Part II of II on how CRO is now a major player in the digital marketing mix.

If you’ve already read Part I, you’ll know all about companies increasing their CRO budgets, the importance of optimised websites and the impact of good design – and if you haven’t, it’s ok. We won’t judge you. Catch up here.

Got that? Ok, let’s continue with CRO and analytics’ impact on the SEM Benchmark report!

That cost how much?!

There has been a significant drop year-on-year in the effective measurement of Return on Investment, falling from 53% in 2013 to just 44% this time around.

This is compounded for SEO (again highlighting the issue of ‘not provided’), with the effective measurement of ROI falling to 31% compared to 45% last year.

A clear barrier to this is that the vast majority (64%) of companies have no definitive tracking solution. This stands in the way of effectively measuring conversions across the different digital channels and as such, the actual value of each channel remains shrouded in mystery.

With 54% of companies surveyed operating with the flexibility to shift budgets between channels, accurate measurement is key to allow for Path to Conversion analysis and Attribution Modelling. Without this type of analysis, finding the most effective marketing mix becomes little more than trial and error or, worse yet, guesswork.

There are a growing number of solutions on the market offering this much sought after definitive view of the marketing effort. These aim to draw together all sources (even including offline) together, without the need for massive investment in bespoke, in-house business intelligence systems.

Perhaps there is a lack of awareness of the massive benefit found in using marketing attribution tools like Adometry (though Google’s recent acquisition of this service might throw some curveballs) and VisualIQ for this, though this could also be a reflection of a lack of investment in analytics.

The ROI of Analytics

Analytics has to rate as another no-brainer – if you’re not tracking things properly, how can you know what is and isn’t working? Without that, you lose the ability to make the informed decisions needed to drive the marketing strategy.

The sad truth is that, in spite of the difficulties tracking ROI, investment in analytics is not currently keeping pace with the investment in the other channels. Only 39% of companies plan to increase their investment in analytics, which is below the level for the other channels.

It’s vitally important that people don’t lose sight of the importance of accurate analytics. The ROI of a properly implemented (and ideally definitive) tracking solution is practically limitless – without it, you can’t see the ROI of anything else you do, or make the decisions that need to be made!

Harking back a couple of paragraphs to the fact that less than a third of businesses employ a definitive tracking solution, it’s possibly no surprise to see that there isn’t the same level of investment as given to other channels.

CRO that ROI

Looking further into the factors impacting on the ROI of the various channels, poor conversion rate was also a common issue.

The recognition of this is likely behind the growing budgets in CRO, and is certainly a positive step.

The fact that the vast majority of site optimisation will improve performance across all channels, and hence the benefits are compounded, should serve as a further reason to adopt this approach to improve the overall returns from your SEM efforts.

Exciting times ahead

Other than the slight blip in the analytics budgets (and hey, there’s still almost 2 in 5 increasing their budgets, so it’s not all bad), this is immensely positive for anyone in the field.

Hopefully all of above should help to highlight the importance of CRO and analytics and how much sense it makes for these to continue to grow as an integral part of digital marketing.

These sorts of findings are not a massive surprise if you’ve been watching closely, things have been moving this way for some time, but it’s particularly good to see that CRO has firmly taken root in the minds of SEM managers… And long may it continue.

The fact that budgets are moving in the right direction should mean that we can start to do bigger, better things and work to optimise more and more exciting websites.

I, for one, can’t wait!