Marketers Rate the Most Valuable – and Difficult – Conversion Rate Optimization Methods

EconsultancyRedEye-Value-Difficulty-Conversion-Rate-Optimization-Methods-Nov201489% of company marketers (primarily UK-based) feel that conversion rate optimization is crucial (55%) or important (34%) to their overall digital marketing strategy, and 87% of agency respondents agree with respect to their clients, according to the latest annual conversation rate optimization study [download page] from Econsultancy and RedEye. The report contains a host of intriguing data points concerning the methods by which marketers are going about improving their conversion rates, also detailing those perceived most effective.

Before delving into specific methods outlined in the report, it’s worth noting that conversion rate optimization is a growing area of focus for 82% of company marketers surveyed. Interestingly, only 22% are quite satisfied with their current conversion rates, with none very satisfied. Instead, a plurality (41%) are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. At the same time, more than 7 in 10 feel that their online conversion rates have improved over the past year, suggesting that as marketers increase their focus on this important area, they’re also upping their standards.

Looking at the most popular methods currently used to improve conversion rates, the report’s results show A/B testing is the most widespread, used by 67% of company respondents. Following A/B testing are customer journey analysis (58%), copy optimization (54%) and online surveys/customer feedback (50%). No other identified method is currently in use by a majority of respondents, with few using multivariate testing (30%), website personalization (25%) and expert usability reviews (21%).

Agency respondents also tabbed A/B testing, customer journey analysis and copy optimization as the top-3 used by their clients, but agencies reported greater use of cart abandonment analysis (50%) than did company marketers (35%). Meanwhile, multivariate testing (36%) and website personalization (34%) were also in the lower tier of methods used by clients, according to agencies.

This is likely due to the degree of difficulty involved in deploying them. Among company marketers, website personalization was easily deemed the most difficult method to implement, with 84% citing it as very (39%) or quite (45%) difficult. Multivariate testing (70%) and segmentation (70%) are also high on the difficulty scale, while online surveys/customer feedback (29% perceiving as difficult) and copy optimization (32%) are seen as the easiest. A/B testing, the most commonly used method, is perceived to be difficult by around half of the respondents, although few see it as very difficult. (Agency respondents reported similar patterns, with website personalization and multivariate testing indicated to be the most difficult, and online surveys/customer feedback the easiest.)

Putting aside difficulty, the survey dives into the most valuable methods, with A/B testing cited as the most valuable by company respondents, 62% of whom deem it highly valuable. Beyond A/B testing, some 52% indicated customer journey analysis to be highly valuable, followed by multivariate testing (50%), segmentation (46%) and usability testing (45%). Agency respondents similarly placed A/B testing at the top in terms of high value, ahead of customer journey analysis, cart abandonment analysis, and segmentation.

For both company and agency respondents, abandonment email, expert usability reviews and competitor benchmarking are the bottom-3 methods in terms of value, though they were ranked differently by the two groups.

Given its perceived value and relative ease, it’s not surprising that A/B testing is the method which the largest proportion (78%) of company and agency (72%) respondents plan to use to improve their conversion rates. Currently, the areas most commonly tested by company marketers are websites (74%), emails (63%) and landing pages (61%), while paid search is a more popular area than email for agencies.

As for websites, company marketers are most likely to be testing:

  • Call to action buttons (80%, up from 68% in 2010);
  • Page layout (74%, up from 65%);
  • Copy (67%, relatively flat from 65%);
  • Navigation (56%, down from 61%); and
  • Images (50%), up from 42%).

Agencies reported similar testing behavior from their clients, though promotions and offers (61%) were said to be tested by more than images (47%).

Finally, most company marketers said they get their testing ideas from analytics (67%), employee suggestions (58%) and user research (57%), with articles, whitepapers, industry blogs (55%) and competitor website analysis (54%) also key sources. Compared to last year, there appears to have been a big jump in the proportion using previous A/B and multivariate tests.

Other Findings

  • Page views, sales, and sign-ups / registrations are the areas in which most company marketers have noted improved conversion rates.
  • The most important aspects to a successful strategy, according to company marketers, are: defining testing goals and objectives (85% citing as very important); and prioritizing what to test (72%). Agencies concurred (57% and 41%, respectively).
  • While A/B testing is the most common testing method carried out on desktop websites, usability testing is more popular on mobile websites and apps.

About the Data: This is Econsultancy’s sixth Conversion Rate Optimization Report carried out in association with RedEye. There were more than 1,100 respondents to the research request, which took the form of an online survey open from July to September 2014.

Information about the survey, including the link, was emailed to Econsultancy’s user base and promoted online via Twitter and other channels. RedEye, the research sponsor, also promoted the survey to its customers and prospects. The incentive for taking part was access to a free copy of the report just before its publication on the Econsultancy website.

Three in five (61%) survey respondents work for client-side organizations who are trying to improve their conversion rates, while 39% work for agencies, vendors or specialist consultancies.

Some 56% of company and agency respondents are based in the UK.