5 Lessons in Conversion Rate Optimisation from the Rugby World Cup

Adrian Grindley, 
Owner, Pop Creative, 

Anybody who has followed (or attempted to follow) rugby for any period of time will know that the scoring system and rules of play are anything but simple – and to succeed in the game requires strategy, skill, persistence and an awful lot of brute force.

Not unlike business then, really. In fact, conversion rate optimisation and rugby have a lot more in common than you may have realised. Here are five CRO lessons we can take from the Rugby World Cup.

 

 

1. Know the rules

With the exception of the infamous offside rule, football is a pretty simple game to get to grips with. Kick the ball, get it in the net and try not to injure your opponents. Rugby, in contrast, is a whole other kettle of fish. You need to know the difference between your lineouts, rucks, mauls and scrums, whilst trying not to confuse your locks with your props. Then there is the little matter of dropkicks, penalties, tries and conversions, as well as your tackles and turnovers. Quite simply, if you haven’t done your research and got to grips with your key terms, then you don’t stand a chance on the pitch.

Conversion rate optimisation is exactly the same. CRO is fundamentally a science, and as such, it is driven by data. But before you can put the data into practice, it is essential to understand which metrics matter and how they relate to your business objectives. These include not just conversions but also acquisitions, funnels, goals, events. If you are not familiar with these, this cheat sheet is a useful starting point.

 

2. Have a game plan

Most sports teams go onto the pitch with one objective – win the game. However, they do not leave this to chance. They will have worked with experts to formulate a game plan and will have trained and drilled until they know the strategy inside out. Having an end goal in sight is absolutely critical, but we have to establish a strategy that will help us to deliver the desired result. This often means setting milestones along the way; preferably specific measurables.

In an ideal world, this means sitting down with various stakeholders including not just the digital marketing team but others within the business to define clear objectives at a granular level, along with an achievable strategy to deliver them. This should be accompanied by a robust monitoring system that provides useful, accurate data on how well the strategy is performing.

 

3. Do the data

Modern rugby is very much data-driven – and so too is CRO. A quick look at the image below reveals the amount of data that coaches and training staff will analyse between each and every match as part of their efforts to improve performance

While sports teams generally rely on specialist applications to gather and analyse their data, those responsible for CRO will usually rely first and foremost on data provided through the Google Analytics platform. Understanding how to access and interpret the wealth of data provided by this exceptionally powerful platform will help you to discover almost everything you need to know about how your website is performing.

 

 

4. Learn and adapt

Having a perfect game plan and a wealth of data is great – but things do not always go to plan. Your data means nothing if you do not react to it. This means developing an eye for what is and isn’t working and adapting to the situation by changing the way you play.

The quicker you are able to collect and analyse data, the quicker you can implement changes, helping to improve results and also avoid wasted effort. In rugby, this might be energy. In business, this is both energy and expense. By constantly adapting your CRO strategy, you will be able to maximise results whilst keeping your conversion costs at an acceptable level.

 

5. Be persistent

Now and again, a team in rugby is either lucky or is simply far superior to their opponents, meaning that the game is all but over within the first few minutes. In reality, this is rarely the case. To win a competitive game of rugby when playing opponents of the highest standards, it is often patience and perseverance that matter most.

This is equally true of CRO. Whilst in both sport and in business there may be quick wins along the way that secure welcome extra points (read conversions), it is the long game that matters most. There is no shortcut to success.