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CRO is dead. Long live CRO!

CRO is dead. Long live CRO!

March 5, 2021
Reading time: 
5 minutes

First, CRO is not dead. Long live CRO! But if a better name came along, then no one would mourn its passing.

Decades later, there is still disagreement about the meaning of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). The problem seems simple, but the misalignment doesn’t help the [insert your preferred name] industry all pull in the same direction.

That's the bottom line from Peep Laja, André Morys, and Ben Labay during a live discussion organized by Kameleoon.

At its worst, CRO means a "test monkey changing button colors." At its best, it means that companies make data-driven decisions to improve products and customer experiences - that leads to increasing business value e.g. profit as the ultimate goal.

Smart practitioners, agencies, and consultancies need to understand this spectrum and adapt their messaging according to their audience. "Eat our own dog food and practice customer-centricity," as André says.

1 Tailor your CRO message to appeal to these three key audiences

The people looking for change. These are often business leaders or senior executives focused on strategy. They won’t be interested in CRO, but they will be interested in knowing how to make better decisions faster than their competition, which, as mature agencies, is how konversionsKRAFT and Speero pitch their business.

The people looking to optimize. These individuals are often in marketing. They have a landing page with X traffic, and they need to boost conversion, for example. Often, those looking to optimize have a distinct and singular problem e.g. checkout, a funnel, etc. In these insular cases, CRO can be a perfect solution. “CRO helps achieve short-term goals,” says Peep, “whereas Customer Experience Optimization (CXO) is about acquiring and retaining customers based on more long-term metrics like Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).”

The people looking for decision support. The methodology underpinning CRO, experimentation, or A/B testing, works well for product managers and developers. These individuals are less likely to respond to a CRO pitch than to one where you explain how your service or solution can ensure only successful features and products are released.

2 Key takeaways about how to position CRO and experimentation services

  • Call it CXO, CRO, growth-hacking, decision-making optimization, or growth engineering, the common thread is experimentation. But since “experimentation” is also easily misunderstood (even more so than CRO) industry players don’t use the term. You won’t find many relevant “experimentation” jobs.

  • Some industry players like Speero are moving to customer experience optimization (CXO), aiming to help senior execs affect change. Others, like konversionsKRAFT feel that the CXO space is too saturated, with hundreds of agencies doing web design. They believe CXO lacks the data-driven validation that makes CRO unique and valuable. “We’re not switching, says André. “I see more and more CRO jobs being created - the term seems to be finally getting adopted by the market, so we’re riding the wave.”

  • As a multidisciplinary skill and process, CRO doesn't neatly fit into the buckets companies use. "No bucket" means it's harder to sell in. - Peep

  • It's a positioning problem. The people that came up with CRO took a too narrow position. We need a broader definition. - Peep

  • It's a categorization problem. CRO, program management wise is a function, to float among channels for decision support for owners. CRO shouldn't be making decisions. It should provide data to the channel owner. It's a process, not a solution. - Ben

  • The term has also become a "suitcase" one. More and more job advertisements and needs have the keywords "conversion rate optimization" in them, which helps direct attention, but further complicates what CRO is and does. - Ben

  • CRO helps achieve short-term goals, whereas CXO is about acquiring and retaining customers based on more long-term metrics like CLV. It doesn't hurt that budget-wise many companies allocate much more to CX than CRO. - Peep

  • You need to connect CRO to what your audience e.g. client, boss, etc. needs to achieve. While CRO may mean something different to each constituency, at the core, what we do and think are the same. CRO is not a single discipline, it is a way of working, a combination of disciplines, a philosophy - it needs to be packaged so that it is connected to the individual goals of the organization. For some it is agile product development, others call it CRO, but you could also use it for branding and strategy and call it data-driven brand optimization. - André.

  • CRO is:
    - Agile product development for product managers and developers;
    - Data-driven brand management for the brand guys; and
    - CX or CXO for the CX people. - Andre

  • Performance-based CRO agencies are too focused on short-term value, and can hurt companies by creating an arcade site i.e. an ugly brand that converts existing traffic but doesn't grow in value. On this side of the spectrum, CRO is dead. - Ben.

  • The problem is that there are far more companies offering CX services than there are dedicated CRO ones. Better be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond. - André.

  • CXO for 99% of the CX people means “make it fancy.” But that's not what I want to do in my job. If I can prove that something works with data, that motivates me. That's why I stick with CRO instead of CXO language. It's about finding truth through data. - André

  • Going from “CRO” to “CXO” is NOT an SEO play. We want to help organizations change, to make better decisions more rapidly, and grow in the long term, not just short term, with data, research, and experimentation. That's why we changed our messaging to CXO. - Ben

  • Besides statistics, copywriting, and UX experience, a massive skillset to have is program management and team building when aiming to build out a data-driven culture at an organization. - Ben

Get in touch. If you’d like to learn more about this topic or discussion, email us at [email protected] To watch a replay of “CRO is dead. Long live CRO!” visit here. A big thank you to Speero, CXL, GO Group Digital, and konversionsKRAFT for joining this Kameleoon live discussion. Look out for more Kameleoon “Sessions” ahead.

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