It’s that time of year again. Out with the old, in with the new, onward and upward. Nowhere is that more true than in the business of conversion rate optimization.
As someone who eats, lives and breathes this line of work, I felt that now was the perfect time, not just to look ahead at what 2015 could bring us, but how it will seep into and affect website owners at every level.
Let’s take a look at what could happen, then revisit this post around this time next year to see how accurate it was! Here are my top 5 CRO predictions for the coming year.
These days, you have search engine optimization specialists who have evolved into calling themselves digital marketers (or some subset therein), specializing in things like optimizing videos for search engines, optimizing social media posts, and so on.
The name change isn’t just to rid themselves of the stigma of solely optimizing for search engines (although that is part of it), but also to embrace changes in the industry that necessitate a better title. Search engine optimizers do more than optimize for search engines—they optimize pay-per-click platforms, social media, audio and video, and mobile as well.
I predict that a similar change will start to affect the conversion optimization industry and that it thankfully won’t take 10 or more years to do it.
According to eConsultancy, only 22% of marketers are satisfied with their conversion rate. What they’re lacking is specialization. One part of the funnel, say, landing pages, may be very well optimized, while another may be sorely neglected, like the checkout process.
Expect to see more specializations crop up in the conversion industry as more agencies and specialists discover how to better put their skills and talents to use.
2. Greater Emphasis Will Be Placed on Usability and How it Affects Conversion Rate
You’ve essentially got two camps: your UX (user experience) champions who look for ways to make a website as simple and straightforward to use without sacrificing aesthetics, and your conversion optimization folks who use their marketing background for persuasive purposes—to convince more people to act using said user interface.
Expect to see these two camps not merge, exactly, but become more blended, in the same way that social media has been embraced and welcomed into the SEO fold. What it boils down to is that these two groups are branches from the same tree—both working toward the same goal with their own specific ideas and processes for how it should happen.
To make sure you stay ahead of this trend, make sure you understand how your onsite user experience affects conversion rate. I expect tools like heat maps to become more advanced and provide greater detail, so be sure to use them.
3. Improved Design, Implementation and Testing Tools Will Help Small Businesses and Startups Wrangle Big Data
“Big data” sounds like a large, looming and dark cloud of information. It’s difficult for small businesses and startups to imagine stepping into it and not being sucked up in a whirlwind of details.
Every business owner needs and demands raw decision-making power. After all, that’s the basis for your A/B tests and other CRO efforts.
Tools like Google Analytics, CRMs and even CrazyEgg are continually evolving to help you make sense of the numbers, and how they correlate to conversions and sales. But as more and more of these numbers become intertwined, and as technology improves our ability to analyze where the customer is in the funnel (information gathering? price comparison shopping? getting recommendations from friends?), you’ll start to see the tools shift along with them.
Perhaps this is just me being hopeful, but I predict that new tools and advancements will come out that will harness this technology and distill it into uniquely useful insights on things like customer behavior, engagement levels and much more.
It will no longer be about “just” having the data, but being able to make sense of it in a way that’s relevant and applicable to your business growth.
For CROs, this is a good thing. Keep your eyes out for new resources to help you analyze your data better, form smarter hypotheses, and run better tests.
4. Showrooming Will Become a Thing of the Past
With movements like “site to store” where you can order something online and pick it up at your local retailer and online price matching, it’s clear that traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are determined not to lose customers to their Web-based counterparts.
Mostly, they’re determined to create more of a direct, personal and helpful experience that can’t be easily replicated online. Moreover, with the blending of mobile and in-store technologies, shoppers who might normally abandon their carts are now doing a good deal of their decision making through store-based and third-party apps.
This is a pretty bold prediction, but it has its roots in the changes that are already taking place.
While it’s true that Amazon rakes in the lion’s share of showrooming shoppers, from what I see, retailers aren’t giving up without a fight—they will continue to innovate and give customers precisely what they want. As to whether or not this will completely eliminate showrooming, no one knows, but one thing’s for sure, your local brick-and-mortar shop is remaining optimistic.
If you run an online businesses, this means you may need to come up with strategies for keeping people on your site and not abandoning your shopping cart. Your competitors aren’t just online competitors. They may be brick and mortars too.
5. Content Will Be Less About Quality and Quantity and More About Visibility
Rand Fishkin famously predicts the ongoing growth and implementation of near-instant search engine results thanks to advances like Knowledge Graph, instant answers, local search and so on. Along the same vein, Google is looking for ways to keep more users on Google itself rather than forcing them to go offsite.
In addition, consumers continue to eagerly consume content across a variety of channels and platforms. They only demand that it be accessible and synced from one device to another. That goes for websites and content as well as apps, utilities and plugins.
Simply put, in 2015, people still have way too much to do and too little time to do it in. Even the “luxury” of browsing seems to have been overtaken by the need for on-demand everything. The sooner companies can step up, listen and deliver, the sooner they’ll find themselves enjoying the fruits of their labor.
That means there will be less of a focus on creating content, and more of a focus on getting it noticed. What’s more, content will continue to evolve as user’s needs evolve.
You can expect to see more detailed, in-depth posts and fewer cheap “500-word articles.” You can also expect to see those same in-depth posts appear not just as text, but slideshows, video, podcasts and infographics too.
From the CRO perspective, this may require more effort, creating interesting content that’s easy to consume. It also means you need to find ways to streamline your content delivery and overall funnel.
What are your CRO predictions for 2015? Where do you think SEO and conversion rate optimization are headed this year? Share your thoughts with us below in the comments!
Read other Crazy Egg articles by Sherice Jacob.