August 11, 2014 By Digital Operative,
When we began our practice of split testing at Digital Operative, a colleague asked me why it is commonly called Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). “What happens if you test something to improve conversion rate, but Average Order Value goes down?” Technically, the question he asked showed his misunderstanding of the term CRO, but practically, the fact that he had to ask the question at all shows the inherent problems with the term. Let me explain. First of all, let’s define what “conversion” actually means. A “conversion” refers to a user completing any desired action. This could be a purchase, but it could also be simply clicking a button, or signing up for the email newsletter, etc. So, in nearly every case, split testing is about optimizing the rate of conversion in one way or another. The problem is, in the ecommerce world, it is almost impossible to separate the word “conversion” from the word “purchase.” Assuming your goal is to integrate split testing into the overall fabric of your digital practice (as I strongly suggest it should be), it becomes impractical to explain this terminology mix-up to everyone in an organization. Split testing can be used effectively to help with everything from branding to design to marketing, etc. By using the term “CRO,” some departments or colleagues might get stuck on the words “conversion rate” and not see immediately that split testing tools and processes are relevant – and very helpful – to the work they do. In building a culture of optimization at your organization, it instead may be helpful NOT to use the term CRO at all. We at DO prefer the term “Optimization and Testing.” This term is flexible enough to apply to all areas of our clients digital business while remaining descriptive of what split testing is and what it is meant to accomplish. The term CRO certainly isn't wrong, and it certainly is the most common term for the practice of split testing. A simple change in terminology, though, could result in the practice being more widely and effectively used at your organization.

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