Media Insights

CRO Alone Misses The Mark. Why You Should Use Enterprise Marketing Return.

Conversion Rate (CVR) has long been the gold standard KPI for marketing and ecommerce leaders to gauge the performance of their site, however optimizing site experiences to this metric alone can cause brands to undervalue return visitors and stifle longer-term growth. Learn how Ovative uses the four pillars of Enterprise Marketing Return (EMR), our unified optimization metric, to effectively measure and optimize our clients sites to drive profitable new customer growth and retain their highest value customers. 


What Is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)? 

CRO, as the name implies, is focused on improving conversion rate from a website or mobile app, especially among new customers, by improving the digital experienceCRO typically involves generating ideas for digital elements that can be improved and then validating those hypotheses though A/B testing¹. New customers are an important lever for growth, so CVR has become one of the most used metrics to measure site performance.


How Does CRO Miss The Mark? 

CRO’s narrow view on optimizing website experiences to CVR alone can do damage to the long term health of a business by attracting customers who may only shop during promotions and by ignoring site feature enhancements catered to return visitors and loyal customers that are often a brand’s most valuable segments.  

Common CRO Misses

  • Generalized product assortment: When marketers are solely focused on optimizing to CVR, they tend to take a one-size-fits-all approach by featuring products that they assume are most likely to convert in general, including those that are discounted. This can be counterintuitive, especially for a returning visitor who likely knows what they are shopping for, and may not be interested in the products being featured in different areas throughout the site. Instead, marketers should put their customer at the center of their product merchandising decisions, specifically in the way products are featured and promoted online, by first analyzing customer shopping behaviors over time and then ensuring customers are presented with personalized product recommendations. Rather than focusing on a one-time conversion event, this strategy helps to increase customer LTV and the likelihood of a return visit. 


  • Misuse of modals (exit intent, email capture, etc.): Commonly used modals are focused solely on improving conversion rates of new visitors, or encouraging email sign-ups by offering discounts for first-time purchasers. This can be distracting for a returning visitor who may no longer be eligible for such an offer, and may ultimately lead to abandonment or discourage future visits. Instead, use modals that are personalized based on customer position in the marketing funnel, such as product recommendations or add-ons based on customer behavior. This can help improve your customer’s digital experience and increase lifetime value.  


  • Overuse of promotions: An over-reliance on conversion rate drivers like promotions could lead to undesirable behavior such as prompting steep discounts which can hurt profitability and train visitors to only buy when items are on sale. Promotions may help convert a first-time visitor, but can erode profitability and diminish incrementality if returning customers would have purchased without one. Let your customer’s past or current shopping behavior dictate if and when you offer a promotion. This will accomplish the goal of both driving an in-session conversion AND increased LTV through greater customer loyalty. 


How To Use The Pillars Of EMR To Effectively Optimize Your Site

Unlike traditional metricsOvative’s Enterprise Marketing Return (EMRwas built to understand the true value of marketing investments across consumer touchpoints. EMR is comprised of four key pillars tied to the key operations of every business. When measuring your site and app performance and optimizing the digital experiencesavvy digital product owners are looking at metrics within each pillar:

Enterprise Sales

When measuring and valuing digital properties, we have found that most organizations only reference ecommerce sales, leading to an underinvestment in digital experience. In order to get a holistic view of enterprise growth, marketers should look at both ecommerce and digitally-influenced sales in-store. This includes designing a website and mobile app experience that facilitates offline transactions, especially as in-person shopping trends rebound. To learn more about how to measure the true enterprise value of your digital properties, read Ovative’s “Do You Know The True Enterprise Value of Your Digital Properties?² ”. 


When optimizing site experiences, marketers should take into account their product assortment, showing most profitable products and featuring high margin add-ons or basket builders. Put your customer at the center of your product assortment strategy and recommend products they’re likely to purchase based on past shopping behaviors. Also, consider suggested add-ons throughout the site experience to increase the value of the basket.  

Customer Value

Digital experience optimization should measure and develop strategies to improve customer lifetime value (LTV), not just conversion rate.  Understanding the needs and performance of new and return visitors is critical to digital growth.  At Ovative we consider the short and long-term value of customers when optimizing sites and apps to ensure we are acquiring desirable new customers and growing the value of existing customers. 


Many organizations make digital experience changes and roll-out product releases without understanding the impact that follows, whether it is positive, negative, or sometimes both!  Everything we do on Ovative’s Digital Experience Optimization (DXO) team is centered around measuring the incrementality of each digital experience change through experimentation and optimization tools such as Adobe Target, Google Optimize, and Optimizely.  Using these tools along with rigorous statistical significance measurement methodologies enables us to demonstrate the incremental impact of digital enhancements and the value of our services. 

To enable smarter site experiences that will generate long term sustainable growth, every marketer must be thinking beyond CRO and considering the four pillars of EMR for both measurement and optimization. Shifting beyond CVR will require significant change management as teams are often goaled on this metric. However, the payoff is clear for brands that can improve their customer retention in addition to new customer acquisition Across Ovative’s Digital Experience Optimization (DXO) partners, our focus on EMR as a way to improve digital performance averages an ROI of $15:1. 


Ovative is a digital-first media and measurement firm seeking to transform the measure of marketing success. At Ovative, we help brands move the needle. We are curious. We value your brand. We want to see you succeed. Connect with us to learn more! 


1| Optimizely, Conversion Rate Optimization 

2| Ovative Group, Do You Know The True Enterprise Value Of Your Digital Properties, August 2021 

Lillian Smith

Senior Analyst, Paid Social

About the Author

Lillian is a Senior Analyst on the Paid Social team at Ovative.

Dale Nitschke

Dale Nitschke

CEO & Founder

About the Author

Dale is the Founder and CEO of Ovative. After years of operating a large omni-channel business and leading a customer data initiative, Dale knew there was an opportunity to create a marketing firm that helped clients become more customer centric and drove better performance outcomes. A gap existed between business consultancies and advertising agencies that modern marketing approaches demand. He also believed that a strong, healthy culture could attract and develop smart, talented team members. In 2009, he formed Ovative to bring media, measurement, and consulting together under one roof to enable an enterprise approach that drives more revenue and grows clients’ customer base.

Prior to founding Ovative in 2009, Dale spent 23 years at Target Corporation where he served as President of and grew the ecommerce business from start-up stage to a $1 billion+ business and established the foundation of Target’s Guest database capabilities. Previously he served as SVP Merchandising at the Department Store Division of Dayton Hudson. Dale has advised retailers and brands globally on business, growth, marketing, and measurement transformation strategies.

Outside of Ovative, Dale is a leader on topics including business strategy, change management, and team leadership. He serves on the board of Allergy Amulet and on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Wisconsin School of Business at UW-Madison.  He enjoys spending time with his family, up north in northern Wisconsin, playing golf, and cheering on Wisconsin sport teams.

Seth Brand

Senior Manager, Consulting

About the Author

Seth is a Senior Manager on the Consulting team at Ovative.

Amanda McCann

Senior Manager, Consulting

About the Author

Amanda is a Senior Manager on the Consulting team at Ovative, specializing in Retail Media Networks.

Jenny Reinke

Senior Analyst, Measurement Solutions

About the Author

Jenny is a Senior Analyst on the Measurement Solutions team at Ovative.

Annie Zipfel

Executive Vice President, Media

About the Author

Annie is the Executive Vice President of Media at Ovative. She oversees delivery and growth across paid and owned media (digital, traditional, and retail media) and creative services.

Annie has more than 30 years of experience in media, brand management, insights/analytics, marketing, and product. She has also developed large, high-performing teams and built new measurement capabilities. Annie led the marketing team at Andersen Windows & Doors, leading the digital, social, content, customer insights, and creative functions. Prior to that, Annie served in multiple marketing leadership roles at Starbucks, REI, Target, and General Mills, with a keen focus on brand, media, insights, analytics, and measurement.

Annie is an industry leader in brand management, customer insights, e-commerce, social media, and analytics. She enjoys hiking, traveling, cooking, fishing, and spending time with her sweet dog and two sons.

Bonnie Gross

Executive Vice President, Talent Services

About the Author

Bonnie is the Executive Vice President of Talent Services at Ovative. She is responsible for attracting and retaining top talent and creating a culture in which our team thrives personally and professionally. Under Bonnie’s leadership, Ovative has defined an industry leading leadership and development program and transformed our approach to talent recruitment with a focus on diversity, equality and inclusion. Prior to her current role, Bonnie led Ovative’s Client and Business Development team overseeing client satisfaction and new growth opportunities.

Before joining Ovative in 2014, Bonnie spent 13 years at Target Corporate as the VP of digital and Digital Marketing where she led the launch of Cartwheel, an industry-leading social shopping application. Bonnie was the VP of Marketing for Fingerhut for 15 years prior to joining Target.

Leander Cohen

Analyst, Consulting

About the Author

Leander Cohen is an Analyst on the Consulting team at Ovative.

Will Silva

Analyst, Measurement Solutions

About the Author

Will is an Analyst on the Measurement Solutions team at Ovative.

Sarah Chang

Sarah Chang

Analyst, Consulting

About the Author

Sarah Chang is an Analyst on the Consulting team at Ovative.

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