Taking optimization from strategy to execution

I’m often asked how did we get ramped up to doing 3–5 tests a week. I have to admit, I’m impressed that we’ve got­ten this far, but we still have room to grow.

In short, it comes down to 3 things to get you there:

  1. Align­ing your opti­miza­tion strate­gies with your busi­ness goals

  2. Estab­lish­ing the right frame­work and processes

  3. Exe­cut­ion

I’ll break it down.

1. Align your optimization strategies with your business goals

It may seem obvi­ous, but there’s often the impulse to just start test­ing every­thing every­where. You’re enthu­si­as­tic and want to show ROI imme­di­ately, but you need a strat­egy. What are your company’s goals? Most often there are rev­enue goals you’re look­ing to meet and there are busi­ness strate­gies you need to tap into to help get you there. Is there mes­sag­ing you can exper­i­ment with to sup­port the busi­ness strate­gies? Cre­ative expres­sion? Lay­out? Func­tion­al­ity? Answer­ing these ques­tions can help guide you.

2. Establish the right framework and processes

It’s no ques­tion that if your com­pany isn’t doing test­ing yet, it’s going to take a lit­tle time to shift the mind­set; it’s a cul­ture change. Depend­ing on how open teams are to change and tak­ing your busi­ness to the next level, will deter­mine how quickly you can imple­ment a pro­gram. You’ll need:

  • Oper­at­ing model align­ment: You’ll have to get buy in across your orga­ni­za­tion. It might mean ask­ing other teams to sup­port your efforts or ask per­mis­sion to take on some other tasks like design­ing pages.

  • Process design: It’s going to depend on your orga­ni­za­tion how you want to work. I’ll elab­o­rate more in the fol­low­ing paragraph.

  • Change impact and readi­ness: How does adding test­ing affect other teams?

  • Orga­ni­za­tional design: Do you keep it all in one group or do you share respon­si­bil­i­ties with other teams?

  • End user train­ing: Does the team have the skills they need?

If you’re doing it all your­self, you don’t have to work about processes as much. How­ever, if you’re work­ing across divi­sions or depart­ments it’s best to have roles, respon­si­bil­i­ties, and processes estab­lished and agreed upon. You’ll need to secure:

  • Gov­er­nance

  • Web strate­gist

  • Opti­miza­tion manager

  • Cam­paign enablement

  • Ana­lyt­ics support

  • Web pro­duc­tion

  • Project man­age­ment

  • Web devel­op­ment (for more sophis­ti­cated testing)

  • Demand and media gen­er­a­tion (to drive traf­fic to your site)

  • Cre­ative development

  • User expe­ri­ence expertise

  • Plat­form architecture

3. Execute your tests

Now you have your strate­gies, a slew of test ideas which sup­port your strate­gies and busi­ness goals, you have your team in place, now you have to exe­cute. How do you know what to test first? The first rule of thumb is ana­lyze which pages on your site yield the high­est con­ver­sion, have the high­est vol­ume of traf­fic, or demon­strate the biggest area of oppor­tu­nity. We’ve set up scor­ing mod­els to help us with pri­or­i­ti­za­tion. As the team grows, you have to man­age lots of tests get­ting ready to launch. Poten­tially all at the same time.

Our scor­ing model is sim­ple. What type of test is it: Con­tent, lay­out, func­tion­al­ity, or cre­ative? What’s the level of effort: Low, medium, or high? What is the poten­tial rev­enue lift: Low, medium, or high? The test type score is based on pre­vi­ous quarter’s suc­cesses. Have an ana­lyst help you with that. The level of effort is judged by the per­son doing the enable­ment of the test which might include devel­op­ment. And the poten­tial rev­enue impact is also eval­u­ated by an analyst.

The opti­miza­tion man­ager should develop their strat­egy and then come up with indi­vid­ual tests to sup­port those strate­gies. Then method­i­cally develop test char­ters or plans which out­line the goals of the test, jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, what page(s) the test should be run on. It’s good to have a hypoth­e­sis, but be cau­tious on includ­ing that in your test char­ter because it might sway you to want cer­tain results.

Set up your test using a solution like Adobe Tar­get, run it 3–5 weeks (depending on traffic and conversion rates), and evaluate the success through the reports in the tool or if you want to dig deeper, use something like Adobe Anal­ty­ics. Use what you learn to feed your next test idea and keep iterating.

Watch your con­ver­sions increase

The more com­fort­able you get with test­ing, the quicker you can iter­ate on tests and reap the rewards of increased con­ver­sions. Happy testing!

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