Essential skills the (allround) Conversion Specialist needs to do the job

Geplaatst op door Danny Loeffen

Conversion Rate Optimization, aka CRO, is a field in the digital marketing which has grown throughout the last five years to a mature expertise. I am working in this field myself and I love it. There is nothing more satisfying than making a better world for your users based on their behavior! Enough love for my work, let me explain which essential skills you need, all in a different level, whenever you want to work as a (allround) Conversion Specialist.


  • Webanalytics and analytical skills
  • Basic HTML, CSS and JS
  • Statistics
  • Usability / Interaction design
  • Visual design
  • (Consumer) Psychology
  • Project management
  • Social skills
  • Tag Management tools
  • Ideation and creativity

1) Webanalytics and analytical skills

As a Conversion Specialist you need to know where to start optimizing your website, but in order to do that you need to know your way around with the Webanalytics tools available (Google Analytics is a good start!). Not only looking at the data within your tool is enough, you need to be able to understand what the data is trying to tell you. Some people own this skill, some don’t. Webanalytics is most of the time the starting point for a good optimization process. You need to know where most visitors exit your funnel based on data, not based on someone complaining about your checkout (maybe you lose most of your visitors on your productpages!). Really try to get familiar with webanalytics tools. Getting your GAIQ-certificate (Google Analytics Individual Qualified) is a good start I would recommend.

2) Basic HTML, CSS and JavaScript

Let me explain this one, because most people think when someone asks for HTML/CSS/JS-skills, that they need to be able to build a complete website. What I want to address is that whenever you don’t have some basic skills, you need for the most basic things — like changing some styling in your A/B testtool — to ask a front-end developer. They are not eager for that kind of basic tasks, let them develop user-friendly interfaces where the challenges are way more exciting (which makes the job as a front-end developer awesome!). Even for explaining what needs to be changed, having some knowledge about what you’re trying to achieve is helpful and it will make so much more sense for the one who is listening, which speaks the language.

Not only for little styling changes or explanation, but the thing you will need mostly the skills for is: Being able to do your job as a CRO specialist! You simply can’t get away with it whenever you don’t know how to add a script from Hotjar as example with an “easy” tool like Google Tag Manager or target a specific class of ID with Google Tag Manager.

3) Statistics

As a Conversion Specialist you want to be able to run experiments (A/B Tests, Split URL, etc), analyze them and give a solid advice. To be able to do that you need to know something about statistics. Honestly, my least favorite part of being a CRO specialist, but I needed to learn the basics about statistics. Try to search for articles that are written for marketeers, not the science/math-related ones, it will only make it more difficult. Also there are plenty

4) Usability & Interaction design

Observing user behavior and gaining valuable insights will result in improvements. To be able to recognize usability-issues, you need to know what Usability and Interaction Design is, before you will be able to give useful advice on how to improve things. This is my most favorite skill which I continually try to develop even more.

5) Visual design

Every change you’re advising needs to be visualised, or there will be miscommunication about how it should look. A basic understanding of Gestalt, Style guides and Photoshop is in my opinion what you’re able to understand and use. Even when you’re working with a Visual/Graphic Designer, if you’re able to visualize your idea to, it will be a lot easier for the designer to deliver what you wanted.

6) (Consumer) Psychology

A lot of improvement can be achieved due to Persuasion techniques. To apply these techniques you need to learn (at least) the basics about Persuasion techniques, because with Persuasion techniques you can achieve very big improvements, a lot of times these improvements are way bigger then when you improve the usability. But, please start with optimizing the usability and technique of the website, before you are entering the world of persuasion.

Reading tips:
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Influence by Robert Cialdini

7) Project management

Many different websites or apps you’re optimizing could cause a mess. Make sure you use the right tool(s) to keep track of your project(s). There are many tools available, but I think Trello/Evernote, Effective Experiments, Google Drive should do the trick. In a short period of time there are multiple projects ongoing and it’s your task to manage all the (optimization) projects and keep track of the process!

8) Social skills

Convince and enthusiast people. You need to be able to enthusiast people for improving the platform/product based on insights gained from data and/or users, not their own opinion, or even worse, the HiPPO (Highest important paid persons opinion). When you work in a team with no other specialists in the area of Usability, User Experience or CRO, then you need to be able to convince your client or colleagues that your insights are the way to optimize the business! Use visualizations when you present data (not only numbers, use nice charts and comparisons!) and alsways show the loss whenever you don’t improve a certain issue. The loss is two times more powerful than the gain, so use it in your own advance in the way you present it.

9) Tag Management

Whenever you want to gather more quantitative data from your users you need to be able to use a Tag Management tool combined with some basic HTML, CSS and JavaScript skills. There are enough resources to develop your knowlegde of Google Tag Manager (as example) from people like Simo Ahava, which is where I gathered almost all my information and experimented with it. Now I’m giving workshops myself. With a little bit of perseveranceyou will develop this skill and in no time you know your way around with a Tag Management tool and gather very specific data without the use of a developer!

10) Ideation and creativity

Without new ideas and some creativity you are always copying others. Don’t be scared to come up with something new! Experiment with it and see the results! You don’t need the ideation and creativity from Steve Jobs or Van Gogh, but look beyond your own environment. Visit the real world, travel and speak to other people in the same branche (developers, designers, UX designers, Interaction designers, user researchers, etc). If you never try, you’ll never know!

Note: I wrote this post with an all-round Conversion Specialist in mind, based on my own experience in the last years.

I’d love to hear what other (allround) Conversion Specialists are thinking what skills are essential!

Originally posted at Medium on 10-01-2018: