A recent report from Econsultancy has argued that webmasters considering conversion rate optimisation (CRO), are increasingly being polarised between a pair of strategies which, on the surface, appear to be mutually exclusive.

CRO is intended to help sites improve sales and enhance customer engagement, so that click-through rates are not nullified by poor on-site performance. And now experts are seeing a division between webmasters who are pursuing the established route of split testing and those who are looking towards the recent arrival of website personalisation to drive conversions.

Writer, Duncan Heath, argues that the idea that these two strands of CRO are oppositional and impossible to combine is unhelpful, claiming that instead, modern digital marketers should look to combine elements of the two, so as to make the biggest impact on conversion rates.

Split testing delivers sites which are optimised across an average, which could end up with a design that caters to the lowest common denominator. It might also end up excluding certain visitors who dislike changes that have been made, even if there are others who seem drawn to them.

Heath also points out that split testing can result in sites which are successful only within a local area, rather than delivering the kind of results that you would need to achieve success on the global stage.

So while split testing can deliver a proficient and concise approach to CRO, it will not necessarily be able to please all the people all of the time. Which is where personalisation comes into play, in spite of the apparent dichotomy dividing these two tactics.

Personalisation of site design and landing page features on first contact with new visitors is important, according to Heath. This is because you can tailor the experience based on data you have already gathered, privileging certain products and pricing packages, depending on easily accessible metrics, such as the geographic location of the potential customer.

But the point he makes is that without having already carried out extensive split testing on these elements to determine that they are capable of having an impact and improving conversion rates, then this personalisation will be for nothing.

Heath also explains that personalisation can only go so deep before it becomes impractical to sustain. So at some level, an average, universal base point needs to be found at which conversions are still being optimised, without putting a strain on your own resources.

Perhaps the most important thing to take from the report is the idea that hitting an optimal level of conversions is not something that can be achieved once and then perpetuated by using the same tactics for a protracted period.

This market is incredibly fluid and user expectations are changing at all times, so webmasters need to keep on top of trends and repeatedly test and improve all elements of a site, to make sure that visitors are satisfied. CRO is just one aspect of digital marketing that needs to be mastered, so combining old strategies with new arrivals is sensible.