Achieving Marketing Goals by Looking Beyond Traditional CRO

Paul Roetzer, the author of Marketing Agency Blueprint states: “Marketing campaigns are not about winning awards for creative, building the flashiest websites, gaming Google for higher rankings […] The job of a marketing agency is to produce results that impact the bottom line. It’s that simple.”

Internet marketing ROI realized through non-traditional Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Internet marketing goals can typically be tied back to conversions, otherwise known as desired actions that website visitors take that enable Internet marketers to realize a pre-defined business goal. Typical conversions evaluated by marketers include measuring when users:

  • Click through on links from search results
  • Subscribe to RSS and e-mail
  • Click through on links posted on social networks
  • Shares on social networks, blogs, websites
  • Purchase something and become customer (for ecommerce)
  • Sign-up for a free or paid trial
  • Download a white paper in exchange for providing information such as their email address
  • Maintain customer information service subscription.

For traditional CRO, we know for instance that there is a relationship between click through rates in the search results and things like position/rank in the search results, search results that contain rich snippets and having sitelinks where a search result will include indented links to multiple pages on a website (see sitelinks example below).

Saratoga Fit sitelinks example

Typically these kinds of conversions and their conversion rates are associated with a number of factors that can be tested during traditional CRO. Testing typically includes changing the anchor text (clickable part of a text link) in links, changing graphical elements composition and position, colors, position of call to action buttons and a myriad of other factors. For a good tutorial on traditional CRO, along with a number of example tests and their results, check out the following video (runtime: 9 minutes, 29 seconds). It is fun to see if you can guess the outcome of the tests prior to the results being shared.

Often times marketers can achieve their business goals by looking beyond traditional CRO to produce results that impact the bottom line and drive ROI. Beyond tradition CRO, there are a number of other more subtle factors that can come into play when influencing conversions. A good litmus test for uncovering these factors, proposed by Rand Fiskin of, are in these two simple questions:

  1. Does the product or service or thing that you want me to do meet my needs?
  2. Do I trust and like the brand and/or people behind the brand?

In the following Whiteboard Friday video (runtime: 17 mins 24 seconds), Rand Fishkin explores The Hidden Factors in Accomplishing Your Online Marketing Goals.

Rand looks at factors beyond the ones examined in traditional CRO. Most, if not all, can be mapped back to how those factors support or detract from a positive response to one of the two fundamental questions. These factors include things like:

  • Page load time – Google penalty may be small compared to user perception and brand impact
  • Forcing user to view ads prior to consuming content (pre-roll videos) – inhibits shares
  • Pricing transparency – even if your prices are higher than competitors, studies have shown that conversion rates are positively impacted when pricing information is provided.
  • Trust factors like known brand domains versus generic direct match domains which could feel spammy
  • Brand perception in terms company, what it stands for and the people that represent it?
  • Contact information easily accessible including phone, email and physical address
  • Information about individuals and team members of the company
  • Relationship of content relative to the company, product or service offerings
  • Social proof which can be illustrated in a variety of ways including likes, shares by key industry influencers

So next time you are planning to perform CRO for an Internet marketing project, remember to think out of the box and ask yourself those 2 simple questions to uncover hidden factors that can greately impact yours or your client’s conversion rates and ultimately, the bottom line.

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Rick Noel is an experienced digital marketer enabling businesses and organizations to grow through the Internet, while maximizing marketing ROI (Return On Investment). Rick is the CEO and Co-Founder of eBiz ROI, Inc., a full-service digital marketing agency located in Ballston Lake, NY.

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