Does the time of year matter when you’re considering using conversion rate optimization services?
Do conversion rate optimization services vary by season… or are CRO tasks the same throughout the year?
Most ecommerce managers and VP’s know the value of getting help from a qualified conversion rate optimization agency, but opinions vary when the discussion turns to “What is the best time to start?”
In this article, we’ll look at the types of tasks most companies need to focus on during each quarter of the year. This information will help your management team make the best decision on CRO timing.
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Why be concerned about the best time to begin CRO services?
Seasonal variations can keep ecommerce sales going up and down like a roller coaster. Month-to-month and quarterly sales can reflect seasonal shifts that make deciding when and how to implement conversion rate optimization services a perplexing question.
For instance, if most of your sales are attributed to Black Friday through Christmas, should you hold off on CRO activity during that period? Or are the holidays the perfect time to kick off your conversion rate optimization effort?
Ecommerce management teams often get caught up in that debate. To get to the bottom of the question about when it’s best to get help from a conversion rate optimization agency, let’s take a look at the benefits of CRO campaigns quarter by quarter.
That should shed some light on what could prove to be a difficult discussion.
The benefits of starting conversion rate optimization services at different times of the year
At The Good, we work with CRO clients throughout the year. And while the implementation sequences can differ depending on the particular situation each company faces, we’ve observed patterns of CRO activities attached to the seasonal patterns that affect sales on most ecommerce websites.
Here’s a list of typical CRO tasks and opportunities performed during each quarter of the year:
- CRO activities for Q1 include cleaning up any issues that holiday’s increased traffic brought to light. Q1 is an excellent time to evaluate how well your ecommerce site performed against the holiday goals you set last year, then getting busy creating a plan to increase conversion rates for the coming year. This is also an excellent time to analyze holiday traffic and look closely at your conversion paths. There’s gold in that data. Go mine it.
- CRO activities for Q2 often include putting your higher-risk tests into play while traffic to your ecommerce site has leveled out. Since these tests will take a bit longer to run and prove, it’s important to get them going early. The results you get now can further inform holiday high-traffic testing. Additionally, by taking risks during times of reduced traffic you can limit your exposure during higher-traffic seasons. Q2 can be a testing period where you take more risks. Insights here can make all the difference in Q4.
- CRO activities for Q3 are normally focused on getting ready for the holiday season and putting the pieces of the conversion rate optimization puzzle together. Your aim now is to learn from the reflection and testing protocols launched in the first two quarters to make sure you’ve chosen the best conversion-boosting results to create more sales during the soon-coming boom in visitors to your ecommerce website. The higher your conversion rate, the more sales you’ll generate from those visitors. Smart CRO services provide the key to ecommerce success.
- CRO activities for Q4 aren’t marked by the cessation of testing. Not a chance. Q4 is when you want to get aggressive with small, quick tests. You can take advantage of the additional traffic spike to prove out testing results more quickly than the rest of the year. By closely observing the results you get on Black Friday, you can improve conversions on Cyber Monday. Then iterate quickly on CRO fine-tuning and save the larger, more risky changes for Q1 and Q2. You don’t stop testing during Q4, but you’ll probably want to test differently than at other times of the year.
So, when is the best time to engage in conversion rate optimization services?
If you came to The Good and asked us when you should get started with a conversion optimization agency, we’d tell you “Yesterday.”
Would that answer change depending on the time of year, though? Absolutely not.
That’s not our position because we’re a conversion rate optimization agency, though. That’s our position because of the basic quarter-by-quarter activity list given above. Look back at the typical CRO action items for each quarter and ask yourself, “which one of those quarterly sets can stand on its own?”
Think of it this way:
- Q1 activities need the insight gained during Q4. That information allows you to set reasonable goals for the coming year and gives you invaluable feedback on how last year’s strategic plan performed.
- Q2 uses the Q1 realizations to formulate ambitious tests that can create impressive jumps in sales revenue. At The Good, we often witness astounding breakthroughs that clear up stuck points and boost ROI to record levels – but it normally requires ambitious testing to realize rapid gains in sales revenue.
- Q3 is preparation time. You get your game face on and start setting down the plan for the rapidly approaching season. Tough decisions are made here. You should be adjusting your path-to-sales strategy with the help of a qualified CRO agency. You don’t need CRO assistance for setting up and running tests only. You need all the CRO experience and game-winning advice you can get.
- Q4 is the time most companies think is the worst time to engage in CRO – but that’s an incorrect assumption. It’s like saying you need the race car pit crew, but not the driver. By paying close attention and making informed course corrections, a qualified CRO specialist can help make sure the goals you set back in Q1 are hit, maybe even smashed.
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When you consider the big picture, it becomes clear that your primary CRO focus changes with the seasons, but each quarter is essential to the success of your efforts.
By the way – what if your company’s high season is during the spring instead of the winter? Does that change the game and completely change your CRO planning?
Not at all.
Every task listed in the quarterly layout above is valid. Adjust the seasonal picture to fit your particular situation – but you’ll still need to address and rotate through the steps given.Conversion rate optimization really isn’t about optimizing web pages – it’s about optimizing decisions – and the page itself is a means to an end but not an end itself – Michael Aagaard @ContentVerve. Click To Tweet
The best time of the year to begin conversion rate optimization services
When’s the best time to get started with CRO? Yesterday. When’s the next best time to get started with CRO? Today. Partial conversion rate optimization services will give you partial results. To get the full benefits of CRO, you need the full sequence.
Get a qualified CRO agency to audit your current situation. Use that audit to launch your year-round CRO strategy.
Executed correctly, every dollar you invest in CRO during the year will come back to you several – maybe even many – times over.
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About the Author
Jon MacDonald is founder and President of The Good, a conversion rate optimization firm that has achieved results for some of the largest online brands including Adobe, Nike, Xerox, Verizon, Intel and more. Jon regularly contributes content on conversion optimization to publications like Entrepreneur and Inc. He knows how to get visitors to take action.