I have been fortunate enough to help manage a number of successful testing programs that produce sustained improvement. I have also learned from many not-so successful programs that produced great initial lifts, but then fizzled out due to one of three reasons, or barriers. Through this experience, I have identified these three barriers that prevent digital testing program success.
Before I go on, let me first define “digital testing program success.” This is a program dedicated to on-going iterative testing efforts that provide insight into customer behavior, and use that knowledge for iterative testing efforts, and produce continued performance lifts of key metrics supporting business goals.
A good testing program philosophy should consider the Japanese Kaizen Philosophy for continued improvement, where we are using A/B/n and multi-variate testing methods for continuously improved results. Digital testing program success focuses on an end goal of a sustained 100% conversion rate for a key metric.
Of the three barriers mentioned above, the barrier that has historically provided the most headaches for our clients has been “resources.” There are three key components that are essential for overcoming the resources barrier:
Resources for Testing Software:
Many small to mid-size companies want to test but do not currently have the bandwidth to learn or implement testing software. Another scenario is when a company has already invested in testing software, but lacks the human resources to invest in the training & application of its capabilities. Investing resources in learning how to properly use the software is essential, but rarely fully executed. Where there are not resources dedicated to truly understanding the software, companies will miss opportunities for tactics like behavioral targeting, geo-targeting, segment testing, video testing, etc.
If you don’t have testing software in place, take small steps with learning products like Google Website Optimizer. It helps to know how to make the most of this software, so consider this a “skill needed” for new hires, or look for outside help to get you started. For more advanced testing software products like Adobe Test & Target, you must identify individuals on your team that will commit to learning and understanding testing software. Put the testing and training on the calendar, and have your sales rep work with you to ensure check-ins for progress, or walk you through the practice of testing. The key here is to plan ahead properly & set expectations with your testing software account manager. But be careful: for some testing software, the extra help could get pricey.
If this is not possible, you must consider outside help from an experienced vendor who already has experience with the software and saves you start-up costs. Many clients have used Brooks Bell for this approach, and saved thousands on start-up costs for their first test launch. Using qualified external resources provides you with testing software management resources, testing campaign management for you and report summaries that free up your time.
Resources for Strategic Test Planning:
Many businesses simply do not have the time to discuss testing strategy or creating hypotheses for a successful test efforts. Testing strategy typically comes up at the last minute, when resources are available, or marketing departments have been given challenging last-minute goals to meet. It becomes a “shoot from the hip” idea session that you squeeze in. The strategic element does not receive the focus it deserves, simply because there is too much going on, and other priorities need more immediate attention. This creates an environment where huge opportunities are missed, simply because of lack of time.
Schedule mandatory testing brainstorm sessions before and after an online marketing experience is launched. Acknowledge what your business goals are at the time, and then understand what metrics will support that goal. Predict an outcome by first establishing hypotheses and review the results afterwards to see if you were correct. Task team members to start thinking about ideas for what would improve the current experience, or what you think is preventing additional success. For example: Does the landing page need to have less content, since the email is so informative? Is the image in the email inconsistent with the messaging? Are there too many call to action buttons resulting in decision paralysis? Brainstorm these ideas, record them in your brainstorm sessions, and then prioritize them in order of easiest to most difficult to test. Start with the low hanging fruit to build momentum.
Resources for Test Cell Creation:
Resources for creating the test cells are usually few and far between. IT is usually unavailable, creative teams (if you have one) are wrapped up in other initiatives with aggressive deadlines. Even if you are able to track down someone within your organization that can build test cells, you will most likely miss out on immediate opportunities due to slow turnaround. This is a huge factor for preparation of seasonality spikes in traffic which provide the highest volume of conversion opportunities.
It is OK to ask for help – internally or externally. Break down silos and identify additional resources internally that, you may be able to “borrow.” Sell your ideas internally through business cases that can show ROI, and the commitment may be there.
Outsource: Identify a quality network of freelancers that you can guide for your test cell direction, assuming you have time to properly establish strategic test planning. It is also wise to use an experienced agency that understands testing, and most importantly, can leverage previous winning efforts through case studies, that will increase your chances to have similar success.
Without the test cell creation (design, copy, build, QA) you could be setting yourself for slow turnaround, messy test cells, and missed opportunities.
Breaking down the resources barrier is one of the most important steps for implementing a successful digital testing program, creating a repeatable process, and establishing a testing culture. After you have resources covered, you are still not out of the woods. You must also consider data & set proper testing program expectations. Stay tuned to learn more about identifying the specific so these barriers, and ways to overcome them.
To learn more about resource solutions for successful testing programs, please contact Brooks Bell today!