Before you can persuade your visitors, you need to persuade your boss

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Last updated: September 2019

“How can I persuade my colleagues (or clients) that CRO should be our #1 priority?”

“How can I convince my company to adopt a culture of CRO?”

Those are the questions we get asked most from our followers—particularly those who work for nondigital incumbents. If you’re struggling to get your boss onside, here are some useful arguments and resources.

Nondigital incumbents are companies that became successful in an offline world. In travel, they are the airlines and the hotel chains. In finance, they are the high-street banks and traditional financial services. In home entertainment, they are Blockbuster Video. In retail, they are the superstores and high-street stores.

Digital disruptors became successful because they were able to outperform nondigital incumbents at their own game. They use technology to satisfy customers’ needs better. In travel, they are companies like Airbnb and Google Flights. In finance, they are PayPal and Apple Pay. In home entertainment, they are Netflix. In retail, they are Amazon and … the companies that are still managing to battle against Amazon.

Nondigital incumbents and digital disruptors don’t just have different origins: they tend to be wired differently. Most incumbents simply lack the culture, organization, and know-how to compete online. Their competitors, the disruptors, aren’t just better; they are better by several orders of magnitude. Disruptors have testing, optimization, and rapid improvement in their DNA, allowing them to move over eight thousand times faster. If the incumbents don’t quickly Netflix, they’ll Blockbuster.

If your company doesn’t have the budget to improve its website, if your boss can’t be persuaded to invest in better user experience, if your marketing team doesn’t have the resources to measure whether a website change has increased sales or decreased them, then you don’t stand a chance.

Because here’s something you might want to mention to your boss: No one at Netflix is struggling to find a budget to improve its website. No one at Netflix is battling to find resources to optimize its user experience. No one at Netflix is fighting to adopt the approach that always wins.

If your company is slow to incorporate CRO into its DNA, then that’s your primary conversion goal—to persuade your decision-makers, stakeholders, and team members that focusing on CRO is the best way to grow. Explain to them why most website design is done wrong—and how to do it right, like the winners. And teach them about The Power Law of CRO, so they understand in economic terms why CRO is the highest leverage point for a web business.

(If they still aren’t convinced, please let us know their objections, and we’ll try to write more supporting materials for you.)

When you are straining at the leash to get started on CRO, it may seem unfair that your colleagues should be your biggest obstacles. It may help to remember that winning support for your CRO project is the greatest conversion lever you’re ever likely to find. Rather than viewing it as an irritating inconvenience, see it as a major milestone, and treat it as such, worthy of the same thought and effort you’d spend optimizing a landing page.

One of our long-standing clients did the above with incredible success. When he first hired us, years ago, he was the lone conversion manager in a multibillion-dollar incumbent. Since then, we have helped him get wins on his website and within his organization by evangelizing CRO. He now leads a dedicated CRO department of thirty people, who are hugely successful and highly influential within the organization. His company has won many awards for their digital achievements.

So, if you’re frustrated that your company won’t give you time and resources to work on CRO, treat that as your first persuasion project. Gather objections, assemble counterobjections, support them with evidence, and celebrate your wins.

To convert your visitors, first convert your boss.

(We shudder to think where you’ll stick the tracking code.)

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