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Two Essential Takeaways from Click Summit 2014

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Last week a group of experts met in Raleigh, NC to discuss the latest trends, challenges, and strategies for testing and optimization. Indeed, Click Summit 2014 was punctuated by excellent meals and wrapped in the luxurious setting of the Umstead Hotel and Spa, but it was characterized—as it has been for the last five years—by a series of intimate, candid conversations between attendees.

So what did this exclusive group talk about? One of the rules of Click, of course, is that every conversation is confidential—so we can’t share the details. But, two attendees from Brooks Bell—Chief Performance Office Naoshi Yamauchi and CMO Gregory Ng—noticed a few overall themes from the event as a whole.

Technical hurdles block the next level of testing

Mobile testing, personalization, omnichannel, and multiple data sources promise to enable more tailored experience for customers—opening new opportunities for optimization. Adopting these new technologies, however, remains a formidable challenge for even advanced testing programs. “Many programs are still concerned with getting the fundamentals of testing correct,” Naoshi Yamauchi explains, “rather than jumping into multichannel or personalization optimization.” And this is smart—no amount of advanced technology can replace rigorous data collection and analysis practices.

And though testing and analytics tools have made the process much easier and more accessible to nontechnical marketers, the trend runs counter to the needs of advancing testing and analytics practitioners. “Organizations struggle to make sense of many of the existing personalization algorithms,” Naoshi says, “they want transparency into data and calculations.”

Building culture is difficult

Implementing a tool, launching tests, and pulling reports—these are the foundations of a testing program. But to gain velocity, improve learning, and achieve sustainable wins, we know a testing culture is necessary. And in many organizations, this is still difficult. “Active politicking is still necessary to gain companywide support of a testing program,” Gregory Ng said, “and though many people consider this ‘playing the game,’ it remains an important part of the growth process.” The most successful programs, however, ensure testing and optimization is inclusive and mutually beneficial instead of exclusive and threatening.

Having executive support is, of course, critical. Without such “air cover” a testing program doesn’t have the freedom to experiment that it needs to develop and expand. But such support can also bring challenges. “Even in established testing programs,” Gregory explained, “senior leadership can get stuck measuring success by the quantity of tests and not the quality of learnings.”

Building a testing culture and embracing and implementing the latest optimization technologies are just two of the many important insights that were shared during Click Summit 2014. Be sure to check back in the coming weeks for more—and in the meantime, download the key takeaways from Click Summit 2013!