Bryan Eisenberg did a fabulous post on how to get buy-in for conversion rate optimization. It’s a must read for anyone who is trying to get their company or client to do optimization testing.
I’ve heard from some folks who got initial buy-in, but whose companies quickly lost the stomach for testing. They ran some tests that did well, but they ran some tests that actually hurt conversion. The tests that hurt conversion are especially painful for smaller companies, where that lost revenue is felt directly by the business owner.
So what can you do to keep morale high and commitment to testing firm? What can you do it increase your chances for getting the best results from your testing? There’s a wonderful article by Lily Chiu at Omniture called “How to Make Testing Successful.”
There’s a lot of great advice in Lily’s post, but one bit really hit home with me:
I’ve seen some companies fail because they try to limit risk by treating testing as project-based task that just needs to be executed once per quarter. By doing so, they actually increase risk because the chances of testing being looked upon favorably decrease with every test that doesn’t generate lift. By limiting the number of tests you run, you limit the number of tries you get to knock a test out of the ballpark.
Here are a few more points to add to the list:
• Give yourself more chances to win. Get commitment to run more than just a a few tests. The more tests you run, the better your chance to create a real winner.
• Any tests that hurt conversion are only temporary. You only hurt conversion for the short period of the test. Once you get valid results, you can revert back to the control and immediately stop any losses. But tests that increase conversion? Those are the tests that keep on giving. You will enjoy those gains, not just temporarily, but for months, and years to come. Even a small increase can have a big impact on the bottom line when you enjoy those gains over long periods of time.
• There is no such thing as failure, only feedback. Now, I know that business owners are probably thinking, “Yeah, easy for you to say. It isn’t your wallet that’s affected.” But look at the opportunity cost of NOT doing testing. You are left guessing which changes to make to your site, or you may not be making any changes at all. How much MORE money could you be making? You’ll never know.
Testing is one of the best ways to gain real insight. You learn something from every single test. The combination of that learning IS going to result in gains, but it doesn’t always come in the first few tests. So hang in there. Don’t get discouraged. Sometimes you knock it out of the ballpark in the fest few tries, sometimes it takes a little longer. The more tests you run, the better your chances for success.
Hint: Want to get better create better tests? Personas can help you know what’s worth testing.