Spencer Gray on how CRO is not a standalone service but rather a team sport

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Hi Spencer, great to have you on Experiment Nation! How have you been?

Hi Rommil! Doing really well. Thanks for reaching out to talk! Really excited.

For our audience, could you share with us what is it that you do and a bit about your career journey up thus far?

Of course. After graduating from the University of Utah, I was on the hunt to get real agency experience to further develop my marketing skills outside of the experience I obtained during school. I was fortunate enough to land a job at my dream company, 97th Floor, doing SEO. During my time working on SEO, 97th Floor announced the addition of CRO, and began holding company wide trainings on the subject. I instantly fell in love with the service and worked hard to provide as much value to the department as I could so when the time came, I would transition from SEO to CRO. As of today, I am thrilled to say I am now leading our CRO department here at 97th Floor! 

Congratulations, that’s awesome to hear!

So Spencer, I’ve read that you helped your CRO department grow from $0 to $42,000 MRR in just 9 months. Could you tell us about that and a bit about how you did it?

Introducing and growing a new service into an established agency like 97th Floor was no easy feat. Our biggest success, however, was our amazing internal communication we have, and strategy outlined, for growing this department. We wanted to make sure that any time we brought up CRO to an existing/new client, it was because the client could truly prosper from the growth CRO brings to their already existing marketing efforts. Going this route has not only improved the trust and relationships between us and our clients, but it has also been quite evident in the results. On top of this, we found it was important to us to always be optimizing our processes to improve things such as deliverables, our testing methods and more. Even today, we are still consistently changing or updating our methods to stay up to date with the latest trends or feedback which ensures we are delivering the best experience and results as we can.

Wow, it sounds like you’ve been making great progress over at 97th Floor. As someone that’s helping develop the practice there, ultimately what is your vision for what it can become there?

Great question and something I think about daily. What I have discovered is that CRO is not another standalone service like SEO, Content, Design, etc. CRO is the service you must be doing hand in hand with all of your other marketing efforts. If you are laser focused on SEO to drive people to your website, who says those people will even convert? If you are writing blog articles or building links to increase opportunities of conversion, how do you know that users enjoy your page layout? Could they benefit from having a clear CTA within your copy? These are questions that truthfully drive my passion and love for CRO.

Because of the unique team structure that 97th Floor provides, CRO doesn’t stop at CRO. Every test we run, as always, ends with some learnings, but this is where it gets fun. We then extract those learnings and share them with SEO, our Content Marketers, and Ad Specialists to make sure that we can rank for better keywords, write better content, or build better landing pages simply from the learnings and understandings of who our users are that CRO provides.

To summarize my answer, the future of CRO at 97th Floor will be a department that goes hand in hand with all other services, and not something someone does alone.

…CRO is not another standalone service like SEO, Content, Design, etc. CRO is the service you must be doing hand in hand with all of your other marketing efforts.” – Spencer Gray

Makes sense! I’d love to dig a bit more into SEO and CRO. Could you tell us more about how SEO and CRO need each other?

To put it in a very broad analogy, SEO is the big balloon guy with the wavy arms that attracts you or increases the chance of someone coming into your store. CRO is the inside of the store itself. Are your products organized on your shelf? Is the checkout counter hidden or perhaps non existent? Or does the customer service need improvement? SEO gets people to the store. CRO makes sure people checkout.

You can put all your effort to make sure you rank #1 on Google, that your site is fast as lightning, and you have 1 million links pointing to your site, but if people are visiting your site and not converting, all that time (and money) could be potentially wasted.

Changing gears. Could you tell us about Spoonful?

Haha super happy you brought this up. To put Spoonful in a one sentence elevator pitch, we were a cereal delivery service that brought bowls of cereal to college students in class or in their dorms. (Yes, cereal. Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops, you get it. All packed up in a paper sack and a carton of milk just like Mom would) 

I started Spoonful as a concept to run a cereal bar on college campuses to students who are on a budget. After doing some market research, I found that college students spend on average $14-$17 a day to simply eat on campus. For some who are already in crippling debt, shouldn’t finding an affordable meal be less of a challenge?

Anyway, after finding out how expensive a brick and mortar/food truck would be, I found an opportunity to essentially turn an office space on campus into a retail store. From there, I designed and developed an app that allowed students to either order a custom bowl of cereal from the app or visit me in person and buy one there. The looks on student’s faces were priceless when they found out about what I was doing. “Cereal? To class? Are you serious?! This is amazing!”

With 30 different cereal options to choose from, I brought back some nostalgia and a lot of smiles. Highlight of my college career without a doubt.

I had to eventually end this 2 year project because it was taking a serious toll on my grades. I had to prioritize my life and get the degree despite the love and fanbase we had on campus.

I love that story. And I’m craving cereal now lol

Finally, it’s time for the Lightning Round! Are you a Bayesian or a Frequentist?

I’d say my testing software is more of a Frequentist which encourages me to be a Bayesian. I’m in a happy middle haha.

If you couldn’t work in Experimentation, what would you do?

If reality (or genetics) wasn’t an object, I’d choose the professional basketball player route. I’d imagine that would be a very fulfilling career.

Describe Spencer in 5 words or less.

Empathetic, Clean, Passionate, Supportive and Patient

Thanks so much for chatting with me today!

Thanks for this opportunity! Big fan of Experiment Nation!

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Rommil Santiago