How To Find & Pay The Right Conversion Rate Expert

Every business knows they need to be testing. Even if you have testing experience, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion from an expert on how to boost conversions, as sourcing all the optimization ideas yourself can be extremely difficult.

So how do you find a conversion rate “expert”? With little formal certifications in the industry, how do you quickly decide who is going to get results for your business?

In this article, I’ll go over some general guidelines on how to find a conversion rate expert as well as the best way to hire and compensate them.

Where are these guys?

CRO experts are not yet sought after in the same way as, say, software developers.

For example, if you’re looking to hire a Ruby expert, there are plenty of options available to you:

  • Odesk & Elance
  • TopTal
  • Development Shops

etc. However, CRO is different – there are very, very few firms that make up the conversion rate optimization industry, and the majority are small shops that work with a small number of firms each year.

Here are my tips for finding someone with experience:

Use general and Industry-Specific search Terms

For example, you’ll want to use both “conversion rate expert” as well as “ecommerce optimization expert” (or simply, “ecommerce optimization”). You’ll find that some firms focus on just one vertical vs other firms are more generalized.

Ask your SEO Firm

The majority of SEOs recognize the win-win relationship between your SEO investment and the conversion rate of your website. If you simply ask for a reference, the majority of SEOs should be able to provide you with an optimization expert or firm that they’ve worked with in the past.

Check out Moz

Moz publishes a great blog with articles on conversion rate optimization weekly. The guest authors are usually experts in their field (otherwise  they wouldn’t be allowed to guest post!) and are a great starting point for making your final hire.

Checking Credentials

A decent CRO should be able to provide you with at least 3-5 sites that they’ve optimized in the past, along with a case study and reference of who they’ve worked with.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of actually checking references to get an idea of whether the client would recommend working with them again, as well as their general working style.

Compensation Models

In my experience, the best CROs will tie payment to performance. While it can get a bit tricky to measure, I am a huge fan of pricing optimization not based on the amount of time required but based on the results that an expert can get your business.

Let’s say that you own a $1M online e-tailer with a 20% margin and you pull in about $200K/yr before taxes. How would you price this?

Here are a few compensation models for you to consider:

How To Find & Pay The Right Conversion Rate Expert

1. Base + Bonus on Performance

This is my absolute favorite. In this example, your optimization firm might have ideas that they believe can lift performance by 10%. This *should* give you a $20K lift in net profit for the year. If the work is simple and doesn’t require tons of developmental resources, you could price this at say a $1K base fee + $4K on performance, up to a 10% max lift.

All parties win here because the optimization expert is guaranteed to be paid for his time, you take on low risk, and there is shared reward on performance to keep everyone motivated.

2. Purely Pay on Performance

CRO experts with years of experience are sometimes so confident that they can lift conversion that they won’t take any payment until they improve conversion rate.

This usually is a great deal for the business owner, but there are a few things to consider:

  • It’s in the CROs best interest to only go after “low hanging fruit” – tests that are not overly involved and are the quickest wins to lift performance.
  • You have to be very, very clear about what defines improved performance and the trade-offs here. For example, what if a CRO firm lifts conversion rate but does it in a way that ruins your brand?
  • When we take on optimization work at, we sometimes will do purely pay on performance for clients if we are confident that we can boost conversion rate. But, we are always careful to have well-defined agreements in advance before doing this.

3. Fixed Fee – One-Time or Monthly

Fixed Fee payments are normally the best type of model when the work that you need to do is technically involved or when there are large sites. For example:

Parts of Site are “Broken

Examples include poor checkout experience, sign up flows, etc.

Site has many moving parts

Examples include e-commerce sites already using a personalization or testing platform, mobile apps with complex user experiences. etc.

Generally, these type of projects require more time & research before they’re able to show a significant lift, and it’s too much risk for a CRO to take this on for a purely pay on performance basis.

How much does it cost?

Many people view CRO as a “cost” to their business, and this is not correct. You should think less about CRO not as a cost but as an investment.

So the real question to ask yourself is, how much are you willing to invest?

My general recommendation when looking to price projects is to do this:

  • First, determine how much a 10% lift is worth to you. In the example above, let’s say it’s worth $20K.
  • Then, decide what your ROI should be. A 3x ROI for a small site is reasonable, so you can aim for a $5K cost.
  • Place bids out to CRO experts with your price in mind and see who bites!

Top experts mostly will work with sites who are well above $10M+ in revenue and are able to invest $25K to $100K into optimization without thinking twice about it. However, there are plenty of firms who are happy to work with new business owners or mid-size clients to boost revenue.

To give you more practical examples:

Simple Landing Pages

Going to run between $750 and $5K

Mid-size Websites

Going to run between $5K and $20K

Large Websites

$20K+, and I’ve seen deals as high as $100K

With all that said, I have to re-emphaszie that CRO is not a cost – it’s an investment! If you try to nickel and dime experts, you’re not going to get your highest potential lift. But, if you’re willing to get serious about lifting your conversion rate, you’ll find that you’ll get the best bang for your buck by investing a fair amount to hire someone with experience.


Be sure to look in the right places for a CRO expert and agree on a compensation model that’s fair and ROI-positive. Treat CRO as an investment, rather than a cost.

How have you hired CRO experts in the past?

About The Author

Spending most of his time reading on optimization tips, Andy is a full-time CRO geek. When he’s not learning about online marketing, he can be found enjoying warm Texas weather and lakes. Get the latest tips on conversion rate optimization when you follow Andy on Twitter @upliftroi.