Optimising with a flamethrower

A/B..N / MVT testing is many marketers' favourite pastime, however, if your company isn't structured to support optimisation then your test program can easily become a waste of time and money. Part of the problem stems from the amount of misinformation that makes people believe it's possible to generate big gains from small changes. But assuming you're running your tests correctly, you soon realise these minor changes don't make much (if any) difference. Unless you're testing tangible changes/differences then you're on a hiding to nothing, and quite often "tangible" means difficult/ time-consuming stuff. If you're limited to presentation testing (button, image, layout, headline), this can be like rubbing 2 sticks together in an effort to start a fire. You can't be constrained to presentation changes only, to step up a gear you also need to be testing business logic, now you can throw away your sticks, pick up a flamethrower and really start some fires!


There's this debate about whether the digital revolution is really increasing productivity - Charles Duhigg, author of Smarter, Faster, Better
Although we have more efficiently tools than ever before, some believe that technology is making us less productive; meetings, email, chat, endless notifications, news ... although you may feel you're "getting work done", there's a good chance you're producing nothing. Being busy is easy, however, accomplishing positive business change requires some thought.

If your testing tool offers a WYSIWYG editor, this now means you can accomplish a lot more without those pesky people in IT slowing you down! Unfortunately, when things sound too good to be true it normally is, if you want to become productive with your test program then you'll need to be working across your company and getting buy-in for radical change.

Test less, test what matters

Our best performing customers are dead - study conducted by Fidelity
Analysis by the financial services group Fidelity found their best-performing investors/customers were the least active (dead). Living investors under-perform because they tend to be actively trading or busy being busy!

Contrary to popular belief, not everything needs testing! Adopt a common sense approach to what needs testing and what doesn't and monitor the stats when content changes are made outside of an A/B test. Alternatively, your testing program will be bogged down with never ending tests that don't gain significance.

Stop paying too much attention to optimisation blogs and reports with claims on how to make big conversation gains. Much of what is written will not apply to your business, unfortunately there's not a top 10 list of things to A/B test that will boost sales. It's you that best understands your business, customers and products and it's this knowledge that should be used for developing an optimisation roadmap.

Networking, org structures

Upgrading your optimisation toolbox to a flamethrower requires your company to be aligned around optimisation. Unfortunately, too often the optimisation team is out on a limb somewhere which makes purposeful experiments challenging. Being part of the Product team could make more sense vs. Marketing but if restructure isn't possible then networking with the right people is essential so you can trade ideas and get buy-in with those capable of making big changes to your website, shopping-cart, apps, campaigns, algorithms etc. Without this, you'll be limited to moving things around on landing pages all day or rubbing 2 sticks together in an effort to drive conversions.

Okay, that's it - thanks for reading. Let me know your thoughts, ideas in the feedback section below.