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28 CRO Managers On How To Be Great At Optimization 21 January 2016 | Piotr Koczorowski

Good to see you in our next episode of insights shared by various experts coming from different digital areas.

This time we are proud to present experiences coming from CRO managers and conversion rate optimizers that have spent years on gathering useful knowledge about increasing conversions and optimizing websites.

And this time it's all for us.

We asked them our 3 standard questions:

  • What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?
  • What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?
  • How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

Use the list on the bottom to navigate the answers and enjoy their knowledge – it's worth it: 28 CRO Managers On How To Be Great At Optimization.

CRO experts

Click on the expert's name to go to their section

  1. Peep Laja, Conversion XL
  2. Joanna Wiebe, Copy Hackers
  3. Łukasz Rybczonek, Coolomat
  4. Marta Klinowicz, Macoscope
  5. Michael Duquet, Hootsuite
  6. Lucjan Kierczak, Survicate
  7. Keith Hagen, ConversionIQ
  8. Tomasz Tybon, DreamCommerce
  9. Michał Doroszak, Tesco
  10. Dennis Van Der Heijden, Convert.com
  11. Brendan Regan, Webtrends
  12. Dorota Zys, SaasGenius.com
  13. Olgierd Nowakowski, PZU
  14. Linda Bustos, Edgacent
  15. Justin Rondeau, Digital Marketer
  16. Michał Sienko, NetSales
  17. Andrzej Morawski, LiveCall.io
  18. Liston Witherill, Good Funnel
  19. Stefan Persson, Levi & Korsinsky
  20. Bobby Hewitt, Creative Thirst
  21. Joe Putnam, iSpionage
  22. Talia Wolf, BananaSplash
  23. Alexandr Fedotoff, Studypool
  24. Błażej Abel, Landingi.com
  25. Tomasz Frontczak, MaxROY & Dietlabs
  26. Jared Smith,  Contour This
  27. Nicolás Celedón, Google
  28. Brian Massey, Conversion Scientist

Peep Laja

Peep Laja

Conversion optimization expert. I run ConversionXL

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

We did a blog post on top characteristics of conversion optimizers that listed 8 traits. I think the most important trait is critical thinking/curiosity.

A good optimizer always wants to know more, and is never satisfied with 'good enough.' They're continuously asking questions and learning more about the data at hand as well as their craft at large

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

The biggest challenge we face is ongoing, and it is evangelizing conversion optimization (and data-driven marketing in general) to the greater marketing world.

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about optimization, and it takes a lot of work to clear them up while keeping people excited about running tests.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

Measuring the ROI of optimization is not as easy as it sounds. The criteria that define a successful testing program are:

  • the amount of tests you run.
  • how many winning tests.
  • by how much each test wins.

So we judge our effectiveness on these three factors. When we need to confirm that our testing produced ROI for a client, we can send a consistent amount of traffic to a small holdback set. Though, if you're running lots of tests (and winning them by a lot), as well as collecting customer insights, your program is effective.

Joanna Wiebe

Joanna Wiebe

Creator of Copy Hackers

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

They should be like this guy.

Smart, great with numbers, dedicated to learning, surrounded by smart people, ego-light, hungry to earn, willing to take informed risks but not willing to throw people or heart away to get the win.

That's not one quality, but I suppose that, if it has to come down to a single quality, it'd be this: Be like the guy from 21. 😉 …That's still not a quality. :)

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

Our biggest challenge is getting clients to hard-code the winning treatment as the new control.

I have a past client that's been running our test for over a year when a winner was called within weeks of launching the test. Why? Search me! I'd hard-code the winner in a flash instead of continuing to send half my visitors to a losing variation.

What we've learned is that people are very dazzled by the idea of testing, and they really like getting a winner, but closing experiments and doing the non-exciting post-mortem work isn't yet part of the "DNA" (a term I shudder to use) of most businesses.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

We calculate how much more money has come in the door. :)

We prefer to tie everything to business growth – so, because we work primarily with SaaS businesses, we're looking for trial starts, paid conversions and reduced churn.

Wherever possible, we split-test… but for every page you can run a test on, there are a hundred growth opportunities that can't be reliably tested: in-app messaging, onboarding emails, webinar invitations, chat scripts, retargeting ads.

So we say, okay, understanding that there's room for error, what was user churn at before we optimized in-app copy and the retention email sequence? What's it at now? Can we stand in front of the client's CEO, look her/him in the eye, and say, "We reduced churn by X% to add $Y to your revenue this quarter"? That's our goal. We want to be measured against that. 

Łukasz Rybczonek

Łukasz Rybczonek

Coolomat Business Development Manager

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

Knowledge, due to the fact that it provides more effectiveness when it comes to analyzing and targeting specific user needs.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

The biggest challenge is having to match content for specific user needs when a service supplier might have many different and unrelated branches or services.

This taught me that the conversion rate is higher and maintained at an optimal level when a supplier sticks to a very similar branch or sector and does not mix completely unrelated aspects. This allows users to feel that this service will be trustworthy, competent and composed of experts in this branch.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

I measure the effectiveness of my team's work by comparing real time and period to period results along with excluding anomalies in sales.

We improve customer satisfaction by researching feedback and conversion rate level. My effectiveness I measure by seeing my team satisfied with my input and relying on KPI. 

Marta Klimowicz

Marta Klimowicz

Online Marketing Manager at Macoscope

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

The one quality I believe every manager should have is willingness to learn.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

Working for a mobile software house that provides services to clients around the globe allows me to understand cultural differences better.

The biggest challenge is to address them accordingly, making our website and offer equally attractive to people from distinct  cultural contexts. Moreover, not only do they operate within different cultural systems, their professional needs are also pretty dissimilar sometimes – for some of our clients it is of utmost importance to work with a company that espouses a work culture similar to theirs.

These are creative, hard-working, serious entrepreneurs who would rather spare themselves corporate newspeak.

On the other hand we have our corporate clients who although appreciative of our culture, need to be sure we will be able to meet their precise goals within given timeframes.

Knowing our clients and their differences, I constantly work on adapting our campaigns accordingly.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

I don’t think talking about the metrics I am sure every manager uses in their work is all that interesting.

Sparing you the obvious, I focus on the satisfaction the client can gain from having their app designed and developed. I also take into consideration how challenging the task will be for the whole team and how satisfying it will be for us to dedicate time to this project.

Michael Duquet

Michael Duquet

Conversion Optimization Strategist at Hootsuite

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

A curious mind. You need to be able to remove any potential biases or preconceived notions of what will work before you begin.

Let the data speak to you, don't just assume you know what the answer is. Don't be afraid of getting it wrong, because sometimes you inevitably will.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

Overcoming objections to testing. Imagine you're a part of a large team. You've worked long hours to get an awesome page up, then here comes some CRO guy to tell you how you can make it better.

A huge part of being an Optimization strategist is getting stakeholders onboard and letting them know you are not there to make their life more difficult, if anything you want to help them be more successful.

The good news is once you get a stakeholder to see the light of how testing can help them they're likely to be an evangelist for creating a testing culture.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

While measuring dollar results matters, it's a very small portion of how we gauge our success. When you work in a complex eco-system like we do here at Hootsuite it's not a simple matter of "yay, more people clicked this button!".

Our results analysis never really stops – so it's not merely a matter of "are we making the company money" as much as "are we helping prospects find a solution to their needs? Are they joining – and then finding value? What about after month 1? What about after month 3?"

Teams and organizations come to us to help drive value from social, CRO makes it easier to navigate that journey. At the end of the day if we're helping more people and more organizations connect to their customers and get real ROI for their social media marketing, then we're doing our job.

Lucjan Kierczak

Lucjan Kierczak

Inbound Marketer at Survicate

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

Curiosity.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

We are still learning how to present our product in an appealing way. In the middle of 2015, we redesigned our website to give it more professional look. We added a few fancy elements like a slider and changed the text. It deterred many potential customers and our conversion rates halved. We learned that simplicity is really the king – a website must be easy to use and understand, otherwise, people bounce off. Changing the design once again led to tripling the registration rate.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

We measure the effectiveness of our work by observing numbers. We don’t stop at registration/visits rate because it doesn’t tell so much. Registration is the first step, then a new user must add a piece of JavaScript code to their website and create the first survey to see benefits of using Survicate. That’s why we analyze number at all stages, from visits, through registration to adding code. The most important success metric for us is the conversion rate from a visit to an active user (added JS code and created at least 1 survey). Constantly improving this ratio is our goal and shows how effectively we perform.

Keith Hagen

Keith Hagen

Co-Founder – ConversionIQ at Inflow

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

Your CRO manager needs to be a good sales person. 

They need to constantly be thinking about how to sell more, handle customer objections, figure out customer triggers etc.  And that is just at a skill level. 

Within the company they need to sell their idea's hypothesis, need for budget etc.  This is the resource that should know the most about selling to your customers and convincing others how to do it, so if they are not already on the executive track, its either cause they're not that good, or you can't recognize how critical they really are.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

Tracking users across devices and online & offline. 

Testing is already hard enough before you consider a lot of people will see more than one test variation during their purchase cycle just because testing tools can't track a user between devices and locations.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

Through A/B testing and analytics.  As mentioned above, its not perfect, but if the win is big enough, its visible and can have a value assigned to it. 

Just be conservative about the last part as all you can really know is that you made an improvement, assigning a predictive value to it is next to impossible.

Tomasz Tybon

Tomasz Tybon

Marketing and Sales Director at DreamCommerce S.A.

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

A good CRO Manager need to permanently challenge status quo and that's it.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

Running a successful team!

I learn from that that there is no such a thing like not possible. I learn that there is tremendous amount of things which you need to take under consideration, sometimes even overwhelming – especially in multicultural environment. But from the moment when you do it once it gonna be always possible to repeat!

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

You should measure all your actions with two kinds of KPI's at the same time: hard & soft.

Hard are numbers. Numbers speaks by themselves. Soft are things difficult to count but they matter.

For example, in Shoper Customer Support Department we measure sales volumes broken down by particular product, resolution times, talk time, NPS and our internally developed measurement  based on internal feedback from a group of leaders. That gives us actionable insights about who we got inside the team and who we require.

 

Michał Doroszuk

Michał Doroszuk

Digital Marketing Manager

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

The ability to always do what's right for the customer. This means that the forefront of all decisions should be how to best facilitate the user. This of course has to be  keeping in mind business goals. 

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

A constant challenge for any marketing professional is to thoroughly understand the customer.

The trick is for that knowledge to be based on factual data and hard evidence which aren't always easily obtainable.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

First of all, effectiveness should always be measured against a set of historic data, industry benchmarks or in the least some simple predictions. 

Secondly, measurability is incredibly important. Even though qualitative data (such as surveys) gives great insights into how the users perceive their experience with a brand and should not be overlooked, it's quantitative data that enables the business to clearly see progress or problematic areas.

It's important to rely on a mixture of SMART KPIs which contain both business specific goals such as conversion rate or simply sales as well as user specific objectives such as churn, CTR or NPS.  

 

Dennis Van Der Heijden

Dennis Van Der Heijden

CEO & Founder of Convert.com

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

Question everything. It started all for me in 2008 when the financial crisis hit my online lead generation business and looking at the data in Google Analytics I realised I really did not look at it and when I did, I did not understand it.

It was just a monthly task and when I really needed the data I found out it was not properly installed. So question the data till you understand the data and then make hypotheses that are properly formulated.

We had a good volume (100,000 unique visitors a month), but still not large enough to make single isolated choices. So we needed to grow 100% in less than 6 months to make sure everyone had an income.

So, you don't optimize to learn, you optimize to make big steps. We changed many things at once and although they won (more luck than learning), it got us to the other side.

But with the help of my team I was able to stay away of general hypothesis like "the inclusion of the Microsoft logo increased confidence". They also questioned choices like that…

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

We support Conversion Optimization experts with our A/B testing tool Convert Experiments and many still don't know what they are really seeing in the data.

So they follow some new developed statistical engine and have no idea what that really does. We always got attacked as a tool from many different sides on how things were calculated and why the latest trend was the best way to calculate things.

It was hard not to give in to some calculation default because of poor knowledge of clients. We eventually made a flexible statistical engine and set a default for clients, but allowed them to tweak all details. So everyone can make their perfect fitting Stats Engine.

We learned that when you believe in something, you have to stand for it – it brings the clients that understand your thought process. The consequence is that we are not the biggest A/B testing tool in the world but many of our clients that started with us many years ago are still with us. So we have a loyal following and can grow without additional capital at this moment.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

We don't have enough traffic on our website to more than two experiments a month.

So we don't test everything we do, since we have the same limitation of many of our clients. The way we measure effectiveness of our team is by focus on one metric MRR (monthly recurring traffic) and each team contributes to a number that correlates to MRR.

Support and onboarding can be measured by churn, sales and marketing more on direct MRR. So the numbers speak and we now introduced many more "soft" goals to our business. 2016 will all be about returning to a conscious business where existing clients and employees get priority over new business.

Improving their experience will lead in long-term to more similar clients and our team is highly interested in having a positive impact on our community. How we will measure this is still a challenge we have, but we know we like to be carbon positive, community positive and have a team that feels more like a family than colleagues.

 

Brendan Regan

Brendan Regan

Digital Marketing and User Experience optimizer adding value on strategic and tactical levels. Team lead qualified.

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

A great CRO manager needs to have the very specific "ability to synthesize." Synthesis is the ability to put things together to create something new. This applies to CRO in 3 ways:

  1. CROs need to be able to synthesize multiple data sources (quantitative and qualitative) in order to form useful hypotheses for testing. You can't just rely on best practices, or just on web analytics, or just on heat maps. You need to look at all of it and synthesize what you're seeing in ALL of the data in order to make smart hypotheses
  2. CROs need to be able to synthesize ideas from multiple experiment results into models or theories about customer behavior and needs. If one experiment tells you that the button should be blue, and another experiment (on a different page) tells you it should be red, what do you do with that? You need to combine multiple experiment data sets into frameworks and theories.
  3. Synthesis is a (Hegelian) philosophical concept where you are resolving conflict between Thesis and Antithesis. I see that CRO is a lot about resolving conflict between user goals and business goals. Your boss's Thesis is "make me more money!" and your customer's Antithesis is "give me the best possible value exchange!" CRO is experimenting with ways to resolve that online conflict.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

It was tough for me to learn that as a CRO/consultant, you can still get fired even if you do brilliant Optimization work.

It's not enough to just get "wins" on your tests. Nor is it enough to be well-liked and trusted by your boss or client. It's creating the balance between those two things. That was a tough lesson in my early years where I assumed that I was 'bullet-proof' so long as I was getting conversion rate lift.

Some bosses of mine nudged me more towards conveying insights about customers and making it less about "lift."

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

This ties back to question #2. Effectiveness and success is about striking the balance between showing tangible value (conversion rate lift, revenue increases, etc.) and the more intangible value (gaining trust, being liked, expertise).

For my team to be successful, we need a track record of running thoughtful, impactful experiments with strong hypotheses. Some of those tests need to show lift. We need to be able to show how that lift can be attributed to incremental revenue.

But that's not enough! We need to hear positive feedback from our clients that they enjoy working with us, and that they are learning things about their customers that they wouldn't have learned on their own. We need to hear that our perspective is valued and our recommendations are respected. 

 

Dorota Zys

Dorota Zys

Co Founder @SaasGenius.com / Inbound Marketing Specialist @InboundWay.com

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

Ability to deliver CRO project at an acceptable time frame. Many of the CRO managers are risk-averse in a risk-based business.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

My biggest challenge now is to launch beta version of SaasGenius.

Working with it I learned how much important it is to use psychological behaviorism tactics. Expert endorsements add an extra layer of validity to your product.

The psychological mechanism causing why we constantly fall for this marketing trick is called the extended self. According to this theory, we view our possessions as a reflection of who we are. And thus, look for products that could help us create or elevate our self-image.

Now combine that with an expert or celebrity your audience follows (and even strives to become similar to) and you have a winning formula for your startup.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

At InboundWay, we test our projects at different stages with popular analytics tools.

Working with your own startup is much more different than working with clients. Most businesses underestimate the importance of CRO.

Fact: only 1% of web customers convert on a first visit.

For every SaaS startup CRO is critical. For one, you need to help ensure a steady influx of new users until the funds run out. Using various CRO tactics gives you an opportunity to propel that growth.

Endorsements are just one way to convince visitors of your worth. You could also include:

  • User testimonials, 
  • Reviews and Ratings, 
  • Pictures of customers using the product, 
  • Case studies, 
  • Customer counts / Sales counts, 
  • Social statistics, 
  • Trust marks, 
  • Won awards and many more. 

All these will help you grab your visitors’ attention and communicate your worth. But remember, applying them requires much more than just blindly following a number of steps. You need to adapt them to your situation.

Audience. Product. Unique selling proposition and millions of other things. Only then, whatever strategy you decide to test will stand a chance of success. 

Olgierd Nowakowski

Olgierd Nowakowski

Expert eCommerce Analyst at PZU; CRO Evangelist; Digital Marketing Enthusiast

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

Combination of a data-driven attitude and customer orientation.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

My biggest challenge up-to-date was the internal resistance to methodic, process-oriented conversion rate optimization.

When it comes to conversion rate optimization, people tend to look for quick and simple solutions without any analysis neither qualitative nor quantitative. They usually don’t want to know or even hear about things like sample pollution, biases, significance levels, sample size calculations, A/B test and the like.

Customer needs and frictions they experience on particular website are also often not taken seriously, as if customers were only numbers on a dashboard and not living people. It all usually ends in discussions like „let’s change the CTA to green and see how it works”.

Let’s just say that results of that approach are far from optimal and even if you see some boost in conversion, it quickly drops to the baseline level.

But it doesn’t have to be that way – I learned that in order to overcome natural resistance to change (and process-oriented CRO is a big change in thinking for many) you need to point out the long-term gains from it (personal before business-related) and facilitate transition in CRO approach (create and introduce new processes, optimization procedures and timelines).

Also, you need to be confident, enthusiastic and approachable – people tend to follow an example when they know they can benefit from it, feel your confidence and enthusiasm, and know that they can turn to you for help whenever they have a problem.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

I tend to measure anyone’s effectiveness (be it mine or anyone else’s) taking into consideration 2 main factors: hard one (KPI’s) and soft one (development and satisfaction).

First one is easy – no matter what is the reason why you do what you do, whether it’s money, satisfaction or the sense of mission, we all can agree that we do it for our businesses to grow.

Therefore, we need to set up hard KPI’s, that given all circumstances (personal, business-oriented, market-oriented) and accepted way of conducting our responsibilities, are attainable.

Soft factor in effectiveness measurement is finding individual answer for 2 questions “How will, what you’re about to accomplish, contribute to your development as a employee and a person?” and “Will you be satisfied when you reach assumed goal?” and should be always thoroughly discussed one-to-one in one’s yearly performance review.

In this case, the key to success is to find a way to reach company’s goal in the way that will let your employee become better and satisfied.

 

Linda Bustos

Linda Bustos

Ecommerce strategist and co-founder of Edgacent

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

A great CRO manager is a strong intuitive and critical thinker.He or she doesn't follow a playbook of "best practices" – but understands that each test must be developed in tune with client and customer context, and certain tests should be prioritized over others to have  maximum impact.

You can test virtually anything — and waste a lot of time testing the unnecessary if the hypothesis and test designs aren't well tailored to the client's business.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

Cross-device conversion tracking (or lack thereof) is the toughest part about modern-day conversion optimization.

We know customers use multiple devices in their journey, for example research online and purchase offline, or research on mobile and pick up on desktop (and convert there). This leaves gaps in data, and ultimately doesn't tell the whole conversion story.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

CRO is a long-term game, it's par for the course to spend a minimum of 6 months testing and iterating, and not all experiments are winners.

The obvious metric of success is improved conversion rate and real revenue, but I like to give any conversion optimization *program* (not random testing) time to show returns. It's also important to factor the intangibles – the learnings that even failed tests provide.

 

Justin Rondeau

Justin Rondeau

Director of Optimization at Digital Marketer

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

Hands down the most important quality is curiosity.

An optimizer who is content is soon to be out of a job. The optimizer needs to wonder how things work and WHY they work that way. Obviously there are other necessary skills, but those can be taught. Curiosity is something that just can't be taught and is an essential quality.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

The biggest challenge for anyone in optimization is resource allocation. For the optimizer who has political buy in, they aren't done just yet. They will vie for all the resources every other department also needs.

What's more difficult is to justify the time spent on larger scale tests, especially if they fail. Sure you avoided an awful launch, but your opportunity cost was enormous. 

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

I measure my team on projects completed.

When you are testing and optimizing sites the last thing you want to do is evaluate a team's success by test velocity or number of positive tests. The former makes people test for the sake of testing where the latter destroys creativity and risk taking. If my team is completing their projects, whether that be a functional change or a created test, I am a happy camper. 

 

Michał Sienko

Michał Sienko

Group Account Manager (NetSales) at Cube Group SA

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

It’s a clever mixture of these 2 features:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Creativity (thinking outside the box)

Since this blog is dedicated to UX lovers, I will refer to this particular domain. UX is inextricably connected to performance and conversions, thus I find so many common characteristics among them and performance marketing, which I deal with on a daily basis ☺

Both the UX Manager and the CRO manager require analytical thinking – both are, in fact, focused on performance of their solution/ product /campaign and the fact that it could bring estimated conversion. It’s difficult for them to find a satisfying solution and thereby reach a deadlock if they lack a proper dose of creativity.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

My experience incorporates  hundreds of campaigns for hundreds of Clients, tens of thousands of adverts, billions of clicks on the ads. And yet, each new Client,  each new campaign is a positive challenge for me and a great driving force as well.

One of the greatest and the coolest challenges for me was working  for the leading Polish e-retailer of DIY and home improvement tools and supplies. In that certain campaign we carried out comprehensive affiliate measures which goal was continuous optimization of KPIs such as time on site, bounce rate or depth of visit.

The initial media plan contained more than 50 different placements as well as a list of key publishers who had to be connected to the campaign and then analyzing their daily activities in order to increase efficiency ratios.

Cooperation with this particular Client has taught me that so many different factors have a direct influence and a strong impact on the final and the overall effect of the entire operation. Decisions such as choosing a right place to display an ad, its format, advertising line, a form of issuing, through choosing a certain type of undertaken actions  as well as the time user had encountered the advertisement really DO matter.

The final conversion is determined by the sum of the abovementioned indicators to be measured and analyzed on an ongoing basis.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

As a manager, I try to look at my team holistically, taking into account KPIs, individual performance, team performance, but I try to identify additional measures of success, other than just easily quantifiable selling of a particular campaign.

Developing and establishing  good relations with the particular partner is one of them, as it is extremely important and essential to affiliate marketing. Defining if you got valuable feedback about the offer you’ve sent is very helpful as well. 

It is  also important to maintain an adequate level of motivation and commitment to the project that should eventually translate into the results of the campaign.

We also set up individual goals for each employee to realize weekly and after that, together, we analyze them and use as a starting point while planning a “to do” list for the upcoming week.

Andrzej Morawski

Andrzej Morawski

CEO & Founder LiveCall.io; previously COO & Co-Founder Groupon Poland

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

Being passionate about continuous improvement of results!

The determination in testing over and over again a new ways to increase revenue and repeating the process end-less-ly is absolutely crucial. A determined CRO will never give up in optimizing results!

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

In 2010, Groupon was announced by Forbes magazine to be the fastest growing company ever. The challenge that we faced everyday as a founding team in Poland was to grow even faster. This was done by:

  • getting literally the best deals out there,
  • optimizing website and payment process,
  • optimizing online marketing.

There is something that is not visible at first, but was one of the drivers of revenue – UX conceived as experience that user receives not only on the website but also, or most importantly, while redeeming groupons in restaurants, beauty salons.

I’ve learned that revenue in an internet company is often partly driven in the offline world. Right now, I’m again with startup facing new challenges everyday. At LiveCall we’ve learned to listen before taking actions.

We help our customers optimize their LiveCall campaigns, so they get desired results. Most challenging is understanding:

  • who is the end customer of our service,
  • what they are looking for on our customers’ websites,
  • at what stage they need personal assistance.

We’ve discovered that reasons for using LiveCall may significantly differ – from improving customer service and NPS (Net Promoter Score) to increasing sales and acquiring new customers.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

As a SaaS company (Software as a Service) one of the most important indicators for us are growth in customer base as well as results we get converting users from freemium plans into paid plans. So we look at:

  • month over month customer increase,
  • conversion from visits to trial,
  • conversion from freemium to paid plans,
  • ROI on different cohorts (we track how users from different sources convert to paid customers) and how it influences the bottom line.

Liston Witherill

Liston Witherill

Conversion and automation expert at Good Funnel

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

Ever heard the phrase “curiosity killed the cat”? Well, your CRO manager should have that cat-like quality. If they’re not curiosity, they’re not on the lookout for the next hypothesis to test. They also need to have *humility* and be *data-driven.* Why they should be data-driven is obvious.

Humility is important because assuming anything is a hindrance, and being wedded to your own opinion is downright blinding. A great CRO manager will recognize that different outcomes will have different probabilities, rather than thinking in terms of just right and wrong.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

Working with many different clients who need improved conversions has taught us that different business models call for different metrics and methodologies. So any CRO program has to consider: where traffic comes from, what visitors see, what they expect, how they make buying decisions, and the amount of time it takes them to make a final decision. All of these factors make it necessary to craft a *one-size-fits-one* CRO strategy.

Sure, best practices are helpful, and there are some rules you shouldn’t break in your CRO program. But overall it’s critical to think about which metrics you’re trying to optimize for and why, then create your CRO program accordingly. Beginning without the end in mind makes you doomed from the start.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

Our work is ultimately measured by two things: the metric we are  targeting and what we learned along the way. I’ll be the first to say that *we cannot predict the future*, and therefore we can’t definitively say if we’ll get a result the first time around.

We can say that a solid test creates a learning, and that learning can be applied to the next iteration. CRO is an iterative learning process, and if the process is followed correctly, then we’ll see an improvement every time. Typically we evaluate three things: traffic, marketing qualified leads, and bottom line sales. Unless we have control over the entire sales marketing process, these metrics are only evaluated in the context of a specific campaign.

Stefan Persson

Stefan Persson

Growth Hacker: SEM/SEO, Social Media, Advertising, PR, Web Analytics, LPO/CRO, Digital Marketing SME

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

A CRO manager needs to enjoy creating tests, to enjoy optimizing conversion funnels, to truly love data, and to be creative while being analytical. It’s hard to find all those qualities in once person, which is why a conversion rate optimizer is so valuable.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

Web and mobile experiences aren’t the same, and many businesses don’t treat them individually, for many reasons. One of the hardest challenges I face is optimizing responsive experiences that have multiple conversion goals. Implementing features, as well as selectively enabling or disabling features is a huge challenge in today’s environment.

I don’t have a ‘silver bullet’ best way of tackling this issue, but methodically conducting tests seems to work best. Again, it depends on the target conversion goals, but focusing on one goal at a time usually provides more predictable and consistent gains than trying to optimize for all conversion.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

That’s easy; everyone’s effectiveness is measured by the results they generate. I measure my own effectiveness the same way.

Bobby Hewitt

Bobby Hewitt

Creative Thirst – The Marketing Optimization Agency 

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

To make a meaningful impact today’s conversion rate optimizer must have empathy above all else to be truly great and a good CRO manager is no different. Too often we think everyone uses the web the same way we do, or is motivated by the same things we are, thinking this way is detrimental to optimization as well as management.

In-fact, management is management regardless if you’re a CRO manager or a general manager. Good managers focus on growing their team members and correcting behavioral issues. Both of which are different for each team member.

Growth for one team member might mean more opportunities to present ideas to other people higher up the management chain, for another it might mean reading more books and taking certification courses. Behavioral issues might mean attitude or sending in projects late. In both growth and behavior it comes back to empathy. Great managers empathize with individual team members.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

The biggest challenge I faced has been in systematizing the CRO process to get all team members on the same page moving forward. Despite being around for some time now CRO is still in it’s infancy and everyone sort of has their own way of doing it with a lot of crossover.

I’ve learned that it’s best to take what works for your particular challenge and apply it your own way. CRO techniques are just tools and not every tool is best for every job.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

Ultimately the effectiveness of any CRO engagement is going to come down to numbers, that’s the beauty of working in CRO. It’s black and white. But when it comes to people and working as a team it’s harder to quantify with data.

On an individual level I strongly believe in one-on-ones with each team member in a safe private environment where you can discuss the employees individual contribution to the team. At the team level of performance you have to evaluate softer data like how effective does the team run meetings.

Does the team contribute well together, do they communicate well as a group and allow opinions to be heard as well as how effective are they at coming to a consensus on decisions. All of these lead back to behavioral questions on an individual basis, which is why I feel management on the individual level is just as important as management on the team level.

Joe Putnam

Joe Putnam

Director of Marketing

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

It's important for CRO managers to be equal parts creative and analytical so they can come up with new testing ideas while also accurately monitoring and measuring A/B tests. They also should be good at understanding people while knowing how to interview/survey customers and prospects in order to glean insights that will positively affect conversion rates.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

The biggest challenge I've found is being patient enough to interview and survey customers in order to learn more about their experience instead of rushing in and testing things you think will improve conversion rates.

I've also found it difficult at times to get customers to respond surveys and to provides answers that will have an impact on the sites conversion rate since not everyone you send a survey to will take the time to fill it out.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

I measure my work and my team's work based on its impact on generating revenue. It's ok to increase things like Twitter engagement, but at the end of the day, you have to find things or a combination of things that move the most important needle of all–revenue and profit.

Talia Wolf

Talia Wolf

Conversion Optimization Expert, Growth Marketing Advisor & Keynote Speaker

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

A good optimizer is someone who never stops learning.
He or she are always interested in digging further, analyzing data, going deeper into test results, connecting it to their customers behavior and spreading knowledge.

A good optimizer must never stop researching, learning new things and constantly challenge themselves. When you think you know it all, you're no longer an optimizer. Don't cut corners, be creative and a critical thinker.

Most importantly an optimizer is someone who understands that CRO is not just about KPIs, it's not about winning or losing an AB test, it's about knowledge – getting to know your customers and creating a better product.

Alexandr Fedotoff

Alexandr Fedotoff

Effective Digital Marketing for Dentists

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

Ability to shot down his ego and really try to understand the audience. It's hard to realise you were wrong in some specific assumption about lifting the conversion rate and lose the tests. In addition it's important skill to communicate that what we are doing is first of all learning.

From each test, either winning or losing we get some important insights about the audience, their motivations, desires and preferences. So the real ROI that CRO brings comes from applying that knowledge in farther marketing efforts.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

I've had big corporate client who had his prejudices about how the website should look like and it was the single right choice for him. He simply said " It doesn't look good" or "I don't like it," " That how it should be". Even after we've proven our assumptions with winning tests, he was still thinking he was the only person who knew all the answers.

After 3 months of that stressful contract, we discontinued to work with him. I've learned that it only worth to work with companies and people who trust your expertise and don't intrude into CRO work too much.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

We measure it by conversion rate lift and subsequently lift in sales. Basically judge it by numbers. New knowledge about the audience of a client can't have monetary equivalent but I consider it the main purpose of our work and CRO overall.

 

Błażej Abel

Błażej Abel

CEO at Landingi.com

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

A good CRO manager has to understand his customer/company business. So the most important quality is the ability to think analytically. I meant do not only read stats, but also make benchmarking, predictions and keep hands on trends.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

The biggest challenge is that environment is changing constantly. If your are targeting different customer segments its hard to find logic in customer behaviors. That is why so important is to know what you are trying to sell and to whom.

From that reason you need to be in your customers shoes (or customers of your customer) and try to figure out their behawior, expectations but also the rhythm of their life – maybe sounds obvious but several time I've seen how B2B businesses start A/B testing on Friday evening or B2C starting on Monday morning.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

In each project we are starting from KPIs (it's good to have one main number). This helps a lot. If we know what to optimize it's much easier to know when you are winning or losing your CR. 

Tomasz Frontczak

Tomasz Frontczak

Co-owner MaxROY (SEM consulting) & DietLabs (we change people's habits in dieting).

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

Persuasion in design is often regarded as a subset of UX, but it is the other way round. A good CRO manager should be aware of it. 

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

Mobile / apps / Facebook / Instagram etc.  = different ways of consuming content / micro content = different users expectations = different micro actions which lead to sales = different UX and traffic tunneling problems to solve.

Change our (marketers) way of thinking in what to expect from users (how should landing pages look like, what is a landing page) might lead to increase in ROI not by 10%, but even twice. Moreover, we will be able to use and benefit from new formats of e-marketing that we used to consider ineffective in sales. 

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

There are always sales in the end – an increase or decrease. 

 

Jared Smith

Jared Smith

Mobile Commerce Optimization and CRO at ContourThis

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

The most important quality of a good CRO manager is that they have to be good at wearing many hats. And I don't just mean being capable at development, design, copywriting, analytics, data, psychology, email, and testing…

Those are important parts of CRO as well, but a CRO manager has to be able to wear the many hats of different positions in a company. They need to be able to wear the hat of a Director – guiding the ideation and path of the CRO department and company. They need to be able to wear the hat of a Manager – organizing and documenting test plans, results, and supporting the work of direct reports. And they need to be able to wear the hat of the technician – the person who gets the work done.

Conversion Rate Optimization is a multi-facetted undertaking that touches nearly every part of a company at every level. By being able to wear the many hats of a traditional company hierarchy a good CRO manager will be able to affect the most change in a timely manner.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

We measure effectiveness of our Conversion Rate Optimization efforts 2 ways.

1) On a daily basis, we measure our effectiveness by our ability to execute. I've watched companies spend years building their "new" website, and spend 6 months+ preparing a single test.

The internet changes so rapidly that 2 months from now, what you're working on today will probably be out-of-date. Thus, speed is an essential ingredient to the development and deployment of any CRO effort.

2) We measure our effectiveness by the overall improvement of the Key Performance Indicators that we set out to improve.

We do this every 6 months for each project we're working on. CRO is not a magic bullet. Some ideas win, some lose, and some are a draw. CRO is a strategy for improvement, so you have take the long view. We measure our overall effectiveness by how far ahead we are every 6 months.

Nicolás Celedón

Nicolás Celedón

Conversion Specialist at Google

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

A good CRO needs to be able to get great insights from quantitative and qualitative data and then implement creative and functional solutions to boost growth of the business.

Of course, the CRO needs lots of different skills and broad knowledge of each step of the cycle of the user, but without measurement and data-driven decisions, then nothing would have solid bases and -worst- won't be able to evolve.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

I would say that a regional challenge we face in Latam is to have large amount of companies that don't measure and then, for those who measure, is to change their mind set about attribution modeling and take care of cross-device measurement.

Mobile is growing fast and specially in developing regions as Latam, the new people getting into the Internet are following the mobile first path and skipping desktop.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

Every project has been very different so every project differs in my own KPI's and the ones from each business.

But in general, first I try to find some KPI's related to improving conversions and related to the impact of the solutions, measured by reach. Second, to set others qualitative objectives, as clients and users satisfaction and gained knowledge. 

Brian Massey

Brian Massey

The Conversion Scientist™

What is the most important quality a good CRO manager should have?

Patience is the CRO manager's most important quality. This is not easy. She must have patience when crafting a test, to ensure that it doesn't introduce extra variables. She must have patience when running a test, that it proceed to fruition. She must have patience when reviewing results, doing the post-test analysis that confirms the result. And she must have patience with impatient management who are looking for fast miracles from the CRO program.

What was (or is) the biggest challenge you were facing and what you have learned from it?

Finding people who are comfortable using data to guide what have traditionally been creative and aesthetic work. The online marketing industry hasn't yet trained the marketer/data scientist employees that we call a Conversion Scientists. We train these marketers one client at a time. Eventually, there will be a large pool of these data-driven marketers who can bring the disciplines of conversion optimization into organizations.  

How do you measure the effectiveness of your and your team’s work?

We use two measurements of success: Percent change in revenue or lead income and client renewal rate. We test to the bottom line with every client. We aren't testing to increase engagement, clicks, or likes. We test to increase revenue per visit and lead conversion rate. 

However, our clients get much more from us than additional dollars. They get education, insight, and confidence when working with us. The best measure of this is their desire to continue working with us after our initial 180-day Catalyst program. When we don't give clients an amazing overall experience, it doesn't matter how much additional revenue we find for them.

Do you think we've got them all?

Is there anyone you’d like to see here? Or do you believe that you should be in the list?

Go the comments section or to the Twitter profile @UsabilityTools and tell us what you think – we’ll gladly make additions!

Be sure to spread the word around and share the list – everyone should benefit! See you next week.

Disclosure: All profile pictures of experts were taken from their official profiles in social media such as Twitter or LinkedIn.


Piotr Koczorowski

Written by Piotr Koczorowski

Quirky, funny and energetic young blogger from Poland with a passion for video games, contemporary American literature, chillwave music, and pizza. Between studying Translation Studies at a Polish university, Piotr works at UsabilityTools where he blogs about UX and goes overboard with puns and cultural references. In his free time he dreams of space travel (and pizza.)


  • http://www.goodfunnel.co Liston Witherill

    Thanks for including me in the post, Piotr. If anyone here has a question, I’m happy to answer. Just hit “reply” on this message and I’ll get right back to you.

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