How to Create a Culture of Testing in Your Organization
Modern marketers spend time and resources building attractive websites and apps hoping to delight customers with an irresistible experience, a clear exchange of values and a good enough reason to visit again.
But hope alone is not enough.
The marketers who are doing this well are making data-informed decisions based on actionable insights. They have mastered optimization testing and are using data to influence product development and marketing messaging.
The best ones have also managed to spread the bug beyond their teams and get their entire organizations excited about testing. How?
Here are three pillars of a healthy culture of testing from Optimizely, a testing platform that allows marketers to run A/B and multivariate tests on specific areas of a website or user flow.
1. Start by communicating the value
Running optimization tests doesn’t have to be expensive, but it requires time, resources and discipline. Thus, formulating and communicating the benefits of testing is crucial to getting stakeholders excited about the investment.
The benefits are many; optimization testing allows marketers to:
- Access unexpected or counterintuitive insights
- Validate business decisions and concepts
- Confirm or dispel assumptions
- Influence product development
- Achieve operational benefits
- Learn from failure
At BrightTALK, we’ve been using A/B tests for the past two years to optimize email performance while keeping costs down. We’ve learned many lessons, some of them counterintuitive to the hypotheses we initially had in mind.
For example, in a test that won a gold medal for email testing from Which Test Won, we made a key discovery: different email lists have different preferences for the timing of the final email we send to promote BrightTALK Summits. More engaged subscribers prefer a “live today” email on the day of the event, whereas less engaged audiences would rather have advanced notice in a “live tomorrow” email.
Recently, testing has begun to play a key role in informing product decisions as we increasingly use email and other tests to validate concepts, confirm or dispel assumptions, and prioritize what we build. Email offers an especially good environment for testing: it provides an easy way to isolate control and test groups, create clean variations and track their performance down to key conversion metrics. The next exciting level of sophistication will involve integrating email and web testing to optimize user flows across digital channels.
2. Follow a transparent process
Creating a plan and sticking to it helps maintain accountability and remain focused on the larger goal even when individual steps prove challenging. In optimization testing, a transparent process creates accountability and benefits both the core testing team and the larger organization.
Here’s a seven-step process that can be adopted by most testing teams:
3. Share the learnings
Whether they succeed or fail, well-executed A/B tests usually carry insight worth sharing beyond the core testing team. There are two reasons for this. On the one hand, sharing lessons ensures that other teams and projects can benefit from applicable knowledge. This augments the positive impact of A/B testing beyond the improvements dreamed up by the testing team and increases the value of the testing investment.
Secondly, keeping the wider team informed about results and learnings generates excitement about testing and stimulates the creation of a testing culture across the organization. When employees broadly share the belief that testing is a valuable tool in marketing, product development and business strategy, the testing team’s job becomes that much easier: ideas start flowing in from other parts of the business and roadblocks are removed as senior stakeholders get on board.
As marketers at BrightTALK and elsewhere become data savvy and wield their skills well beyond the realm of traditional product and corporate marketing, the importance of optimization testing will only become more clear. Good luck!