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The Conversion Rate Optimization Industry in 2015

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I predict radical change in the conversion rate optimization industry within the next 5 years.

What will the conversion rate optimization industry look like in year 2015? Here’s my take on an industry that in many ways look like the SEO industry did 5 years ago, before its explosive growth.

The current state of affairs

During the next 5 years there will be a huge shift in the structure of the Conversion Rate Optimization industry. There are only a couple of different players on today’s conversion rate optimization market:

  • Small consultancies specialized in conversion rate optimization ranging from 1 to 10 people, taking on client projects with optimizing specific pages or sites.
  • SEO, web development and web statistics companies that also offer conversion rate optimization as an extra service besides their main business, but without it being their specialty.
  • Research companies that do large scale usability studies and case studies and sell this knowledge to the above two groups, but often also take on clients directly themselves.

The new opportunities

In the next 5 years I predict radical change with at least 6 new offerings and structures:

  1. Larger consultancies that specialize only in conversion rate optimization.
  2. Small niche consultancies that specialize within subsets of conversion rate optimization, e.g. video optimization and email lead generation.
  3. A general shift from project based optimization to retainer deals, as we have also seen in the SEO industry during its maturation over the last 5 years. Conversion optimization is an ongoing process, that also requires that the consultancy know their clients website and customers very well, so the ongoing retainer deal is a natural development for the larger conversion rate optimization clients.
  4. Most large companies/enterprises will get in-house employees specialized in conversion rate optimization and maybe even entire conversion rate optimization departments. Today this is mostly present in the really large ecommerce companies, but with time it will also shift to non-ecommerce as well.
  5. A more clear division between the conversion rate optimization companies and usability research companies. The rapid growth in companies that does optimization for clients will lead to a much higher demand for high quality usability research, as usability studies are often a great pointer for the conversion rate optimization employees on what to split-test. But most companies don’t want to support their competitors and therefore we will see a more clear division between conversion rate optimization companies and usability research companies, whereas we today have some companies offering both. (Baymard is a research-only company, whereas a company like NNgroup do both research and client projects.)
  6. A bunch of new conversion rate optimization-specific service providers that offer new and very specific tracking and testing tools/apps for the conversion rate optimizers to use.

What’s your take on the conversion rate optimization industry in the future? Do you agree with mine?

Image by David Reece.

Dennis August 7, 2010 Reply to this comment

Hi David, I will quote this article when I write a business plan :-) I see more and more small conversion specialist popping up. There the SEO companies of 2-3 years ago.

I think its a good focus small SEO companies that focus on conversion. That is what SEO was actually about… getting more sales. Getting better found is just the start of the funnel.

Good article and marketview!

Dennis van der Heijden

michael B September 11, 2010 Reply to this comment

Good read. It’s nice to know that alot of the work being down now is laying the ground work for CRO tomorrow.

Blair Keen March 11, 2011 Reply to this comment

Hi Christian,

Loved coming across your post today – nearly a year into your 5 year forecast on the Conversion Rate Optimisation industry.

I think what you predicted is definitely coming true. There has been a proliferation of dedicated CRO agencies over the last 6 months, with many of my SEO colleagues now offering CRO as a sub-contracted service.

I actually think things may go further with SEO agencies being compelled to universally adopt the conversion tuning world’s mandate of ‘pay on results’.

Long may the rise of the Conversion fanatics continue!

Blair

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