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 

Andy Hartos

Director, Digital Experience Optimization

About the Author

Andy is a Director of Digital Experience Optimization at Ovative. He is responsible for leading a portfolio of clients to maximize the enterprise value of their websites and mobile apps through analytics enablement, quantitative and qualitative analysis, and continuous optimization and testing. Since joining Ovative in 2018, Andy has driven impact for clients across many different verticals including retail,... Read More >>

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