The testing technologies of today look much different from those of yesteryear. And as the tools evolve, so does our understanding of what it means to run a successful testing program. So what can we expect for 2016 and beyond? Our testing experts have shared their thoughts about future trends.
For optimization engineer Mike Adams, native apps are where it’s at for 2016. “They’re a stepping-stone into the possibilities of what testing can be,” he says.
Native apps open up new avenues for testing and optimization, such as iBeacons, Xbox Ones, kiosks, and point of sale systems. Mike says there’s enormous potential in linking this online and offline data together—a theme mentioned by several other team members.
For retailers, getting a 360-degree view of the customer is a key goal—but one that comes with unique challenges.
“It sounds like it should be very simple,” says Suzi Tripp, director of client management, “but I haven’t seen anyone do it well.”
One problem is that few companies have the tools and resources in place to do it.
The other, perhaps bigger, problem is culture: It’s hard to get so many different teams internally aligned. The site data team and the in-store data team likely have different metrics, work styles, and methodologies.
Despite these challenges, Suzi hopes that she sees more companies begin to work on pulling together online and offline data.
“If we know what customers are buying in the store and what they’re buying online, we can then figure out what we mail to them, what we email them about, and what we serve to them when they come to the site,” says Suzi.
“It could be a game changer” for testing, she says.
Data integration is something that our director of analytics is excited about, too. Brian Shampnois says that tag management will likely gain traction in 2016 and beyond.
At its most basic, a tag management system is a way to easily track and manage your snippets of code for analytics, testing, and other tools that gather information about visitor behavior. But its benefits go beyond merely having a central location to manage tag deployment.
“The more interesting part may be that a TMS allows you to take all the pieces from those different tags and combine them into one big set of data, and pass that out to a testing tool,” Brian says. “This would allow us to run more sophisticated tests based on data from different sources.”
All advances in testing technology ultimately share a common goal: to gather the right kind of data to create experiences that are targeted, timely, and meaningful. That’s where real-time data action engines come in.
Tools like Tealium AudienceStream and Ensighten Activate allow you to improve content personalization by using the data you already have. Claire Schmitt, director of optimization consulting, expects to see more of this in the coming years.
The tools allow you to do more than target, say, returning visitors. Instead, you can serve up a specific experience to returning visitors in a particular age bracket who’ve recently made an in-store purchase.
As technology gives us greater ability to collect and make sense of data—particularly connecting the dots across several sources—the question becomes what to do with it.
“It’s really about figuring out the best way to utilize that information,” Claire says.
Building out customer profiles and creating appropriate tests will be a key way companies create optimal experiences for their visitors.
What testing technology are you most excited about for 2016?
Brooks Bell helps top brands profit from A/B testing, through end-to-end testing, personalization, and optimization services. We work with clients to effectively leverage data, creating a better understanding of customer segments and leading to more relevant digital customer experiences while maximizing ROI for optimization programs. Find out more about our services.