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Unraveling the CRO mystery: Why marketers are scaling back and why you should invest

Laura Colton
Laura Colton
Content Communications Specialist
6 min read
11 August 2023

DEPT®’s 2023 Growth Marketing Report reveals that most marketers—from a survey of 450 leaders in retail, finance, and technology—are under-prioritizing conversion rate optimization (CRO).

According to our survey, only 15% of all respondents have continued to invest in CRO in 2023, a stark comparison to the 50+% of marketers who considered it a top priority in last year’s survey.  

What has led to such a drastic shift in marketers’ behavior?

CRO was most likely deprioritized in favor of quick wins during a tougher economy. When marketers were operating in a thriving economy, CRO and SEO were considered the top two essential activities to invest in across each industry surveyed.

However, the economic climate has caused the landscape to shift radically, and many marketers have taken a reactive approach to cut costs. Marketers have shifted and concentrated their remaining budgets on bottom-funnel acquisition activities that drive real-time impact, like SEM.

In contrast, maintaining a robust A/B testing program can be perceived as a more intricate, time-consuming process. Many brands today are under increasingly more pressure to provide immediate, tangible results that boost metrics like traffic or short-term sales.

While it may be tempting to focus on short-term gains, marketers risk undercutting the potential ROI from their budget and hurting their long-term growth prospects. So how do you continue to grow, navigate these unpredictable circumstances, and successfully strategize when you don’t know what the future holds?

By embracing CRO as an ongoing journey rather than a one-time optimization effort, marketers can extract more value from their media investment and set the stage for continuous ROI improvement.

However, when faced with economic uncertainty and unpredictable behavior from your buyers, it makes sense that marketers are looking to conserve their budgets for a “sure thing.” For brands who have invested in CRO in the past but pulled back (or never started), there are typically a few key challenges that led them to pause.

Don’t let typical friction points hold you back from A/B testing your site experience

Challenge: Your prior A/B testing program wasn’t generating enough results to make the investment worth it.

Solution: It’s time to evaluate your testing methodology. Are you succumbing to any of these pitfalls?

1) You’re testing too small. “Small swings” can only result in small wins, while “big swings” will teach you much more. Changing button colors and hero images will only result in minor incremental lifts, at best. Rethinking your navigation or your search functionality can have a much bigger impact on your potential buyer’s consideration path.

2) You’re not listening to your users. If your test ideas are being created without concrete data about your users’ behavior, you’re likely not solving the right problems. From heat mapping to exit surveys to live user testing, there are many ways to capture insights from your target audience about what friction or hesitations they’re experiencing. Most of these methods can be deployed in ‘scrappy’ ways without expensive tech or elaborate surveys.

3) You’re testing too many things at once. If the number of elements you’re changing is too high or the traffic to your tested page is too low, you might not hit statistical significance or might not know for sure what influenced the win.

Challenge: Internal silos or lack of bandwidth in your dev or creative teams are holding you back from getting results or implementing your wins and impacting your bottom line.

Solution: Collaboration among different teams is crucial for a seamless CRO implementation. While CRO is typically a marketing practice, it can be impossible to get tests live or wins implemented when your creative and development teams have a long queue of work.

An external CRO team can help fill these gaps for you; for example, DEPT® offers CRO packages that include developer, design, or copy support, in addition to generating test hypotheses, running tests, and analyzing results.

Challenge: You haven’t started A/B testing your site because you aren’t sure how to justify an additional expense in your budget.

Solution: Run the numbers if you need to go to bat with a budget proposal. Taking your typical amount of site traffic and value per conversion (AOV if you’re an eCommerce business, or an average pipeline contribution if you’re a lead-based business model), quantify the additional revenue you’d unlock if a winning test increased your conversion rate by even just 5-15% – how does it compare to the costs of an A/B testing tool and a managed service?

Especially for businesses with higher AOVs or LTVs, a strong CRO program could easily pay for itself and more within just a few months.

If you’re not running CRO, you’re letting revenue slip through your fingers

A study by VentureBeat revealed that brands that utilize CRO tools can experience an average ROI of 223%. This finding shows that leveraging CRO provides the potential for immense revenue growth and profitability.

Maximizing the value of existing resources, improving customer interactions, and consistently optimizing conversion strategies are key factors in unlocking the full revenue potential of CRO.

One of DEPT®’s clients, JYSK Baltics, a franchisee of the global JYSK corporation, uncovered an ROI potential of over 3000% due to implementing CRO. As the largest Danish retail chain operating in 49 countries, JYSK sought to improve its conversion rates which had been negatively impacted due to shifting post-COVID shopping behavior.

To address this, DEPT® conducted a comprehensive CRO audit, combining quantitative and qualitative analysis using Google Analytics and Hotjar. The audit uncovered areas of optimization and missed tracking opportunities, leading to a backlog of ideas for A/B testing.

By running tests on high-traffic areas of the website, DEPT® achieved a 50% success rate and discovered valuable insights even from “failed” tests. The results showcased a potential ROI of 3000%, highlighting the significant benefits of implementing CRO strategies.

By not investing in CRO, you’re leaving money on the table. It means missing out on potential revenue, wasting marketing spend, delivering lackluster user experiences, incurring higher customer acquisition costs, and falling behind competitors.

Don’t let your brand fall behind in this ever-changing digital landscape. Unleash the untapped potential of your existing resources, leverage data-driven insights, and maximize your revenue to fuel your growth and success. Stay ahead of the competition and continue even when the future is uncertain. Explore our CRO services and start boosting your bottom line!


Content Communications Specialist

Laura Colton