I've been thinking a lot about conversion rate optimization (CRO) lately. The word "conversion" has been in the news recently, and not in the best light. That word doesn't sound friendly to me. It sounds forceful. I'm sure whoever or however the concept became an in-demand skill didn't mean it to sound as forceful as say, conversion therapy. It is afterall a scientific and proven method to increase funnel efficiency. At face value though, conversion rate optimization sounds like you're forcing someone through a funnel, not pulling them in by aligning with their desires. In this post I talk about some of the problems that arise when marketers stop thinking of their users as people, and start thinking of their users as numbers. What happens when they remove friction without considering its value to the health of the business. I'll start with a somewhat unconventional way of describing friction in a conversion funnel, and then we'll get into the unforeseen side-effects that make heavy-handed CRO a high-risk activity.
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