cognitive level, a CRO agency should understand how to leverage common persuasion techniques including urgency, scarcity, fear of missing out, social grouping and comparison manipulation techniques including, anchoring, decoying, and concession-asking.
For visual persuasion, agencies should have demonstrated knowledge in how to use the primary visual characteristics – size, color, shape, position, and motion – to guide visitors to the preferred action while not distracting with unnecessarily prominent visual elements.
Finally, the physical aspect of web visits such as mouse movement, clicking and typing can be greatly influenced through the use of the sunk cost fallacy (how humans are more likely to complete a started task) and Fitts law (understanding how the distance to a button and size of button impact engagement) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitts%27s_law.
- Mastery of web analytics and heat mapping analysis
Visitor research is key to devising CRO strategies to increase conversion. Quantitative research can include many different tools, but at a minimum should include web analytics and heat-mapping tools to discover important visitor behavior trends. And the CRO agency should have the ability to identify and create visitor segments to get a clearer breakdown of these trends at a more detailed level. This allows the agency to devise recommendations and testing relevant to the varied visitor classes that will tend to behave differently on your site.
- Thorough knowledge of web design
Understanding best practices design tactics seems like a given, but there are many nuances to an effective design that drive engagement and conversion. Agencies should have demonstrated experience in testing design elements that may be getting in the way of the visit experience, reducing the number of font treatments, applying a consistent font hierarchy, and creating a clear visual flow to guide visitors to conversion. This also applies to testing imagery, look and style of buttons, colors and contrast.
- Ability to identify visitor intent
The core of improving conversion lies in identifying visitor’s needs, concerns, pain points and visit intent. CRO agencies should have processes in place for conducting qualitative research – stakeholder interviews, customer interviews, surveys/polls, customer journey mapping and online research to understand at a deep level the psychographic makeup of your visitors. The findings will greatly influence messaging, call to action text and hierarchy of information.
- Proficiency in statistics
Evaluating CRO performance is a number’s game. Agencies should be comfortable identifying both macro and micro goals and have a clear grasp of the meaning and use of statistical metrics including: statistical significance, confidence intervals, sample size, and P-factor. We’ve seen several a/b tests where the client drew erroneous conclusions because they didn’t incorporate or fully understand factors like these.
- Provides CRO services beyond testing
After completing a conversion assessment, sometimes it may be determined that the best path to improving conversion may not be testing. In cases where the site is so fundamentally flawed from a usability and conversion perspective, the path of testing could take a year or more to see significant improvements in conversion. The CRO agency should be prepared to embark on a complete conversion redesign of the site, followed by testing. Although some may argue that this is a riskier approach than testing, we feel that the risks in terms of lost opportunity costs are even greater when we encounter sites that are not likely to see quick improvements from testing.
- Ensures that test ideation is supported by sound hypotheses
The hypothesis provides the basis for that test, the expected change in visitor behavior and determines the variables that will be key to evaluating its performance.
- Doesn’t lock you into long term agreement
Although conversion optimization should be an ongoing iterative process, agencies should not be allowed to hold you hostage when they’re not successfully delivering results. Any minimum term requirements of over 3-4 months could be a red flag.
- Can show demonstrated successes … and acknowledgment of failures
The cliche “You can’t win them all” most definitely applies to testing. Be sure to ask the agency about both testing wins and failures. Any agency that proclaims 100% success with A/B tests is likely not being honest with you. Sometimes you can learn more about the CRO agency by getting them to discuss the surprising testing losses they’ve experienced and any resulting strategic adjustments made in the client’s test plan. Finally, it could be helpful to work with an agency that has proven experience in a similar type of business – eCommerce, lead generation or informational.
Example Interview Questions to Ask A CRO Agency
Here are a few example interview questions you should be asking the agency:
- How do you arrive at testing hypotheses?
- What is your process for identifying both quantitative and qualitative information that will help formulate testing ideas?
- Do you have access to any competitive intelligence tools that might be helpful in determining what my competitors are testing and which versions are winning?
- Am I a good candidate for multivariate testing versus A/B testing? If so, what are the benefits?
Investing the time to thoroughly vet CRO agencies will more than payoff in terms of attaining and exceeding your online goals. Using the 9 tips above will help give you a systematic approach that will guide you to the right CRO agency for your needs and ensure the greatest likelihood of CRO success.