As the testing and Conversion Optimization of websites becomes more widely accepted and practiced, the technologies that enable testing (A/B and Multivariate testing software) are getting better and cheaper. There is good competition in the testing tool market, so it’s a great time to be a company looking to start a formal testing and Optimization program.
With all the choices for testing technology, a common mistake is for companies to simply buy/license a testing tool and assume that they can “handle” the needs of testing and be successful.
Many companies that go down this road fail after a short time due to the difficulties of setting up valid tests, getting measurable results, and coming up with new testing ideas. Even companies that are somewhat successful at taking on testing without any outside help tend to “plateau” after 6-12 months and aren’t able to get sustainably positive test results.
While I can understand a CMO’s desire to reap the touted rewards of Optimization “on the cheap,” this post will explain why you need staffed Optimization expertise to be successful in a formal testing program. Continue reading
I recently had a young Optimizer ask me, “How do you turn analytics data into a hypothesis?” My answer was probably unexpected: “You don’t.” My curt answer was meant to alert this young pup that a single input isn’t enough to form the basis of a good marketing hypothesis.
Today’s post will overview what I believe are the 5 key ingredients of a great marketing hypothesis. Plenty of posts I’ve read have instructed you how to leverage the Scientific Method to write a Conversion Optimization hypothesis. They usually instruct you to make sure it’s provable/disprovable, clearly stated, based on a specific Key Performance Indicator, etc.
This is all good advice, but assuming you know all that, I want to cover the inputs. These inputs, IMO, are the difference between a legitimate hypothesis and a world class hypothesis. Some of these 5 key inputs are probably obvious, but a few may have evaded you. Or, perhaps you thought it was “uncool” to have them as inputs?
I recently read a fascinating paper written by some folks at Microsoft called “Online controlled Experiments at Large Scale.” Skip to the end if you want a link to the paper.
The paper’s topic was how Microsoft has scaled its testing and optimization program on the Bing search engine. It was written with somewhat of an engineering bent, so it wasn’t 100% relevant to my world. The kinds of optimization tests I design and conduct are neither automated nor conducted at such massive scale.
However, the authors laid out 3 “Testing Tenets” that they felt were instrumental to the development (and scaling) of their testing program. These simple rules were fantastic to read and 100% relevant to the world of Marketing Optimization and testing!
I enjoyed them so much that I’m going to summarize them for you, with commentary on why you might want to steal them ;-).
Optimization is difficult. I’m often amazed that good, sound testing ever occurs on websites due to the fast-evolving complexities of digital marketing, web development, and doing business across the digital landscape.
One of the reasons that Optimization is difficult is because it’s extremely cross-discipline by nature. It’s part marketing, part user experience, part design, part analytics, part web development, and part statistics.
Anything that cross-discipline requires a great deal of coordination to make sure all the specialists involved in conducting a test are doing their parts efficiently.
Another challenge of cross-disciplinary digital work is that accountability is sometimes missing, or not strong enough. This is a major reason why a lot of corporate testing programs don’t grow from “skunkworks” into something more accepted and robust—testing efforts become inefficient due to a lack of shared understanding about who is responsible for what and when. And maybe more importantly, who takes command when things aren’t running smoothly? Continue reading
With all of the quality blogs devoted to Conversion Optimization tips and best practices, I’ve not come across any posts related to the different kinds of documents required to be successful in a conversion optimization and testing effort.
Being a bit of a “document geek,” I will give you my thoughts on important documents and how to use them to set yourself up for success. Continue reading
I recently learned of a lovely new acronym that aptly describes the world of online marketing. It’s VUCA, which stems from military jargon and stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. I just love a pessimistic acronym. 😉
I credit a recent report published by the Corporate Executive Board with this sweet new acronym as well as the data points I’m including in this post. The title of the study is Driving Marketing Performance in a Volatile Environment: The Surprising Qualities of the Best Marketing Teams. I assumed the report was going say that marketing agility was the solution to all of Marketing’s problems. After all, agile marketing has a good amount of buzz these days – it even has its own manifesto. But, I was totally wrong! It turns out that a another characteristic is key to surviving volatility: grit. Continue reading