As fears of COVID-19 and economic uncertainty abound, you may be looking closely at your marketing budget and how to achieve more with less.

Simply reducing marketing spend can lead to a vicious circle. This may lead to lower customer acquisition and retention, which leads to declines in sales exacerbated by market conditions. While it’s been proven time and time again that companies who increase marketing during a downturn can improve market share and ROI, it’s not always easy to convince the board to make such bold moves, let alone to stay the course.

A Better Strategy: Improve Your Marketing ROI

When faced with tough decisions on marketing spend, smart marketers double-down on their highest ROI channels. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), facilitated through data-informed, iterative website experimentation is not only the highest ROI channel, but also elevates the ROI of your other marketing channels. The strategy is hardly undiscovered: Netflix, Amazon, Google, Zappos and Airbnb are all companies who embrace a Culture of Experimentation, and either grew or were forged in the Global Financial Crisis.

CRO isn’t just for big brands. World-famous marketer and entrepreneur Neil Patel recently interviewed 208 companies—from $1 million in sales to $291 million. He asked: which marketing strategy has provided you with your biggest return on investment?

The answer wasn’t SEO. Or Paid Spend. Or Social Media. It was Conversion Rate Optimization!

Why Does CRO Matter?

CRO is critical to success—regardless of economic uncertainty. How? By leveraging high-velocity iterative testing to improve every aspect of their overall marketing strategy.

Don’t Act On Data Alone

Data-driven marketers don’t make decisions on gut. But data alone isn’t always going to guide you to measured improvements. Imagine you’ve observed pricing page drop off in your web analytics. You extrapolate that by making things clearer and reducing consumer choices conversions and sales will increase. Change the layout so it’s easier to digest, make some copy changes, and reduce the number of choices. No brainer, right?

Weeks later your conversion rate on desktop plummets by 4% and it’s even worse on mobile. Conversions from Facebook ads were your highest performer, now they are your lowest. It had to be the economic uncertainty right? Consumers are skittish! This was unavoidable! Cut the Facebook spend!

Not exactly. Your data may have validated a problem exists, but your solution didn’t move the needle—rather, it made things worse. This could have been avoided by testing the changes using a rigorous scientific methodology to statistically prove which changes had negative and positive effects. Additionally, testing will infer why the changes affected the site negatively, providing the opportunity to iteratively test into changes that improve conversion rate and ROI.

Use CRO To Lower Customer Acquisition Costs

Paid spend can be like a drug. Keep pumping money in, often with diminishing returns. Even if you’re smart about testing ad copy, offers and CTAs, if customers are led to a sub-optimal website, you’re leaving money on the table. We partner with our clients to test user experiences that have continuity with their paid spend, segmenting by attributes such as audience, source, and device to find optimal combinations to increase conversions from paid spend campaigns and subsequently to lower acquisition costs from these channels. Further, these tactics can be used for any inbound channel including email and social.

Coupling paid spend with experimentation is also highly effective for lead generation. By creating optimal user experiences for your ideal clients/customers, you’ll cut the noise from the signal, yielding more qualified leads. Less is more.

Reduce overhead by helping consumers answer their own questions

Marketing and customer service are often affected by budget cuts. Smart marketers know they can defend their marketing budget by helping reduce customer service overhead. By making their websites easier to use and therefore lowering the number of emails, calls and chat requests of their customer service team. How will they know they did this effectively?