Earlier this month, keeping with the traditions of a welcoming summer, Seattle opened its doors to data junkies, optimization nerds and the search-obsessed in celebration of yet another SMX Advanced.
Not speaking this year, I had more flexibility to sit in on some of the many useful presentations. Among the most compelling was a session led by Jeremy Epperson of 3Q Digital and Khalid Saleh of Invesp titled, “Conversion Optimization: Turning Quick Wins into Winning.”
In my role at Yandex, Russia’s largest search engine, my primary responsibility is to help North American companies succeed in Russia. Russia is a top 7 Internet Audience in the world, so I’m frequently approached by North American CMOs with a desire to “test the market.” Of course, my initial reaction is, “фантастика!” (“Fantastic!”) In today’s digital petri dish, let the data determine direction — testing is always a good start.
Both Epperson and Saleh not only communicated the value of testing, but also emphasized the necessity for testing well. It’s a waste of resources to conduct a test that yields results contaminated by ignored variables or absent processes.
Both speakers presented multi-step approaches to Conversion Rate Optimization. For the purposes of this article, I’ll introduce a blended step-by-step comprised of their shared components. (Before engaging in your own testing, I encourage you to take a peek at the full presentations, which appears at the end of this article.)
1. Work towards strategic business alignment
Whether it be on-page button testing, ad creative testing, or even tag testing from the SEO team, multiple departments/concentrations are going to be involved at different levels. In order to complete an actionable test, it’s crucial that all actors buy in on the test’s potential impact. Involving all departments throughout the process creates a necessary culture of optimization and a shared desire to be better.
2. Design a documented growth plan
Identifying where you want to go encourages engaged parties to consider the optimal path to get there. Applying deadlines and targets will organize the testing process and cultivate shared accountability.
3. Conduct a heuristic analysis
Now the fun begins. The need to be better has been identified, but where to begin? A heuristic analysis should identify the bottlenecks for growth and shape the testing battlefields. This is where expert opinion is applied to identify the broken component.
4. Perform qualitative research
Employ fast-action data collectors to complement the expert analysis. Polls and surveys can be easily deployed to communicate with the customers and obtain opinions from the front lines. Software in this space continues to evolve and can be implemented with ease; use your institutional knowledge to ask the right questions, and listen to what the customers have to say.
5. Perform quantitative research
When your in-house analysis has been supported by your customers, it’s time to dig in on the quant side with the hopes of locating supportive evidence. What do the numbers look like?
6. Develop a hypothesis
The groundwork has been established, but before an A/B test can be executed, a hypothesis needs to be developed. The documented hypothesis is the trophy you get to raise after your successful test: “I thought if we did X, the result would be Y.”
7. Launch your test
The necessary preparation has been completed, and the test is ready to run. Each test is unique, but Epperson typically tries to complete a test within two to four weeks. The shorter the testing interval, the more testing we can perform.
Though the post-mortem analysis is often a forgotten victim to the jubilation or devastation of the test’s results, it is necessary to the success of future efforts that you find the time to properly assess the test.
I’ve long been of the opinion that in the digital world, a properly executed test should precede as many business decisions as possible; the arena we operate in facilitates an ease of access to speedy and reliable data unparalleled in competing industries — to not exercise this advantage would be careless.
Q2 is just getting under way, so there’s plenty of time left in 2017 to scratch that itch and test the hypothesis you’ve long been kicking around! A winning process yields winning results.
See the full presentations here:
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