January 15, 2014

The first step to a successful website testing program is ensuring that you have buy-in from your executives.

However, executive buy-in is important not just for getting your testing and optimization started, it's also crucial for ensuring long-term success both for the testing program—and for those involved in it. (Execs are also in a position to share your testing successes with other people and departments in the organization that you may not reach normally.)

Executive stakeholders will naturally ask questions about how testing is helping the bottom line. For example, a VP of Digital Marketing may want detailed information on how the optimization of lead forms has changed the quantity and quality of qualified leads coming in. Even just simple optimizations of your checkout or registration flow, product pages, and calls to action can help generate more business and increase revenue.

Despite all the potential upside, approaching executives can seem like a nerve-racking proposition and a huge amount of additional work. The intent of this article is to make preparing and talking with your executive team much easier. Accordingly, it's divided into four parts to help you prepare, plan, and ask for stakeholder support for testing:

  1. Selecting executive stakeholders. Determine who is required for getting buy-in for your testing program and who are the optimal executive sponsors to monitor continual testing plans and results.
  2. Research. What materials and information should you have before even approaching an executive stakeholder? This section will help describe all of the preparation research to do ahead of time.
  3. Collaboration. Based on the information you find during research, share that knowledge and talk to colleagues from other departments (Finance, IT, Marketing, Product Management). Getting buy-in from cross-functional roles will be crucial later on; moreover, the questions each person brings up will help you address many of the questions you are likely to face from executives.
  4. The "ask." Many successful sales professionals have heard (and likely used) the phrase "always be closing." Here is your chance to close and approach the appropriate executive stakeholders to get buy-in for testing.

1. Selecting Executive Stakeholders

Before even jumping into research, you may be wondering who is the right stakeholder, or set of stakeholders, from whom to get buy-in. Because of the dynamic nature of organizations, myriad possible roles, and varying company size, it's difficult to give one answer that applies to everyone.

This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of MarketingProfs. You can read the original version here.

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