14 Smart Questions to Ask Conversion Optimization Consultants

Ayat Shukairy

Ayat Shukairy

My name is Ayat Shukairy, and I’m a co-founder and CCO at Invesp. Here’s a little more about me: At the very beginning of my career, I worked on countless high-profile e-commerce projects, helping diverse organizations optimize website copy. I realized, that although the copy was great and was generating more foot traffic, many of the sites performed poorly because of usability and design issues.
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So you know your site needs to be optimized and now just need to find someone to do it. The following questions are ones you need to ask to ensure that you maximize your investment:

1. What increase in conversion rates should I expect?

Can a conversion optimization company guarantee a specific rate increase? I am yet to meet a credible company that is able to guarantee specific results. The truth is, every conversion project comes with its own unique situation. However, a good conversion company should invest time with you up-front to set target goals for any planned optimization work. Keep in mind though that pre-set targets can be both achieved and missed. The point is to focus on defining success parameters for the project from the very first day.

2. What time frame should I expect the project to be completed by?

Conversion optimization is not a one week effort. There is always room for improvements. Some companies will provide the work within a month and disappear after the initial implementation. Your best bet is to find companies that offer support services in the months following initial implementation.

3. What happens if our conversion rates do not increase at the end of the project?

Some elements on your site might already be performing at their full conversion capacity (if there is such a thing). There are numerous reasons as to why you do not see the desired results. When asking the chosen company this question, you need to pay close attention and really listen to how they answer you. A company just starting out in the conversion optimization space will focus on the fact that you will see improvements. A credible company or practitioner will be focus on a transparent process, keep you updated on how the project is going, and be willing to provide additional work within reasonable parameters if the project goals are not met.

4. What are some of the risks involved in an optimization project?

A red flag should immediately go up if someone tells you that there are no risks involved with a conversion project. Again, keep in mind that some elements on your site are already optimized to their maximum conversion rates. There is always a slight chance of lowering conversion rates, although it is a small risk with well known companies. A recent client of ours came to us after a landing page optimization company caused his conversion rate to drop by 40%! Also, conversion optimization will most likely require changes in site layout and copy. There are times where such changes will affect SERP ranking.

5. Do you follow a specific methodology to optimization?

There are specific techniques that you can follow to see small improvements in conversion rates. Following any of the conversion optimization blogs should help you improve conversions. However, reaching double digits in conversion rates requires a unique and repeatable methodology. I must add here that testing is not a methodology. It’s a component of a methodology, but cannot and should not constitute a whole methodology. Finally, the methodology should be easily adaptable to each specific project and company.

6. Do you work with any partners?

Conversion work requires collaboration with design firms, SEO houses and marketing companies. If the conversion company is large they might get some of these tasks in house. Many will work with partners to complete the work. Check their partners’ work and make sure that you are happy with it. Also ask what would happen if the partner defaults or does not deliver on time or within the acceptable standards of quality.

7. What are some of your failures?

If you work long enough in conversion optimization, you will have few failures along the way. And there are many reasons why a project could fail. An honest company will be open and transparent about the mistakes and lessons they have learned. A company that never had a single failure is too good to be true.

8. Do you work with my shopping cart program?

If you run an ecommerce site, then the type of ecommerce engine that powers your site will have a significant impact and/or limit the type of work that can be done on the site. It is almost impossible to find a conversion optimization company that worked with all the different kinds of engines but the more experienced companies should have worked with some of the major engines out there. What’s more important than working with a particular engine, is understanding what kind of limitations working with a templatized framework can bring.

9. What is expected from my team?

Having responsibilities well defined prior to the start of the project will make everyone’s life a lot easier. If the conversion optimization company is expecting you to complete any specific tasks, you need to have the time, money and resources ready to do so. Is your technical staff going to be required to complete any specific tasks? Should your marketing group be prepared to participate in specific discussions? Answering these questions and preparing your team to support the conversion optimization company will impact the overall success of the project.

10. What testing software do you use?

Always test! There is a variety of testing software available out there. Is the conversion optimization company going to use Google website optimizer or are they going to use proprietary tools set? Using Google website optimizer works in 90% of the cases. Unless you are buying the specific tool the conversion company is going to use, after the project is done you will not have access to that software. That may or may not be important to you. This is something that you might want to keep in mind.

11. What will I learn from you?

Are you expecting to learn anything from the conversion company? Will they engage in knowledge transfer, or is the conversion optimization company solely focused on completing the work. There are times where clients hope to learn from conversion consultants while these consultants are only focused and interested in completing the actual project work.

12. What kind of support will we receive after the completing the project?

Conversion work is never complete. It will not be sufficient for you to hire a company that will charge a fee, complete the work and disappear as soon as they are completed. You need to find someone who will stand behind you and provide additional support if you need it for the following months after the project is complete.

13. What is the cost?

Some sales people run away from answering such a question. They want to tell you about all the benefits you will get and the value they can bring before first. In all honesty, I am a fan of being up-front of what clients should expect to pay. Of course most of conversion optimization projects are consulting engagements so it is difficult to give an exact figure but you should expect to hear a range or a starting number.

14. Do you accept to be paid on achieved performance?

This might be the toughest question for a conversion company. Most conversion companies are really consulting firms. Traditionally with any consulting practice, you pay for the time and effort spent by the company regardless to the results achieved. That is the reason, you -the client- need to make sure you are hiring the right company. However, there are few companies out there that operate on performance based models. Of course, you will need to be at certain revenue levels in order for the model to make sense for these companies.

Okay, so I focused on conversion optimization companies in this post but the same questions would work for many of the online marketing disciplines.

Any other questions you recommend adding or removing from the list?

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Ayat Shukairy

Ayat Shukairy

My name is Ayat Shukairy, and I’m a co-founder and CCO at Invesp. Here’s a little more about me: At the very beginning of my career, I worked on countless high-profile e-commerce projects, helping diverse organizations optimize website copy. I realized, that although the copy was great and was generating more foot traffic, many of the sites performed poorly because of usability and design issues.

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