Will Your Clueless CEO Ever Support Conversion Rate Optimization?

  |  June 25, 2013   |  Comments

Show the CEO why his or her opinion doesn't matter, build the financial case for conversion improvement, and make the connection between CRO and marketing ROI.

You know you have to improve conversion. Your online marketing team knows you have to test. The only person who doesn't know you have to focus on conversion is your CEO, because the CEO has no clue what conversion optimization is and why you want to divert precious resources to it.

The reality is, the CEO doesn't care about your day-to-day activities. The CEO cares about the health of the business and the return on investment (ROI). The good news is that all conversion rate optimization (CRO) activities directly impact those things.

Follow this three-step plan to convince your CEO to get behind CRO:

  1. Show the CEO why his or her opinion doesn't matter.
  2. Build the financial case for conversion improvement.
  3. Make the connection between CRO and marketing ROI.

Show the CEO Why His or Her Opinion Doesn't Matter

It's true, no one opinion within your organization should hold too much weight when it comes to the success of your website. This is especially true when we're talking about the CEO. Why? Because it's a sad fact that businesses are plagued by the HiPPO mentality (highest paid person's opinion), which negatively impacts countless business decisions each year.

If you want to start testing in your organization, take a chance and tell the CEO that the "emperor has no clothes," so to speak. This truth may be hard to express, but sometimes a little shock and awe goes a long way in an organization.

Tell the CEO it's not about his or her opinion (or even your own), it's about your website visitors and what they want. What does the data tell you? Fact, not opinion, is something that can grow legs and firmly ground those business decisions.

But the only way to gather data is to test several versions of your content in parallel or to measure the results after making substantial redesign changes. So to demonstrate how much of an impact this can have, conduct a little research of your own. Pull some A/B cases off the web to illustrate some of the concepts you're thinking about testing in your own organization. Then ask the CEO and any other skeptics to participate in a non-threatening, fun group exercise where you show a variety of A/B tests in quick succession and ask the room to weigh in on which version they think performed best. Then watch in satisfaction as everyone in the room is wrong some significant percentage of the time.

This is a great first step in piquing the interest of the CEO, but your next step should be to follow up with a financial case specific to your business' goals.

Build the Financial Case for Testing

No matter how passionate and knowledgeable you are about conversion optimization, your CEO's eyes will glaze over if you walk into his or her office with a dissertation on the science of optimization. Make a financial case, and you've got the CEO's attention.

That's not always easy, but it challenges you to find those mission-critical parts of your website that most support your business goals. And this is something you should have in mind before you begin your project anyway.

At my company we've created a financial modeling equation for conversion optimization that can help you begin quantifying the testing process. The math is simple and the results can provide a pretty compelling argument in favor of testing.

If you have multiple conversion points on your site, be sure to build your initial business case on a page where you can make the biggest impact in the quickest amount of time. Also be sure to underscore the fact that conversion optimization amplifies the return on the time and money you spend acquiring visitors to your site.

Which brings me to the third and final step…

Make the Connection Between CRO and Marketing ROI

I'd wager a guess that your organization spends quite a bit of effort (and money) perfecting the acquisition of a website visitor. Most businesses that take traffic campaigns seriously will obsess over many details, from the metrics tracked to the headlines used in online ads and much, much more. Yet, optimizing the visitor experience once someone gets to your website is an often-overlooked aspect that will make or break your marketing campaigns.

Conversion optimization ensures that you're getting maximum value from the traffic your business works so hard to obtain. It's the decision-making point at the end of a journey that started with anything from PPC and SEO to content or affiliate marketing and more.

It's not hard to see that the ROI in acquiring those visitors can be amplified through conversion optimization. It's this logic, plus the financial case you build for CRO and showing that data, not opinion, should drive important business decisions that's the secret to getting your CEO on board.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.



Tim Ash

Tim Ash is CEO of, a landing page optimization firm that offers conversion consulting, full-service guaranteed-improvement tests, and software tools to improve conversion rates. SiteTuners' visual attention prediction tool can be used on a landing page screenshot or mock-up to quickly identify major conversion issues. He has worked with Google, Facebook, American Express, CBS, Sony Music, Universal Studios, Verizon Wireless, Texas Instruments, and Coach.

Tim is a highly-regarded presenter at SES, eMetrics, PPC Summit, Affiliate Summit, PubCon, Affiliate Conference, and LeadsCon. He is the chairperson of, the first conference focused on improving online conversions. A columnist for several publications including ClickZ, he's host of the weekly Landing Page Optimization show and podcast on His columns can be found in the Search Engine Watch archive.

He received his B.S. and M.S. during his Ph.D. studies at UC San Diego. Tim is the author of the bestselling book, "Landing Page Optimization."

Connect with Tim on Google+.

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