Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) in Digital Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)



Kristine
Hi, is conversion rate optimization or optimizing lead conversion still part of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or that's part of digital marketing aspects?
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Truslow 🎓
I suppose it comes down to who you ask and how you look at it. Technically speaking, no… Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) isn't really a part of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). But as you say – they are both part of the broader Digital Marketing field.
Now… here's where it gets tricky… some clients are thinking that all they need is SEO. They don't really have a digital marketing plan – they just say "hey, get me some traffic and rankings" and think that'll do it for them.
Unfortunately the end goals of SEO don't, by themselves, really do much good for the client – at least not automatically. Traffic is great, but it has to be the right traffic. Rankings are great, but it has to be for the right things. And even then – none of that really gives the client any tangible benefit if those rankings and traffic aren't turning into sales or leads that they can turn into a sale.
So… if you're in a situation where a full blown digital marketing plan isn't in place – you need to put at least something in your strategy to handle that CRO and to leverage the traffic you're getting. At some point, you're going to have most of easy stuff covered and have to go after the more difficult things. When that happens, you need to be positioned to make the absolute most out of every person that comes to the site.
In the end… if there isn't CRO (and a few other parts of digital marketing) being done in the plan, in six months the client is going to look at what they spent to get all these rankings and traffic but not be able to justify that expense in their sales and profits. So at that point, you're fired and there's yet another person out there telling everyone they know, "I tried SEO and it wasn't worth it."
As part of a full program and you're just hired to do the SEO stuff – then no. CRO is outside your scope of work. (Though it's important to work with the rest of the team to make sure you're delivering the goods they need to do their jobs). But if SEO is the ONLY thing the small business is doing – you need to make that part of your scope of work or you won't be working for them for very long.
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Kristine ✍️ » Truslow
Thank you for clearing the difference between the two. It all makes so much sense 💯


Colman
This is a hard one.
Yes it does, but to John point. A lot of b2c clients don't disclose closing numbers. So you can convert leads and show them x but without numbers of sales and services, you have to guesstimate order value etc

Truslow 🎓
We have several clients like that – but during the monthly meetings we go through the batch of leads with them. They may not tell us if they managed to convert, but they will say things like "Yeah, send us more of this type of lead" or "No… those don't really lead to much because of X or Y."
We also have some markers for "worst acceptable performance" – so for example, once the program is established, we'll say, "Well, if at any point your monthly fees to us exceed 15-20% of the revenue you're gaining from it – let us know so we can work together to figure out how to adjust." In some cases, just 3-4 sales a quarter can justify our entire existence, but in others, they need to be closing 15-20 (or more) per month.
We also like to work out a "cost per lead" value. We toss out garbage spam stuff and just take things that look like valid contacts. We figure in what they paid us and any Ad Buys (if applicable) and create a cost for each lead that came in. This way they can easily do math and see if it's panning out.
John » Zack
I'm not sure how you're supposed to help a business grow if you don't have access to financials. I would be declining those projects.
Colman » John
We talk rough numbers, but some clients are just that way 🤷🏻

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Wrenn
Here's a way of looking at it:
Investopedia.com reaches tens of millions of people a month by covering investing and personal finance topics. It's got great search market coverage and it's still got room to run farther. At that scale of traffic, it's easier to focus strictly on topically relevant traffic acquisition and have good results come out the bottom
Now consider a company who provides a software or service that is very specific and whose search volume is between 3 and 5 figures cumulatively. That's a much smaller base of traffic to work off of, so Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is much more crucial to getting the results your client wants
That's the spectrum along with "it depends" falls in this case. I'm not sure how exactly it applies to your situation, though I would wager it has to do with your skills development or your client management process. In either case, think of it like this: if you only want to focus on organic traffic growth, that's going to mean your skills are most relevant to a certain segment of those needing digital marketing services. CRO as an add on makes you more relevant to a different segment of businesses needing those services. Choose which group you either want to service or have the skills to service and adjust your process (be it career development or services marketing/sales) to that end point.
Amanda
Related Question – I lean into the Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and on-page SEO space more than technical SEO and absolutely agree that both roles are vital yet often function best separately. Do any of you collaborate with CROs outside of your clients' in-house marketing teams? I'm surprised I don't see freelance CROs and SEO users working together very often. I know I for one would love to know how to collaborate more effectively with SEO users in future projects

John » Amanda
Absolutely agree!
Keith L Evans 🎓 » Amanda
I decided to learn more and more about CRO so now I am the in-house CRO guy. ranking and conversions go hand in hand.


John
An SEO is not a Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) specialist, nor have they been hired as a business consultant or sales coach. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't care. Making very simple changes on a site by adding clear calls to action, implementing call and email tracking, understanding the clients sales process, lead/sale value, lifetime value of their customers and so on, can all help tremendously.
The thing is, it's actually in your best interest as an SEO consultant to care about this stuff, because once you do, everything changes.
You can charge more, your retention rates will soar, clients wont be hassling you all the time, the constant worry about rankings and the unpredictability of the SERPs goes away, and the results become indisputable.
In other words, once you start reporting against revenue, SEO is actually easier.

Chunys » John
Nailed it


Keith L Evans 🎓
If you're not ranking and banking, then you're leaving money on the table.
In 2013 I got a home security to top position but sales were flat. They would not change their messaging to increase sales. I lost the client but learned my lesson to add CRO with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
People want results. If you hire me you get CRO and SEO.
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John » Keith
I love this!

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