CRO: How to build an ideal optimization team in your company
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) designates all the actions put in place to improve conversion on your website: A/B testing, personalization strategies, etc.
According to eConsultancy, 49% of companies say they want to increase their dedicated conversion optimization budget. Performance in the digital world is a genuine concern for all brands.
Tools and technologies alone are not enough for success. You need a structured approach and a dedicated team. In 2018, 26% of companies set up a dedicated optimization team. This article aims to guide you in how to go about setting up a CRO dream team.
1 Why develop a CRO culture in your company?
The implementation of a structured and effective CRO strategy is a real challenge that begins with an essential element: the team you build to manage the conversion optimization of your website.
But why is it essential to build an in-house dedicated conversion optimization team? Why not use an agency?
Having an in-house CRO team guarantees autonomy in your projects. With the right methodology, you can involve the entire company in the optimization process and acquire skills through the accumulated experience.
Frédéric de Todaro, Head of Consulting – Kameleoon
Involving the entire company in the optimization process
By building an in-house team, you are helping to break down the siloes in the company: improving communication between teams and increasing awareness about conversion optimization issues (and not only for the team in charge of dealing with it).
This CRO team will be tasked with involving all departments in questions of digital performance. It is thus easier for them highlight the problems they encounter and, more generally, to align the conversion optimization strategy with the company’s goals.
The success of your CRO process will depend on your in-house capacity to identify the most relevant and most effective use cases.
Continuously learning and rapidly improving
By building a CRO team within your company, you are investing in the future. An in-house CRO team gives you a significant advantage: you have access to all the data linked to the actions implemented as part of your strategy (analyses, results, etc.) while each action, and each test enables you to acquire skills and find out more about your needs, best practices and what is working on your website. This raises several questions for you:
- How can I structure my CRO team?
- What kinds of people should I recruit?
- What traits should I prioritize in the future members of my CRO team?
2 How do you set up a dedicated conversion optimization (CRO) team?A dedicated conversion optimization team is a crucial lever for improving the performance of your website, as long as it is structured and it brings together the right skills.
How do you structure your CRO team?
There are three types of “traditional” structures for your CRO team:
A centralized structure (as in 66% of companies):
Your CRO team is centralized in the same place and is responsible for the conversion optimization strategy for the entire company.
This method gives you a team that will rapidly acquire skills, as all knowledge is concentrated in the same place. From each experience, the team creates resources for the company.
Moreover, this structure enables a strategy that takes everyone’s needs into account. Testing prioritization is organized depending on the entire company’s goals rather than those of one or more departments, which prevents potential conflicts between the tests launched.
However, a centralized team may sometimes be distant from the problems actually faced by each department. So there is a need to ensure that communication is maintained and that tools enabling everyone to participate in the project (internal newsletters, meetings, powerpoint presentations, etc.) are used.
This structure allows the optimization team to be aware of the performance of the entire website and the business, rather than only what their functional role covers. Finally, this allows a strategic approach to optimization that includes the entire funnel.
Krystal Decoux, Amazon Web Services
A decentralized structure (as in 20% of companies):
In each department there are people in charge of the optimization strategy and of dealing with the requirements of the department in question.
This approach is able to meet the concerns of each department and involve a maximum of people in this optimization culture.
Each team can prioritize the optimizations and allocate the necessary resources depending on immediate requirements. In this way, each team manages its budget and its priorities without taking into account those of the other departments.
With a decentralized approach, it is difficult to implement a clear and defined process, since each team moves forward at its own pace and develops different methods. There may be more frequent conflicts between experiences (AB testing, personalization), since each department undertakes optimizations without necessarily taking contiguous projects into account.
Finally, it may be more difficult for teams to acquire skills since the results are not shared and the projects undertaken are not the same.
Some organizations have a decentralized approach, which can work well when there are ‘experts’ across different business areas. One drawback here is that it may be more difficult for the teams to learn from each other’s experiences, leading to redundant or duplicative work.
Renee Thompson, TechTarget
A hybrid structure (as in 14 % of companies):
As the name suggests, this is an alliance between the centralized approach and the decentralized approach.
A centralized team is responsible for coordinating projects, and analyzing and sharing results, while ensuring that each department’s projects don’t come into conflict with each other. At the same time, each department develops its own optimizations and is responsible for prioritizing its own tests depending on immediate requirements.
This structure combines the strengths of each approach, resulting in an optimization strategy that moves the entire company forward. Provided the right resources are provided (internal newsletters, meetings, presentation of results, etc.), this approach can also propagate best optimization practices throughout the whole company.
Evolving structures These structures are standard models but, in actual fact, organizations are evolving and adapting to each industry, as Adriano Mucciardi, Senior Manager at Converteo noted:
We have seen two major organizational trends over the past two years:
- Many organizations are putting in place a “performance” unit tasked with high-added-value analyses and the implementation of operational reporting tools. The more technical aspects (collection, reconciliation, etc.) are shifted to teams reporting to the IT and /or Data departments, thereby enabling the optimization team to focus on analyzing and exploiting this data. Of course, it is essential to set up seamless communication between these departments so as to ensure the effectiveness of this “new” operating mode.
- Cross-functional “performance” teams that are sensitive to all of the company’s activities, as the value buckets to be exploited are not limited to the UX of a website or application. So this team must undertake projects integrating 360° approaches (on-line and off-line media, points of sale, quality of service, call centers, logistics, etc.), so as to offer optimizations taking into account customers’ entire buying cycle and the company’s value chain.
Adriano Mucciardi – Senior Manager at Converteo
What kind of people should you recruit for your CRO team?
A conversion optimization project requires a great range of skills and, therefore, the alliance of people with different skillsets who can apply their expertise to very specific spheres of action.
Some positions are most frequently found in dedicated conversion optimization teams.
What do these positions correspond to? Who is involved, and at what stage in the optimization project?
An optimization specialist to define a strategy:
An optimization specialist is one of those rare gems that all companies would like to recruit.
According to CXL report, 50% of optimization specialists have been working in this field for less than three years. So you may be faced with a variety of profiles, for example, an optimization consultant, a CRO specialist, an optimization director or even a marketing manager.
In general, a CRO specialist has significant experience in the field of optimization (personalization, AB testing, data analysis, etc.) and, as a result, has acquired the expertise to be able to structure and manage projects.
This is the first team member to recruit, as they will define the optimization project depending on your needs and your capacities. They will also offer appropriate use cases while indicating a provisional ROI.
How do you find the rare gem?
To ensure that someone is the right match for the position of optimization specialist in your company, you can ask them these questions, for example:
- What is their experience in the field of optimization? Can they tell you about tangible projects? Or certifications?
- What tools do they use? (Are these tools compatible with your organization? Or with your industry?)
- What are their fields of experience? (To optimize, they really need to know your industry and your audience.)
- With whom do they intend to build a team?
Companies can also rely on third-party expertise. For example, Kameleoon’s consultants are there to support every client in developing an optimization strategy and putting in place the necessary resources (team, tools, etc.).
A project manager to coordinate the optimization strategy
The project manager can also define a strategy should you not have an internal optimization specialist.
They coordinate the project and ensure that the goals of each department are achieved. They must have a good knowledge of every stage of the project (analysis, testing, personalization, results, etc.) so as to advise their team and take decisions should problems arise.
They must also have a good command of the different tools that will be used to ensure seamless dialogue with their teams.
The front-end developer and designer will take care of the technical and design elements of the optimizations by implementing them on your website.
These roles can be held by the same person or by two specialists. The developer must be able to make specific modifications on the website or use an existing template. They will be responsible for the technical aspect of your optimizations.
The designer must have a good knowledge of UX (User Experience) to ensure that the optimizations are adapted to visitors’ requirements and expectations.
A data scientist to analyze your results:
The data scientist is responsible for analyzing the behavior of your visitors to understand how they interact with your website. They must know how to use the analytic tools and follow the right KPIs to draw clear insight from them and meet the company’s goals.
They become involved during the analysis of your audience and in looking for insight; they also analyze your test results and ensure that the statistical significance is respected.
What are the traits of an efficient CRO team?
A dedicated conversion optimization team must bring together a certain number of skills if it is to guarantee the success of your strategy.
It is not enough to bring together various profiles: the conversion optimization culture is a state of mind; it involves a continuous process of improvement, sharing and learning.
Here are the eight essential traits for an optimization lead suggested by Alex Birkett. These apply more widely to the qualities that your CRO team should possess, over several positions:
Be Analytical: marketing practices are now data-driven. Your team must be able to use analytic tools to interpret the data, transform it into insight, and then propose testing hypotheses. Moreover, statistical knowledge is required to analyze the tests and not end up with skewed results.
Be User and Data-Driven: your team must be focused on the user – after all, the optimizations are undertaken for them. To achieve this, you have to rely on the data that you collect: this is the best indicator of what the user is looking for and what impedes them on your website.
Never Stop Improving: you must always try to improve. Your tests will not always work and, even if they do, there is always room for improvement. Try to learn from both failures and successes. Moreover, your audience is constantly changing and evolving, so it is indispensable to improve the existing versions.
Be Process-Oriented: conversion optimization is not a concept applied in an abstract manner; a clear and defined methodology has to be followed to obtain tangible results and learn from them.
Be Curious: in the field of optimization, you must always look for explanations for every element and try to understand how things work: why do visitors act in such a way on your website? What is the context? And so on.
Be Detail-Obsessed and Diligent: conversion optimization is all about details; between data analysis, statistical significance and the creation of the elements of your graphical interface, you should keep an eye on everything to ensure that nothing is missed.
Be Humble: you are your own worst enemy when it comes to optimization. Don’t hang onto hypotheses because you’re sure they will work: the only tangible element is data. You have to rid yourselves of the cognitive biases that may skew your results.
Understanding Design and User Experience: notions of UX design are needed if you are to understand which elements of your site work or not.
It won’t be possible to bring together all of these traits; the goal is to define, as of now, those that will be the most important for your structure, and to focus on them.
3 In conclusion
If you want to increase conversions and, consequently, turnover on your website, then you will need a structured and effective team that will drive your conversion optimization project
The tip to remember: don’t be too rigid, the field of conversion optimization is constantly evolving and your team must be able to adapt not only to the field itself but also to the particularities of your industry.
At Kameleoon, we are aware that not all companies have the same rhythm and the same requirements. That’s why our consultants support our customers in the organization of their teams with the help of a training guide and daily advice.