One of the things that makes being a Digital Marketing Optimization expert/consultant fun is watching clients » partners » friends grow as professionals within their organizations. Many start off skeptical about the process of site optimization, or unrealistic about what can be gained in a given time frame. But after working through some of the challenges, it’s great to see them thinking about their marketing and their businesses in completely different (read: better) ways, and subscribing to a culture of continuous improvement.
Here’s my breakdown of 6 stages in developing an optimization culture:
- Acceptance – this is the stage where a business realizes that Optimization has value, and in order to reap the rewards, the status quo isn’t going to work. Something additional has to be done, which calls for some combination of the following:
- shift in focus
- additional resources
- new tools
- working with outside experts
- Testing the Waters – this is the stage where the business starts testing and optimizing, and often gets some big wins just by making minor changes to their site, or removing basic conversion roadblocks.
- Infatuation – after getting some wins from “low hanging fruit,” clients sometimes become fixated on testing and optimization. They check their test dashboards multiple times a day, they cheer when they see green in their testing tool’s dashboard, and they wring their hands when they see any yellow or red indicators. The less-disciplined business will often lose focus at this point and miss out on all the fun (and profit.)
- Thinking About Resources – after things have settled down, there have been a few wins, and a few inconclusive tests (inconclusive changes still give you incredibly valuable data and piece of mind), the business starts to think about how to support an optimization process long-term. They realize that this process isn’t free; it takes hard work and resources to create, administrate, and analyze tests. It takes even more work to take action on the findings of all those tests. They evaluate their current teams and whether they can properly support a culture of continuous improvement. This is a magnificent stage to witness, and once an organization knows their resources, it’s much easier to stay on target.
- Getting Analytical – once in the habit of optimization, I start to see clients question their assumptions, their vendors’ assumptions, and generally why the data is the way it is. This is when things get fun! Often, clients write me with test ideas or analysis of their very own, and I know that the “training wheels” have officially come off. 🙂
- The New Way of Doing Business – this stage shows clients becoming calm and nonchalant when a site change gives them double or triple-digit improvements. More impressive is that they are equally happy when a test has a negative or inconclusive impact, because it’s all part of the continuous improvement process. They realize that even single-digit increases achieved on a regular basis will have incredible effects on their bottom line, kind of like compounding interest in a financial investment!
I hope this proves helpful in developing an optimization culture within your organization. These stages are ones that I’ve observed occurring naturally. You could of course try to “encourage” a different course of development if you’re up for more formal organizational change management. How are things developing for you?
[Originally published March 19th, 2009 on GrokDotCom.com, an award-winning, but now defunct, Marketing Optimization blog.]