A CRO strategist is a digital marketer who specializes in improving conversion rates for websites. Learn about their role, benefits, and steps they take to increase leads and sales.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is an essential strategy to help you make sure that every website visitor is engaged and has a high chance of converting. Let’s dig into how CRO works and how it fits into your marketing strategy.

What is a CRO strategist?

A CRO strategist is a digital marketing expert who uses specific strategies to improve conversion rates for websites. They work through every stage, from planning and testing to collaboration.

What does a CRO strategist do?

Here are the common CRO responsibilities at each stage.

Objectives and planning

Every aspect of your marketing plan needs a foundation. The CRO strategist connects goals back to business objectives and KPIs. Starting here provides clear direction on measurable targets and milestones that define success. After spotlighting areas of opportunity, a CRO strategist builds a roadmap for testing and measuring your progress.


Research will help your organization either develop new content to mov toward a goal, or adjust existing assets and start your new initiatives on the right foot. Here’s how each type of research may apply.

1. Competitive research

To be successful online, analyze the brands you’re up against. Think about a business in the health and fitness space selling supplements and workout equipment. They may use a mix of blog content and videos section to educate visitors about improving their well-being using its products. In turn, this converts visitors, and retains them since they’ll return to use its content to reach their fitness goals.

Woman working and writing on the glass board in office. Business, technology, research concept

(Image: Adobe)

Or if your CRO strategist finds most of your competitors use social proof on their landing pages to support specific claims, they may suggest that you do the same. Adding a testimonial section to your website may increase conversions.

2. User engagement

Your CRO strategist is looking at how users interact with specific ecommerce product pages. They find a high click-through rate for product descriptions, but the purchase rate is low.

This data suggests that initial interest is high, but there’s a drop-off. So they perform more research to see if users feel the descriptions lack necessary information, or if they’re confused by something in your checkout process. Once they pinpoint the problem, they’ll find a solution.

3. Analysis

Once changes go live, it’s time to start testing. The CRO strategist collects and digs into the data. They examine user behavior, conversion funnel metrics, and segment trends. At this stage, they’re looking for the roadblocks that hurt conversions.

For example, if the CRO strategist notices a spike in cart abandonment on mobile during their audit, they may analyze what’s different on the desktop to see why mobile shoppers are struggling. Fixing this issue would be a top priority to help potential customers complete their purchases.

They also incorporate feedback from surveys, interviews, and session replays. This combination of analytics tools (like Google Analytics or Hotjar) and real audience insights makes a case for necessary changes.


The strategist should be in close communication with your team members. They explain how their suggestions connect with the company’s goals and KPIs.

The strategist also regularly updates the team on progress and outcomes. This transparency creates a culture of collective understanding and motivation. It’s not all about individual contributions — it’s about understanding the big picture.

marketing team

(Image: Adobe)

The strategist may work with your design, copywriting, and sales teams. This empowers the strategist to get more internal knowledge while allowing others to contribute their expertise.

Why hire a CRO strategist?

You’re getting website traffic, but visitors are browsing, not converting into customers. This is where a CRO strategist steps in.

They strike the perfect balance between hard numbers and insights from real people to improve digital touchpoints and customer journeys.

Let’s review the other benefits of working with a conversion rate optimization strategist.

1. Targeted perspective

A CRO strategist has a keen eye for pinpointing the elements that drive conversions. They understand the small details, like the size and color of a call-to-action button or the layout of a landing page and their impact on conversions.

Strategists take time to understand your audience’s behavior to create a user experience that guides them toward purchasing or signing up. Looking at everything through that lens plays a critical role in improving results.

2. Systematic approach

Serious growth requires a clear methodology. Strategists take strategic steps to identify problems and solve them. Here are the typical steps:

  1. Data collection and analysis
  2. Hypothesis creation
  3. Design and implementation
  4. Evaluation of results
  5. Implementing again for further testing
  6. Rinse and repeat until results are seen

For instance, imagine that this month’s data shows your email campaigns about sustainable fashion are getting lots of opens, but aren’t converting as well as expected.

Your CRO strategist dives into the data and discovers customers may wonder what makes your products so green. So, they create two versions of a product page: the original and a “green machine” version with extra info on eco-friendly attributes, certifications, and customer testimonials.

The strategist sets up an A/B test, and the green machine version converts better than the original. So they roll out the winning changes and keep testing other elements, like the size of the “Add to Cart” button and the checkout process.

3. Holistic view

Siloed teams may not see how pieces connect. Strategists look at all channels, teams, and systems. CRO strategists can spot trends and patterns across different departments, leading to more innovative solutions.

For example, a CRO strategist may see a drop-off on a particular page and find that the customer support team is also getting a lot of tickets about a usability issue on that page. They can pair their data with customer feedback to make an informed decision about a possible fix.

4. Marketing expertise for your industry

Every market and business is different, but a good CRO strategist brings their knowledge to set you up for success.

“You want to make sure the CRO strategist you choose has multiple years of experience with CRO in your industry, not just general experience,” explains Rambod Yadegar, President of HawkSEM.

Client story: Rachel’s Challenge

Looking for case studies to prove the importance of CRO tools and strategy to stakeholders? Rachel’s Challenge came to HawkSEM for help with its PPC (paid search) and SEO (search engine optimization) strategies. They wanted to increase the number of leads for their team and book more school assembly events.

After extensive research and optimization, our team was able to help Rachel’s Challenge increase leads volume by 415% while reducing the cost per conversion by nearly 50%. Read the full case study here.

Building a CRO strategy in 6 steps

Now that you have context about what CRO is and how a strategist fits in, let’s look at the steps you can take to put your strategy together.

  1. Decide on a goal
  2. Set clear and measurable objectives
  3. Analyze performance
  4. Find sticking points
  5. Develop and test your strategies
  6. Optimize

1. Decide on a goal

The goal will always be to get the user to take a desired action, but the action you’re after will change priorities and strategies. These are some of the most common conversion goals:

  • Signups: If building your subscriber list is a priority, keep forms short and easy to complete on desktop and mobile. Confirmation messages after signing up also help the user experience by letting them know the task completed and what to expect next.
  • Free trial or demo signups: For software or SaaS companies offering free trials, emphasize product benefits on your pricing or features pages and make signing up intuitive.
  • Purchases: Boosting your online revenue depends on on-site search and navigation, customer reviews, and visuals displaying products. You’ll need to keep all of that in check and make the buying process simple.

2. Set clear and measurable objectives

Now that you have your goal, track your progress. Your CRO efforts should contribute to your overall business goals, so select metrics that make an impact.

“Ensuring that the CRO strategy aligns with overall business objectives involves a holistic understanding of both short-term and long-term goals,” says Josh Ladick, Founder at GSA Focus.

The question is: how do you choose your CRO objectives?

Consider these factors:

  • Ideal outcomes: Are you looking at lead generation and getting more sign-ups, or do you need to generate sales? Refer back to your goal to find clarity and focus.
  • Measurability: Choose objectives you can see and interpret, like the number of purchases from new customers.
  • Tools: What systems and processes are in place to monitor your progress?

3. Analyze performance

Look at how your campaigns and pages are performing. Ask questions like:

  • What are your visitors doing?
  • Are visitors engaging with the content or bouncing off too quickly?
  • What adjustments may move you closer to the goal?

Dig into the story behind the numbers to find ways to improve. Minor changes like updates to your page layout may seem small, but they can impact your brand and bottom line.

4. Find sticking points

Spot areas in the user journey that are causing drop-offs or low engagement. Understanding sticking points will help you improve the user experience and move toward a higher conversion rate.

Consider looking at:

  • Heatmaps: Use heatmaps to see where users spend time and where you’re losing attention.
  • Surveys: Conduct surveys to get feedback from users about their experience.
  • Mobile experience: View the user experience across different devices and platforms.

5. Develop and test your strategies

A/B testing, also known as “split testing” or “multivariate testing,” is a method of comparing two versions of a similar marketing product to see which option better reaches or converts your audience.

Base each A/B test on an informed hypothesis you have about your audience and performance. This approach makes your tests relevant and informative. For example, if you notice your bounce rate is high on a page, you may A/B test different headlines to test your hypothesis that a more upbeat headline will capture more attention and conversions.

6. Optimize

Remember, CRO is an ongoing effort, not a one-and-done task. Revisit your techniques, analyze the outcomes, and don’t hesitate to change course if something isn’t working. Be proactive and curious.

A CRO strategist should work with brands to create an environment where continuous improvement is possible and encouraged. Make reviews and brainstorming changes a part of your strategy.

At HawkSEM, we use ConversionIQ, our proprietary software, to track all steps of the user journey, so we can understand how to optimize campaigns to increase the conversion rate.

Common CRO pitfalls to avoid

Creating a CRO strategy is easier when you understand what you should and shouldn’t do. Here are common pitfalls to avoid with CRO.

Skipping mobile optimization

More than 45% of web traffic in the United States comes from mobile, so not optimizing for mobile can hurt conversions. With more traffic from mobile devices, a site that’s difficult to navigate on a smartphone will turn mobile visitors away.

To make sites mobile-friendly:

  • Make sure pages display properly on multiple types of screens
  • Offer intuitive navigation and functionality
  • Choose an appropriate font size (no smaller than 12pt)
  • Consider loading speeds

Not attracting the right target audience

Driving traffic alone doesn’t cut it. The key is attracting relevant visitors who align with your offer. Getting impressions and clicks from the masses may give some metrics a boost. However, it’s usually temporary and doesn’t have a positive impact on conversions.

Quality over quantity matters for attracting audiences. The goal is to get your content, offers, and calls to action in front of more buyers. You can do more to attract the right audience by:

  • Optimizing landing pages for conversions by speaking to specific audience needs
  • Building lookalike audiences based on current customers
  • Targeting behaviors that show buyer intent, like viewing product pages

Ignoring A/B testing

Not running A/B tests makes improving conversions an uphill battle. Consistent CRO testing helps you make informed decisions. Regular A/B tests can reveal what works best for your site, so regularly test elements like headlines and CTAs.

Team members may fall in love with a concept or an idea, but it’s up to the brand to evaluate what the best choice is. You can avoid confirmation bias by basing decisions on data, not assumptions.

Not personalizing the customer journey

Recognize that customers are at different stages of the sales funnel. You need to step into your audience’s shoes to understand where they are and what you must present to them to boost conversions.

Personalization techniques you may find helpful are:

  • Segmentation: Categorize your audience based on behavior, demographics, or purchase history.
  • Behavioral triggers: Use actions like website visits or purchases to provide personalized messages or offers.
  • Geo-targeting: Customize content or offers for the user’s geographic location.

Lacking consistency across platforms

According to research from McKinsey, B2B customers now regularly use ten or more channels to interact with suppliers. Your brand’s message should be cohesive across all platforms — social media, emails, or your website — to reinforce your brand and enhance the user experience.

This is especially important if retargeting or remarketing is part of your conversion strategy. It builds the trust needed to increase the chances of turning casual browsers into buyers and repeat customers.

CRO strategy checklist

Grab this checklist as a reference for working with your CRO strategist. Taking these steps supports the best possible outcomes for your brand.

Main goal: Define the primary objective of your CRO efforts.

Key performance indicators: List specific KPIs to track, like total sales or number of sign-ups.

Target audience personas: Describe your ideal customer, including demographics, behaviors, and preferences.

Content: Draft and publish content for your CRO strategist to analyze or select a current campaign to review.

Benchmarks: Evaluate how your site compares to competitors regarding design, usability, and conversion tactics.

Testing: Put together tests to compare your results with your organization’s goals and targets.

Performance monitoring: Set up a system for tracking and analyzing key metrics.

Adjustments: Establish a process for making data-driven improvements based on insights and user feedback.

Integration with marketing and sales: Figure out how the CRO strategy will align with overall marketing and sales objectives. Define roles and communication for these collaborative efforts.

Reporting and analysis: Determine a timeline for reporting results to stakeholders. Also, decide on the frequency and format of reports.

The takeaway

Digital marketing best practices and user preferences are always changing. A CRO strategist can help your brand stay on top of consumer behavior changes. Meanwhile, use this post as a guide to develop a strategy that gets more clicks, sign-ups, and sales for your business.

Want to put together a strategy that helps you achieve your CRO goals? We’d love to help. Get in touch with our experts today.

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Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.