Any good CRO specialist has to have the skills of a web analyst as that’s where you’re going to first pick up the scent of a problem. As Sherlock Holmes would say it is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Without a theory and the data to support it you cannot be an effective CRO specialist.
A lot of web analysts are being given the jobs of a CRO within their organisation which is a good start but CRO is a mixture of so many disciplines that it really needs to be a specialism just as PPC or SEO is these days. CRO is firstly about the data but then that just tells you what might be wrong and what might be working. You need to find out from your consumers or at the very least people who match the same demographics as your customers what they want and what would stop that from converting. Also you need to understand your client’s business and that holds true if your agency side or client side it just gets a little trickier agency side as you’re on the outside looking in.
However that can be a bonus. When we used to take on a new CRO client when I was agency side I would say I don’t want to know anything about your business or your competitors I need to find out myself. Then I would go through the whole site and I mean the whole site every page on the sitemap and read everything. By the time I was finished I could usually quiz the MDs on their website and that’s not something most web analysts are comfortable with.
A CRO specialist needs to wear many different hats, he needs to be a web analyst, UX analyst, Web psychologist, business analyst and web designer. So yes I do think the roles are different because you don’t start out as a CRO specialist you need to work towards it and a web analyst is a bloody good place to start.