[How To] Demonstrate the Value of Conversion Rate Optimization to Any Boss (or Client)

How many acronym’s can your boss handle? (Original image source)

Imagine this common scenario: You say to your boss or client that you want to do some CRO work to improve your marketing campaigns.

They give you a cautious glance and ask you to create a proposal on how you’re qualified and why this will help (here we go, *sigh*).

What you don’t see are the wheels in their brain churning, thinking “What the hell is CRO?” After a quick Google search, they’re more confused than ever and ask why getting Croatia involved will help the business.

So, how do you convince someone less-than-knowledgeable that conversion rate optimization (CRO) is worth the time and cost investment?

Step 1: Explain what CRO means for the campaign and the company

It’s all about dollars and cents, so you need to show how CRO can increase your bottom line. You realize that it may mean spending some money, so you must be very convincing if you’re going to get an agreement. This approach isn’t new; after all, you probably had to convince someone to fork over some of the marketing budget for SEO and/or PPC too.

Ideally, you want to find that sweet spot of CRO. You don’t want to be spending too little, missing out on potential acquisitions, but you also don’t want to spend too much, throwing money down the toilet. But if you can find the proper balance, the conversion economics sweet spot which maximizes your spend while producing an optimal cost per acquisition (CPA), this is precisely what’s going to sell CRO for you.

As a general rule, conversion rates can improve by as much as 25 percent (according to Omniture) simply by converting from a standard web page to a stand-alone landing page designed specifically for a given promotion.

Step 2: Show some real life examples

Thanks to our friends at VisualWebsiteOptimizer.com, there are dozens of case studies showing positive changes in conversion rates through A/B testing. Here are two real-life examples demonstrating how simple changes in language and design can dramatically boost signups and conversion rates.

GetResponse managed to achieve a 158 percent increase in Free Trial signups

How? By simply adding a free trial button.

Demonstrate the Value of CRO Using Examples
Before: No free trial option turned potential prospects away. Image via VisualWebsiteOptimizer.com
Demonstrating the Value of CRO
After: GetResponse realized a 158 percent increase in free trial signups simply by adding a call to action. Image via VisualWebsiteOptimizer.com

CRO isn’t always about design and calls to action. The content – either too much or too little – as well as the quality of the copy can also impact conversion rates.

WikiJob, for instance, increased sales by 34 percent simply by incorporating testimonials

The best part about this test? It didn’t require any major design or copywriting changes.

Demonstrating the Value of CRO with Examples
Before: The WikiJob site has a clear call to action, but the lack of social proof resulted in lackluster sales. Image via VisualWebsiteOptimizer.com
Demonstrating the Value of CRO with Examples
After: Simply incorporating a simple design element to include testimonials, conversions increased by 34 percent. Image via VisualWebsiteOptimizer.com

Step 3: Explain ROI

Clearly, explaining what ROI means to some people won’t go over well; many already realize that they should be getting something in return for every dollar spent. But building on step number two, if you can clearly demonstrate how increased conversions will boost the bottom dollar, you may have just sold your CRO services.

Further, CRO isn’t as much budget-dependent as it is creativity-dependent, so if you can get buy-in on flexing your creative muscles without spending a ton of additional money, you probably have the deal under wraps. What works for another company might not work for yours, and that’s why continuous A/B Testing is so important to improve conversion rates.

Demonstrating the Value of CRO with ROI
Showing your boss concrete proof that increasing conversions will turn into dollars will go a long way in convincing him you’re right. (But aren’t you always?). Image via BoomTownROI.com

Step 4: Build on your current analytics

“How are you going to optimize our conversion rates?” might be what your they’re is thinking. Lucky for you (we hope), you have access to your company’s analytics reports, so you can show exactly how much time visitors are spending on which pages of your website and where they’re dropping off unengaged.

It’s these specific locations where CRO needs to take place; you need to revise your content, design and your calls to action to entice those visitors to convert rather than bounce.

If you can pinpoint the specific location where these breakdowns are occurring, it will be far easier to convince a stakeholder to let you make some modifications. And it may not take drastic changes; sometimes, changing what appears to be a very minor element can result in surprising increases in conversions.

Step 5: Capitalize on the “fear factor” of competition

It’s standard practice to include a competitive analysis in any proposal, but it may be especially important when you’re talking in terms of CRO. If you can pitch an economical CRO approach while simultaneously demonstrating that your competitors are doing the very same thing successfully, your proposal will be a no-brainer. (Unless, of course, your boss/client is a complete idiot.)

Demonstrating the Value of CRO with Competition
Show how your competitors are killing you with CRO, thus stealing your revenue. Image via BusinessesGrow.com

Show how much $$ you are losing

Sometimes, the HiPPOs aren’t convinced by what they’re missing out on. Instead, they may be more heavily influenced if you can show how your competition is getting business that could have otherwise been yours.

If you can find a case study from a competitor that clearly demonstrates changes that boosted conversion rates, you’ll have an easier time giving some extra attention to your landing pages.

This tactic will be even more convincing if you can assign a potential lifetime customer value to every conversion potentially lost. After all, if a competitor boosted conversion rates by 20 percent, that 20 percent could equate to a lot of customers that had to come from somewhere – did they come from your company? Hitting a business person where it hurts – in the wallet – by showing concrete numbers and potential lost revenue is a surefire way to make a convincing argument for CRO.

— Angela Stringfellow

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About Angela Stringfellow
Angela Stringfellow has spent the last few years of corporate life working in marketing management in the healthcare industry before transitioning her real-world marketing experience to the web. For the past several years, Angela has worked as a consultant with businesses small and large to build comprehensive social media campaigns, blogging and editorial strategies and enhance overall brand reputation and media presence, with a primary focus on Web 2.0 technologies and content marketing.
» More blog posts by Angela Stringfellow


  1. Christoph C. Cemper

    Really awesome post with a lot of Dilberism built into.

    For anyone employeed: I suggest if you seriously consider you need this in an an online marketing environment, consider getting a new boss.

    If your boss is not aware of the value of conversion optimization TODAY (mid 2012) then you should really fire your boss.

    Might apply tough for “old economy” companies with really rusty enivorment and people – Flash websites and stuff :)

    best regards
    Christoph C. Cemper

  2. Nile Hadward


    I have also tried “free trial” for one of my client and I really get conversion rate of 35%. I am using Google A-B testing tool because of client requirement. Currently it cover under Google Analytics for A-B as well as Multivariate testing.

  3. Chande

    Greetings from Croatia! (you made me laugh, thanks)

    • Oli Gardner

      lol, I’m glad someone got a kick out of that

      • Chande

        Yep, you’ve got fans there too. I am sending your blog posts and case studies all over the place, so if you find some .hr domains with your “signature”, you’ll know where it came from :)

  4. IWP

    Yeah, this is pretty elementary. If your boss is clueless, you can only hope that he/she respects your opinion.

  5. Scott

    The question isn’t whether to invest in CRO, it’s how soon to invest in a “continuous CRO framework.” The Web moves fast. Today’s optimizations won’t always be tomorrow’s gains. If you aren’t optimizing your site as a matter of course, you’re leaving money on the table every single day.

    Even ’50s-style bosses understand the phrase, “we’re leaving money on the table every single day.” ;)

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  11. Gagandeep

    Pretty good post. I just came across your blog and wanetd to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way Ill be coming back and I hope you post again soon.

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