Here is a list of questions you may — and should — ask before you choose the best conversion optimization consultant for your online business.
Maybe you have exhausted your resources or maybe you’d rather have CRO experts maximize your profits. Whatever your situation, it’s time to pick a conversion optimization consultant for your online business. No matter the business type – eCommerce, lead gen or subscription website – how do you know which optimization professional is the best? Better yet, how do you know which one is the best fit for your needs?
We rounded up 14 key questions to help you analyze and evaluate your prospective conversion rate optimization (CRO) consultants. Buckle up because here we go!
1. How Much will a Conversion Optimization Consultant Cost me?
Conversion optimization is an on-going process, meaning you can expect a multi-month engagement. Therefore an equally important question here is when will I start to see positive results and a good return on investment. To achieve this, try to compare their experience, the actual time they’ll invest in analysis and research for your project and, again, the return on investment. After all, their job is to increase your revenues.
Still, you want to have an idea of cost. Here it goes. Small conversion rate optimization firms can be found for as little as $2500 per month to run tests. For a full team approach, expect to pay between $5,000 and $15,000 per month. Enterprise-focused firms will charge up to $50,000 per month.
Agencies that specialize in search engine optimization, paid search advertising, social media and media buying are adding conversion optimization services to their line card because clients, like you, are asking for it. They are not necessarily conversion specialists, so they may offer conversion optimization as a part of their package for a small additional fee. So, ponder on this: Can this fee fund the resources necessary for a conversion optimization program that can make a difference on my bottom line?
A word of caution: Know what you buy into.
When it’s time to pick a conversion optimization consultant for your online business, you have to understand what their offer actually is.
2. Do I Need to Have my own Resources? How Much Time will I Have to Invest in this Project?
This will depend on the type of engagement you are looking for. Here’s an example. At Conversion Sciences we offer our clients a couple of service options.
If they prefer to hand over the conversion rate optimization portion to us, we furnish them with a full CRO team. No company resources needed. Just plan to spend an hour with your conversion consultant each week on an ongoing basis and a bit more while we learn about your online business. Feel free to learn more about our Fully-Managed CRO Services or as we like to call it: the Plug-n-Play Approach to Revenue Increase. (Yep, shameless plug)
If they have an internal conversion team already in place, or they don’t have sufficient traffic to warrant full time engagement, our clients can opt for our Conversion Rate Optimization Audit. They will even walk away with a thorough analysis of your customer journey. Discover more about these ad-hoc services here. Do expect to invest time and internal resources for this type of project.
Our advice, always ask this question. It will help you better compare and find the best CRO consultant for your website.
3. How will you Measure Success?
A great question that separates the wheat from the chaff. Let’s explain.
This is the best answer a CRO consultant can give you: “We will improve bottom-line metrics such as leads generated, transactions, or subscribers and that’s how we will measure success.”
It incentivizes your conversion consultant to look at the bottom line as their measure of success. And it also aligns the conversion consultant goals with your business goals.
Be careful of optimizing for secondary measures, such as clicks to a page with a form, bounce rate, the time visitors spend on your site or the number of pages they visit on average. It is often easy to improve these and not improve bottom-line metrics such as leads generated, transactions, or subscribers.
4. Can you Guarantee Results or a Conversion Rate Increase?
Should you pick a conversion rate optimization company that offers a guarantee or one that is willing to work for a percentage of the increased revenue? While these may seem like two very tempting offers, there are some downsides.
The most extreme guarantee is a pay-for-performance basis also called “I get a cut of your revenues”. On the plus side, they don’t get paid if they don’t deliver higher revenues. On the downside, they may get credit for your own promotions and not just for their conversion work. And as revenues increase, their monthly fees will look much larger to you. If conversion rates go way up, that’s good. But it means your consultant is getting paid very high fees. This can make you feel like you’re paying too much.
Therefore, even though these guarantees may feel as if they reduce the risk that you face as the site owner, they can also increase your overall investment.
Would you like a better solution?
Consider asking the conversion consultant to continue working for free if a predetermined goal is not met in a set timeframe. For example, if they can’t demonstrate a 10% increase in revenue in six months, they keep working for free. When they hit the results, they can start billing you again. Do you think they’ll accept?
5. How Much do you Know my Industry/Technology/Platform/Distribution Channel/Market?
If there’s one thing that testing teaches us very quickly, it’s that there is no such thing as a “magic formula.” Ideas that work for similar sites may not work on your audience. An orange button may work for one site, and not for another. Every audience is different.
Having said that, a conversion optimization vendor that has worked with a number of your competitors will have a playbook of ideas to consider. There will be ideas that never would have occurred to the team without the hindsight of having worked in your industry. If they also know your website platform and technology, their learning curve will be limited mostly to your product, service or business brand.
And while a solid understanding of your website platform is always a plus, industry experience can also be a hindrance. If the vendor is overly familiar with websites in your industry, they may not be able to look at your site with fresh eyes. A key advantage of external vendors.
All-in-all, a disciplined optimization process will work in any industry. Ask your vendor for some examples of novel ideas that are specific to your industry, but make sure they have a proven, repeatable process.
So, before you pick a conversion optimization consultant for your online business ask yourself if you are looking for a fresh pair of eyes, or for somebody that can quickly catch up and contribute as if they had always been a part of your team.
6. Can you Share Some Case Studies?
A case study will help you understand how the consultant helped other businesses improve the performance of their website from a lead generation, sales or subscription increase standpoint. Take case studies showing giant performance gains with a grain of salt. This can happen for you, but not always.
A consultant should always be able to facilitate and show you their case studies but you should go the extra mile and also ask to speak with their clients. While they will refer you to clients they’ve had success with, you can ask about situations in which your conversion consultant struggled.
How a consultant deals with adversity is as important as how they behave when things are good.
7. How will you Get to Know my Target Audience and What is your Process Like?
Successful conversion consultants let the data tell them about your audience. Your analytics data, surveys, reviews, and chat transcripts can reveal many issues with you website. If that is not enough, they should resort to surveys, session recordings, heatmap reports, and A/B testing.
Any other answer from a CRO consultant could demonstrate that they do not have the optimization experience needed to perform the job.
Getting to know your target audience will be one of the first steps in the process, so make sure they share with you what the rest of the process looks like, or that is somewhere on their website. You want to know how much of your time will be spent supporting the on-boarding process and if there are any additional fees for software or special ad-hoc work.
8. Do you do Split Testing or can you Implement Personalized AI-Powered Experiences to my Visitors?
A solid conversion rate optimization consultant will be well versed on every optimization technique and tool available and will recommend the one that is the best fit for your business. Stay away from those who try to steer you towards a single solution. Unless you want a one trick pony and not a true blue pro.
9. How do you Know what to Optimize First?
The most common framework for ranking ideas is called ICE, which stands for Impact, Confidence, and Effort. It helps collect and rank all of the ideas that will come up when starting a conversion rate optimization project.
Asking this question may weed out the weakest prospective vendors. After all, a solid understanding of methodologies demonstrates the kind of professionalism you are looking for.
10. What would you Like to Know about our Company?
Your conversion consultant will be ravenous any for data you have. Ideas come from chat transcripts, marketing research, surveys, personas, reviews, advertising data and more. Conversion consultants are uniquely able to turn your existing research into test hypotheses.
Be suspect if they don’t want to know more about YOUR business. Optimization professionals have inquisitive minds and they always want to know more. Giving them the opportunity to ask you questions allows you to dig into their curious nature and mental process.
Good consultants will have lots of answers to this question.
11. Do the People I’ll be Working with have Strong Optimization Experience?
More than likely, you had a chance to speak to the top people in this agency. They have positively impressed you. But, what does the team that will be working with you look like? Are they experienced? If they are juniors, what type of supervision will the vendor provide. You want reassurances and you should be asking these questions.
Conversion optimization is a relatively new field. There aren’t a lot of experienced conversion consultants available to hire. And this is not a set of skills that is easy to teach in the classroom.
This is where process comes in. Your consultant should be able to articulate a repeatable, proven process that has a history of positive results.
If you’re working with an agency, there is a good chance you’ll be working with a less-experienced individual. Find out how the agency backs up this individual with analytics, test design and data science. They should also be backed up by someone with strategic marketing experience. Conversion optimization is strategic as well as design-oriented.
12. How Quickly will I Get my Money Back or How Soon will I See Results?
Beware of those who can guarantee a full return on investment within a short timeframe. CRO consultants will be able to make some estimates once they start working with you and they can also share their previous and similar experiences. But that’s all they are. Estimates and experiences. And no two websites or business are completely alike.
13. Do you Work with the Tools we Bought or can Afford?
If you are now working and/or already invested in conversion optimization tools, bring up the topic on your first conversation. You will want your consultant to know you expect them to use your tools proficiently, or to have experience with similar tools from different vendors.
As far as affordability goes, we live in a golden age of marketing tools. There are many options at many price points. The consultant should be able to help you choose a tool that fits their needs and your budget.
Always consider that most conversion consultants will give you a better return on your investment in optimization tools.
14. What is the Consultant’s Testing Philosophy?
Each consultant will have a testing philosophy. Some favor scientific rigor. Others favor quick decisions. Here are some questions to ask them and the answers you will want to hear.
How long will you run an AB test?
No AB test should be stopped before two full weeks have passed. If you have a high volume of conversions, one week may be acceptable, but no less.
Will you stop a variation if it looks really negative?
Most conversion consultants will monitor tests and stop any variations that seem to be underperforming to avoid lost sales and fewer leads.
Do you let tests overlap?
If your prospective conversion consultant plans to run tests on multiple pages of your site, there is a risk of polluting the data and making bad calls. They should be able to visitor from getting into multiple tests.
How do you do quality assurance on tests?
The tools that conversion consultant uses give them sweeping powers to alter your site. It is surprisingly easy to break your site, even if they checked it. A thorough Quality Assurance (QA) process includes testing on multiple devices and involves several people before it goes live.
What kind of post-test analysis do you do?
Even if a test finishes and there is no winning variation, your conversion consultant can learn important things from the data. They just have to take the time to do a little more analysis, called “post-test” analysis. This should be part of their philosophy.
Can you perform multivariate tests?
If you have a high-volume site, multivariate testing is an important option. You may also want to find out if they can use machine learning AI tools to accelerate their testing.
How to Pick a Conversion Optimization Consultant for your Online Business
Final word of advice: no matter who you choose, make sure the consultant you hire is the one that is able to deliver on the strategy YOU need.
Solid CRO firms will tell you right out if they are unable to help you and may even recommend alternative solutions to your business problem, Use these questions when the time comes to pick a conversion optimization consultant for your online business. Who knows? It may even be us!
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